6 posts categorized "Erotic"

April 10, 2018

LAST TANGO IN PARIS

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ColeSmithey.comBorn of Bernardo Bertolucci's fantasies about carrying on a purely sexual affair with a complete stranger, Marlon Brando's Paul and Maria Schneider's Jeanne meet regularly in an empty Parisian apartment for unbridled sexual trysts. Paul insists that neither one reveal their names or express any elements of their lives outside their insular world.

Theirs is a relationship built purely on carnal intention and experimentation. The stark atmosphere that Bertolucci creates allows for sensual realism to thrive.

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Jeanne doesn't know that Paul is coping with his wife's recent suicide. Paul knows nothing of Jeanne's obsessive filmmaker boyfriend Tom (Jean-Pierre Léaud) who is on the brink of proposing to Jeanne.

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Written with assistance from Franco Arcalli and Anges Varda, Bertolucci plays liberally with dualities to address deep-seeded emotions that can only be expressed indirectly. Even the filmmaker’s noir-influenced image system plays with angles.

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For the first time, Paul drinks with Tom, his wife's neighbor and former lover, who wears the same robe as Paul. The over-enthusiastic Tom represents an outwardly preoccupied inversion of Paul, who tests Jeanne's temperamental boundaries in similar but altered ways.

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After revealing his identity and troubled situation, Paul tells Jeanne, "When something's finished, it begins again." He breaks the carefully guarded code the lovers have adhered to up until now. Paul's sudden turn from cynic to optimist (late in the story) must be punished. His refusal to adhere to his own rules is unacceptable. Not everything is permitted.

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For all of the critical and public controversy about “Last Tango” being a pornographic film at the time of its release, the movie is a painstakingly theatrical mood piece that relies heavily on judiciously coded musical cues from Gato Barbieri's repeated motifs.

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Significant is Philippe Turlure's bold art direction that draws on the work of the artist Francis Bacon. Two of Bacon's paintings introduce the film during its opening credit sequence. They influence the look of the movie’s saturated color scheme for the interior of the apartment where much of the story takes place. A two-foot high rust colored waterline surrounds the interior walls as if to suggest that the apartment had been submerged in a mixture of blood and water for an extended period during its storied past. The ravages of wars fought have left their mark here.

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“Last Tango in Paris” is a masterwork of post-modern existential angst that attempts to reconcile a depth of social existence through its sexually liberated characters.

Rated NC-17. 129 mins.

5 Stars

Mike broke out Wavy Tropics Guava Pale Ale from Kills Boro Brewing for our discussion of Bertolucci's LAST TANGO IN PARIS even if we had planned to do Lars von Trier's MANDERLAY for this, our 99th episode. Check out my silent shout-out to THE STRYPES if you go to ColeSmithey.com. Bon appetite!

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Cozy Cole

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June 16, 2014

VENUS IN FUR — CANNES 2013

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

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Thanks a lot acorns!

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Kinky Boots
Roman Polanski Gives Takes Venus All The Way

ColeSmithey.comRoman Polanski’s 20th film is an exquisite deconstructionist articulation of a quicksilver sadomasochistic tug-of-war between a middle-aged theater director and an enigmatic actress auditioning for a role in his upcoming play “Venus in Furs.”

She just might be Venus incarnate.

As he did with his last film, “God of Carnage” (2011), and his 1994 film “Death and the Maiden,” Roman Polanski returns to the theatre for inspiration.

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David Ives’s theatrical adaptation of Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novella “Venus in Furs” already contained subtle thematic threads common to Polanski’s oeuvre — think “Bitter Moon,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Tenant.”

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Obsession with sexual domination, confined spaces, and an unreliable protagonist are all on display. Here is an energizing spoonful of soup-to-nuts fetishism, with teasing desert courses strewn throughout.

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From a gloriously long tracking shot down a rainy Parisian boulevard, we are inexorably lured into a private theatrical vortex by a sudden crack of lightening. A playful musical score (by Alexandre Desplat) sets a mood of percolating voodoo. The disused set for an ostensibly failed production of an adaptation of John Ford’s “Stagecoach” sits on the stage of the rundown theater where director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) wraps up his day of auditions for the character of Wanda von Dunayev. An unusually tall prop cactus provides a strangely appropriate phallic symbol for the action that follows.

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Thomas complains on his cellphone in misogynistic terms about the actresses he has seen. A lack of “sexy-slash-articulate young women with some classical training and a particle of brain in their skulls” has left Thomas feeling dejected. Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) arrives like a bolt of feminist Goddess lightening when she bursts through the theater door.

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Cursing like a sailor in a low class French accent, Seigner’s Vanda insists her agent sent her, although her name is nowhere to be found on the call sheet. Dressed in a leather corset and sporting a dog collar, Vanda has come prepared — very prepared — she has memorized every line of the play. Still, Thomas remains skeptical. Only when Vanda convinces him to read opposite her as the character of Severin von Kusiemski does her resolute skill as an actress convincingly transform her into the archetypal 19th century dominatrix for his play.

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The story-within-a-story-within-a-movie teeters on the ambiguous tight wire dance that Thomas and Vanda perform. Emmanuelle Seigner’s performance is cleverly delicious. Her effortless transition between the four nesting-doll types that she plays (gypsy, consummate actress, feminist sophist, and Venus) creates a hallucinatory effect that pushes the drama in multiple directions at once. The dialogue is as intellectually sharp as it is sensually perceptive.

