Jul 25, 2014

Private Parts (1972)

Poor Paul Bartel. Imagine if you directed an excellent exploitation flick deserving of instant cult status that was buried by a studio and rarely seen, then a degenerate yet exceedingly popular Hebraic shock-jock horndog like Howard Stern comes along and creates a film with the same exact name a couple decades later, thus guaranteeing the film’s permanent obscurity. Indeed, Private Parts (1972) is the debut feature of Bartel and unlike Stern’s 1997 biopic of the same, it is wickedly funny and pleasantly perverse. Sort of like a compulsively campy mutation of Psycho (1960) featuring hagsploitation elements as if directed by the son of Curtis Harrington, Bartel’s quasi-slasher flick is far too sophisticated for gorehounds yet too raunchy and perverse for the sort of bourgeois cinephiles who delicately diddle themselves to the artwork of the last Criterion Collection release. Made at a time when obnoxious bull-dykes did not have their own hit talk shows, parents would beat their sons if they decided to dress like girls, before tranny freaks and other sexual invalids associated with the authoritarian aberrosexual LGBT movements did not start throwing out smear words against heterosexuals like ‘cisgender’ and ‘heteronormativity,’ and—arguably most importantly—fags still knew how to make fun of themselves, Private Parts is a masterpiece of cinematic homo self-exploitation that demonstrates that gays indeed had a place in this world when gay-bashing was still somewhat vogue. Undoubtedly Bartel’s most primitive and graphic work (indeed, the film features genitals as advertised), the film is partly a satire of the counter-culture era that features, among other things, a murderous woman who thinks she’s a man that looks like Lou Reed, as well as an old bitchy puritanical hag who helps said loony Lou Reed look-a-like slaughter worthless hippie degenerates. Sort of like Blood Feast (1963) meets Chelsea Girls (1966), Private Parts is the tastefully trashy story of a 16-year-old teenage girl who moves in with her reclusive bull-dyke-like hotelier aunt who runs a rundown hotel inhabited by senile old cranks, gay closeted middle-aged reverends who live second lives as leather-fags, and a cock-less female-to-male tranny of the majorly murderous sort whose idea of a sexual climax is injecting her blood into a water-filled blowup dolls. Featuring auteur Bartel during his more ‘svelte’ period in a Hitchcockian cameo as a man having anonymous sex in a public park, Private Parts is a rare ‘psychotronic’work possessing both wit and intellect that demonstrates that horror and exploitation hacks have no excuse for directing mundane and/or mindless cinematic twaddle, as one can make a perfectly perverse film with a bit of sophistication. Opening with a marvelous montage featuring various nudes set against a pitch black background, Private Parts immediately sets a titillating tone of quasi-campy sex and violence of the postmodern Hitchcockian (emphasis on the cock!) sort. 

 After her less than homely bitch of a roommate Judy (Ann Gibbs) catches her playing ‘peeping tom’ (aka she sees her screw some nerdy hippie), 16-year-old Cheryl Stratton (Ayn Ruymen)—a petite little lady that might suffer from a mild cause of autism—is forced to seek shelter elsewhere, thus she decides to head to a rundown hotel owned and operated by her eccentric estranged Aunt Martha (Lucille Benson). Upon arriving at the hotel, Aunt Martha, who seems like a repressed bull-dyke, is somewhat hostile, but finally agrees that she can stay under one condition: “that you promise not to wander around the hotel alone. This is no place for a little girl.” Indeed, as a place inhabited by a gay religious leader named Mr. Moon (Laurie Main), who moonlights as a leather-fag despite being well into his 50s and has young twink hustlers sent to his room that he refuses to pay, and sundry women with varying degrees of dementia, Judy sticks out like a sore spade thumb. When Cheryl’s bitchy ex-roommate’s boy toy stops by to see Cheryl for dubious reasons, he finds himself decapitated by a mysterious slasher killer, with his headless corpse being thrown in an incinerator. Upon asking Aunt Martha about her blood uncle Orville and Cousin Alice, who is supposed to be twice her age, Cheryl gets some rather strange answers. While Aunt Martha states that Orville, “passed on several years ago, age of 73,” she is slightly more ambiguous regarding Alice, stating, “I guess you’d say she’s in the Lord’s hands.” Meanwhile, Cheryl learns that there is a reclusive photographer that lives at the hotel named George (John Ventantonio), who has turned one of the hotel rooms into a makeshift darkroom and only leaves his room at night. When Cheryl’s intolerable bitch ex-roommate shows up at the hotel, Aunt Martha lures her to George’s darkroom where she is assumedly slaughtered. 

