J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, November 13, 2015

MIX NYC ’15: Batguano

Consider this the Batman equivalent of Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock, except Dark Knight fans will be totally flummoxed by its severe, avant-garde aesthetic. There is no ambiguity about Batman and Robin’s sexuality here, but there is hardly anyone left to worry about it after an apocalyptic virus swept across the world. However, they still manage to do a spot of cruising in Tavinho Teixeira’s Batguano (trailer here), which screens as part of MIX NYC: the 28th Queer Experimental Film Festival.

Batman is not getting any younger. In fact, he is already considerably dependent on the younger Robin after losing an arm. The caped crusaders are still famous thanks to the Adam West TV show, but they are living in a trailer somewhere in the Brazilian provinces instead of stately Wayne Manor. Still, they are lucky to be alive, after a mysterious disease carried in bat guano wiped out a good portion of the population. Yet, somehow the communications infrastructure has apparently held up pretty well and there are still anonymous hook-ups to be found.

It is hard to believe Warners and DC sanctioned Batguano, but it is equally tough to imagine they will even notice the grungy upstart. Presumably, it must count as protected parody if the same applies to X-rated knock-offs. Speaking of which, sheltered Batman fans should be warn there are a number of full monties in Batguano.

There is some genre playfulness in Batguano, particularly the rear screen projections deliberately visible during driving scenes. Cinematographer Marcelo Lordello also gives it an evocative noir look. However, the overriding vibe of the film is one of listlessness. There is just not a lot that happens, which is downright perverse for a film that plunks down an iconic superhero in a post-apocalyptic setting. To put things in perspective, Batman spends way more time reading Schopenhauer than fighting bad guys.

Batguano is not intended as an actors’ showcase and Teixeira gives himself even less to work with as Robin. At least Everaldo Pontes has one substantial scene as the Dark Knight. Frankly, the film is more lulling than titillating, but anyone curious should probably see it now, because boutique distributors are not likely to pick up a film that could potentially inspire major studio wrath. On some level, it is just interesting to know Teixeira’s film exists. It even screens this Sunday (11/15) during MIX NYC.

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