Before the art duo Pierre et Gilles, before fashion photographer David LaChapelle, before the artist Jeff Koons, and before the neo-Pop movement broke, there was director James Bidgood and his film PINK NARCISSUS. A cult classic, it is so considered more for its highly artistic production values than for its narrative.
The film is essentially a piece of gay erotica (more erotic than explicit) about an impossibly handsome young man (played by Bobby Kendall), obsessed with his own beauty and youth, who escapes the realities of street life through intricately choreographed fantasies in which he portrays a Roman slave, a matador, a wood nymph, and a harem boy. Characterized by searingly bright colors and highly stylized visual elements (sets, props, and costumes), Bidgood’s design for the film has been endlessly emulated by commercials and photographers to this day. PINK NARCISSUS is a “must see” for anyone interested in contemporary art, the pre-Stonewall sensibility, or the history of underground film.
The fascination of watching Damage is similar to the fascination of watching a car crash in progress–you know something unpleasant is going to happen, but your attention is riveted to the scene of destruction. In the case of this acclaimed drama, adapted by playwright David Hare from the novel by Josephine Hart, the destruction results from a collision of sexual attraction between a British governmental official (Jeremy Irons) and his son’s fiancée (Juliette Binoche). Blind to the damage they’ll cause to others and themselves, they begin an obsessive affair based purely on impulsive attraction and the hidden emotions that feed into their immediate physical desires. As you could expect, this leads to emotional fallout for everyone concerned, lending multiple interpretations to the film’s title and allowing Miranda Richardson (as Irons’s wife) to give a brilliant performance drawn from raw anger and betrayal. Under the direction of Louis Malle, this forceful drama never resorts to sordid detail or gratuitous titillation. Rather, Malle and his esteemed cast have explored the ways in which the power of sexuality supercedes the rationality of logic, when mutual attraction is stronger than one’s ability to resist temptation. Damage makes it clear that such an indulgence will always come at considerable cost. The DVD of this fine film includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and the original theatrical trailer. Continue reading
The taxidriver Paul and his girlfriend, the journalist Marianne (Solveig Andersson) starts to argue when Paul drags home his father, who is an alcoholic. At a party the bored Paul seduces a willing blonde in the room next to all the other guests. The next morning he wakes up between Marianne and her sister Beryl. The next couple of days are very hectic for Paul, with striptease, women and a meeting with the sadistic Mr X. Beryl escapes Mr X dressed only in a minkfur filled with drugs. Very dangerous…! Continue reading
Expatriate Henry Miller indulges in a variety of sexual escapades while struggling to establish himself as a serious writer in Paris.
Marital fidelity can wear you down, and Ondra (Hynek Čermák) and Vitek (Jiří Langmajer) are certainly suffering from a case of serious fatigue. Working side by side and living next door to each other, it doesn’t take long before these two long-married middle-aged pals start comparing sex notes, and it’s plain to see their latest scores have fallen far below what they would have hoped. Luckily, a surprise holiday on a tropical island rekindles their interest in their wives — only they don’t exactly lust after their designated partners. With no one to divert their attention, their roaming eyes inevitably settle on the wrong spouse, and pretty soon they’ve established their own little Holy Quaternity. The new film from Jan Hřebejk, director of the Academy Award®–nominated Divided We Fall, is an observant and audacious look at the measures some couples will take to revive desire. Ondra and Vitek’s irrepressible joie de vivre makes it impossible to pass judgment, even when the two couples break their own rules by fooling around behind each other’s backs. Parents to two sets of hormonally charged teenagers who endlessly circle each other in a clumsy pre-coital ritual — Vitek has two girls, Ondra two boys — the adults soon put their kids to shame by secretly straddling the fence that divides their communal front yard. Continue reading
Playwright, actor, director, and theatre scholar Girish Karnad conceived this film as a popularly-accessible tribute to the glories of Sanskrit drama, turning one of the most beloved of classical plays, the ca. 5th century “Little Clay Cart” (ascribed to Shudraka) into a contemporary spectacle with A-list stars and music by major filmi composers. Lavish sets and costumes, jewelry and hairstyles, all inspired by classical paintings and sculptures, evoke the glories of the Gupta age, while saucy dialog in contemporary (if properly Sanskritized) Hindi recreates the playwright’s satirical vision of the demimondaine world of the city of Ujjayini. By reminding viewers that, for ancient Indians, “pleasure” and “profit” (kama and artha) were right up there with “virtue” (dharma) among the principal Aims of Life, the film can serve as a refreshing antidote to the over-emphasized philosophical and mystical preoccupations of the much-studied texts of the classical period (e.g., Bhagavad-gita). Its Rabelaisian cast of characters — the voluptuous and talented courtesan, witty cat burglar, pompous monk, wild-eyed revolutionary — mirror those found in the worldly-wise story anthologies of the classical period (such as those translated in J. A. B. van Buitenen’s Tales of Ancient India), and thus bring to life their urbane world of fleshly delights. Continue reading
Doralice is a simple minded woman romantically fascinated by marriage. However, when she is raped by a butcher, a friend advises her to become a prostitute – and she does it. After that, all her wishes and longings will curl up into a fascinating vortex. Continue reading