Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Indelible Ennio (Primo); 7 Giallo Classics on Prime (Morricone Scores Pt. 1)

I was asked to explain 'why Ennio?" while preparing this post (i.e. watching 20+ Ennio-scored movies back-to-back on Prime), and I really tried: When it comes to scores, I said, proudly, there is Ennio Morricone and there is everyone else. If 60s-70s Italian genre cinema--westerns and giallos in particular--found a market the world over, it's only because of Ennio. Each of his scores (and he's done over 500 films) is a blueprint for ironic modernist counterpoint. As the filmic images and diegetic sounds unspool, Morricone brings antithesis, guts, satire, ironic poise and unbearable intensity, all levied with winsome notes of lost childhood and operatic rock energy, and best of all, never uses an orchestra when a slide whistle will do.

top: Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion / bottom: Black Belly of the Tarantula
Thinking of why he's so many leagues above the rest, I'm reminded of the bit in Amadeus when the king tells Mozart to add more notes to his symphony. In tons of Hollywood movies made today you hear the hackneyed Salieri-style orchestrations of lesser composers for whom this adage is gospel. They know too many musicians to want to keep their score limited, minimalist, and simple.  Determined to justify their 100 piece orchestras, the yse every instrument they can in big elaborate sweeping gestures and micro-managerial helicopter (or 'mickey mouse') scoring.

On the hand, Ennio never uses any instrument when none would be better. His is a kind of intuitive drive and love of cinema that transcends scores as we know them today.

There are only a few working composers that get the Morricone touch, that continue and expand his approach in unique directions (away from classical and jazz influences, more towards avant garde and modernist) such as the great Hans Zimmer. But even he knows - Ennio rules (see Zimmer's "Ennio Morricone- My Inspiration"). 
His music is so intensely personal and seems to speak to the individual. Much more than grand pieces that seem to speak to a crowd of people, each piece Morricone writes seems to be personal to the individual listening to it, and that’s a really amazing achievement. (full)
And the best news about Ennio: there are a great many of his scores on LP and on engines like Spotify and Amazon Music, and a bunch of his movies are on Prime, to the point I can't even cover them all in one post. So there shall be three. First: these 7 groovy gialli, all from 1970-75, and all with decent HD or very good SD image on Prime... then, an equal number of westerns, then crime/corruption/communism! After all that, maybe you too can annoy your co-habitants with your obsessive swooning over his masterful ability enhance any scene, until they never have to ask 'why Ennio?' Boinggg! zzzzZZZzcch (knife running down E bass string-- exeunt)

(PS -  Some of these have more than one upload -Autopsy and Cat O'Nine Tails for two- with different quality sources, so if you get a crap/SD/compressed one, try again)

PART ONE: Il Boom del Gialli (1970-75)

"Macchie Solari"
(1975) Dir. Armando Crispino 
***1/2 / Amazon Image - C+

What could have been just another super weird Mimsy Farmer-goes-schizo movie ala Perfume of a Lady in Black (1974 - Dir. Francesco Barilli) where tricks are played with narrative to undo murders and create seemingly random conspiracies just for the hell of it (and no Morricone), Autopsy (Italian title is better: Macchie Solari)  is a zippy giallo that, not unlike A Quiet Place in the Country, understands that hallucinations are examples of paredolia amplified by lack of sleep, drugs, withdrawal, mental illness or high fever, and structured by desire and fear. Sure, it's just a hallucination, yet it's in far more dimensions than just that 2-D groove you were carved into, it's beyond that illusion of music, that ghost you called the real world.

Here Farmer is playing, for a change, a total professional - she's the one doing the  autopsies. And due to sunspots there are a ton of suicides in town, which means--for a doctoral candidate in post-mortem medicine doing her thesis on real vs. faked (by the real killer) suicides--she's too busy cutting open dead people and elaborating her thesis to stay sane (or laid). Her hallucinations, obsession with red hair (big surprise!), and proclivity for violence are understandable due to the stress, the long hours, her super-weird Elektra complex, the sinister way everyone seems to be plotting against her. It also doesn't help living in hyper-rapey Rome. As with Perfume, she has a handsome rich boyfriend photographer (Ray Lovelock) whom she pushes and pulls with her love/hate psycho killer closeted aversion to sex / necrophiliac horniness ("undress me" she says, only to then complain "there's too much light" then freaks out because she sees her autopsied dead people). Prioritizing her doctoral studies over his company, she likes long walks on the beach and lapsing into strange reveries. The lighting is generally better in (at least the second half) of Perfume, but Autopsy makes more linear sense. I don't know why I have to compare them just because Mimsy Farmer is in both and they each tick so many giallo boxes. She's the queen of giallo! Or maybe... the king?
All hail Mimsy Farmer, King of Giallo! 

Barry Primus is Father Paul - not your average priest; he used to be a race car driver - who quit after his last collision killed twelve people. He shows up at the morgue. "She could not have killed herself because I had given her Absolution." He's also an epileptic who has violent seizures and almost kills the leering handyman in Mimsy's building (her handsome single father's love nest is right upstairs). Morricone's score builds on sustained drones that slowly build and then end in moans and gasps from two women who are either dying or orgasming or both, then the drones start back up again, like the wheezy noises that might creep up from the grave of a murdered organist during Mimsy's stroll through a ghastly murder/suicide exhibit the crime museum. Other places Morricone peppers with what sounds like busy like little flights of bees trying to keep their buzzing volume down so they can get at the nectar before it's taken by some bullying hummingbird. Dulcimer keys hammer like late-added semi-colons trying to find their place in the ghostly lines of Lovelock's vintage Parisian brothel slideshow. Then, whirling dust storms of bird coos are thrown through a dissecting machine during strange bible decodings and a machine for paralyzed people to name their killers through blinking. More moans, it just keeps delving deeper into that line - the heavy-breathing, dilated line you can taste on your tongue about 20-30 minutes after you drop acid. A familiar Morricone lovemaking melody can't even get a break before flashes of violence in Mimsy's mind undoes her sexy mood. Primus drives Mimsy's car madly through the streets so we can see how great her legs look in a slit white dress while he changes gears with professional ease. Lovelock waxes on about the difficulty of photographing statues: "it all depends on absorption and refraction of various components of the solar spectrum." This isn't the first giallo to hint that Italy's staggeringly bright summer afternoon sun might be responsible for all its citizens insane suicidal behavior?

The Prime print is a strange beast. It looks beautiful-or adequate (non-HD but at least anamorphic). but I saw TWO uploads of Autopsy on Prime - so keep trying if the one you click on is all messed up, compression-wise. There are TWO. Bear that in  mind.... mind...

"Le foto proibite di una signora per bene" 
(1970) Dir. Luciano Ercoli 
*** / Amazon Image - B+

Though it's labeled a giallo in the traditional sense, Luciano Ercoli's Forbidden Photos...  has a direct link with the romantic-sexy sopay dramas of the era meant for very repressed and bored Catholic housewives. Subsumed with guilt about even fantasizing infidelity, needing elaborate justifications that will, somehow, make cheating with a younger, sexier man the only recourse for saving your marriage, i.e. she needs to cheat with a younger handsomer, more virile man to save her husband's life or business reputation.  Through an elaborate sequence of events, sex with a handsome stranger becomes, not a marital indiscretion, but a noble sacrifice. This time-honored ploy stretches back to the silent age, up through the pre-code era (Blonde Venus) up to the 50s (Jeopardy) and even the 80s (An Indecent Proposal). Oftentimes this single night or afternoon of passion was depicted as something sexy or enjoyable, but just as often vile and sordid, and only occasionally - as here- both). Still, whether or not she enjoyed her ordeal, or even fantasized about such an overpowering beforehand, is irrelevant - her feelings are her own. It's complicated.

Ah, but there was the alternative, where the woman is so horrified at the changes it's making in her libido and sense of self she's nigh suicidal- ala Blue Velvet and this red telephone keeper from director Luciano Ercoli. She showers and showers afterwards, but still feels his pawing. But she liked it. Didn't she? In Italy, it's alwayscomplicated.

The cast is relatively small, narrowing down the suspect list, with clingy undersexed housewife Minou (Dagmar Lassander) doing what's necessary to hold onto husband Peter (Pier Palo Capponi), a business tycoon in danger of losing his company. Simon Andreu is the mysterious masterful man with a tape of Peter confessing a murder. Andreu's love den has black walls and is full of exotic art, like white hands coming out of the wall. "Don't worry, you'll enjoy yourself a lot more than you imagine," he says after luring Minou up there. "Take off your coat!"

Other suspects include Minou's sexy-cool liberated bisexual swinger friend Dominique (Nieves Navarro), who was once a lover of Peter but that's all over, or is it?

Another suspect: pills. Minou is taking Valiums again; her erratic behavior may be the result of a breakdown. Peter says.

Clearly "mother's little helper" was creating a whole splinter group off the Edgar Wallace-centric main drag of giallo; beyond its loosening grip lay orgy sex clubs and Satanic sects. In films like Case of The Bloody Iris, All the Colors of the Dark, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, the married wife, left too long at home in bed, zonked on blues, ignored by husband, is naturally going to be menaced by attractive knife-wielding blackmailers (or is he just a Valium fantasy?) trying to get her to return to the sex club she doesn't even remember joining.

Andreu might be the sexiest part of this film when it comes to personal style; I love his love den ("I must say, your performance has been more than I expected.") I'm not a fan of Dagmar Lassander's stooped, defeated posture, nor do I like the combo of tacky powder blue frock with matching eye shadow, terrible fake red hair, and pink lipstick. Nieves Navarro is way cooler as Dominique, even though she rocks a lot of the same pale blue eyeshadow/pink lipstick/ fake red hair look. A star of an array of quality if unexceptional giallos, Navarro always seems to play the same part, that of a cool liberated character who seems to have created swinging late-60s/early-70s Milan or Rome to suit herself.  Some of her un-PC ideas may not gel with today's society ("I'd adore being violated") but I don't think that would faze her much, not would Andreu be fazed by all the loathing thrown his way by repressed Dagmar.