 In what ultimately evolves into a non-romantic subplot, Cheryl meets a young man named Jeff (Stanley Livingston) at a locksmith store while getting a key made and the young man asks her to go on a date with him to a rock concert, which she agrees to do. Towards the last 30 minutes or so of Private Parts, the mysterious seeming homo George begins making regular appearances at night. While lurking near a park, a random man remarks to George, who looks like Hebraic proto-hipster Lou Reed, that, “Goddamn hippies, they’re taking over this country. It’s shameful! Ain’t got no morals at all! All these young gals doing it left and right. They don’t care. And there’s nothing they won’t do. You know what I mean?” The guy also says, “Goddamn weirdoes are taking over this country” and he must be right as George soon begins snapping photos of people having sex out in the open in a public park, with auteur Paul Bartel being one of the perverts. When George gets home from his naughty night in the park, Aunt Martha confronts him regarding an apparent obsession he has with Cheryl, telling him she has devoted her life to “helping him….overcome flesh,” to which he emotionally replies, “you’ve helped ruin my life. You robbed me of a normal childhood and now you’re trying to rob me of whatever little pleasures I can still enjoy…I’m a human being and I need human contact. Now.” And, indeed, in his own wayward way, George attempts human contact with Cheryl by leaving her some fetishistic clothing (i.e. stockings, large gloves, etc.) on her bed with a note reading: “you would drive me crazy if you’d let me see you with these things on.” Determined to prove she is a grown woman and not the annoying naïve little girl that she is, Cheryl puts on the stockings and gloves (which leaves her breasts, bush, and butt bare) and takes a bubble bath, which peeping tom George watches via a hidden hole in the wall Norman Bates style. After getting rather aroused by Cheryl’s less than titillating performance, George ‘has sex’ the only way he knows how by injecting his blood into a translucent blowup doll. Indeed, instead of injecting the doll with his DNA the normal way by merely ejaculating in it with his prick, George uses a needle as a pseudo-penis and blood as his semen. 

 While Aunt Martha attempts to save Cheryl from the patently perverted photographer by kicking her out of the hotel, George calls the teen that night and she confesses to him that she likes him because he is the only one that doesn’t treat her like a “little girl.” That same night, Jeff picks up Cheryl for their planned date to the rock show, but she becomes angry after he asks her about her missing cousin Alice. Indeed, after Jeff mentions that Alice disappeared around the time she began hanging out with George, stupid little girl Cheryl becomes enraged at him for besmirching her prospective beau and heads back to the hotel. Upon arriving back at the hotel, Cheryl is warned by Aunt Martha that she has booked her a bus ticket for the next morning to Chicago and that she, “won’t have whores and painted women in my house.” When Jeff goes back to the hotel looking for Alice, he is knocked unconscious with a large glass bottle. Meanwhile, Cheryl meets George in his rather bizarrely decorated room and the two begin a photo session. Of course, things become rather strange for Cheryl when Georgie boy attempts to inject her with his blood. During a struggle, George is killed after a large light stand falls on him, and when Aunt Martha storms into the room him afterward, Cheryl stereotypically cries rape. While Aunt Martha is fiddling with George’s corpse, Cheryl realizes that the recently deceased photographer has breasts and is really a woman. Indeed, Aunt Martha offers Cheryl the chance to also be her pseudo-son like George, stating, “You can stay here and take his place. You can be my son.” Of course, Cheryl declines, so Aunt Martha attempts to stab her with a butcher knife. In the end, the police arrive and Jeff survives. When leaving the hotel of closet-homo horror, Jeff spots Cheryl, who has taken on the identity of the perniciously puritanical persona of her Aunt Martha, who she has killed, just like Norman Bates did with his momma. 

 Undoubtedly, in its depiction of a deranged serial killer of the sexually schizophrenic sort, Private Parts anticipates the teenage tranny slasher flick Sleepaway Camp (1983), but of course, Bartel’s film is infinitely more sophisticated as a work that updates Hitchcock’s Psycho for the counter-culture age. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is that the most demented slasher killer in the film is a repressed bull-dyke who is so out of touch with her own sexuality that she accuses her own female relatives of being wanton whores and even attempts to turn them into men. Indeed, on top of confessing that she had to be artificially inseminated to have her daughter Alicia, Aunt Martha states to Cheryl regarding why she did not have a child with her actual husband, “Not Orville, just me. He was too old. We went to a doctor and worked it out another way. Didn’t need Orville.” Indeed, if the outmoded and pathetically played-out horror genre needs anything, it is more films where the monster is a crazed carpet-muncher who is murderously hungry for the taste of a creamy, young cuntlet. Unquestionably a lost masterpiece as far as campy quasi-exploitation films are concerned, Private Parts is just another example as to why auteur Paul Bartel is one of the most underrated and overlooked filmmakers of his generation, as a sort of Curtis Harrington of his zeitgeist. Indeed, it seems that only exceedingly effete cocksucking camp filmmakers like Harrington and Bartel had what it took to deal with directing boorish old fat cows.

