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TIFF Capsule Review: ‘The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology’

TIFF Capsule Review: 'The Pervert's Guide to Ideology'

The philosopher Slavoj Zizek is not allergic to the sound of his own heavily-accented voice. Fortunately, he’s a bravura lecturer with a keen sense of what draws audiences to movies.  And his extended follow-up with Sophie Fiennes to “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” (2006) is that rare thing, a two-hour one-man punchline that teaches you something. Film schools could use this guy, yet it probably won’t get more than a fraction of the art-house and festival crowd.

“The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology” walks through cinematic history to link mythic movies to the needs that Zizek says they satisfy. Heaps of psychoanalytic theory are delivered in a Bela Lugosi voice in locations that replicate those in the films under discussion, with the poker-faced Slovenian-born narrator costumed for everything from “Taxi Driver” to “The Searchers” – both films, he argues, retell myths of heroes saving a young woman from slavery and depravity.

Zizek’s erudition in this talk-athon reminds you of Martin Scorsese’s magisterial “My Voyage in Italy” – “My Voyage in Ideology”?  Zizek’s deadpan Marx-infused wit is post-Yugoslav stand-up comedy.  

Fiennes wisely stays out of his way here. Zizek is the star, edited down to digestible elements, with archival footage used adroitly to drive his arguments home. The surprisingly entertaining lecture is a far less ponderous cinematic experience than Fiennes’s profile of the German artist Anselm Kiefer in “Over Your cities Grass Will Grow” (2010).

Beware, Zizek’s monologue is every bit as seductive as the myths he takes apart. Pay attention, and you’ll be able to dissect Zizek, too. Criticwire grade: A [David D’Arcy]

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