Morricone factor: One of 17 scores Ennio did in 1970 alone, he's just doing a job here, but doing it well: the title theme coos along with the traditional wordless female vocalizing (something that no doubt helped with international markets to avoid lyric confusion) as a gentle trumpet part floats high over a dreamy Barcelona netting of strings. Later the suspense builds with the same netting rattled by a single fou- note refrain, swimming against the grain of trumpet and strings like an incessant, nagging guilty conscience. At times woodwinds move in and out of mimicking police sirens, funky organs and wah-wah guitars groove in the nightclub scene. And if that scene gets confusing it's because both Minou and Dominique are wearing strange new wigs, just to throw us off.

Leaving Prime at the end of the month!

Cosa avete fatto a Solange?
(1972) Dir. Massimo Dallamano
***1/2 / Image: A+

Based on Edgar Wallace's crime novel "The Clue of the New Pin" this beautifully-photographed (and lushly transferred to HD) thriller occurs in that most ideal of all giallo settings, a private Catholic girls' school (in England, supposedly). Devilishly handsome Fabio Testi is the 'phys-ed' teacher (you can hear Billy Wilder cackle in his grave) trying to devirginize his latest star pupil; he thinks she's once again holding out by saying she saw a knife flash as they drifted past a maybe murder scene in a rowboat built for two. She wasn't, but kind of was. The knife thing as Freudian a fear of penetration excuse is so on point here it kind of cracks the code of what Diane Keaton called that "whole Italian... thing." Morricone's score starts on a mournful bottom note single-hand piano refrain that slowly builds into two hands, wordless cooing vocals hitting dreamy high notes and strings cascading sadly like a waterfall trickle of circling hawks. Also, nothing is more gross that lying in the bottom of a boat, I don't care how dry it is, it's not dry. The score gets pitch-shifty as it turns out there was a murder but how can Rassini explain being at the scene of the crime without getting fired? But soon the killer knows he and his star pupil saw something and the murders begin anew... Someone is killing off the girls in his class, it's up to Rassini to stop it ("for once your intimate relationship with the students will prove useful," declares the shocked dean). With the cops running parallel and intersecting investigations.I'd say more about the message inherent in the subtexts, but that would be a spoiler.

Instead I'll talk about the slinky Morricone bass line, brushed drums and honking off-key trumpet mute (expertly blending into the honk of a BMW car horn) let us know this is going to be a touch Hitchcockian as well as sordid, even cop show at times, like a kid smashing a funky TV cop show score into a Herrmann-esque thriller then recording the crash, and riffing off the dying honk of the steering wheel, viola!

One of the more interesting and successful elements in the characterization of Rassini's wife (Krimi star Karin Baal - who'd later work with Fassbinder). She starts the film as a suspect, with her lack of makeup and pulled sharply back blonde crop (always signifying repressed masculine tendency), glowering at her husband with weary daggers. But as the murders commence, she begins to have compassion for her husband, and seems to age 20 years younger and become desirable again, to both him and us (the way she can modulate like that evokes that of Jeanne Moreau in La Notte). Meanwhile Rassini has to solve the murder. Questioning a hip black photographer, Rassini learns  that the girls were virgins, technically; they did everything but as the hipster black photographer tells him. "You read the Kinsey report?"

Director Dallamano got his start after garnering notice as cinematographer of the first two films in Leone's big-breaking "Man with No Name" trilogy. He knows his way around a gorgeously composed shot. Amazon's streaming image appears sourced from the recent Arrow Blu-ray (which I have, and is recommended) with dusky deep blacks and vivid deep colors. Even a protracted scene at confession works because it's so gorgeous, girls' faces so luminous, and Ennio's toss-off incidental church organ melody indelible. Even the track Rico plays for his student girlfriend on an LP sounds sublime. Even the carousel sing song theme of the merry-go-round stake-out park scene... That's one element of the Morricone genius, to co-opt the diegetic music into the score, so that they merge and we begin to take the score itself as part of the landscape.

Some of the moments anticipate Picnic at Hanging Rock like this bicycling clique flashback
The Amazon Print is in English only with English subtitles for the Italian version - which leads to some interesting jarring notes between what is actually said (to match the lips and the tenor of the time), and the subtitles, especially at the end. (I often watch these with subtitles on anyway, for those very reasons, you can get a weird dissonance and that's what giallo is all about).

La Tarantola dal ventre nero
** / Amazon Image - B+ 

There's only a few reasons to see this stylish but mindlessly derivative giallo entry: the gorgeous, well-turned-out women (including Bond babes Claudine Auger and Barbara Bach) and its habit of giving us the full giallo littany: the kinky gold curtains, spiral staircases, and fetishistic toys and latex gloves... and mannequins, it's almost an Argento "animal" trilogy remix, the challenge being to use every element, only without any zip, energy or insight.

Thank god then, for the Morricone score which provides a cacophonic counterpoint whenever it can. You don't even need a story when Ennio is at the top of his game like he is here. All crumbling electric guitars, atonal mashes of the keyboard, deep breathing and wheezy organs, he catches and balances the woozy mise-en-scene the way a patient friend might help a stumbling drunk to his car.

Considering the by-the-numbers direction of journeyman-hack Paolo Cavara (Mondo Cane) and the fact that Tarantolo's screenplay was written by woman (Lucille Lans) it's perhaps no surprise that a) the film is lacking the drive and momentum that toxic blend of male Catholic guilt and seething sexual frustration can provide, and b) its strengths lie in its 'weaknesses,' in its swooning, feminine sexuality, which we guilty scholars will note is almost completely free of voyeuristic "eye"-conography. The stripping nude of the female victims and the paralysis method seem to set the stage for kinky trauma, but the editor knows that when they stop screaming and act dead, the tension goes out and it just becomes mannequin-jabbing necrophile boredom. We have Spasmo for that! (Another great Ennio score in that one, but it's not on Prime).

With so little suspense or empathy generated by the killings, the big mystery becomes how a cop as foggy and strung-out as Giancarlo Giannini's Inspector Tellini ever made it to homicide in the first place. He should be handing out parking tickets, at best. From a surrealist standpoint the detective's confusion and rank incompetence puts him in the rarefied realm of somnambulist shamuses that have been knocked into weird zones between realities: Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart; Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense; Asia Argento in The Stendahl Syndrome; Ralph Meeker in Kiss Me Deadly-characters who may or may not be already dead, as if they awoke from a dream into the film and don't really remember a damn thing about investigative protocol. But at least in those films the target always turns out to be someone or something intrinsically tied up with the pursuer. In Belly, the final disconnect becomes more of a Dirty Harry sort of "this time it's personal!" punch out, which illuminates our hero's darkened path not a watt. Oh well, if you're so xanaxed out you don't even know where or who you are it helps to have some really weird Morricone to help you home. One psychedelically twisted note of discordant guitar and you know that you're safe in the beloved giallo genre, where druggy amnesia isn't only forgiven, it's practically essential. (see full -6/09).

Giornata Nera per l'Ariete
***1/2 / Amazon Image  -A

Franco Franco Nero smolders and drinks valiantly against the rushing tide of fatalistic Ennio Morricone-scored vocalizing and surging drones in this fine giallo, an example of how you can dip into the tricks and trappings of the Argento-via-Hitchcock paintbox, rather than be merely derivative, create something vivid and cool, vibrant and alive. Partially excavating the deep roots of childish lack of impulse control beneath macho vanity and alcoholism, Nero plays an ex-husband womanizer journalist who still loves his ex-wife (Silvia Monti) even though he's shacked up with cute blonde Pamela Tiffin. Teetering between Keitel Bad Lieutenant transcendental-abusive and Nick Nolte Affliction DT-delusional, Nero follows clues leading him to murder victims that he knew, and so forth. I've seen it six times and I still can't follow how any of these people are supposed to even know each other. Maybe Rome is very small, so when you hang out at a bar one night (the opening swinging nightclub scene, cracked to bursting with stares, slinky electric organ music, and possible leads), everyone you meet will have all sorts of interconnected secrets. As long as modernist international architecture leads to wild post-modernist compositions like these, baby, you go right ahead.

A highlight is Ennio's dreamy music for a passage that finds Nero spying on through a side window on some languid afternoon sex show being filmed in silhouette on a wall shot through glass beads, laden with queer innuendo as one realizes the extent being gay in the 60s-70s meant continuous exposure to blackmail, so everyone had to sneak around, drawing the eye of curious detectives and journalists following up any random clue. Here we get glass beads, strange hungry looks, and Ennio so breathy perfect time stops altogether in a fairie bower haze.

it's all in fun
As in so many detective thrillers of its time (when the real-life "Zodiac" was big in the public eye), astrology factors into the murders. We realize the killer only strikes "on a Tuesday, sacred to Mars, favorable to Aires!' (The Italian title translates to 'Black Day for Aires") Light through Venetian blinds, the roving camera, crisp sets, good dubbing, a sense of the phoniness inside the souls of the characters that not only excuses phoniness in the film but resembles Antonioni-esque fatalism as much as it does Argento diabolism. Even when the crippled heiress (the ever-glowering Rosella Falk) is being terrified, crawling across the floor like a snake towards her distant wheelchair, she's framed beautifully by a stone lion, dark yellow curtains, and a gray cat, Morricone's organ fugue underscoring her funeral even as she's still alive.