-Ty E

Jul 23, 2014

Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills


It might seem unlikely that a stupid American would direct a campy and sometimes racially insensitive remake of the French classic ‘comedy of manners’ The Rules of the Game (1939) aka La Règle du Jeu, but character actor/sometimes-auteur Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul, Death Race 2000) did such a bold and wonderfully cinematically sacrilegious thing for his almost criminally underrated mutation of Renoir's masterpiece, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989). While I have yet to get around to seeing The Rules of the Game, I have seen enough of Renoir's films to know that his anti-boobeoise comedy of manners probably did not feature a dog performing cunnilingus on an ‘Uncle Tom’ negress or an East Asian gangster stating in broken English, “rabbits and Mexicans brains ain’t too big,” to a Mexican servant with an unhealthy gambling addiction. Indeed, like any cultivated celluloid comedy, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills is equal demented doses of the radically raunchy and wonderfully witty, as a superlatively sardonic work of the decidedly darkly comedic sort that makes a major mockery of the now-old school Beverly Hills bourgeoisie. Although I had seen the film before, I recently decided to re-watch Bartel's unsung masterpiece of merry misanthropy (indeed, after watching most of his films, I am convinced that the director absolutely hates everyone) after realizing it was co-penned by Bruce Wagner (who has a small cameo at the beginning), whose 5-hour-long brainchild  Wild Palms (1993) I recently developed a rather strange addiction to. Of course, both Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills and Wild Palms do a rather relentless job reaming the stinking rich rectum of Los Angeles’ uniquely unlovable upper-class. On top of a being a rare cultured American comedy featuring an all-star cast (including Bartel playing his typically effortlessly effete self), the film is also notable in that young star Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered just six weeks after the film was released by a crazed ½ Korean fan who had been stalking her for 3 years (indeed, had she pursued her original aspirations of being a rabbi, she might not be dead today). Indeed, practically specially tailored to be an instant cult classic, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills is arguably Bartel’s most belligerently immoral and subtly sophisticated work to date, hence why it is probably less well known when compared to the director’s previous celluloid effort of excess and eccentricity like Death Race 2000 (1975) and Eating Raoul (1982), as it seems most American filmgoers prefer low-camp over wicked yet refined wit. A fiercely fucked farce that has a number of subplots, but mainly revolves around two males servants—a mestizo addicted to gambling and bisexual hustler that has the words “Your Name” tastelessly tattooed to his assumedly diseased ass—who make a truly low-class wager as to who will be the first to sexually seduce the other’s employer, Bartel’s work is probably the only film that can boast such an eclectically bonkers and stupidly salacious cast of characters, including a goofy fat ghost who died of autoerotic asphyxiation and has come back to haunt his horny wife, a male whore who gambles $5,000 just so he can get into a romantic Chicano’s pants, a gold-digging jigaboo who moonlights S&M porn star, and a divorced housewife who lusts after Mexicans because she has read one too many D.H. Lawrence novels, among countless other human creatures with an unquenchable hunger for humping anyone and everyone despite class differences (indeed, if the film demonstrates anything, it is that there is no such thing as discrimination in the bedroom, so long as one has a craving for the other person), so long as they do it in a super sleazy and secret so as to potentially hurt their loved ones. 

 Rich bitch Clare Lipkin (played by Jacqueline Bisset in a rather against-type role) gets so enraged with her chipmunk-mouthed Mexican maid Rosa (Edith Diaz) for breaking some sort of worthless porcelain knickknack in her home during a big fancy dinner feast that she throws boiling water in the poor over-the-hill Latina’s rather bloated face. On top of that, a pathetically pretentious and ambiguously gay pansy who describes himself as “Beverly Hill’s foremost thinologist” (aka diet doctor) named Dr. Mo Van De Kamp (Paul Bartel) decides to finish the mestizo maid off with an Abercrombie & Fitch brand handgun, so naturally the Hispanic houseboy Juan (played by Robert Beltran, who previously in Eating Raoul) decides to honor his racial sister by throwing a boiling pot of water on his bossy boss Clare, but just before he does, it is revealed it was all a joke in celebration of the young servant’s birthday. Unfortunately for Juan, his life is not exactly that interesting, as it is revealed that everything that he has just experienced was just a dream. On top of that, Juan owes an East Asian gangster named June-Bug (Jerry Tondo), who uses a muscular negro as his muscle, a long unpaid $3,700 gambling debt. Luckily, a bisexual servant named Frank (played by Ray Sharkey, who died of AIDS in 1993 but not before giving it to a couple of his girlfriends) that works for his boss Clare’s friend Lisabeth Hepburn-Saravian (played by lapsed Warhol superstar turned Roger Corman superstar Mary Woronov) makes a $5,000 bet with him regarding who can seduce and sexually savage the other's employer first. Since Juan has no cash, he has agreed to give his anal virginity (and, in turn, his rampant heterosexuality) to Frank if he loses the wager.  Of course, being a Paul Bartel film, it is somewhat easy to guess what happens to Juan's twink-taco.

 Juan’s boss Clare’s husband Sidney (Paul Mazursky) has just died in a freak autoerotic asphyxiation accident and now his pathetic ghost is haunting her. Somewhat melancholy, as well as horny (her husband’s ghost confesses to her that he became sexually disinterested with her after their daughter was born), due to the death of her hubby, Clare has some friend and family members over for the weekend, included her hack playwright brother Peter (Ed Begley Jr.), who has written works with titillating titles like “Little Shylock,” and his new negress wife ‘To-Bel’ (Arnetia Walker), who married the preppie would-be-tortured-artist on a whim after only knowing him for a couple days because she assumes he is ridiculously wealthy (of course, as Dr. Mo Van De Kamp later reveals to her, Peter is on the, “last scraps of niggardly inheritance”). Needless to say, Clare is somewhat disturbed by her brother's rather dark romantic acquisition, though the family dog ‘Bojangles’ takes a special liking to To-Bel and maws at her afro-puff-covered pink-eye as if it is a raw steak. A shameless Uncle Tom that knows how to play pussy white men with her man-eating pussy, To-Bel absurdly states upon being absurdly asked if she has in relatives in Africa, “Isn’t that interesting…but I have no desire to go to Africa. None whatsoever. Israel, yes,” as if she assumes that Hebrews are where the real 'bucks' are. While Juan and Frank plot to get in the pussies of the posh hags, rich bitches Clare and Lisabeth do the same, with the latter stating regarding her unquenchable thirst for prole poles, “were soft, their hard…they work, they eat, they fuck.” Divorced from her bald philandering gynecologist husband Howard (Wallace Shaw), Lisabeth is especially hungry for Hispanic flesh, stating regarding the Mexican servant, “There is something very D.H. Lawrence about Juan…something dark and something Aztec…that one could never know.” 

