Chicago-based filmmaker Usama Alshaibi is the modern master of transgressive cinema. The DVD “Solar Anus Cinema” collects nine of his female portraits filmed between 2001 and 2008, plus the longer narrative short film The Amateurs, produced in 2003.
For the portraits, Alshaibi films different women, including his wife Kristie Alshaibi, either fully nude, partially nude or in various stages of undress. But these aren’t loving erotic gazes. There is a hint of performance art in the way the women writhe, gyrate and strut in front of Alshaibi’s mostly manic camera that races around their bodies as if excited by each and every part of their form.
Each portrait is also imbued with either just a hint of violence or an explicit vision of it. Blood comes out through various wounds and orifices to remind the viewer that these visions of loveliness are real, physical beings.
“The Amateurs” is a longer short film with a story. It’s a fictional comedy in which Alshaibi has cast himself as an amateur pornographer auditioning women to perform with his two male cohorts in front of a camera.
Most of the comedy of “The Amateurs” derives from the men being unable to fulfill Alshaibi’s outrageous requests. While several moments of the film are laugh-out-loud funny, the precarious situations the men and women are placed in grows more-and-more uncomfortable and squeamishness-inducing, making for a complicated, unforgiving experience. –Mike Everleth, badlit.com