One of the inspirations for the new film Permanent Green Light was an Australian teen who ran away from home in 2014, joined ISIS, and wound up on a suicide bombing mission where he (luckily) failed (and only managed to explode himself). That’s heavy subject matter, but we’ve come to expect nothing less from co-director Dennis Cooper.
A celebrated novelist, poet, performance artist and critic, Cooper has been delivering a wide variety intelligent, deeply affecting work for decades – usually exploring queer characters and dark themes in ways that always subvert expectations. Now he’s continuing his controversial explorations through the medium of film.
John Waters called Like Cattle Towards Glow, Cooper’s debut feature co-directed by Zac Farley, “a real French tickler for the fucked-up literary set.” A collection of experimental vignettes, that film offers up a complex, intimate, strangely serene, wide-ranging and always challenging exploration of sexual desire as a hiding place. It’s explicit and often deliberately confounding, but difficult to erase from your mind once you’ve seen the images captured within.
With Permanent Green Light, Farley and Cooper’s latest collaboration, they maintain their almost other-worldly style, but tell a more straight-forward story. Unlike other teenagers, Roman (Benjamin Sulpice) doesn’t seem interested in sports or drugs, girls or boys. He’s neither nihilist, religious, depressive or suicidal. His goal is to vanish, dying is unimportant and he’s only interested in the act’s spectacular effect. “But please, don’t misinterpret it as a death.”