 Feeling sorry for a hyper horny young teen in need of temporary sexual release, Juan gives Lisabeth’s sensitive pianist son Willie (starring Barret Oliver of The NeverEnding Story fame) “righteous videotapes” (aka porn videos) and the young lad soon discovers that To-Bel is a porn star while watching a lurid Sapphic S&M blue movie where the ebony hoe cracks a female cracker with a whip. On top of that, it is also soon revealed that Lisabeth’s husband Howard was in a steamy love affair with To-Bel, who wants to take revenge against her bastard of an ex-beau, which she does by boning his much more handsome and more well hung son Willie. Indeed, Willie later brags in front his mother and all the other house guests that, “Aunt To-Bel told me that compared to my dad I was hung like a rhino.” Indeed, Willie must have developed an instant mania for miscegenation, as he also screws fat Mexican maid Rosa. Of course, Willie is not the only one who gets lucky during the wanton weekend in the seemingly banal Beverly Hills suburb, as virtually everybody literally and figuratively screws everyone in Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, though Frank, being a homo who pretends he’s half-hetero, opts for drugging Clare instead of actually greasing her weasel, as Juan walks in on his passed out boss in bed with his friend and assumes the worst. While Juan actually manages to seal the salacious deal in terms of buggering hyper horny divorcee Lisabeth, he lies to Frank and pretends to lose the wager, thus absurdly resulting in the loss of his rampant heterosexuality (Frank fucks him from behind like he's a woman). Of course, in what seems to be a mockery of virtually every single Hollywood film ever made, everything works out in the end, with Juan beginning a relationship with old sugarmomma Lisabeth, Clare’s daughter Zandra (Rebecca Schaeffer) hooking up with dirty old man Dr. Mo Van De Kamp, and Clare finally getting over her husband’s ghost, who is left with ghost of the family dog (indeed, the poor doggy, like Sidney, also perished in a freak accident).  In the end, the dead dog has the last word by telling ghost Sidney, “You’re so full of shit.” 

 A film with an intentionally pretentiously long title that sounds like the name of some sort of forgotten European neo-Marxist film from the late-1960s/1970s (actually, Jewish documentarian directed a film in 1977 entitled Scenes from the Class Struggle in Portugal), Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989) ultimately rips both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie a new asshole, which is certainly something any self-respecting person can appreciate. Indeed, while the film is a major mess in terms of narrative structure as a wayward work where the main ‘plot’ falls to the wayside almost immediately, it is also a mischievously mirthful orgy of ludicrous laughs that reminds one that there has indeed been a couple masterful comedies made in Hollywood, though they certainly were not directed by Mel Brooks. Undoubtedly, had director Paul Bartel been Hebraic and not made jokes at the expense of Israel (as he does in the film), Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills would probably be revered as one of the greatest celluloid comedies of his era. Indeed, forget Das Kapital, Bartel's filmic farace features more cultivated hate and contempt for the upper-classes than failed bourgeois bum Marx could ever dream of. Assuredly, one of the things that makes the film, like most of Bartel’s work, so brilliant as it is nearly impossible to tell what the director’s political persuasion is, as he spares no one from his deliciously venomous scorn, including meek Mexican maids, virginal teenage piano prodigies, female Uncle Toms, the sort of annoying and spastic yappity little white dogs that old women like to spoil (Bartel actually had the gall to have the dog, Bo-Jangles, killed off), effeminate gynecologists, and various other beings that I typically find myself repelled by in any other form. Like the anti-liberal/anti-counter-culture cinematic works of Paul Morrissey, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills also dares to make sex seem rather ridiculous, as a work that wallows in perversity but is, at best, rather anti-erotic, despite featuring nudity and whatnot (undoubtedly, I must admit that the sight of Mary Woronov's unclad body made for an unsettling experience). Ultimately, one of the main messages of the film is that everyone is a whore, but it is only the working-class who consciously realizes this, as they have to constantly prostitute themselves just to survive and thrive. Of course, the title of the film is quite tongue-in-cheek, as the real struggle that occurs in the film is between two lowly servants from the same class who are competing from poorly age rich bitch gash. While I do not doubt that Renoir’s The Rules of the Game is an unmitigated masterpiece, I have a feeling Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills offers more wicked laughs, as a bodacious black comedy that is darker than Al Jolson in blackface and witter than Oscar Wilde on crack. 