Debits for the heavy reliance on day-for-night in the stalking/killing sequences, as if they all occur in some heavy gravity zone of deep blue eternal concrete twilight, where all light sources, tunnel roof lights etc, glow with a deep azure-green halo like you're just watching with very dark sunglasses on. Were they shot by the AD while Bazzoni was lining up his international style architecture lines and making sure the light gleans deep and merciless into Nero's weeping, drunk crystal blue eyes?

Il gatto a nove code
(1971) Dir Dario Argento
*** / Amazon Image - A+

I often imitate the little three note stand-up bass line Morricone lays down for this neat little follow-up to the landmark Argento giallo Bird with Crystal Plumage. It's easy (if you have a deep voice) and makes everything more slinky and atmospheric and while giallo purists sometimes give Cat the airs, fans of classic detective thrillers from Hollywood (ala The Falcon, Charlie Chan, etc.) will love all the deep cut callbacks (the poisoned milk! the clue left in the coffin in the crypt in the graveyard at n-n-n-night). Blind puzzlemaker Karl Malden has a window overlooking the Terzi Institute--a guard was slugged and the place broken into - then someone was murdered! His little seeing-eye niece calls him Cookie and their cool positive relationship is the sort we'd see again later in Phenomena with Donald Pleasance and Jennifer Connelly (and reflected perversely in that between the possibly gender-disoriented and certainly automaton-esque heiress Catherine Spaak and her older "father" and the founder of a sinister genetics institute (villainous eyebrow wearer Tino Carraro).  Malden and Franciscus get some good comedic rapport during their long Lewtonian walk through the nighttime graveyard (Argento would never resort to day -for-night so there's real night) and create a good vibe between themselves and Lori as a kind of journalistic unit. Morricone's score seems made by leaving a flute outside on a windy day and rubbing a cello string with a hot microphone.

Maybe the fact that it's not terribly memorable helps it hold up well over repeat viewings. It's got a good spritely rhythm with all sorts of ingenious clues and termite herring encoded into every little shot, with paradoxical dialogue ("Gigi the Loser's the winner!") and riffs on gender identity (the more intimate you are with someone, the more their gender identity melts away), with little queer panic allusions seeming to mocking some closeted censor: bare feet safely touching the floor, some hands, and Spaak's zonked immovable eyes, all planted for later recovery, with the killer as omnipresent as that funky minimalist three-note Morricone bass line, violently plucking back the root cord evidence of his/her identity until the very Hitchcockian rooftop chase climax. Meanwhile, classic little bits of McGuffin clue stashing familiar to fans of old 30s and 40s mysteries abound amidst the giallo kinkiness but it doesn't matter if they're old tropes, it's that Argento knows them so well he riffs on them, the way a jazz trumpeter who can't necessarily care whether you know "Take the A-Train" well enough to appreciate how far he's counter-rotating the melody. He's doing it for him, and the Chan fans. We can dig it, man, we can also groove to that crazy Morricone mash-up of a score: his repetitions of little refrains, atonal reeds evoking howling winds outside distant windows, flute melodies that cycle around on repeat and sing-song high voices that seem to drift around over thudding bass lines like a cloud of smoke.

La corta notte delle bambole di vetro
(1971) Dir. Aldo Lado
**1/2 / Amazon Image - C+

Prague may be beautiful, architecturally -- since it managed to avoid being bombed by either Germany or Russia during ze War-- but the weather is generally as grim as the sociopolitical spectrum. There's only so much pretty girls and woozy Morricone strings can do against Communist party counter insurrectionist spies, especially coupled to sinister old classical music appreciation clubs so entrenched and all-controlling they make any attempt to shine a light on the truth of some pretty girl's vanishing seem futile. An allegedly worldly foreign press journalist like aggrieved Jean Sorel should no better than to keep sticking his neck in the local forest of bureaucratic nooses. If he keeps refusing to heed the dire warnings of the KGB-style local detective, as well as the urgings of his older ex-lover, fellow foreign press scribe (Ingrid Thulin) he's going to deserve what he gets. And we already know what that is, because he begins the movie on a slab in the morgue, poisoned with some kind of drug that puts him in a catatonic state so close to death that even his friend a medical technician can't successfully shock him back to life! He can only watch and feel the pain as he's slowly autopsied in front of a gathered cult throng.

Some scenes seem to be missing and it's too bad, as those were the scenes I'd like most to see: Why is the Texas millionairess 'planking' next to mighty Mario Adorf at the party? There's weird touches involving butterflies and so forth, but the center doesn't seem to hold and even Ennio Morricone's score lists along at half-mast, limiting itself to some screechy panic attack drones, somewhere between Bernard Herrmann's future scores for Cronenberg and an orchestra tuning up before playing Bartok. Still it's Ennio and it rocks in its draggy way: I had the soundtrack long before seeing the film and used to love to listen to it on my Discman while walking through Prospect Park at night with my dog, every shadow on the stone bridge walls flickered like death incarnate as we walked through the long tunnel from Grand Army Plaza, the Bartok-Herrmann-ish avant garde jangles frying my nerves in the most giddy of ways. Alas, Sorel is so bland he fails to generate much faith in him; he makes one pine for Franco Nero, hell, even Giancarlo Giannini. Good shock ending though - AGHHHHH!

COMING SOON: Morricone-scored Westerns; Morricone-scored Crime and Misc.


3/17: 12 Weird/Cool Italian Films streaming free on Prime
12/16: I never said it wasn't terrible: 10 Sci-Fi Curiosities on Amazon Prime
2/19: Post-Futuristic Gang Violence on Prime, Italian-style: 6 Badass Trips from the early 80s
10/16: 13 Best or Weirdest Occult/Witch movies on the Amazon Prime
10/16: Taste the Blood of Dracula's Prime: 12 Psychotronic Vampire Films

Acid and Giallo: Drive-In Dream Logic III, Italian-style
Post-Giallo Nightmare Logic (old Netflix roundup)
BEYOND, THE (1981)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Dance of Tripper Mimsy: RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP (1967)

Based on true events! The AIP/MGM police/hippie hybrid movie RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP (1967) reminds us that back in the 60s, LA's rock venue-packed Sunset Strip was once so clogged with amok youth that the lawmakers had to enforce a 10 PM curfew for everyone under 18. The kids took to the streets in protest, or were already there. Sonny, Cher, Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda attended to show their solidarity. Fonda got handcuffed! What a world.

Today, those of us who don't live in LA probably just hear the words Sunset Strip and prepare for yet another old rocker to start in about seeing the Doors at the Whiskey a Go Go back in whenever or how 'the man' made them change the name (to 'the Whisk') or how they razed Pandora's Box--the main all-ages (non-alcoholic) venue--to the ground. Or how Buffalo Springfield's inescapable "For What it's Worth" was written about the Sunset Strip riots. But I'll just say that you can draw a dotted line down the road of AIP counterculture classics, from the Strip to The Trip and then Wild in the Streets. And the year after that it's films like the (AIP-influenced) Easy Rider. And then Cult of the Damned, and Manson! It's all connected like a dashed highway line...going straight to hell! For fans of the scene, of LSD, of the Doors, and of Jack Nicholson, then, come and dig the Strip - and see the dance that lit the flame, the Salome of Hippie film Troy, the wig that launched a thousand swigs, Mimsy Farmer!

Hanging around at Pandora's Box, starting trouble
Released an astonishingly short four months after the riots happened, Riot on Sunset Strip alternates between the police and a sweet, innocent girl named Andi (Mimsy Farmer); she lives alone with her alcoholic mom - below, who starts out just digging bands with her girlfriend Liz-Ann (Laurie Mock) and their two nameless boyfriends as a way to get out of the house. Her slow slide begins when she starts smoking, gradually dressing sexier, craving some kind of parental structure but just getting mom's incoherent babbling (and dad nowhere to be found). Come on, Liz-Ann says, "it's a freak-out!" Andi says she's never done acid.  "Come on, Alice in Wonderland," says Liz-Ann: "You haven't lived!"

As we follow her descent, we also bounce back and forth to the precinct struggles of her absentee father (Aldo Ray), a police captain in charge of the youth problem. He doesn't want his men to start cracking heads, nor does he want the local business owners to form their own vigilante task force. In trying to be fair to both kids and adults, he pleases neither. That doesn't bother him though, when he gives interviews for local TV he preaches a modicum of tolerance: "These are your sons and daughters!" It's a fair point. But Aldo, what about your daughter?

above -Mom, in bed with her demons; Andi - smoking
(there was no age restriction on it then and damned if it doesn't make her look cool)

Andi, tired of being harassed by the cops, forced to call her teacher to pick her up from the police station rather than her drunk mother, acquiesces to the freak-out. But once there--even though she's vibing with the cute older boy who's got the sugar cubes, she still just says no - preferring to hang around the invaded home like a wet dishrag. This can be very frustrating as a rocket-boosted hormonal and very high male out to score. A girl like that seems--in their drugs-and-testosterone-addled brain--like she's 'asking' for something to overwhelm her. She wont leave the "happening" alone, yet she will not make the scene!

If she will not make the scene, then the scene--with its tendrils of long hair, and its medallion beads clattering like a clacking Cabeza de Lobo beach cub / billion beak castanet jelly donut death racket--will make her. 

Her old man, will he come rolling home?

Maybe none of this would need to happen, oh if he only would come see her, but he's too busy lecturing other parents about not spending time with their kids.

But then, for all their woe, whatever that is, we'd miss one key moment worth the whole damned film: Mimsy Farmer's sublime acid dance freak-out, one of the great peak pivotal moments in 60s LSD cinema!

