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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2007
Format: DVD
I think Matthew Barney is a consistently intriguing artist, but I must admit I generally find the criticism of his work far more interesting than the actual product he creates; the response is often richer than the statement. And while that sounds like an insult, I can't think of many other artists who occupy such a unique creative situation. Michael Bay, maybe?

Barney's sculptures and his video installations are a chunky milkshake of surrealism, egoism, metaphor, vanity, pretension, imagination, cliches both unintentional and subverted, and often lots and lots of goo. He spends a lot of time reflecting on Gary Gilmore and the mechanisms of the scrotum, and his films have featured such aged, awesome monuments as the Utah salt flats, the Chrysler Building and Norman Mailer (in the role of Houdini). Barney, too, often turns up, either dancing or climbing or crawling or facing the odd ordeal of having live airborne doves connected by strings to his penis.

There's almost no way to describe his work without sounding tongue-in-cheek to some degree, but on many levels I really like it. His languid, usually glacial pace, however, is no laughing matter. Even as someone who checks it all out, I've suspected the long running times have something to with the possibility that, if things moved any faster, these installations would be a lot harder to take seriously; they might be indistinguishable from some of the videos by underground bands that aired after 1 a.m. on MTV during the mid-1980s.

"No Restraint" is both a brief history of Barney and a look at his latest work, "Drawing Restraint 9." We get a good look at his early pieces -- workout equipment encased in Vaseline; taped footage of the former college football star creating art while being pulled away from his work by bunjee cords -- as well as glimpses of his Cremaster series. But most of the movie concerns the making of "9" in Japan and on a whaling ship. Much petroleum jelly is harmed during the making of this film.

If you're interested in Barney, you'll probably be interested in this. But as I watched it I wished the filmmakers had taken a different approach. Their style, like Barney's, is clean and very bright and paced on the draggy side. I would've liked to have seen this documentary go in the opposite direction and present its subject with a little more inventiveness and energy, something that didn't look so much like an electronic press kit. As it is, "No Restraint" is informative but it lacks that engaging, atypical hook or approach that can make a film like this really sing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a great film for fans of the artist, Matthew Barney. While exploring his process for Drawing Restraint 9, it also references his previous work in Cremaster. The most valuable aspect of this film is Barney sharing about the symbolic nature and meaning behind his work.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This certainly aint for viewers who are looking to be entertained. I spose since the days of Raphael and Co great visual art hasnt really been big with the box office-at least on the first take. Not saying that Barney is right up there but his ideas are pretty interesting and I suspect profoundly complex. It took me many years to finally figure out that the criticism around Joseph Beuys (one of Barneys main influences) was only getting the mans breadth of vision rarely and now the same thing seems to be happening with this guy. Basically he is a shaman, alchemist and rash sportsman. He doesnt have the European restraint (sorry) that characterises the continental tradition but he is on the mark when it comes to subject matter and novel angles-especially the whaleship film (The central subject of this doco) and his adoption of diverse petroleum products. Like Beuys, he wants to heal the growing rift between the nature and humanity, materialism and psyche, East and West, sport and art , Cain and Abel. (From a materialist point of view this is just ridiculous and an unconscious skepticism will probably colour the experience of watching the film) He in effect goes into the belly of the whale and revisits history with some surprising twists. If your interested in art that will still be discussed in years to come- it addresses the root cause of fashion rather than participating in it- then this is the man...as Barney has said somewhere, its best to see the drawings then the doco and then watch the film...but even then the latter is challenging. Moreover the doco really is more an adjunct to the greater body of the mans work and so needs to be considered in context. The is art for people who are serious about what art just might be able to do beyond entertainment. Its the kind of film that you have to work at...I found that I had to read a lot of stuff on Beuys, and others in the arena, see the film which is the subject of the doco and then ponder a whole lotta other stuff...synchronicites to do with Pearl Harbour, Melville and Whale boat attacks ..and so on...I think great art just keeps unveiling the depths long after the others are forgotten...Difficult but worth it.
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on January 2, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
While it's a fairly dull documentary about a really interesting artist, this video does provide a lot of insight into his methodology. Great information for art students and art courses..
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on January 11, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
A nice viewing experience. I'm waiting for an extensive Cremaster Set of somekind!! "No Restraint" offers some insights into Barney and leaves you wanting more.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I purchased this video for my adult son who requested a Cremaster video as a holiday gift. We watched it together and were so engrossed seeing this artist's total absorption in his own creative process. I realized he is totally confident in his own potential, in his own life journey, in his own talent and skill. It is something I aspire to as an artist and so I found this video very inspiring in that sense. And the scale on which he works came through very clearly in the video. It was clear, the audio was very understandable and we could tell what was going on. A lot of art videos seem obscure and it was great to be able to follow the artistic process both visually and audibly. The reactions of the work crews he employed were included in the footage and that in itself was cool! We could see the faces of the workers who hauled, lifted, lugged, worked the cranes -- and some looked very puzzled as to exactly what this guy was up to! It added a nice touch in that it took Barney out of "a bubble" and into the "real world" -- nice juxtaposing I thought.

He is a genius like so many of us but he has the whatever-it-is to actually coordinate dozens of people to manipulate 45,000 pounds of petroleum jelly into an overwhelming art installation! Whew!
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9 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I Both love and hate this film. While it has the depth of apple skin it looks real perty. Any inbred would surely love it! If you gave this to a hillbilly I think he would give it back unless prompted by a corn cob pipe and a felt hat to keep it. I think you could drill out the center of the dvd and line it with some nice soft fur and use it for a marital aid.
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