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    Art attack

    Performers led by a charismatic avant-garde R&B singer fight back against the forces of censorship and traditional values in a fast and fun romp called "Existo."


    In a not-too-distant future, not too different from the present day, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have been improved with the addition of William Bennett, and the people are being warned, "If you have to go out and you see art, DO NOT try to interpret it yourself. Call 911 and let the Art Squad defuse it."

    Directed by: Coke Sams.
    Written by: Coke Sams and Bruce Arntson.
    Cast: Bruce Arntson, Jackie Welch, Mark Cabus, Jim Varney, Gailard Sartain, Michael Montgomery.
    Cinematography: Jim May.

    Related links: Official site
    Into such an America bursts Existo, a singer whose elaborate performances flaunt the combined evils of artistic licentiousness, sexual liberation, mockery of corporate values, and hip, danceable R&B. Existo, a stylish but quirky sort of Buster Poindexter in Baptist country, spins a rapid-fire satirical patter punctuated by sly ruminations: "My thoughts are oily — slick advance men for the coming nightmare," he warns the first time we see him. Other times he sounds like a rock-and-roll Reverend Billy:

    Who will free the little Laura Ashleys and Baby Gap boys chained to their trust funds? Who will lead them from the Golden Arches to the larval yearnings of the Great Void?

    Around Existo rally a motley crew of performance artists, lit critics, radical vegetarians, gay activists, flag burners, you name it, determined to battle the local televangelist who is crusading to stamp out art and restore decency. (He's heard a rumor that his own daughter saw Existo's show and subsequently was seen at a known lesbian coffeehouse.)

    A movie with this premise could easily sink under the wait of pretension and self-righteousness, but this one doesn't. The band of merry artists — mostly local performers in the Nashville area, led by actress Jackie Welch — keep their sense of humor and never take themselves too seriously in this romp through traditional-values America. Most of all, the charismatic Existo (Bruce Arntson, previously seen in, of all things, the various Ernest movies) carries the film with a frenzy of fresh ideas and original music.

    Hear music from "Existo" on streaming RealAudio:
  • "Fuckin' A" (3:40).
  • "Sewer of Love" (excerpt) (2:15).
  • Audio compilation (6:16).
    ę1999, Bruce Arntson.

    Requires free RealPlayer.

  • MAY 21, 2000

    Reader comments on Existo:

  • Bravo Existo   from Charlie Tate, Jul 4, 2001
  • omgz ur lyke faymus!!   from Jo Mama, May 11, 2006

  • Post a comment on "Existo"