Since it's only 1967, and the AIP countercultural LSD movie cycle is just getting rolling (if you'll forgive the expression), one could consider Farmer's dance to be the opening act in the huge paisley cavalcade to come, the way exotic dancers perform flame rituals in Arabian sheik's tents prior to taking tea with a bronzed Robert Taylor. Setting the mood and opening the gates, Farmer's dance shows how one might take a hackneyed, non-relevant 'breather'- as Laura Mulvey would call it --woman as a kind of narrative door-stop, creating the space for a kind of desire/possessive gazing on the part of the viewer--and reverse the flow so her madness seems to possess us by contrast. Her constant oscillating from one extreme emotion to the other forces us to be afraid of her, for her, with her, and without her, all in quick-cycling succession. It's still a milestone in trippy dancing few have equaled since (more sophisticated nuanced actresses just come off as ridiculous or overly maudlin, or merely stiff and vapid)

Overall, Riot is rather pedestrianly directed by (59 year-old) Arthur Dreifuss, but--though he's clearly a generic square--old Arthur wisely lets this one moment land with a keen eye for how dancing on acid feels in the moment. The vaguely mystical-tribal sun wall sculpture on the wall behind her evokes a subliminal temple backdrop; the pink lighting soaks into her golden skin and her form-fitting pink and army green dress makes her at times seem to appear and disappear. She wears what seems like three identical wigs all slowly growing, widening in a halo gyre, gradually getting wilder and more libidinal-schizo as she slinks to the ground and luxuriates like a cat rubbing against a corner. She notices her arms and hands as if the first time, alive to the joy of movement, and the horror of it, reacting to any stimulus with a second-by-second switch--from revulsion to agog fascination to cautious luxuriance.

 It's dead-on.

Andi sees her hands for the first time

Dreifuss captures every moment of her crazy dancing, from beginning to end, with just a hint of slow motion here and there, perfectly matched to the music, as if she's slipping in and out of linear time, floating in the ether somewhere between the vampire cult converts floating around in 1972's Deathmaster and the fairies in 1935's Midsummer Night's Dream. But always perfect in her moves, always in with the grinding bluesy generic rock beat.

If you've ever felt those kind of things while slinking around a living room in a surrendered-to joy of movement, then you may feel as I do while watching this scene: my palms start to sweat, my tongue tastes metallic, and my blood quickens as if in anticipation of the inevitable 'kicking in.' It's like getting all the sensations of going up a very steep incline, up and up and up, even as you're just sitting there on the beanbag chair, rolling joints in a Pink Floyd gatefold, watching as the blood rushing in your hands slowly starts to redden and glow just below the skin, like a latticework spider web, and they feel like they're trembling but they're actually steady as rocks.

But of course, the slimy lad who slipped it into her 'diet drink' has been keeping an eye on all this, waiting for the right time to slink up and make a move, bringing her upstairs with all the finesse of Sidney Berger in Carnival of SoulsIt's clearly his and his buddy's MO to dose young girls and take advantage, en masse, once the girl is too zonked to complain or resist. In other words, loathsome date rape behavior wasn't solely the proclivity of frat boys spiking the grain alcohol punch with 'ludes and then giving it only to the girls. 

We didn't quite imagine anything so vile back when I was a freshman. "Date rape" wasn't a term until senior year, circa 1989, too late for most of the girls I used to drink and trip with. Luckily, that didn't stop them from drinking and tripping. Salut!

By the same token, one hopes Andi won't be turned off by the wonders of alcohol, weed, and psychedelics in her future life. At MGM, drugs may be a cry for help, or a way to dilute resistance, but at AIP they're a way forward! They're enlightenment. If you go too far--they're madness. But at least they're a trip! It's not for everyone, but those of us not cut out for the two kid garage and white picket doorbells, it's a rocket to the next option.

Luckily, Andi doesn't seem to be too traumatized afterwards. We never hear her complain or resist. We only learn she had 'entertained' five of them when she tells it to her father, who--of course--walks in on her in the bed, now totally 'down' from her trip, apparently. Telling him the details is, in a way, is her ultimate fuck you, meant to drive him swinging pathetically into the night. It's the real fantasy moment in the film, the kind of thing a kid might imagine getting her never-around dad to witness, especially if he considered himself such a paragon of the law.

That kind of familial crisis is what lets you know that, though it was released by AIP (and has all the AIP earmarks on the surface), Riot is an MGM product. For AIP, family is broken, useless, but MGM can't let the 'father' go. Even when delving into lurid subject matter, the studio tends to employ a kind of roundhouse morality uppercut that dates back to their seemingly transgressive (secretly moralistic) pre-code films like 1931'a A Free Soul (left), wherein booze, premarital sex, and drugs aren't lines in the sand against the previous generation's antiquated norms, they're just the symptom of parent-daughter estrangement due to dad's addiction and/or absenteeism. The dad must fix his character so the daughter will re-merge into the established order, the order he has broken. In Soul, Shearer uses Gable for sex and thrills, but secretly hungers for the safe, flaccid decency of Leslie Howard and the long nights nursemaiding daddy in and out of alcoholic sanitariums. In Sunset, the dad has to stop worrying about the "kids," and pay attention to his own. For her, drugs and sex are a cry for help. We're lured in by the sex and drugs then WHAM! the family. Dirty tricks, MGM!

Dreifuss went from directing Riot to another AIP drug movie after this: The Love-Ins (above), a tale that functions as a Tim Leary roman-a-clef about a disillusioned college professor who drops out and becomes a cash-crazed LSD guru. I haven't seen it myself, but the insightful Chuck Esola notes the incorrect way acid use is depicted: "Not only are the hippies high on it all the time but one hit and the characters in the film are either flailing about wildly on the lawn, jumping out of windows or becoming convinced that they've become Alice in Wonderland (I'm honestly not sure which is worse)."

Hey, in the words of Bruce Dern's guide in The Trip, you're really into some beautiful things here, man. Just let it run on.

More (1969)

As for Mimsy, she would soon escape to Italy in the early 70s, where she was to specialize as totally cracked giallo heroines, as in Dario Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), Armando Crispino's Autopsy (1975), and Francesco Barilli's Portrait of a Lady in Black (1974). Her character in these films was often the same kind of traumatized androgyne, as if she became so splintered by her LSD/rape primal moment in Riot (ala Streetcar Named Desire) that every mirror shard fell into a different film. Her characters all had the same short blonde hair, the same violent revulsion/attraction approach to male sexuality,  the same habit of talking through clenched teeth, voice cracking with a kind of exhausted rage. Walking the razor line between being a totally free spirit engaging in sex and drugs as self expression and destroying herself in a chemical spiral to escape the constant pawing of Italian males, she could turn an innocent German math student onto hard drugs and group sex one minute (as in Barbet Schroder's More) and rant for whole monologues about how she hates men and how her father wished she was born a boy, and brutalized her until she slashed him to ribbons, the next (as in Argento's Four Flies on Grey Velvet.)

Busted - for being teenagers
As for the film that started her off, Riot is an invaluable window into the dawn of the counterculutre as a major force for societal disruption. The riots eventually grew Woodstock-sized and that's what we remember. The Sunset Strip curfew riots are forgotten, just a spark. Only the music they inspired--and that was heard on the Strip at the time--endures. Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Seeds, Love, The Chambers Brothers, and The Doors were all once bands in residence on the Strip. None of them either appear or are heard in the film. Instead, we get the garage rock of the Standells (they sing theme song, noting that "even parents are beginning to scare"); the Chocolate Watchband rips some raucous, royalty-free standard blues (probably the tune Mimsy dances to). But, like the AIP movies it stands with (Psych-Out, and The Tripfor example), the good bands are offset with a lot of dated paisley drippiness courtesy dull treacly sludge by bands like The Mugwumps and The Sidewalk Sounds, (who coo: "I want to make the music pretty / for me"),  not to mention a lot of generic library flute rock instrumentals. When you think of the great stuff being played at the time (like those Cynthia Weil/Barry Mann songs on the similar AIP gems Wild in the Streets and Angel Angel, Down We Go), it's kind of a drag to hear 90% of the Sunset soundtrack, like seeing a fictional movie made about Altamont and just hearing the Flying Burrito Brothers. 

Pandora's Box was a real club (above), at the center of the riots as it was
being demolished by the establishment for its role as a lightning rod in the disruption.

Still, it's great. Newly arrived on Amazon Prime and looking good (these screenshots are all from it), 


- HaPPy TRAils! 

Maybe it was because I saw it the morning after getting back from a mostly-overcast vacation in St. Maarten, but I was in just the right mood for Riot.  The crazy psychedelic dance of Mimsy is really a showstopper and caught me totally by surprise. I made the Hindu arm trail collage (above) myself, though there's nothing like it in the film. There should be, for 'trails' in tripping are a sign of transcending space/time and perhaps the origin for the multi-armed effect of Hindi gods and goddesses. 

And in a way it's too bad that neither Corman nor anyone at AIP ever figured out how to do "trails" correctly (they're aren't any in Gilliam's Fear and Loathing either. Very few films capture the true nature of acid hallucinations (they don't come out of nowhere; they build up through paredolia and a repression of our structuralist 'naming' blinders), maybe we're still waiting for just the right moment to come along.