-Ty E

Jul 21, 2014

Marie from the Bay of Angels

Undoubtedly, Frogs like making films about sensual underage girls and ugly swarthy dudes with guns (or, as Jean-Luc Godard once famously stated, “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.”), but few French films take this approach more literally and obsessively than Marie from the Bay of Angels (1997) aka Marie Baie des Anges aka Angel Sharks directed by quasi-auteur Manuel Pradal (The Blonde with Bare Breasts, A Crime). A coming-of-age tale for eager ephebophiles and unhinged urchins alike, Pradal's pathologically playful piece of montage-ridden sensual cinema follows a classless teenage crook of the racially dubious sort and his would-be-touching but ultimately senselessly tragic love affair with a 15-year-old prostitute who routinely leads on moronic American sailors so she can steal their money. Filled with partially bare youthful flesh and incessant teen philistine delinquency, Marie from the Bay of Angels is like a frog The Blue Lagoon (1980) meets Larry Clarks Kids (1995) and Bully (2001) as directed by a young filmmaker that wishes he was the next François Truffaut yet got too hung up on Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of montage to tell a coherent story. Still, Pradal’s rather wanton work is an endlessly enthralling celluloid poem of sorts that, although somewhat like one long music video in structure, undoubtedly makes the Mediterranean seem genuinely beauteous, romantic, and even mystifying, even if it is crawling with deadly teenage delinquents that look like they crawled out of some of the most decrepit shacks from the South of France. Described by Stephen Holden of the New York Times as a, “dizzying paganistic ode to Eros,” Marie from the Bay of Angels indeed features pagan pageantry in the form of festive parade, as well as no moral compass, at least not a Christian one, as a low-class libertine work featuring prepubescent boys attempting to buy guns and getting wasting on vodka while crashing bumper cars, obscenely stupid American sailors acting like typical stupid ass Americans as rather repellant individuals lacking individuality that think the world is a gigantic whorehouse and treat native women a such, packs of adolescent frog morons attempting to steal cash and gash from whoever has the misfortune of crossing their rather wickedly wayward path, and a young girl that is just getting to know the power of her pussy but does not use it wisely because she just wants to have fun and gets bored banging old farts. A rather idiosyncratic flick with a somewhat timeless quality about it (indeed, at first I was not sure whether it was set in the present or the 1950s, but I guess that is the point as a work depicting the world in the age of Americanization) set in Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean at Nice, France, Pradal’s decidedly decant work is more of a cocktease than a explosive climax, though the film could not end more nihilistically with the death of a child or two and the total moral degeneration of the male antihero, who has a seemingly inbred face that only a white trash streetwalker could love. 

 Orso (played by non-actor Frédéric Malgras, a Russian gypsy, hence his ‘peculiar’ appearance) is not even an adult, but he is already a degenerate piece of untermensch trash who spends his days robbing beauteous bourgeois babes and naïve vacationers in the French Riviera when he is not riding around aimlessly on trains, catching a bumpy ride on his equally criminally-inclined friend's motorbike, or posing like a true moron with his beloved handgun, as if he is some sort of iconic filmic bad ass. Marie (played by ‘contemporary Brigitte Bardot’ Vahina Giocante in her very first film role) is a 15-year-old hooker who is a rather big bitch, especially when it comes to men who want to tear off her panties, but since she is underage, she has no problem luring in philistine American sailors who are just trying to get laid while aborad. Although more or less homeless, Marie’s pussy-peddling allows her the luxury of staying in a lavish suite in a fancy hotel, though a life of sub-high-class existence does not seem to do much to comfort her seemingly sullen soul. When Marie first meets antisocial Orso, she thinks he a major asshole, but after she sees him attempt to rob two large American sailors, who ultimately kick his scrawny little Romani ass, and commits various other petty yet oftentimes dangerous crimes, she becomes rather intrigued by him and begins to reconsider her dead-end life as a Lolita-like gold-digger. Although Marie takes advantage of being routinely wined and dined by pathetically pigheaded American soldiers, who think they are god’s gift to women yet do not even have the skills to impress an ignorant 15-year-old girl, she eventually realizes her heart yearns for the ugly teenage hood. When Marie ends up hitching a ride on a motorbike with Orso and his comrade, and the junior thief begins to feel up and down her thigh and nibbles on her neck, she falls in love and assumedly gets rather wet between the legs. Eventually, Orso and Marie decide to head to a secluded island they declare their love for one another via words and acts. Of course, scheming con Orso is well aware that his lover is a libidinous little whore and uses her as such, even getting her to dance provocatively on a pier to distract an old man and his son so that he can steal the old horndog’s boat. In an act of warped and reckless love, Marie also robs a handgun from one of her pussy patrons and gives it to Orso, who is more than a little bit delighted as he previously failed at attempting to procure a weapon after his blonde prepubescent middleman friend was robbed. Of course, as a born thief and ‘heterosexual Jean Genet’ of sorts (indeed, not only is he a small-time criminal, but his face is no less repugnant than that of the queer toad novelist), Orso cannot help but use his prized new weapon for pernicious purposes and eventually has the bright idea to rob a sweet middle-aged married couple that owns a bar. Of course, things go wrong and a struggle occurs between Orso and the bar owners that results in Marie accidentally receiving a fatal gunshot wound that ultimately brings the pubescent lover's touchingly romantic love affair to a totally avoidable premature end. After taking Marie’s corpse to the scenic villa of a beautiful young woman (Amira Casar) he previously robbed and shooting up all the televisions and surveillance cameras in the home while watching the Monaco Grand Pix race, Orso goes completely berserk and nonsensically kills his blonde prepubescent friend who, rather ironically, was supposed to help him find a gun (of course, had the boy found the gun before Marie did, she might still be alive, thus one can only assume that, in his warped logic, Orso blames his friend for his girlfriend's death). Indeed, in the end, what little hope that existed before has been irrevocably lost, with Marie dead and Orso becoming a coldblooded killer who wasted one of his friends in the most craven and pointless of fashions. 

