SEEKING THE MONKEY KING
(director/writer: Ken Jacobs; cinematographer: Ken Jacobs; editors: Nisi Jacobs/Jason Drakeford; music: J.G. Thirlwell/Manorexia; cast: Runtime: 40; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ken Jacobs; Anthology film series; 2011)
“Amazing avant-garde agitprop short.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Ken Jacobs (“Window”/”The Guests”) directs this amazing avant-garde agitprop short. It’s a trippy film about anger and frustation over the American exploitative system. The imagery is served from close-ups of crumpled metallic foil. It takes on the colors of deep blue and amber. The background music is from a raucous J.G. Thirlwell score. The theme, coinciding with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, is one of revolutionary anti-capitalism. It delivers a bitter anti-patriotic rant to a figure looming as The Monkey King, the idol of greed worhipped in America.
It’s a relentless bohemian attack on America for throughout its history worshipping a false God in its search for endless wealth and mediocrity. It compares America to an empty Brillo box. When Jacobs brings energy to the screen, he evokes his favorite artworks (Moby-Dick, Freaks, Greed) and his soul-mate artists (Max Beckmann, Maya Deren, Fats Waller).
It’s a radical film meant for the base, who see America always moving in the wrong direction.
REVIEWED ON 7/15/2018 GRADE: A-