Actually, I saw a great Mimsy movie on Prime last night that did some decent psychedelic trails, Autopsy (1975)! It wasn't acid but a melding of med student tiredness and solar eclipse-triggered mass insanity - but here you GO-go-o-go-go:

Tripper Mimsy finds the right dosage, at

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Psychedelisexploitation of the Virgin-Whore: BARBARELLA

Dino Di Laurentiis' 1968 sexy sci-fi opus Barbarella probably comes closer than most other mainstream films trying to tap into (as well as satirize) the sense of psychedelic 'free love' that proliferated through the (pre-Manson) moment (i.e. 1966-69), carrying a utopian ideal for a very sexy European-style enlightened future, wherein the Earth is united and groovy and people greet each other with an open palm and the word "love." Nowadays it's tempting to see the film as tawdry, being naive about how lewd and sexist it's coming off seems an obvious excuse, one used by me and many other louche swingers before being wised up to ourselves by a the self-awareness that follows any extended jag of sleeping around. I.e. once we get what we wanted as a horny 15 year-old virgin, we're forced to realize it doesn't really come with the sense of completeness and inner and outer high-fives we were led by our male friend group consensus to believe was coming. But is that our own baggage or the masculine identity's as a whole? Is sex really so bad? Is our inner American showing?

Barbarella's naïveté utopique and Babylonian orgone gluttony may offend our age's born-again prudishness, but it behooves us to remember that--until the little beaks and jaws of a million disillusionments ravaged her--the spirit of psychedelically-enhanced free love was so powerful we still reeled from its effects even in the 80s, by which time it was mostly just vapor. You could call it dated, maybe instantly so, but how far back must we look to go how far forward?

You could go back 3,500 odd years to Shamhat of the Temple of Ishtar, "one of the priestesses who give their bodies to any man in honor of the goddess" (1) who is sent into the woods seduce the hairy pre-Flood Bigfoot-style Enkidu in the Sumerian saga of Gilgamesh or 2,100 years into the future, for a hippie version of the same character, an Earth ambassador of love and sexual manipulation, played with perfect wide-eyed guilelessness by Jane Fonda bedding a hairy guy who saves her life by flogging wild children. Either way, as long as we're not stuck in this drag of a now, when all (straight) sex onscreen consists joyless smash cut rutting (in HBO/AMC doggy style), maybe sex can be saved.

Conceived by Jean-Claude Forest, director Roger Vadim, and co-writer Terry Southern, even the liberated sex in Barbarella comes with its caveats: People on Earth only make love with exaltation transference pills, pressing hands together "for one minute or until full rapport is achieved," but only if their "psychocardiagrams are in perfect confluence." The liberated Earth people now regard weapons as strictly ancient history: all conflicts are resolved with sex and love. Luckily, Earth's representative in sexual potency, its ambassador for love's forgiving, aligning, transformative power in the galaxy, is Barbarella. A virgin in the 'real' physical realm, she tells her first would-be lover, a Enkidu-style hirsute stude --'the Catchman of the Ice and Forests of Weir" (Uggo Tozzi) -- that "(physical sex) was proven to be distracting and a danger to maximum efficiency." Her eyes widening just a little bit with fear she adds "besides it was pointless to continue if better means of ego support and self esteem were made available!"

Though usually letter perfect, this impossibly nubile and gorgeous Fonda occasionally lapses into a vaguely scolding put-on of innocence that hints at her future North Vietnam exploits, as when the "rotating president of the sun system" president (Claude Dauphin wearing a black boa and talking at her naked breasts)  teleports her some spacey weaponry for her mission: "A weapon? What would anyone want with a weapon? The galaxy has been pacified for centuries!" Noting that the Tau Ceti system might "still be living in a state of erotic irresponsibility" it's pretty clear that--for Vadim, for the French, and certainly for ex-pats Fonda and Terry Southern, mainstream bourgeois America has replaced sex with firearms. But really, man, what's so loving about judging them for it?

Hey, maybe we forgot, but a lot of us then, and even now, have experienced the love that has no opposite, the love that goes beyond duality. It is a love so powerful that even its usually-assigned opposite, hate, is revealed as merely projected self-criticism --hardly the opposite of such an expansive universal force. This pure unrestrained love can embrace even hate and fear; even violence can be forgiven and forgotten. A true angel doesn't even resent his own tormentors. The only opposite to that force, that total love beyond duality, is need, want, hunger, lack, the sort of thing that makes men into monsters.

We see it in Jesus Christ Superstar, we see it in Mother! and we see it in Bunuel's Viridiana and in Antonioni's Red Desert, and we even see it in Barbarella: a flood of hungry mouths descending on the free love tree, stripping her trunk past its stocking bark so that the once endlessly opening lotuses no longer bloom, their roots torn away and boiled to feed the billions of starving little mouths, but just for a day, rather than letting the plant restore itself to feed thousands of enlightened souls forever. This is the same thing that swamped Jesus' life raft: the ceaseless pawing and snapping in such numbers as to reduce any blazing fiery Christ to a pecked-blind Prometheus in a piranha minute. It's the ultimate last laugh of the establishment - finally drowning the spirit of universal love in so much needy hands and mouths that even Jesus would cry for a plague, or a war, to thin the herd. He may have turned a few fishes and loaves into enough food to feed his hungry audience, but how long did they stay full? What did he do the next day, when they were just as hungry, and just as lazy?

But we can still dream...

Maybe to understand it, you have to have done powerful psychedelics while young enough to handle the accelerated heart rate and in a scene full of supportive friends, all cool and non-creepy and on the same page. Did you feel the tongs of a glorious expansion of the parameters of self so that "you" were no longer just 'your' body, but the entirety of the scene and felt your energy widen from a trickle to a flood? You belonged at long last - to the world! People changed around you. Frowns turned upside down with a simple wave. You were a positive charge changing the current of the world!

Note subliminal fairy wings
And as the figurehead for this kind of power: there arose from within your ranks a beautiful young American woman with intelligence and a high tolerance for pain and pleasure totally divorced from her innocence (Or was it you, Beth?). One smile from this cute girl and a clan would form around her like a cause. There'd ne no need to 'possess' her, as there's no more possession, or objectification, lust, and dirty secrets, around her. All is exposed, absorbed and forgiven. Make love or do not - it is all one, only the urge to own is a sign of ego insecurity and all that is behind you now. Evil and self-centeredness disappears in the face of this bright and shining collective power,  like a dark cloud quickly evaporating in the high desert afternoon. This is why anyone with love in his heart for his opponent cannot be defeated.

Or why cults are so hard to escape.

Hence it makes sense for the President of Earth (Claude Dauphin) to send an unarmed sexually 'woke' being like Barbarella to a far-off planet in the Tau Ceti constellation, where war still exists, and sex is done the old-fashioned way, i.e. not through pills. Her main strategy is to throw herself into harm's way, and be rescued and then use sex to reward her rescuer which --as luck would have it --tends to satisfy her as well. Luckily (or is it karma?) the older, pot-bellied, jowly, grey haired old dudes like Professor Ping (Marcel Marceau) and the president may lick their lips from afar, but they don't drag her down with a lot of flaccid denial of essence (they're too far away). The main villain, Durand Durand prefers the arms' length of his orgasmatron, sparing us the unsightly prospect of his garishly made-up porcine face sweating greasepaint astride her while "Down Down Down! (Drag me Down)" rocks the soundtrack. Thus, her good karma for being so hot and righteous ensures its own continuation through a steady progression of lucky good turns (lovers are all young or at least manly, or at least strangely sexy), and isn't that in the end why karma never fails?

Fonda's fresh-faced innocence catches the eye of this child of Sogo. 
A futuristic hippie in the purist form--Barbarella is the product not merely of male fantasy --though she is surely that--but the 'enlightened' male fantasy, the fantasy of the post-smoking, acid-dropping idealist who has the right idea even if he's still lost in his own woods, so to speak. Even as it makes sure to satirize itself, Vadim's film can't help believing in its message - that love is more effective than evil or violence, and that America's ingrained Puritan repression has ensured its cutest sex kittens maintain a healthy naive innocence that a college stint at La Sorbonne and an affair with a Galouise-reeking existentialist named Michel can't ever-fully tarnish or disillusion. An American girl full of peace and love, Fonda's Barbarella is almost invincible in a decadent European environment (i.e. Tau Ceti standing in for disillusioned post-war Europe [2]). Since so many men will be likely to help her, her beauty like a rallying standard for heterosexual union (delineated her tiresome homophobic refusal of Anita Pallenberg), this is much the way Flash Gordon and Dale Arden affected Mongo, enacting a fatalistic round robin with Ming and his daughter Aura by dipping her foreign All-American innocence into the decadent lurid jet set stew of foreign (heterosexual decadence only) stereotype (see: Tigron and Taboo).

Thanks to her almost Cary Grant-like gift for deadpan physical comedy, Fonda never seems remotely passive or disinterested as she regularly uses nonviolent means to her ends. Compared to the much dimmer Ewa Aulin in the similar comic book big budget sex fantasy Terry Southern shaggy dog tale Candy (also 1968) Fonda never seems out of control; nothing sexual happens before she’s consented. It’s her enjoyment – ‘lalalala’-ing in post-coital distraction afterwards, that conversely illustrates her effectiveness as an agent. She’s not ashamed about using sex in her work, first because it’s no big deal (like a hug or handshake), but then because she finds she likes it, and on her planet its removal (due to it being a “distraction from maximum efficiency”) for over 300 years has disassociated it with any latent Christian shame and guilt (or presumably, reproductive or STD consequence).

Even Barbarella's rival/shadow, ruling through fear and pain, the Black Queen (Anita Pallenberg, above, voice dubbed by Joan Greenwood) AKA the Great Tyrant, can't resist her charms. With a Sadean mixture of sadistic voluptuary delight, she calls Barbarella "pretty... pretty..." like a kitten. But she must continually do evil to satisfy the Matmos, a magnetically disturbing sentient liquid intelligence bubbling below her city, supplying it with light, warmth and energy, while feeding on negatively charged evil deeds and thoughts, corrupting those on its surface and turning the whole place into one giant wicked orgy of sadomasochism and drugged-out excess in order to keep itself sated. Just walking around above its pulsing current, Barbarella can feel the heady effects, and it can feel her incorruptible innocence the way we might feel a mild electric shock.