 Featuring footage of the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix, riot-ridden patriotic soccer games that resemble fascist rallies, and fiercely festive carnivals with people dressed as pagan gods, Marie from the Bay of Angels is certainly like a cinematic vacation to one of the most addictively scenic and strangely romantic spots in the Mediterranean. With its blatantly and not so blatant nods to François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer, among various others, Pradal’s film is also like a lurid love letter to the La Nouvelle Vague, albeit with an exceedingly fast-spaced editing style that the filmmaker (or his editor) seemed to have learned from watching one-too-many American TV commercials. A morally dubious celebration of juvenile delinquency and debauchery, Marie from the Bay of Angels is, not unlike Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish (1983) and the films of Larry Clark, a rare arthouse flick for the sort of teenager that does not dare admit that they like poetic art films, as it probably features enough salaciousness and visceral violence to keep most ADHD-addled adolescents happy. Undoubtedly, one of the more hilarious aspects of the film (and probably the only aspect of the film that acts as comic relief) is its less than flattering depiction of American sailors who, although dress in a classic fashion like the brutal semen demons from Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks (1947) and the sadomasochistic sodomites of Fassbinder’s Querelle (1982), are really just a bunch of arrogant and loudmouthed pansies who can barely scare off a gang of teenage boys and who do not have the balls to assert themselves onto young ladies (indeed, during one scene, a sailor awkwardly and disingenuously tells Maria that he loves her just so he can get in her pants). In one especially humorous scene, one of the sailors arrogantly proclaims, “It’s like purgatory here man…Every single woman is after my body,” while Marie looks bored to death while eating an expensive meal that the Yankee gentleman bought for her. When the American sailors eventually realize that Marie has no interest in them, they kick her out of their lives and treat her like total trash, telling her she “stinks” and whatnot, as if they are afraid of vaginas and need an excuse for not consummating coitus with her. While featuring next to nil nudity (aside from a pair of tits or two from a couple older women), Marie from the Bay of Angels certainly radiates raw youthful eroticism in a rather nicely nuanced fashion that even puts the uncensored ‘kiddy arthouse’ flick Maladolescenza (1977) starring Eva Ionesco to shame in terms of perverse adolescent poetry. For those that were hoping to enjoy Catherine Breillat’s 36 fillette (1988), but found the little lady lead to be a bit homely and the overall film to be plagued by banality and a rather foul feminist subtext, Marie from the Bay of Angels offers a delightfully debasing rollercoaster ride over the soothing surf and turf of the French Riviera that may be somewhat incoherent (the time frame of the film is nearly impossible to discern) and emphasizes style over substance, but it certainly never bores or wallows in pseudo-erotic/pseudo-intellectual pretense like most of the films that are halfheartedly churned out of frogland nowadays. Indeed, unlike The Blue Lagoon, there is an element of delectable danger to Pradal’s film that is quite rare to find in cinema nowadays.  Like a cultivated Kids with an uncommon respect for indigenous kultur and a complete disrespect for the plague that is American intervention, Marie from the Bay of Angels is like a The 400 Blows (1959) for the lost post-national generation that has nothing to believe in or live for, hence the nihilistic non-existences of the true Les Enfants Terribles of Pradal's rather bleak yet bewitching and epodic film.

-Ty E

Jul 20, 2014

Generation War

During the late-1970s, the American television network NBC produced a kitschy sentimentalist 4-part mini-series entitled Holocaust (1978) starring Hollywood stars like Meryl Streep and James Woods that was so popular in West Germany that, as German history Alf Lüdtke wrote in his essay Coming to Terms with the Past': Illusions of Remembering, Ways of Forgetting Nazism in West Germany, no less than 20 million Teutons (or about 50% of the country’s entire population) managed to see it, thereupon initiating a prevailing dialogue among post-Nazi Aryans about German culpability in the Second World War and thus ultimately demonstrating that Germans born after the war were much more susceptible to borderline tasteless propaganda of the hokey Hollywood-manufactured sort. While Holocaust more or less intrigued nearly half the entire German populous, many filmmakers associated with German New Cinema found the mini-series downright offensive, with auteur Edgar Reitz once complaining: “The difference between a scene that rings true and a scene written by commercial scriptwriters, as in HOLOCAUST, is similar to that between ‘experience’ and ‘opinion’. Opinions about events can be circulated separately, manipulated, and pushed across desk, bought and sold. Experiences, on the other hand, are tied to human beings and their faculty of memory, they become false or falsified when living details are replaced in an effort to eliminate subjectivity and uniqueness. There are thousands of stories among our people that are worth being filmed […] Authors all over the world are trying to take possession of their history […] The most serious act of expropriation occurs when people are deprived of their history. With HOLOCAUST, the Americans have taken away our history.” Luckily, Reitz and various other German filmmakers decided to respond by taking back their history by creating some of the greatest masterpieces of German New Cinema in what would be a reasonably successful campaign to counter carelessly contrived mythmaking works like Holocaust. Indeed, Reitz’s Heimat: A Chronicle of Germany (1984), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum (1979), Alexander Kluge’s Die Patriotin (1979) aka The Patriot, and Helma Sanders-Brahms’ Germany Pale Mother (1980), among countless other films, demonstrated that Germans had their own unique perspective regarding the Second World War and that they had much more to say than a couple of Germanophobic Hebraic Hollywood producers who would not dare set one foot in the country of poets and thinkers, as well as blood and soil. Unfortunately, as the somewhat recently released ZDF-produced German mini-series Generation War (2013) aka Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (translation literally meaning “Our Mothers, Our Fathers”) makes quite clear, ethno-masochism and self-flagellation has only all the more engulfed the Teutonic Volksgeist since the release of Holocaust.

