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I try not to judge a person’s taste in art. Many people have these painted black pieces of sheet metal shaped like cowboys where I live. The sharp, ghostly shadows are welded to their mailboxes or often have a cloth handkerchief and a real lasso attached. It’s fucking terrible, and I have no idea why they exist. I'm not one to use the word tacky, but if I did, that's what I would call these eyesores--along with their almost as shitty kin that sculpture made from license plates (another favorite around here). Fuck them both, but as I said, I make an effort to be accepting because even though it’s not in front of my house for all to see, I have my own art that might leave people confused and angry as well, for example--very fine crap’s short film: The Bliss.
The Bliss offers a slice of life from a hellish dimension adjacent to our own but with enflamed deformity and extra violence. The setting is not unlike a hot day in a shitty town and is topped off with an excess of grotesque mutants. On the whole, it is discomforting in the best way, akin to a well-crafted painting that reaches into your brain and touches something you had hidden away. There is no dialog, only squeaks, and grunts. At no point did I know why anything was happening--by design, I assume, leaving it up to the viewer to sift through the slime to find their own meaning. Often, the footage feels like a normal routine for the subjects, taking in sights that would constitute nightmares to us.
In the film's perplexing opening, a hideously deformed geriatric in a wheelchair rolls home to relax and eat a dinner of random body parts. For whatever reason, that particular serving sets the malformed senior citizen off, so it goes to the fridge and is disappointed to find more of the same (I think-- there are just bloody bones everywhere and he looked bummed).
Soon after, the obfuscated story takes a gruesome stroll through an alleyway to the presence of what looks like a most unfortunate, homeless cenobite with an exposed nipple and a chronic illness holding a skull and some entrails like it is a bundle of joy. This heartwarming scene doesn't last long, however, because the intro’s old man-thing seemingly abducts the object of affection from the bipedal chunk of flesh, and they all head to his place for a round of torture focused on genitalia. I don’t want to give anything away, as this film is best viewed while forming your own interpretations, and there is little more than these horrendous acts on screen constituting the work. Also, to be completely honest, that's about all I can put in stone about the plot, and I may have already misrepresented it. It's the kind of film that will have you asking questions like, "Are those two things on different levels of the food chain or just really kinky friends?”, "Is that a baby?” and "Was that real insertion that flashed on the screen?". It also must be said that the display is intense and, without a doubt, only for a very niche audience.
Even before mutilation, the characters are quivering humanesque figures with broken features, somewhere between a smooshed lump of clay and one of those creepy apple head dolls. With the damaged tape effect, everything on screen is painted in a bright, burning hue, and the picture can come to a boil in oranges and yellows. Without taking away from the fucked-up grime, the choices in camera work have moments of expertise between unhinged craftsmanship and an overlong focus on the gruesome visuals. 
As beautiful as it is a violation of the senses, The Bliss contains some of the best low-budget practical props I have seen in a long time. There are varying qualities on display, but the delicate eyebrows and eyelashes on a few fractured prosthetic craniums could make a strip-mall cosmetologist cry. If the whole presentation and design weren't so outlandish, some of these chunks of synthetic human could confuse Charlie Sheen into calling the FBI.
The score gives its musical narration to each indescribable scene, taking over for the lack of spoken word, telling the audience the intended mood with digital synth distorted to match the camera quality. It's a crunchy circus of beats and tones that pull their weight by successfully highlighting absurd comedy and uncomfortable horror. 
very fine crap videos (stylized without capitals) hails from Detroit, comprised of artist/musician/director James Bell and Amanda Bell.  The production company grew from James Bell’s first film, a documentary called DOG DICK which captured his less than ideal surroundings at the time.  All the music was made by James Bell, who does the scoring on each of his films under the name Kids Kill Kids. The Bliss is the seventh of what is currently a ten-film catalog, with original, unsettling box illustrations that match their indefinable contents. Also available from their online store is screen-used, visceral props, which I’m sure could strike up some great conversation at your next wine and cheese party.  
If this film is any indication, James Bell is making unique cinema pieces that defy sacred norms. These will not be for everyone, or if I had to guess, hardly anyone, but if you are part of that elite group of sickos (myself included), you will be rewarded with a morsel of strangeness, unlike anything you have seen. As far as I’m concerned, great art cannot always cast a wide net and can often lose people with its approach. Art can’t please everyone because everyone has unique perspectives, experiences, and tastes. Be it metal sculpture or strange cinema, the work has to speak to the viewer on some level. For me, that can often mean losing that bag of Hot Cheetos and Modelo I had instead of lunch, others-- a stupid two-dimensional cowboy in their yard.
23m | 2018
Director: James Bell
Writer: James Bell

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