Viddy the Matmos!
Ever-bubbling below their feet, its liquid hypnotic light show effects playing on modular TV screens and projections in amidst the posed revelers, the Matmos turns the whole place into a Gomorrah you might imagine while staring deep into a lava lamp, mind reeling with a swerve of the LSD experience into what Stanislav Grof called the third stage of rebirth: the grotesquely elaborate sadomasochistic hell imagery (1) of a bad trip, a sudden total recall of the trauma of one's exit from the constricting birth canal into the hell of the doctor's glaring light and harsh spank. Long suppressed by the even the unconscious mind, this remembrance of this moment of total hell needs a fast coping mechanism. Developing a kind of off-the-cuff masochistic streak becomes a do-or-die necessity: revel in the madness or be rent to shreds by its demonic claws. Barbarella alone finds the third way -- to accept it and not judge it, to embrace the burning blade and be neither cut nor burnt. Hers is a kind of coal-walking purity of essence (POE), the kind that sashays right through the rending claws of those paradise-guarding demons. Like the angel Pygar (John Phillip Law) she holds no grudges. When she finds he has rescued the evil queen after she blinded and exiled him in the past, Pygar carries her to the safety of Barbarella's ship. "An angel has no memory" ends up being the film's last line but it might better be "an angel forgives all trespasses against it."

But that would be too Christian.


As opposed to the lurid visions of Bosch or Barker, the orgy envisioned by Vadim proves pretty nonthreatening, except in a rough trade performative sort of way, conjuring a kind of very-60s heterosexual-centric Warhol Factory-meets-Rome art gallery happening full of ennui-befogged jet set revelers, sprawled on divans and swings around brilliantly molded epoxy resin walls, floors, and round pulsing screens, turning the whole 'street' into a hookah bar/after hours club/ airport terminal, where the businesses seem to include either drinks, prostitution, or mugging. As usual Vadim doesn't really know how to move his camera through such tableaux with any urgency, but the art is still there. Now that we can savor the full breadth of the compositions on the HD color-restored widescreen, there's enough neat shit to look at that the dramatic lethargy doesn't irritate.


Barbarella's ravenous sexual appetite is awakened into a new dimension by her first experiences of physical love, her pre-set sexual openness is such that she's already disappointed (after mating with both the Angel and the furry Catchman) when David Hemmings (in high demand since Blow-Up) as the rebel leader wants to use the pills (he's been saving them for five years waiting for a stray Earth woman who knows how to use them). Shortly thereafter she's attached to Durand Durand's orgasm piano machine, and what could have been a great moment - his outraged cry of "shame!" on her after she breaks the machine due to her yawning propensity is undone by his dreadful make-up, this weird need of some Italian make-up artists to do up older character actors as garishly as if they were on stage and supposed to look tan to the back row. It's too bad, as Milo O'Shea really sells his insanity with wild eyes and mellifluent voice.


Maybe the single most influential work of the counterculture, as far as high art and especially European 'art' films go - Antonioni's BLOW-UP can't be overestimated in terms of its effect on art cinema and 'beautiful people'-approved films. It became a kind of Kubrickian monolith milestone of high fashion post-modern influence. Vadim's Barbarella therefore resembles Antonioni's less-successful follow-up, Zabriskie Point (1970) more than anything else. Touching on an array of similar concerns and reflected points about the burgeoning youth movement, drugs, changes in sexual mores, and anxieties about the future --what the Point really proved was that Antonioni was unable to be 'hip' two times in a row, though neither could anyone else, it seemed (not even Dennis Hopper). For once he'd made a milestone, Antonioni was as influenced by it as anyone else, making his next work seem like either a copy or a failure. What he did was take a page from Godard and just film the young people being political - and if his intellectual eye found a place to cough "bullshit!" under his breath within the image, so be it.

Vadim's Barbarella covers a similar older straight-male-intellectual base (the only gay voice we hear in Barbarella is the lisping male equivalent of "Siri" or "Alexa" that guides Barbarella's weird neckless, three-balloon protuberance / mandolin space ship): the amok savage children running loose in the wastelands; the languorous orgy; the pretty boy angel/pilot spurred to eclipse a social order that has already, in a sense, exiled him; the young beautiful sexually willing female agent of a remote older male lover, sent into the zone alone on some secret mission; the climactic explosion signifying the Blow-Up of the old order. All that Barbarella is missing is a killer score. Zabriski gets great use out of Pink Floyd and a Jerry Garcia guitar solo. Barbarella uses goofy faux-John Sebastian vocals and obvious, spy movie lounge music. One wants to shake his lapels. "Roger! Something's happening here! And it's not this." Even dated by 1965 standards, let alone 68. There are some nice electric guitar moments, weird electronic string echo-drenches while a few of the wilder light shows are going on, but not enough. The best thing it's got going on is a relentlessly funky bongo beat and some electric bass evoking Nelson Riddle.

But otherwise, so much in common with Zabriskie Point that these bases must have seemed to weigh on the unconscious of the place and time. So let's examine them - all seem to swim up from what I'd imagine as the older establishment expressing its anxieties about the counter-culture while being determined to stay on top of it - even as it was like a powder keg with no keg to define it. They--the older artists--wanted the job of defining it, of being its grand spokesman, or summing up its issues. While Antonioni nailed it in 1966, there was no specific 'it' to nail yet, so he could make an 'it' as well as anyone. By 1970 though, "it" was too big (with a sign that said: you must be "this" young to ride). As we see with the first order, the young and hip of a year ago are the old and in the way of tomorrow. (5)

1. Wild Children: With young people in the late-60s so free, so 'turned-on' and open, there was worry amongst the older generation about their coming grandchildren. After growing up in communes, allowed to skip school, inhaling secondhand reefer smoke, mutated by broken DNA from mom's LSD use, would these kids go to actual public school and learn boring math? Or would they run amok in wild child gangs until they're caught and brought to Sogo to indulge in perverse passions? In Zabriskie Point they throw a rock through the diner window; Daria Halprin tries to relate to them but they just paw at her skirt and sneer.

2. The Languorous Orgy: Imagined often by non-participants or experienced only while zonked on tranquilizers, the late night orgy became a happening - but only as long as it wasn't swamped by horny dudes ganging up on zonked virgin chicks (as in Riot on Sunset Strip), or bikers trashing the place.  The desert hook-up in Zabriskie seems to mutate out into a dozen other couples, horsing around, play wrestling and being otherwise in the moment and young and loose with Jerry Garcia lays out a nice relaxing solo, but must a scratchy affair itchy affair with so much dust and sand floating around. In Barbarella, physical contact and loose playful exploration of one another's touch -this seemed a new and rare experience to the older generation who had maybe not experienced it fantasized about its transformative effect coupled to the horror of the collapsing barriers of self (the equivalent today of hearing about 'bracelet' parties on Fox)--seemed surely abuzz in decadence, with tortures and glazed joyless faces of the stoned participants.

Those who experienced one or witnessed one knew the deadening effect it can have. There's no joy in it after awhile, only pain when its over or broken off from, like getting so used to a hot tub you don't feel it at all, only a terrible aching chill when you step out of it into the dry air. Stay in it long enough and you merge into the furniture, the walls (like the exiles in the Sogo Maze), and no one even notices you until suddenly you stir to get up and move positions and people freak out. Dude, you're still here? Especially if you're the newly sober roommate of the guy throwing the party, who pops out of his door at 4AM to pee, and trips over entwined bodies, as I was circa 1998.

Too is the eerie similarity between all the languid people turning into rocks in the labyrinth and the people cohering out of the desert for an orgy, and the louche inhabitants of Sogo.

3. The Fallen Pilot / Angel: The equivalent of the hanged man who, once removed from his cross on the cornfield row, becomes a crow (as he was long ago) rather than a scarecrow. The Alice/Dorothy female central character has a love affair with this one, perhaps short of length, for he seems above and beyond the current scene. At home in no zone; his beauty is like an Apollonian ideal that can't quite incorporate in the modern Gomorrah of the age and so is sacrificed, crucified, blinded. "An angel doesn't make love, an angel is love," Pygar tells the evil queen who's trying to shag him. "Then you're a dead duck," she snaps back. This little bit of hippie phrase-bending didn't stop Barbarella from shagging him, so why does the Tyrant let it put her off her groove?

4. The cops / guards: The old vestige of the evil (demonized) social order. In Zabriskie Point, Antonioni gives us a cop in the desert who comes to Daira with concern (she's wondering alone in the desert with no shoes) but she treats him like he's a Nazi. Some universal love that is! In Barbarella the guilt is assuaged by having the suits of the guards be empty shells. In Zabriskie they fill the jail to overflowing with demonstrators, but then again what else are they going to do? Topple from their Martian machines at the first sign of a cold? Without the cops, the movements would collapse, like a team falling backwards during tug-of-war if the opposing side suddenly lets go.

5. The Oppressed: The inhabitants of the maze are older people, grown mossy and unhip, gradually growing into the rocks, kept alive only by expensive lotuses (it 'amuses' the Great Tyrant to lay out such a ridiculous expense). In Zabriksie they are the locked-up students, the squares stuck in their 9-5 scenes, and the besieged desert community diners, slowly falling into their beers at the Rumpus Room. Antonioni seems to be trying to come to terms with his own obsolescence but is he just admitting that one can only be shallow and naive once, and no amount of acid can make you forget your hard-won wisdom?

6. The Revolution!  Doomed to fail. On both sides. On both sides. Only the Matmos, and the virgin-whore, survive.

6. The employer patriarch: An older but still virile relic of the old guard. Claude Dauphin on the screen in the opening of Barbarella - he gives her her mission and looks forward to enjoying her sexually sometime in the future; in Zabriskie, Rod Taylor is Daria's employer- possible lover--a virile new breed of capitalist manly men.

