Like Cattle Towards Glow. Dennis Cooper, Zac Farley. Germany/France/Canada.
As the second official attempt to bring the writing of Dennis Cooper to the screen (not counting Everett Lewis’ Luster, which used Cooper’s poetry to serve as a character’s own material), Like Cattle Towards Glow proved a lot more successful than Todd Verow’s 1995 adaptation of the author’s novel Frisk, a New Queer Cinema oddity that featured cameos from NQC staples Parker Posey, Craig Chester, Alyssa Wendt, and one of 2016’s many tragic casualties, Alexis Arquette. Likely due to Cooper’s direct involvement here, Like Cattle Towards Glow is a mixed grab bag of unusual eroticism, with its own share of mostly wordless pop-ups from European artists like choreographer/puppeteer Gisèle Vienne (a frequent collaborator of Cooper’s on the stage), filmmaker Christophe Honoré, performance artist O.B. De Alessi, and actor Raphaël Bouvet, among others.
Like the other segmented films appearing on my honorable mention list, some of the chapters in Like Cattle Towards Glow work better than others. There’s a riveting sequence at a performance/music space where a man gets sexually violated by several men while singing/screaming into the microphone in front of a disaffected audience (“disaffected” is an emotion that comes up frequently). There’s another where a beautifully underfed European boy recites a poetic monologue (phonetically?) about a fellow waifish, ravaged young beauty’s heavenly asshole. Monsters, suicide, and drones also make appearances. Working alongside Cooper, director Zac Farley captures something that Verow missed with Frisk: the sort of rigid but wild, poetic grotesquerie that’s puzzling, beautiful, and often impenetrable.
Like Cattle Towards Glow was released on video and streaming by TLA Releasing in the U.S. and the U.K. earlier this year and by Optimale in France.
With: Nicolas Hau, Gabriel Norman, E.D. Yang, Joris Monnier, Jimmy P., Pierre-Luc Baron-Moreau, Valentin Puyau, Elri, O.B. De Alessi, Paul Hameline, Luca Gabriel, Raphaël Bouvet, Laurence Vialle, Gaël Depauw, Claude Pérès, Christophe Honoré, Gisèle Vienne, Tim Rameau