"Death and my cock are the world."—Jim Morrison, I think
In his review of the inventive enfant-terrible indie Bellflower for The A/V Club, Keith Phipps hits on something crucial about the film that I've yet to see any other reviewer mention. He says that "after a point" it becomes "a film about men who hate women, and it comes awfully close to endorsing that point of view." Well, screw that, I'll go even further: it doesn't "come close" to endorsing that point of view, it absolutely embodies that point of view, it can see no other possibility but that point of view, it IS that point of view.
But the film ought to be given some points for honesty. It's true that not all of the ball-flappin' PBR-swillers who are this film's ideal audience and sort-of subject matter have the time or wherewithal to build flame-throwing cars modeled after the Road Warrior movies, but the movie does paint an accurate picture of how those types like to role, "romance" wise. Which is to say (and here maybe I ought to interject a spoiler alert; be warned), that if you're hanging with a chick who is reckless and irresponsible in ways that jibe with your own recklessness and irresponsibility, e.g., she'll go off with you on a week-long road trip from California to Texas at the drop of a hat without even bringing a toothbrush let alone a change of clothes, then that chick ROCKS, or even RAWKS; on the other hand, if she's reckless and irresponsible in ways that might chafe you, e.g., she fucks her old roommate in your bed, then she's the FUCKING SLUT BITCH WHO BROKE YOUR PRECIOUS BUT NOW EVER-HARDENING HEART, WAAAUUGH! I believe the industry term for this kind of double-dealing is "bullshit."
This sort of thing isn't exactly rife in DIY indies, but it's not exactly inconspicuous either. A very pertinent example, alas, is Nights and Weekends, which is a 100-percent "Respect The Cock" movie in spite of Greta Gerwig's directorial co-signature. The frustrated desire of Joe Swanberg's James is played throughout for poignancy and squelched potency, while Gerwig's Mattie is drawn more enigmatically, in a kind of "What do women want—no, never mind, actually we don't care" way. Its will to a particular kind of power is so upfront that one needn't read between the frames to see Swanberg's rather disgusting extra-diegetic agenda at work. And note well the wannabe-quirky studio piece Crazy, Stupid, Love, in which the only vaguely sexually liberated character is left out in the cold, as it were, at the end, alone and resentful after all manner of patriarchal order is restored, impotently giving the finger to the man who scorned her. She doesn't even drink, the poor freak. Why, it's "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" all over again.
"Stockhausen Serves Imperialism," Cornelius Cardew charged in 1974. Were one to allow that point, one could go on to argue that under the circumstances, Stockhausen could not do the work that he did WITHOUT serving imperialism. Among other things, Bellflower serves sexist oppression—and it does so by choice, achingly, whole-heartedly, and with its eyes wide open.