Everything about The Cremaster Cycle is sensuous, and Matthew Barney is the most generous filmmaker; he is not interested in feeding us a world through his eyes and ears. Instead, he wants to open up a world to us by uncovering for us the things we want to see and hear. What he sees and enjoys most, we see from the most satisfying angle. What he hears and enjoys most, we hear at the most appropriate volume. And these sights and sounds, we experience at just the right moments and frequency. The camera floats at times like our eyes do when scoping out an unfamiliar place. Static shots and long silences (i.e. with audio, but no dialogue or music) allow us to see and hear the situation and every detail in it to our heart’s content. There is so much gratification for the viewer that you can’t help but love the experience you’re being given, despite it being given to you by Barney and not yourself. As long as film is a practice in voyeuristic pleasure, Barney, as filmmaker, delivers.
For being a study of sexual differentiation, the epic does not take itself too seriously (maybe 5, and parts of 3, but most certainly not 1, 2, and 4). Those who claim that it is a masterpiece defying all classification are blowing what is a neat series of films all out of proportion. For The Cremaster Cycle is just that: five films, nothing more. And Barney knows this: he knows that a movie is a movie, and that above all, a movie’s purpose is to entertain. His sculptures may be art, but his films are not. Nonetheless, there is a link between the two, a link that truly distinguishes The Cremaster Cycle: these films make love to sculpture.