Jan 21, 2013

Viva




Admittedly, I find virtually all sexploitation and skin flicks, especially those from the 1960s and 1970s, to be rather dull, but then again, I have never really needed masturbation aids – movie or otherwise – so naturally I was more than a tad bit skeptical about the postmodern retro feminist flick Viva (2007); a superficially sexy satire of the sexual revolution written, directed, and starring lady auteur Anna Biller (The Hypnotist, A Visit from the Incubus). Although inspired by wild and wacky (at least, for that rather tame zeitgeist) films like Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Suburban Roulette (1968), and Radley Metzger’s Camille 2000 (1969), Biller cites vintage issues of Playboy Magazine as the main aesthetic and cultural influence for Viva; a true ‘auteur piece’ where the director was literally involved in every facet of the filmmaking process, including casting, designing/sewing the wardrobes, painting the sets, and completely baring her body for a variety of filmic perverts; both male and female and young and old. Shot on luscious 35mm film stock, Viva features a kaleidoscope of sensual colors that – for better or worse – marvelously mimics the poorly aged films it pays peculiarly potent 'anti-tribute' to. As for her interest in exploitation cinema – a seeming contradiction for a purported feminist filmmaker – Biller stated in an interview, “I noticed that a lot of the 60's exploitation films were about women undergoing sexual trials, and although they were created for the prurient viewing pleasure of men, they are stories about women and what women go through. So the genre really interested me because of that.” Centering on a naïve suburban housewife stereotypically named Barbi (but going against the grain in terms of casting since Biller, who plays the lead role, is half-Japanese by ancestry and certainly no blonde bombshell blow-up doll), Viva follows a girl in a quaint ‘sexually liberated’ world of antagonistic authoritarian nudists, bourgeois prostitutes, hysterical hippie manipulators, seemingly gay British rapists, softcore orgy armies, lesbian race-mixers, and homo hairstylists, among various other flaming sexual creatures. A scantily clad scapegoat of the so-called ‘women’s liberation’ period, Barbi (alias Viva) unwittingly becomes the pretty plaything of various pernicious perverts who have a propensity for eating up fresh human meat; both literally and figuratively. As narrated in the introduction of the film, Viva: “is a story about a housewife during the sexual revolution. The time is 1972…The place is Los Angeles. ..And the people…ordinary.” 



 In the beginning of Viva, Barbi (Anna Biller) has a rather sedentary and relaxed lifestyle, which she seems to be getting bored with, especially when comparing it to the colorful and carnal contrived worlds she fantasizes about while reading her favorite magazines. After losing her job upon rejecting a ‘promotion’ via unwanted penetration from her sleazy and greasy blob of a boss, Anna is virtually imprisoned in her own home. Not long after, she has a verbal fight with her virtual Ken doll of a husband Mark (Jared Sanford), so after being brainwashed by her bimbo blonde neighbor Sheila (Bridget Brno) about the lecherous ‘liberating’ qualities of ‘women’s lib,” Barbi and her gorgeous gal pal hit the streets without their brassieres, thereupon shooting for maximum sex appeal. Barbi becomes vivacious “Viva”; an intrinsically ignorant girl lost in a world of predatory pervert beatnik bastards and dirty yet would-be-dapper old men. Pimped out by an old Madame named Mrs. James (Carole Balkan) who claims that she can find her Mr. Right – a sensitive and sexually satisfying guy sired by the sexual revolution – Viva faces daunting disappointment after disappointment, ranging from braggart burnouts in bohemia to less than fresh “British Invaders” who need not ask permission to plow her plush puss. Needless to say, the swinging seventies are not as sexy and savory as she hoped they would be, but Viva never gives up or shuts up, thereupon learning the trick of the trade in the fine art of flesh-peddling. After hooking up with a hyper-hedonistic hippie nudist folk singer named Elmer (Paolo Davanzo) who manhandles her within minutes, Viva realizes she hates this horny humanist of a hanky-panky hustler and goes to her Madame to find a new man, thus leading to a two-sided ménage à trios of sorts. While entering a doomed domestic relationship with a degenerate hack of a puffery-inclined pop-artist named Clyde (Marcus DeAnda), she refuses to engage in explicit eroticism with the arrogant ‘artiste’ and instead learns carnal knowledge from a busty black girl name Agnes (Robbin Ryan) in this tragicomedic episode of Biller's virtual take on Three's Company. After a while Clyde decides he no longer wants to be a cuckold whose girlfriend prefers cunt to his cock, so he drugs Viva at an orgy with some unmentioned psychedelic substance, thereupon leading to a date rape of sorts where the frigid lady finally has her first vaginal orgasm. Finally experiencing strength through joy as a virtual 'sexual goddess' who was 'wanted' and 'worshiped,' Viva is finally ready to go back to suburbia, thus becoming “Barbi” again with the intent of reuniting with her blond beast beau Mark. Unfortunately, Viva’s friend Sheila’s sleaze-bag husband Rick (Chad England) – a grotesque actor with a fierce fondness for much fresher flesh – wants a piece of the light-brown babe’s body. Can Barbi resist Rick’s rabid rapist wit and stay married to Mark?!? 



