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By Mark Bell | September 8, 2013

What to say about Carlos Atanes’ latest film, Gallino, The Chicken System? Self-dubbed a “pornophilosophical film,” this one actually feels easier to grasp than the previous work of his that I experienced, Maximum Shame. That doesn’t mean what I’m about to say is going to make any sense, however.

The basic synopsis is that a man, Alucinio (Octavi Pujades), is wandering the frozen wastelands of Antarctica at the behest of a woman he met in a dream, who agreed to meet him there. When he comes across a Roasted Chicken store in the middle of the tundra, he stops in and begins an evening of strangeness with the shop’s owner, known as the Poulterer (Manuel Solàs). Over the course of the evening, the two wax philosophical (ahem, PORNOphilosophical) about chicken, dreams, anal sex, multiple dimensions, sexual magick and more as scenes unfold and re-fold around them.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, I didn’t mention the roasted chickens getting fist-f****d, the fellating of chicken drumsticks, the pornoscopic glasses, telepathy-induced orgasms or renowned underground filmmaker Gropius Cantor (Miguel Hermoso Arnao), who makes films no one has seen, and who appears to have a pinhole camera for a head. And even that leaves out Sabine (Maria Kaltembacher) and Espasmo (Amaya Galeote), Cantor’s disciples, the phrenologist-actress (Sasha Slugina), Warren the fried chicken franchise king (Pablo Puyol) and his wife Madeleine (Itxaso Badell) and more.

In its way, the film is about a lot of things, and nothing. Conversations surrounding Gropius Cantor, for example, at times seem to be perhaps filmmaker Atanes discussing his own career, and the reactions or non-reactions surrounding it. At the same time, this also seems like the most elaborate way to try to convince someone that anal sex is a good thing; an act of almost universal salvation. All around, the film seems to operate on dream logic, as, again, it all folds and re-folds in on, and out of, itself.

Notice I keep saying “seems”? It’s because I don’t want to commit to saying this is truly any one thing, because I don’t think that it is. It’s more a cinematic experience that you feel out, and it becomes what you want it to become. For some, it’ll deliver some startling insights. For others, it’s bullshit artsy gibberish that you can’t believe anyone would conceive, let alone film. And still more will just feel bad for all the sexualized chicken. Hell, I even think it might be a prequel to Maximum Shame.

But it’s a well-made film, and whether I sometimes found it narratively impenetrable doesn’t mean it doesn’t deliver on something fantastic overall. Within Gallino, The Chicken System is an entire universe of creativity, albeit one that may or may not reflect this plane of reality as we know it. I don’t know that the traditional sense of how we react to film applies here. It’s more of an art experience than a simple film, and you will feel more than a little dirty after watching it (if not from the sexualized notions, then from the feeling of being surrounding by chicken grease). I don’t know that it’s for everyone (or anyone), but it’s certainly unique. Gibberish? Genius? I think I’m done eating chicken for a little while.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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