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Vanda and Thomas mime their characters’ actions on stage in the same way that student actors are want to do when working without props. With five weeks of rehearsal under their belts, Polanski’s actors connect with such precise execution that the constant shifts between their self-reflexive characters are seamlessly exact.

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Constant kicks of irony exhort audience laughs as the dueling pair keeps up the charade of an audition process where Thomas is the patriarchal judge to Vanda’s hopeful ingénue. Along the way the polarity of power switches back and forth between them. When Vanda commands Thomas to dress her in a pair of dominatrix knee-high boots, his quest for “annihilation” in her service takes shape.

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With a Tony Award nomination under its belt, and the dubious honor of being America’s most produced play in the 2013-14 season, “Venus in Fur” represents another S&M signpost of our ongoing global societal clampdown.

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There is a reason that “50 Shades of Grey” hit a popular nerve. Willing humiliation under the lash of omnipresent corporate-political-totalitarianism could be construed a logical path for some. Audiences have every reason for their curiosities to be piqued over what Roman Polanski can do with such ingeniously loaded material.

Not Rated. 96 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

ColeSmithey.com

March 08, 2014

NYMPH()MANIAC: VOLUME I

Welcome!

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel. Punk heart still beating.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

 

ColeSmithey.com Just as with Harvey Weinstein’s famous mistake of splitting Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” into two parts, the producers of Lars von Trier’s 240 minute film have seen fit to split it in two, rather than deliver the movie as the filmmaker intended. Big mistake.

The result is exactly what you would expect, that of watching half of a movie. It is not a fair way for an audience to screen the film, much less an acceptable format for a critic to judge and contextualize it by. To make matters worse, there will also be a 5.5 hour director’s cut that will demand interested viewers cover old ground if they are invested enough to want to see von Trier’s entire film. Meh. Pshaw. 

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Volume I establishes the character of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-hating nymphomaniac rescued from the cold ground of a brick-wall-surrounded courtyard by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), a thematically-charged character whose sole purpose — in Volume I at least — is as a human sounding-board and harmonizing influence for Joe's litany of sexual transgressions.

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Seligman is a lonely guy, a bit too pleased to have in his company a piece of female damaged-goods who wants nothing more than to spill the beans about her life of wild and naughty sexual diversions — indeed her sexual experiences are many and varied. Joe is one carnally voracious girl. The titillation dial is stuck on ten.

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The film opens on a black screen. Water tinkles. The viewer is left to imagine its source. Is someone taking a leak? No. Snow is falling, and melted ice drips down a tin drain.

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A passed-out Joe lies bloodied on the pavement of a well-concealed courtyard outside of Seligman's apartment. Seligman awakens her. He offers to call an ambulance or the police. Joe threatens to run off if he does. It’s tea that she wants. He invites her inside his sparsely appointed place and puts her in bed. The defenseless Joe begins to recount her sexually adventurous life that led up to her present wounded condition — possibly from some act of revenge or semi-public bit of BDSM.

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Seligman not only isn’t judgmental about Joe's checkered past, he finds all sorts of reference points from his own life — related to things such as fly-fishing. He sees similes in her troubled tale of bedding as many as ten men per day. Seligman is a dilettante counselor who is patient, and effete enough to listen to Joe’s outrageously erotic stories without becoming visually aroused or making a pass that would surely be easily received.

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Not all of Joe’s flashbacks are sexual. She fondly remembers walking though a winter forest with her doting father (Christian Slater). Joe’s erotic journey is broken into chapters — four for each film. “The Compleat Angler” is the first section. Joe recounts playing a sexual conquest game with her best friend, in which the two teenage girls would compete for a bag of candies by seeing how many men they could seduce during a train ride. Joe gets extra points if she can extract a load from a married man on his way to impregnate his ovulating wife. His cock does indeed find its way into Joe’s hungry mouth. No surprise how that scene ends.

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Joe’s flashback description of losing her virginity — at her own request — to Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), a local London boy with a moped, brings up the fact that he "humped her three times in the front, and five times in the back." Seligman identifies Joe’s “most humiliating numbers” as following a Fibonacci series. Von Trier steals a page from Peter Greenaway when he superimposes graphic onscreen sub-titles and diagrams of the way Fibonacci numbers are used. Referenced is the way they approximate the natural order of a seashell. The numbers themselves flash on the screen as Jerôme pumps away at a younger version of Joe (played by a fearless Stacy Martin).

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As Joe’s personal tales of knee-jerk seductions go on, the sex scenes become gradually more graphic, and the sideline humor more sly. During the film’s third chapter “Mrs. H,” Uma Thurman plays the vengeful and curious wife of the man who has left her in order to be with Joe. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. H has any idea that they are interrupting a busy evening of carefully timed assignations that Joe has planned with various men.

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Nymph()maniac is a sly piece of anti-slut-shaming cinema aimed at demystifying female carnal desire. It is a character-study of an ostensibly rare type of sexually ravenous woman. Von Trier creates a new breed of social satire that is equally daring and tame. While the film is fiercely pornographic, it does not represent pornography per se.

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“Love is the secret ingredient” that Joe denies and yet secretly seeks. Her loss of the ability to orgasm coincides with her father’s imminent death. Volume II promises to follow Joe’s experimentation into fetishized BDSM. 

To be continued...

Not Rated. 117 mins.

4 Stars

Cozy Cole

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