Columbia City's Beacon Cinema has been open for less than a year, but they've already earned a sizable fan base for their unique and constantly rotating screenings. If you haven't been yet, maybe I can tempt you with their screening of—[checks notes]—Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom, which is, uh, widely regarded as the sickest movie ever made.
Loosely based on The 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade, this unstreamable horror art film is infamously banned in multiple countries. The reason? "Relentless sadism." As the Beacon's content warning reads: the film features torture, sexual violence and rape, coprophagia, and fascist violence. (If you're not sure what coprophagia is... why not look it up!) And yet, lovers of the film—of which there are many, including John Waters—argue that the film is beautiful! A masterpiece! A Criterion classic! I'm sympathetic to this point of view, but I think it takes a special kind of freak to program Friday and Saturday night showings of this shit show.
I sent some questions over to Casey Moore and Tommy Swenson, the nice guys who run the Beacon, and asked them to explain themselves.
First off, what the hell is your problem? Don't we have enough shit to deal with? Why are you subjecting us to Salo?
Our problem is a hopeless devotion to the immortal art of cinema and a commitment to sharing only the finest of motion pictures in our little movie theater in Columbia City. Sometimes that means The Red Balloon and sometimes that means the 120 Days of Sodom.
Pasolini, the gay Italian Marxist poet and philosopher, transposes the Marquis De Sade’s notorious writing onto the final days of Italian fascism. The political struggles being expressed in this anguished scream of a film are alive in our present moment. Roland Barthes called it “absolutely irredeemable” but insisted it be defended precisely because it refuses to allow us to redeem ourselves.
There is always more shit that needs dealing with, sometimes literally.
I mistakenly rented this from Scarecrow over Christmas break. They told me someone else had rented their other copy over Christmas. Gross. Was it either of you?
No, we both of course own it in multiple formats so it’s easily on hand during any and all holiday celebrations, religious or state.
What's scarier—Salo or Cats?
Two delirious pageants of cruelty and suffering but the scariest thing here, Chase, is your insistence on pitting high and popular art against each other. Both these films are necessary documents of abuses of power.
John Waters said Salo has his "favorite end of any movie" he's ever seen and that "it's incredibly beautiful and simple." Please justify this terrible opinion.
As he always is, John Waters is 1,000 percent right and the only way to find out for yourself is to come to the Beacon this weekend.
Will you be providing barf bags?
No, but we might be selling brownies.