 Carefully marketed as a true and honest depiction of the Second World War from a supposedly ‘everyday German’ perspective of that time period, Generation War has been described by various moronic reviewers as everything from “pro-Nazi” to vehemently anti-Polish, yet it ultimately features much of the same sort of Zionist-produced sensational filmic feces that is routinely excreted out of Hollywood, as a work featuring a middle-aged SS officer deriving almost sexual glee from shooting a prepubescent Jewish girl for no apparent reason (in fact, the same SS man is later shown during the same episode with the kosher blood still on his neck (!), as if it was an honor for German soldiers to walk around with Jewish vital fluids on their body), as well as handsome and archetypically Aryan-looking SS officer giving his mistress a DIY abortion by punching her in the stomach as hard he can. Undoubtedly, what makes the mini-series offensive to Jews and left-wingers is that it clearly distinguishes between suavely dressed sadomasochistic Schutzstaffel psychopaths and the average and regular ‘apolitical’ Germans. A nearly 280-minute, three-part mini-series that tells the ostensibly dejecting story of five young adult friends—two brothers in the Wehrmacht, a novice nurse, an aspiring ‘diva,’ and a Jewish tailor—that meet for one last time in 1941 before going their separate ways and all experiencing a unique, if not similarly harrowing and dehumanizing, odyssey of destruction that spans a 5 year period and concludes with the capitulation of the Third Reich and the would-be-tragic deaths of two of the characters, Generation War essentially portrays the Germans as exceedingly naive  human whores that were unwittingly devoured and defecated out again by a cannibalistic Hitlerite machine with a gas chamber hidden in the back. A partially fantasy-based work where all Jews are portrayed as morally pristine supporters of Germany and a dashing Wehrmacht lieutenant hangs out with his Hebraic homey in public in 1941 as if it was common for Aryans and Jews to chill together and dance with young girls while listening to degenerate jazz music at that point in the war, the mini-series certainly sometimes borders on the absurd, so of course, it features enough sentimentalism to keep the average viewer from using their grey matter. A patently pathetic pity party without any real meaning or purpose where any sort of heroism that German soldiers may have had is completely discredited and where the average SS officer is portrayed as a sinisterly satanic sicko with an unquenchable thirst for the blood of god’s chosen tribe, Generation War is a complete abject mockery of the already relentlessly besmirched and reviled era of Aryans that it depicts and purports to tell truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about.  Of course, the series is really just a slave-morality-ridden fantasy that delights in portraying dishonor, dehumanization, desperation, and derangement, as if those are admirable qualities or something. 

 Beginning in Berlin 1941 on the eve of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Generation War is narrated by a short Lieutenant named Wilhelm Winter (Volker Bruch) of the ‘Windhund Company’ of the Wehrmacht (German army) who has already seen action in both Poland and France and is about to take his equally short brother Friedhelm (played by perennial twink Tom Schilling)—a “bookworm who loves Rimbaud and Jünger” (despite the fact he is a patent pacifist and Ernst Jünger wrote Storm of Steel (1920), which is considered the rival work to pansy Remarque's 1929 anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front)—to wage war on the Eastern Front. Before leaving to destroy the Bolshevik beast in the east, Wilhelm and Friedhelm have a party with their lifelong childhood friends, which include would-be-singer Greta (Katharina Schüttler), novice nurse Charlotte aka Charley (Miriam Stein), and Jewish tailor Viktor Goldstein (Ludwig Trepte). While Charlotte is desperately in love with Wilhelm and he knows it, the soldier does not want to pursue a romantic relationship with her until after the war just in case he dies. A proud race-mixer and lover of degenerate American swing music, Greta is in a relationship with Jew Viktor, who was supposed to inherit his WWI veteran father’s tailor shop, but it was destroyed during the so-called “Night of Broken Glass” (aka Kristallnacht). Ultimately, the five friends’ last night together concludes after a super Aryan Gestapo agent named Sturmbannführer Martin Dorn (Mark Waschke) shows up and states, “I got a report of swing music with Jews.” Ultimately, Hebrew-humper Greta will become Dorn’s whore, as the barmaid uses him so she can weasel her way out of an incitement charge for playing swing music and further her career as a singer.  Indeed, despite developing a ‘Latin’ persona (she adopts the pseudonym ‘Greta Del Torres’), Greta ultimately sings for propaganda purposes on the Eastern Front. 

