The Austin Chronicle

Now I'm a 'Believer'

By Kimberley Jones, March 20, 2008, 4:53pm, Picture in Picture

The latest issue of The Believer landed in our mailbox today. While we find the magazine frequently brilliant, but also weirdly dowdy and way-too-indulgent with the word counts, this time we couldn't wait to rip through its plastic casing to get to the 2008 Film Issue. Inside are feature-length pieces (Devin McKinney's impassioned case that Henry Fonda should've played the obsessive Scottie in Hitchcock's Vertigo, Jim Shepard's dissection of the original Dutch The Vanishing that winds its way to American foreign policy) and a new feature called Creative Accounting, which breaks down the $18 million budget for an actual (but sadly anonymous) indie film, plus interviews with celebrity intelligentsia (Werner Herzog in conversation with Errol Morris looks damned promising) and the usual dips into esoterica (a Q&A with Vladimir, "one of the only known filmmakers working with View-Masters") and cheek (a photo essay of the "Top Four Nonchalant Responses to Exploding Cars").

We've only had a couple hours to greedily paw through the issue – an issue, by the way, that will continue the debate that's been playing out in the Letters to the Editor section for several issues now regarding the fluctuating, but always, er, distinct, smell of The Believer. This month's issue smells like fresh paint and my childhood speech therapist's office.

As we were saying: We haven't gotten very far in, but so far, our favorite goodie so far is the included DVD, an excerpt from Sophie Fiennes' film The Pervert's Guide to Cinema: Part One, in which philosopher/cultural critic Slavoj Zizek muses on the nature of desire (apparently, we have to be taught how and what to desire, and that's where the movies come in). Zizek is a shaggy, amiable egghead, with a somewhat frenetic delivery that might unnerve if he weren't so game.

Cutting in between clips of some of the movies up for discussion (from Duck Soup to The Matrix), suddenly Zizek will pop up on the set of the film (or in a simulated set) to continue the discourse. We got an especial kick out of the philosopher in a boat in Bodega Bay, aping Tippi Hedren as Melanie in The Birds, on her way to try to nail the bachelor with Oedipal issues Mitch (Rod Lurie). Right after Zizek gets done asserting (rather vigorously) that the birds are a stand-in for Mitch's mother's "raw incestuous sexual energy," he continues giddily:

"Now I'm thinking like Melanie. You know what I'm thinking? 'I WANT TO FUCK MITCH.'"

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.