7. A climactic apocalypse - it of course never occurs to Barbarella that her free love mantra has kept her and the Black Queen all nice and dry while utterly laying waste to the entire city of Sogo and getting nearly everyone on the planet wiped out in a catastrophic flood / disintegration beam combination. That's America abroad, via Vadim's portrait of his American wife and her overly serious stance on politics, inciting a rebellion and then leaving when it fails and everyone on either side lies dead. Maybe in Italian director Antonioni's Zabriskie America is still intact, the Roy Orbison song after the slow-mo explosion climax Floyd jam lets us know the only casualties here are the young, blinded by their own self-righteous hotness; that's the European intellectual abroad in the American Southwest, as heavy as Baudrillard at a roadside attraction.

8. Don't let our Wasted Youth Go to... more wasted? - The young are beautiful, but their playfulness is so heavy-handed, scripted and flat vs. say the in-the-moment nowness of a document like French auteur Agnes Varda's Lions, Love (and Lies) or the Roeg/Cammell masterpiece, Performance. We wonder what Antonioni sees in these two actors, or in this story, maybe the most heavy-handed film about flight ever.

"a good many dramatic situations begin with screaming,"

"The black guards are leather men; they are without fleshy substance."

Epilogue II: ALICE TO DOROTHY / CANDY to BARBARELLA - Girl to Woman under a Sexist (male) rubric. 

 Pauline Kael's reference to the film as a dirty Wizard of Oz (3) may be warranted but only in that Barbarella is an innocent girl making her way through a strange landscape with the goal of meeting a wizard /scientist. With every man wanting to sleep with her, there's also the linking up to the same year's Candy, (below), another Terry Southern script (based on his novel) and much seedier (and funnier --for the first half anyway), with a more Alice in Wonderland arc (rather than some distinct mission). Candy just flees one escapade to wind up in another, spurred regularly onwards to the next vignette by some sex maniac she escaped previously. Really, she's little more than a passing lusty obsession for a series of extended comic monologues for Great White Male actors, most of whom end up babbling and groveling more than actual fornicating.  For Barbarella on the other hand, the men come in handy (she always needs help fixing her space ship, like a nymphomaniac parked on the side of a road, trapping men by fretting over her open hood), but rather than following her through some devotion to her niceness and her sincerity in trying to help replace their missing 'pieces,' these men help her because she represents, in herself, a cause, a freedom, a gorgeous openly sexual being whose innocence cannot be corrupted even when she's 'shamelessly' out-orgasming a death-by-pleasure machine. And Barbarella is a master seductress. We just may not notice since Jane handles things so discreetly. All Marcel Marceau's Professor has to do is mention Pygar needs 'inspiration' and she's gently guiding him back to his nest.

Comparisons to Alice in Wonderland are less apt, since the focus there is on a critique of British politics and the girl is too young for the adult set of signifiers we get with Barbarella. In fact you might stack them up in terms of age. Alice is the coming of age myth for the girl between 7 and 13; Dorothy for 13-17; Barbarella for 18-22. And anything older - honey if you haven't trained your animus and incorporated it into your whole so you're no longer looking for incomplete males to act as animus projection screens while your fairy tale your way to maturity, well, you're likely to be animus-dominated forever. If you don't get a milquetoast husband to boss around in the voice of your militant father, the only next stop is the Norman Bates shower of the sacrifice: your younger self (Janet Leigh) is still clinging to the husk and must be cut free to make way for a fully incorporated adult (Vera Miles) to take over.
"Decadence Lost"
The Heroine's Journey

One of the film's sexiest costume changes - Vadim shoots Jane in
it like he barely notices her heavenly thighs. Then she's into something
else - a criminal waste of some great boots. 
Unlike the 'hero's journey' as per Jung and Joseph Campbell, the psychedelic Alice/Dorothy mythic trek to maturity doesn't operate on a direct link to consciousness. For the male, there's always that breadcrumb trail or string Theseus unspooled when going through the maze, or some other device to return to consciousness and the social order. He's just a visitor here in the forest, the maze, the realm of the chthonic, the feminine unconscious of the masculine psyche. The masculine unconscious of the feminine psyche by contrast, isn't so cut and dry. It is uncut, and ever-wet. The woman descends not into the  maze but to the social order. She is only a visitor here in the Apollonian world of patriarchy and order. If she's hoping to gain something from her trip here, it's the ability to get back home, not necessarily with any prize to hand, and the home is generally not the one she left, but one where some good true prince (or grandmother) is waiting. She is the maze, the forest, in a way the masculine hero is not. Her role is not as conqueror or reformer or thief of some magic item, but of reclaimer of herself from the jaws of the wolf. She must face the devouring mother, the wolf in grandma's skin, and take over possession of the feminine archaic unconscious, she must become the red queen. She is the forest through which the knights wander, the moon that masculine clouds obscure but never fully blot out.

When Hate turns to Affectionate Tolerance

Confession: I used to hate Barbarella. And all Vadim's works. The only film of his I like is Blood and Roses (1961) and it's not even on DVD, Blu-ray, or VHS. It's hung up in legal limbo. You can get greymarket copies but it's frustrating to imagine how much better a nice restored Criterion edition might look. Turns out, Barbarella is an example of how much such treatment can better a film. Before it was badly cropped for TV, with unrestored muddy colors which --with some of the bad dubbing-- made it seem like a total tedious kitschy waste of time. Now it seems quite modern and wondrous, like so many Dino Di Laurentiis productions, it's got a great sense of art direction, with vast soundstage indoor/outdoor decadent tableaux reminiscent of his other great films -- Flash Gordon, Dune, Conan, to such an extent that they're all much better now that they were ever before, since they're initial theatrical release. You da man, Dino

As for Vadim, I guess I was jealous. Not anymore. Why? Because I love his memoir, Sympathy for the Devil. It's impossible to dislike him after reading it. In fact it might even explain his luck with gorgeous women -- his raconteur-ship is without peer!

Another plus is that, with the passing of time, the sex in Barbarella no longer seems as adolescent. Pornography as so dulled our collective senses that semi-softcore period erotica has found an audience in debauched cineastes like myself who can appreciate the genuine anarchic deviance, dream logic, and carefully artistic framing in the works of Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, Radley Metzger, or the propulsive over-the-top vavoom of Russ Meyer We don't 'get off' on them, or see them for their 'adult' cachet as they were created fo --at least not solely. Rather their ability to do whatever they want in between satisfying the demand of the producer (who expected a certain 'Adults Only' rating), they were free to do as they pleased leads to a kind of permissive experimental snapshot of their moment kind of thing that makes them almost time machine-level pertinent to modern instances. Thanks too to a steep drop in libido, I'm not clawing the turf and howling in forlorn longing over the extreme sexiness of Fonda. And John Phillip Law no longer scans as a towheaded focal point for my jealous rage, this maybe thanks to having seen the other big 60s European adult comic book title, Danger! Diabolik, where he stars, and also he's such a good-humored mensch in the extras on that DVD, it's hard not to love him. Also the music has become far enough out that it's back in. The vocals on the title song used to fill me with rage, rhyming Barbarella with cockleshell-a? Infuriating! All that does now though is make me realize what a wasted opportunity it is not to make Barbrella's spaceship look like half an scallop shell, or open up like a massive scallop, or draw some other Venus association, associating space with the ocean, as for example the film The Witch who Came From the Sea would do on such a smaller budget years later. A few connections to myth, to the archetypal roots underneath this stuff, would have gone a long way to making it less instantly dated (it would be 'timeless' instead).


The evolution of sex in popular culture has become intextricable from Fonda, both for her groundbreaking exercise tape, films like Barbarella, and--an element oft forgotten by other film historians -- her character in Coming Home (1978) has her first big orgasm via cunnilingus from a parapelegic Jon Voight. That year was marked by a kind of friction Oscar-grabbing war between that film and The Deer Hunter, making it a Big Moment for films critiquing the then relatively recent Vietnam experience. While their combination surely offered a kind of sociological sea change, what eager kids such as myself still remember, overhearing moms talk about it who hadn't even seen it., and even reading about in the grocery store line People, was suddenly cunnilingus was in. A woman's orgasm via oral sex was now a hot topic.

This was all part and parcel with Dr. Ruth Westheimer's popularity as a TV icon - her ability to come onto prime time and talk sweet old lady-like about sex and female orgasms, was quite an eye-opener, for the whole family. There does dwell within academic halls a hardcore feminist camp that thinks the whole "Joy of Sex" thing that started in the late 50s and flowered all through the mid-60s-late 70s, is just a long-con of a horny patriarchy to trick women into being more promiscuous. If so, then I also wonder about the motivations underlying this need of some female academes to poison the hetero well, so to speak. I don't cast blame, it's all unconscious and academes are notorious for being blind to their own analytical faults. (as the Rev. Shannon puts it in Night of the Iguana, "If Ms. Fellowe's ever found out about herself it would destroy her").

Maybe they're right, on the other hand. It took me a long time to realize that, as a straight, ungodly, debauched man, I may not be the best judge of what's good for feminism.

Her spaceship with its 4-walled carpet (for zero gravity spinning), keyboard for controls,
view screens/monitors, art works and strange tile board scanner wall,
make it a kind man cave/recording studio of any sensible dude's deepest wishes. 

Epilogue IV: VADIM and the Depleted Drive. 

OK, last tangent. Back to Roger Vadim. I love his book, Memoirs of the Devil - you read it and you 'get' why he got so many beautiful women. He's modest, charming, thrilling, insightful and always observant. His book reads like fine wine but his filming style is very drab. Why? How can a movie with a honey like Jane in those dynamite threads be so... inert?