 An epic of the reflective retrograde erotic, I was admittedly quite surprised that I made it through Viva and – dare I say – enjoyed it! In fact, as someone who adamantly despises masturbatory pomo flicks like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s anti-climatic dual-jerk-off double-feature Grindhouse (2007), Viva makes for an aesthetically and thematically vibrant exception. Instead of adding contrived scratch marks to her film like perennial fanboy and transparent faker Tarantino did with Grindhouse, Biller – who actually has an appreciation for rich celluloid and melodramatic nuance – opted for reproducing the tantalizing technicolor of the mostly inferior films she pays slightly ambivalent tribute to. While Viva would probably work better at 90 minutes as opposed to its official 120 minute running length, the absurdly sassy celluloid work still manages to keep a plainly pleasant pace that never wallows too far into redundancy (although, I cannot say I was a fan of the over fluffy burlesque dance numbers!). A 102-minute R-rated version of Viva also exists, but I cannot imagine why considering the unrated version of the film I saw shows nothing more risqué than a couple bushy 1970-style beavers and a nudist cocktail of limp cocks. For those looking for cheap titillation and double-penetration, Viva will probably be a brooding bore, even if features more flesh than virtually all of Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis’ skin flicks combined. Ultimately, Viva is a charmingly campy vision of a less than furious feminist auteur filmmaker’s idea of a world that is neither dystopian nor utopian, but something more akin to a ridiculous hyper-reality in vaguely postmodern softcore pessimist form. As director Anna Biller stated at the beginning of her official ‘director’s statement’: “In the film VIVA, I am reworking old sexploitation movies from the 60's and early 70's, from a woman's point of view. Vintage sexploitation films interest me because they revolve around fantasies of a woman's power over the male, her beauty, her desirability, her sex appeal. The idea was to make a movie that seems like a sexploitation movie, and that offers up all the spectacle and lurid promise of that genre, while at the same time talking about what women really go through, their fantasies and sexual trials.” Ultimately, a good orgasm (elegantly accentuated by Biller’s bold and bloody animation) is all Viva needs to dissolve her debilitating discontent. I guess in the postmodern post-sexual revolution/women’s lib world that is the only thing a girl can ask for as hubby is no longer the only one paying all the bills.

For more info on Viva, checkout: www.cultepics.com



-Ty E

8 comments:

willy jerk-off said...

You`ve never needed masturbation aids ! ! !, what are you ?, some kind of 'sex-god' to all the chicks ! ?, you fucking lucky bastard.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I think Chad England should change his name to Chad America.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"Seemingly gay British rapists", the bloody disgusting limey faggots. "homo hairstylists", the bloody dirty woofter poofters.

willy jerk-off said...

I still prefer my windows vista media centre clips to jerk-off to, so these movies seem a little bit pointless to me now, unless of course you look upon sex films as something other than just a masturbation aid (which i dont obviously).

teddy crescendo said...

That bird looks like Tura Satana, "FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL ! ! !" (1965), a reveiw would be nice.

teddy crescendo said...

That geezer shes supposedly in a relationship with looks like a faggot.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

A porn/sex film that doesn`t show beautiful young girls being graphically buggered and sodomized is a ludicrously out-moded cinematic anachronism, by definition ! ! !.

Scott Is NOT A Professional said...

A half-Jap broad disrobing in her very own modern-day sexploitation flick?

You got my attention.

A "postmodern retro feminist flick"?

Uh, never mind...