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highbrow Jackass, led by a sensual Gwendoline Christie

Welcome to the Sonic Catering Institute – a forum where microphones are dipped in bubbling grease, supermarket visits are mimed and a live colonoscopy is projected as performance art. The extravagantly whimsical Flux Gourmet, deranged and willfully pretentious in a way only Peter Strickland would dare these days, is the closest the British filmmaker has come to pure comedy, and certainly defies any expectation of beard-stroking seriousness from minute one.

These games are not dissimilar to top-flight jackass mixed with a touch of the so-called ‘Greek Weird Wave’, as evidenced by the changes of two of the stars of this movement, the intriguingly exotic Ariane Labed and the hairy Hobbit-esque Makis Papadimitriou. The film was shot under wraps over a few weeks, with the institute set in a country house to which guests were invited by an elegant impresario named Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie, in couture creations that get crazier with each successive scene).

The latest beneficiaries of Jan’s lavish patronage are a three-person ‘culinary arts collective’ who have yet to find a name but have been given a month-long residency at her expense. Its most intense member is Elle di Elle (a captivating Fatma Mohamed) who reigns over the more passive Lamina (Labed) and Billy (Asa Butterfield, with drooping fringes in his eyes). If Jan politely tries to offer constructive feedback on her late-night performances, which consist of plenty of sensual squirming, food play and amplified fermenting, Elle will have none of it.

A power struggle looms, while a perverse affair between Jan and Billy causes a stir. And all the while, a depressed hacker named Stones (Papadimitriou), who hardly calls himself a journalist, walks a few steps behind them to keep his flatulence out of their ears.

This is easily the silliest, most boisterous and gritty film Strickland has made yet, and follows a career that has grown increasingly valuable to him and him alone. The erotic S&M of The Duke of Burgundy (2014) is repeated here in an almost spoofic way as Christie’s Jan seduces Billy in bed with a mere touch of her fingers, hypnotizing this crazy youth into getting her way.

Meanwhile, in Berberian Sound Studio (2012), all of these games with Foley recordings are resumed with a much more blatant tongue-in-cheek humor, the film’s brilliantly enhanced soundscape exerting an odd grip on the viewer. The action there is pretty much accidentally set to the function of a device called a “flanger,” which is used to modulate sound signals – it’s the proximity to “flange,” a nickname for the vagina, which has certainly hit some carry-on buttons in Stricklands script fantasy.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/flux-gourmet-review-highbrow-jackass-led-sensual-gwendoline/ highbrow Jackass, led by a sensual Gwendoline Christie

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