Answer: the momentum of the drive, the propulsive energy generated via unrequited desire. Lacking the masochistic impulse, he can only chronicle the scene-- he isn't 'getting off' on some obscene element that might be there in the (partially) Terry Southern script. For a Terry Southern contrast, consider a film like Candy that aches and contorts with a kind of sexual longing that two-plus hours of unrepentant rutting does nothing to fulfill. It's a hungry ghost movie, and Candy's beauty and nubile... achingly... argggh physical allure is the never-ending wellspring at which we drink and drink and are left but thirstier.

By contrast, Jane notes later Vadim was often drunk by noon on set, and it makes sense, as there's no thirst unquenched in Barbarella, the way there is in Candy or, say, those twin Sue Lyon masterworks, Lolita (where our puritan drive to know did they or didn't they is obscured by the censor, and made so ambiguous we go as crazy as Humbert over those boys at Lo's school) or Night of the Iguana (where Ms. Fellowe's hovers in the wake of Charlotte's relentless come-ons)

Tennessee Williams and Richard Burton are both masters of giving us this 'need.'  We see it in Burton's T. Lawrence Shannon (in Night of the Iguana) walking across cut glass, ranting about 'fever' with the same agonized longing as he rants about his 'need', groveling in pools of Scotch on his Rolls' floor in Candy. We see it in the near-riot Sue Lyon causes down at the beach cabana bar (above), where the bartender declares "we don't want our boys to grow up knowing girls can be like you!," knowing full well Sue Lyon's voluptuous amok sexuality could set whole communities on their ear. But Williams gave us more than just the problem - or skirt chasing and regret (or Vadim's lackluster prurience).r A master, burrowing deep until the layers between mythic and personal are peeled away to nothing, Williams allows for stray notes of hope for genuine positive change. Iguana comes to terms with the change that lies beyond the realization the satisfaction's impossibility, the eternal thirst encoded into the lure of desire. Like Williams' other classics, it's about the enormous sacrifice that entails accepting what is, and letting go of one's terrible, aching wants. It's the kind of movie alcoholics love because it gives you all three worlds: what it was like before, what happened to change it, and what it's like now, i.e. astray-leading desire; nervous breakdown/attempted suicide; acceptance and grace through a talking cure--and then, letting go, because we're playing god here tonight. So AA, bro. He doesn't even have to get sober, because Ava Gardner will always get him back up. Pretty sweet.

Vadim on the other hand, tends to give us beautiful lush girls set up against gross, misogynistic entitled rapey small town sexists, like the vile older brothers in And God Created Woman, one-upping each other on the field of Bardot like the gang of small town wastrels in I Spit on Your Grave or like Giannini's Sandro before he kind of wakes up to his own Italian macho womanizing long enough to actually cry at the end of L'Aventura.

Barbarella was, when I first tried to love it as a teenager, on VHS, cropped and scanned and dreary, and my feminist onus bristled for I loathed the male characters I expected a sci-fi sex comedy to be either funny or sexy or sci-fi mind-blowing - and Barbarella was only one of the three. Perhaps I hated it originally growing up in such a snickering society of high school males, maybe not even in real life but certainly in the rote high school 'sex comedies' that ran parallel with the slasher craze for awhile in the early 80s, the two twisting together like scorpions screwing in my mind along the poison of DSB and hormones cooking me in their own juices, long before I discovered that any two alcoholic drinks downed quickly back to back would allay it all.

But I'd also seen Flesh Gordon (1974) by then, a very long-running midnight movie that film history has tended to forget. And not without good reason. The stop motion animation is good enough that it seems a waste, talented animators resorting to penis monsters like a bunch of third graders. The makers of Barbarella on the other hand, are about getting laid, not tittering through a keyhole with your snotty friends.

But on the other hand, Roger Vadim's prolific and top tier sexual relations made him a stranger to the parameters of desire. He directs like he's so sexually satisfied he can barely move the camera. Without the awesome and frequent costume changes, the deadpan wit of Jane, and the crazy artsy happening sets, it would be unendurable.

For Vadim you see, is a chronicler of an experienced pleasure - and that doesn't translate to the screen. It's why, too, Dino Di Laurentiis' pervious comic strip film, Mario Bava's Danger Diabolik is so much better than Barbarella, even though it's got way too few well-lit sets and too many outdoor shots for my taste; Barbarella is entirely setbound, and gorgeously designed.

We might look at this way, this handy way (this one), Flesh, Flash and Foxy

Puerile (junior high school) - the 'not laid / no prospects' virgin, both obsessed with sex but resigned towards it all existing in some alternate realm with no chance at the real thing: Flesh Gordon (1974) -
i.e. action without consequences/effect (not even trying to seduce, but rather snickering to mask your virgin sexually-frustrated terror)

Obesessive (high school) - chasing one's first sexual experience with singular focus: Flash Gordon 
i.e. action with consequences/effect (getting one's feet wet in the world of desire, but generally finding oneself in a loop-de-loop where the girl you like doesn't like you but her little sister does, and you think she's maybe too young or evil and manipulative.)

Laid (college) - desire fulfilled, leading to the prospect of enhancing pre-existant pleasure, and accepting the 'isness' will always missing from desire's fulfillment: Barbarella.
consequences/effect without action ( But then you go to boast to your bros but after that, you're left still with a void inside, and now you're expected to call her back! Burn!)


It ends here, all of cinema, the way Godard tried to the same year with WEEKEND.
Rather than end that way - we stop. For we're not so pompous to think we can speak even for ourselves.

And it helps to remember that this was still a time when strict censorship laws that had been creating all sorts of grief (and money) for talented writers like Southern, Ginsburg and Bill Burroughs, Henry Miller, etc. were being slowly eradicated. From 1967-1973-ish, dirty mindedness on a pop culture scale was genuinely subversive (even unto the late 70s there were elements of it - for an example consider the way Burt Reynolds uses curse words in films like Semi-Tough, there's almost a pause afterwards for the audience to lose their minds - 'is he allowed to say that?') But once the bar was lowered and half the world jumped over, such stuff ceased to be relevant. Without a proper conservative agenda to rail against, the dirtiness became tawdry rather than subversive. Censorship was like a leash that keeps dogs brave until the dog realizes the owner isn't holding the other end. In spelling everything out, the whole language of the 'code' ceases to have meaning! We're in post-structuralist territory! Even Antonioni gets lost in here!

Sorry if I failed to reach a point - but you know how it is. I just got back from St. Maarten and am still getting back into the groove. So in closing I'll just say - if you saw the old Barbarella, on VHS or cable TV, forget it. See it again on widescreen remastered HD. Vadim's laid buzzed ennui or no, you can savor the gorgeous Claude Renoir photography, the gonzo Di Laurentiis-brand costumes and set design, and give thanks to the human gene pool for giving us the DNA sequence known as Jane Fonda. Sure, Barbarella seems dated now, and was dated then - but whether it's back 3,500 years or ahead 2,100, it's still a groovy trip, pills or no pills.

For Woozle!

Babarella - back on a planet too starved to accommodate her level of beauty

On Vadim:
Pimps: The Devil's Subjects
CineamArchetype 17. The Devil

On Pallenberg:
Ich Liebe dich so....
Great Acid Movies #2: PERFORMANCE (1968)

On Jane:
Bree Daniels, Gamblers: KLUTE, THE MALTESE FALCON.
Jane Fonda does Tennessee Williams: PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (1962)
Post-Sexual Jane: THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? (1968)

On The Feminine Unconscious:
Why Don't We Just Go Ask Alice? 
Alice 2.2: The Looking Glass Dolls 
Some (was some) kind of (a) Mushroom: GO ASK ALICE (1973)
Reeling and Writhing: ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1933)

Camptown Sci-fi:
Tigron and Taboo: the Freudian Dream Theater of FLASH GORDON (1936)
Tales from the Retro-Futurist Pharmacy: SPACE STATION 76, PHASE IV, Boards of Canada

Goal-struck Post-Structuralism:
Cinq à sept vs. the Censors: RED DESERT
BSummerLofOmyPlasticW-USoldierP (1966)
Zabriskie Point is Everywhere

"My" Great White NEED
(before better means of ego support and self esteem were made available):
My Long Day's Journey into NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (1964)
All Tomorrow's Playground Narratives: Kubrick's LOLITA (BL)
Easter Acid Cinema Special: MOTHER! (2017)
Quixote Ugly: THE SWIMMER (1968)
All the Flower People Screaming: DOCTOR FAUSTUS (1967)
Laureate of the Laid: Terry Southern, CANDY (1968)
Pictures taking Pictures: MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and the Misandric Hollywoodophile
Fantasy Phallus Fallacy: SATURN 3 (1980)
The Foxy, the Dead, and the Foxier: DEATH-PROOF (BL 1/08)

Feminine Paranoia:
Age of Asherah: ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)
le rayon bleu Deneuve REPULSION
Gimme Cockaine: MELANCHOLIA (2011)
Ms. Icarus Risen: THE BLACK SWAN (2010)

1. Gilgamesh (c. 2100 BC) - Stephen Mitchell translation - p. 77
2. "In Europe, sex is a fact. In America, an obsession." - Marlene Dietrich.
3. In her New Yorker review - " Jane Fonda has the skittish naughtiness of a teen-age voluptuary. She's the fresh, bouncy American girl triumphing by her innocence over a lewd, sadistic world of the future."
5. The same went for another Italian, Zefferelli, whose 1968 hit Romeo and Juliet resonated with the Vietnam-torn youth movement, but whose 1971 follow-up, the idealistic hippie trip Brother Sun, Sister Moon - bombed big, though personally I love it way more). 
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