Sunday, October 16, 2011

KEEP THE RIVER ON YOUR RIGHT (2000) -
David & Laurie Gwen Shapiro


I've suffered a bit from documentary fatigue in the last few years. Too many docs post-Fahrenheit 9/11 seem to be pushing some agenda (either from the left or from the right) and are a compendium of things you already kinda know. With documentaries, I expect to explore new worlds, new psyches, learn a thing or two. This pre-9/11 portrait of artist/author/anthropologist/arguable cannibal Tobias Schneebaum provides all those things. Plus, a little Norman Mailer.

Five things I learned while watching Keep the River on Your Right...

1. If you happen to be in New Guinea and meet a member of the Asmat tribe, you greet them by rubbing chins together (see above pic) rather than shaking hands.

2. Conversely, other tribes in the area you greet with a mutual palming of the testicles (no pic provided).

3. Documentary filmmakers will do just about anything to juice their movie, including brow-beating a man in his late 70s with early onset Parkinson's (Tobias Schneebaum) into climbing up the muddy steps of ruins in Peru and revisiting the third world jungle locale of some of his darkest memories.

4. Schneebaum was the out and proud "house homosexual" at one of Norman Mailer's Village residences in the late '40s.

5. Human flesh tastes like pork; not chicken (as per Schneebaum)

I am enriched.

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