November 1, 2004

Breillat v. Breillat: Smackdown!

catherinebreillat_02.jpgOne of Cinecultist's favorite games ever is "make our friends squirm with plot descriptions from edgy European art films." Have you ever played? It's a blast. The rules are thus 1) be the first on your block to see X controversial and sexually explicit subtitled feature film, 2) have friendly but detail-laden movie conversation with friends is crowded public place and/or work (watch out for that sexual harrassment thing, though!) and then 3) watch your acquaintences squirm away. What fun.

Anything with our girl Isabelle "Hoopie" Huppert in it is good for this game, as was that novel from a year ago, The Sexual Life of Catherine M. But the best for causing the impressionable and weak stomached mens to scurry is the directorial work of French filmmaker, Catherine Breillat. Rife with complex sexual dynamics, unabashed full frontal nudity from both genders and graphic humilations galore, Breillat's work is about exploring the female sexual subjectivity. If it's unpleasant and disturbing and difficult to watch in the realm of sexual relations, chances are Breillat has included it in one of her films.

CC had been wanting to see her film Sex Is Comedy from 2002 for a while, and even discussed reviewing it for Reverse Shot about a year ago, but the US distribution was so up in the air, we put it off. Then, it began a run here in New York at the Film Forum around the same time as her more recent feature, the Anatomy of Hell was released. CC intended to go see it straight away with Josh but as his job has swallowed him whole, it's been difficult to schedule an agreeable time.

This seemed to be okay though, because Aaron Out of Focus told us he thought it was one of the worst movies of the year. But then, we read J. Hoberman's review of Anatomy of Hell and his review of Sex is Comedy, both quite positive and though-provoking. Now, sadly it's a bit too late. We saw Sex Is Comedy before we posted our recommendation to catch it at Film Forum on Gothamist before it leaves on Tuesday. But Anatomy of Hell is now gone-zo from New York. Would CC have liked it as well as we loved Comedy? Or could it have been the intriguing set up of the same director making one of our top 10 favorites and least favorites of the year in the same year?

Our review from the archives of Breillat's Perfect Love which involves broom handles going where broom handles shouldn't.

Posted by karen at November 1, 2004 8:35 AM