 Of course, it does not take long for the five friends to have their illusions regarding the 1000-year Reich destroyed. While Wilhelm is at first a highly respected lieutenant that has the complete allegiance of his men, he eventually becomes so completely disillusioned with the war after his entire platoon is eventually exterminated that he becomes a deserter, thus resulting in his arrest by Feldgendarmerie officers and sentence to death for treason, though he is eventually punished with being forced to become a member of a Strafbattalion (Penal Battalion) instead since Germany is losing the war and cannot afford to waste soldiers. Despite being initially an idealistic pacifist who hates the war and is even beaten up for cowardice and cynicism by his comrades, Friedhelm eventually becomes a cold and calculating, if not pathetic, killer, though he is almost killed at one point after being mistaken for a Russian soldier (he temporarily puts on a Red Army uniform to escape from a building that has been taken over by the Soviets). Luckily, Charlotte, who is a nurse on the Eastern Front, manages to save Friedhelm from a seemingly certain death. Believing Wilhelm is dead after being told such by Friedhelm, who could have sworn he saw his brother killed, Charlotte starts screwing the middle-aged head doctor at the field hospital she works at. After discovering that a middle-aged woman that she has hired to volunteer at the hospital, Lilja (Christiane Paul), is actually a Jew, Charlotte feels betrayed and gets the crypto-Judaic arrested. Meanwhile, Greta gets her fiendish fuckbuddy Dorn to create fake identity papers for Viktor so he can escape Germany, but the Gestapo agent betrays her and has her Jewish boyfriend shipped in a cattle car to a concentration camp, though the clever Hebrew manages to escape on the way upon learning that Jews are being slaughtered like lambs and he eventually joins up with some Polish partisans who are even more anti-Semitic than the SS, so he continues to shield his true identity. In the end, Wilhelm manages to survive the war by killing his sadistic Strafbattalion leader and heading back to Germany on foot, Friedhelm becomes an executioner/protégé of a Svengali SD officer named Hiemer (played by Sylvester Groth, who is best known for playing Goebbels in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009)) and later sacrifices himself to save a unit of Volkssturm soldiers that is largely comprised of young Hitler Youth boys, Charlotte is raped by a Soviet savage after her field hospital is overrun by bestial bolsheviks yet she manages to survive after the noble Jewess she once betrayed, Lilja, shows up as a Soviet officer and spares her life, Greta is imprisoned after telling Dorn’s wife about their affair and committing ‘Wehrkraftzersetzung’ (“subversion of the war effort”) and is later executed for her crimes, and Viktor manages to survive both the Nazis and Polish partisans. At the conclusion of Generation War, the three surviving friends—Wilhelm, Charlotte, and Viktor—meet back at the same bar they did in 1941 for a mostly melancholy reunion, with Germany being in complete ruins and Americans GIs occupying ever corner. In a major “fuck you” to the United States and its hypocritical utilization of Nazis after the Second World War (most infamously, during 'Project Paperclip'), it is revealed that SS officer Dorn, who punched his pregnant mistress Greta in the stomach before sentencing her to death, has been hired by American GIs, who are well aware about his infamous past, to work as a bureaucrat for the new ‘democratic’ West German government. 

 Undoubtedly, you know a film is plagued by self-loathing and self-pity, meekness and weakness, and spiritual castration when an American film like Sam Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron (1977), which is firmly anti-Nazi, manages to do a much better job at least portraying some Germans as stoic war heroes with titanic testicular fortitude. Indeed, Generation War seems like a pathetic plea created by a group of culturally cuckolded krauts who want to join the cult of victimhood like so many so-called minorities have. Seen by no less than 7 million German households when it premiered in 2013, this sub-middlebrow mini-series has now guaranteed that a whole new generation of Germans will go on looking at their grandparents and great-grandparents (why they absurdly decided to name the series “Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter” aka “Our Mothers, Our Fathers” is a complete mystery to me) as moronic cowards and opportunists who were easily duped into going to hell and back by a rather unimpressive dude with a Charlie Chaplin mustache. Undoubtedly, one of the worst lies associated with the mini-series is that it ostensibly does something revolutionary by depicting WWII from a reasonably objective perspective, yet this was already done many decades ago and in a much more intelligent and artistically merited fashion by auteur filmmakers associated with German New Cinema like Fassbinder, Syberberg, Reitz, and even a feminist like Sanders-Brahms and a Marxist like Kluge. What makes Generation War even more repellant than it already is, is that it feebly attempts to associate itself with the grand legacy of German history, as is especially apparent in a scene where a portrait of German expressionist master auteur F.W. Murnau appears briefly. Of course, the mini-series is really the putrid pansy production of self-loathing krauts that were bred on a steady diet of Hollywood swill growing up and have watched too many episodes of Band of Brothers (2001). Of course, the series also panders to Jews, with its token Jewish character Viktor and unflattering depiction of Polack partisans as bigger Heeb-haters than the Nazis themselves being quite blatant examples of this. 

 A ‘major event’ mini-series that is more or less as aesthetically and historically worthless as ABC’s Holocaust, Generation War is just more proof that the Germans will always be consumed with guilt and will never get over the Second World War, at least not anytime during this century. For anyone who wants to see a truly epic and truly Teutonic film that takes a sincere approach to German twentieth century history and the troubled relationships between different generations of Germans, you can probably do no better than Edgar Reitz’s mega-neo-Heimat movie Heimat, which begins with a shot of a boulder with the words “Made in Germany” engraved on it for good reason. Generation War, on the other hand, might as well begin with an inter-title reading, “Made in kraut cuckoldland where the spirit of Spielberg trumped Syberberg and where guilt is as good as gold.” Indeed, like a German Gone with the Wind where Scarlett O'Hara opts for suicide instead of bravely fighting on, Generation War depicts the physical and spiritual annihilation of an entire people, yet begs for shallow pity and contempt in the end instead of demanding the German people fight on, which is a sentiment that no one can truly respect, not even the perennially defeated Polacks in Poland or the dying Khoisan in South Africa. 

-Ty E