Sisters Anne (Baiwir then Giovannetti) and Catherine (Lopes-Benites then Creton) have grown up with the legend of local nobleman Bluebeard (Thomas), who notoriously marries pubescent girls who then go missing. As Catherine recounts the story to her sister, she imagines herself as one of Bluebeard's young brides, taken into his castle, where she demands her own bedroom until she comes of age. She also begins to wonder what happened to the women who came before her, and considers violating her husband's trust to find out the truth.
Continue reading: Bluebeard [barbe Bleue] Review
Her name is Vellini (Asia Argento). It's rumored she's the flamboyant progeny of an Italian priestess and a Spanish matador. She licks fresh blood off of gaping wounds. The ringlets of her hair resemble a heart turned on its head. It's said she can outstare the sun and the second you get your first glimpse at Argento laying on her canapé, you believe it sans aucun doute. Though he first casts her off as an "ugly mutt," the young playboy Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Aït Aattou) takes it as his task to possess this creature despite her blatant loathing of him. Eventually they exile themselves to Argentina and bear a daughter, only to see her die from the sting of a scorpion. Unchained and thrown into an abyss of grief, Argento's bellowing growl of despair could shred the very screen.
Continue reading: The Last Mistress Review
Continue reading: A Real Young Girl Review
Rather than show an even-handed evaluation of the rigors of hormonal change, Breillat (previously responsible for the unwatchable Romance) wants to indulge in her hour of hate. Life is pain, highness. Get used to it. She'd find keen bedfellows in Neil LaBute and Todd Solondz, other sultans of misanthropy who lack the balls to be earnest or honest. For children, dealing with trauma and pain is complicated. To bury that in sarcasm and academic theory feels cheap. These would-be auteurs (more like hauteurs) haven't earned the right to display suffering because they don't layer it in emotional truth (as Mike Leigh does throughout Naked and David Lynch in several key scenes of Blue Velvet). Of course, there I go again comparing her to all these (better) male directors. I don't care. Gender be damned, she's borderline inept.
Continue reading: Fat Girl Review
Anatomy of Hell starts off just dandy in a gay nightclub where the techno is thudding as we see "the woman" (Amira Casar) watching her boyfriend make out with some guy. She goes to the bathroom and slits her wrists, only to have "the man" (porn star Rocco Siffredi) walk in on her. He hauls her off to the doctor to get stitched up, they have a nice, tense walk, and after going down on him, she says she'll pay him to come watch her: "Watch me where I'm unwatchable." It's all rather dark and disconnected, but there's an insistent, punishing quality to these early scenes that highlight writer/director Breillat's abilities as a filmmaker. She has a slithery way with the camera - especially in a scene shot from above where Casar sidles across the nightclub dancefloor, grabbing hands and shouldering past the dancing men with a liquid malevolence - which should have made this a more enthralling film. As it stands, though, Breillat lets her talents as a sensual visualist go to waste in the name of sheer agitprop of the dullest kind.
Continue reading: Anatomy Of Hell Review
This extremely small and shallow film tells a singular tale: A movie director (Anne Parillaud) is having trouble getting her stars to go through with the movie's big sex scene. She tries everything: Gentle pressure, the hard sell, different settings. Ultimately it all comes down to using an oversized plastic phallus in the scene instead of the actor's real member, and our director is sure this will solve all the problems.
Continue reading: Sex Is Comedy Review
Marie (Caroline Trousselard) is a depressed nymphomaniac school teacher stuck in a relationship in which she cannot arouse her lover. The whole story involves her searching throughout Paris for the fufillment that her asinine boyfriend denies her. She defiles her body in the process as she encounters different men who satisfy her deprived erotic needs. She is willing to take on everything and everybody: from a vile stranger on the her apartment stairway who prosteletyzes her for oral sex, to a dominating masochistic school principal, to porn star Rocco Siffredi (whose character admits he hasn't had sex in four months). Can you imagine what happens there?
Continue reading: Romance Review
French teenager Thomas (Gilles Guillain) boards the British-bound ferry, finds a place to drop his backpack, and then heads for the cafeteria. While sliding his tray down the line, he gallantly helps Alice (Sarah Pratt) with her dishes and silverware. They sit together in the crowded restaurant, and the dance begins.
Continue reading: Brief Crossing Review
Unfortunately, this "torrid love affair" between a grieving American (Brando) and a pouty Parisian (Maria Schneider) -- they don't even tell one another their names -- is overlong and overblown. It's Bertolucci, after all, making a film inspired by his creepy desire to bone an anonymous woman he once saw. The story is one of dysfunction and thinly veiled misanthropy; love is left as an afterthought.
Continue reading: Last Tango in Paris Review
Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a Parisian in his forties who appears to have it all -- successful career, beautiful apartment, and the kind of weathered good looks that younger women find appealing from time to time. However, his life and his apartment are both in disarray. He's in the middle of a separation with his wife, which has probably led to indifference, loneliness, and the inability to run a vacuum or to mop a floor.
Continue reading: A Housekeeper Review