Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

MEET MONICA VELOUR (2010)
A nerdy guy travels to meet his favorite porn star from the Porn Chic era. It's a cute, somewhat grounded movie about a young fan who thinks he can save someone he admires, and who gets snapped into reality by his experience. To my surprise, Kim Cattrall plays Monica Velour with a sort of touching, wounded quality that's a little affecting. It's also amazing to me how at the age of 55 and with makeup to make her aging look harder, Kim Cattrall looks exactly like Lindsay Lohan does now... ***

1001 PERVERSIONS OF FELICIA (1975)
Well, the title oversells it. Far fewer than 1001 perversions, but it's not like I'm disappointed by this French Porn Chic adult movie. To approximate a line from the protagonist of Meet Monica Velour, back then porn had stories instead of hookers on Prozac going through the motions. I like adult movies from the Porn Chic era, because it was possible--as in this movie--to tell a story about sex and sexual relationships where the graphic sex scenes are organically part of the story. It says a lot about the way we relate to each others' sexuality and our own today that the people who make porn find it more profitable to make short, storyless, non-contextual scenes and that a movie like Shame can't get an R rating. Anyway, dug the movie about a girl's sexual awakening while staying with free-spirited friends of her parents. Beatrice Harnois has the most beautiful pout. ***1/2

THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1926)
Engrossing German silent film, basically a Heimatfilm and, of course, starring Luis Trenker because it's about a mountain. I didn't know he was in this, but wasn't surprised to see him appear. The film stars Leni Riefenstahl in her film debut as a dancer who comes between Trenker (a famous mountain climber) and his friend (Ernst Petersen). As an actress, Riefenstahl is an incredible dancer. The dance scenes are really something, and the way they're juxtaposed with the heavy symbolism of the mountain, the acts of honorable sacrifice, amazing set pieces, and the heavy passions here on display are pretty breathtaking, even for a film that's propagandistic about simple, good German values (the film even ends with the reassurance that loyalty is one of the highest virtues of humanity, which is chillingly close to the motto of the SS: "My Honor Is Loyalty"). The Holy Mountain is a film from that time period when silent films were becoming truly impressionistic and representative, and it's just a stunning achievement to take in. If you can separate it from the propaganda, it's a masterpiece. ****

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