Sublime: Immoral Tales

Immoral Tales (1973)
Directed by Walerian Borowczyk
Written by Walerian Borowczyk, André Pieyre de Mandiargues
Produced by Anatole Dauman
Starring Fabrice Luchini, Lise Danvers; Charlotte Alexandra; Sirpa Lane; Paloma Picasso, Pascale Christophe; Florence Bellamy, Jacopo Berinizi, Lorenzo Berinizi, Philippe Desboeuf
In converse chronology, an abundance of beauties inhabit the miasm of this sexy, sinful quintet: a domineering young boor (Luchini) in the ’70s lures his pretty, teenage cousin (Danvers) to a beach where he forces her fellatio at high tide so that its climax concurs with his own; a busty, lusty, pious young woman (Alexandra) aroused by religiosity and libido over eighty years prior fetishizes in a sacristy ecclesiastic accoutrements before she’s confined by her aunt for an unspecified infraction in a storeroom, where her devotion and nympholepsy commove onanistic abandon before an escape results in calamity; leaving her harpsichord to pursue into a forest an extravagating lamb loose from its tether, a noblewoman (Lane) of 1765 encounters a shaggy, enormously endowed monster of notoriety before yielding with her horror to an interspecific concupiscence; a village in 1610 is visited by the forbidding Countess Bathory (Picasso) and her retinue, who expropriate its population of damsels to supply her sanguinary ablution; fecund Lucrezia Borgia (Bellamy) visits the Vatican in 1498 to bawdily cavort and relish a threesome with her father, Pope Alexander VI (J. Berinizi) and his son and cardinal, Caesar (L. Berinizi) while a Dominican friar (Desboeuf) fulminates from the pulpit against the church’s iniquity. Equally allusive and gratuitous in style and substance, Borowczyk’s interpretation of Mandiargues’ precursory short story and anecdotally historical degeneracy contrasts libertine rapture with violence and murder to emphasize the former’s hedonic virtue. As captivating as the carnality are its intervallic caesurae: a slow pan to a lingering shot of floating, perching seagulls against the backdrop of a promontory signifies a post-coital detumescence; in her boudoir, sylphs surrounding the countess’ bed pose provocatively in a tableau vivant foretokening forthcoming delirium and doom; shot with lubricious sedulity, every fine, fair figure strikes a discrete attitude of salacity. Rohmer’s, Breillat’s and Picasso’s fans are likely to be amused by the presence of their respective recurrent star, first leading lady and enterprising daughter in an especially pert and photogenic cast, attractively lensed by four(!) DPs to impersonate the vital beauty of passion and its consummation. After initial screenings, the bestial third segment was deleted from posterior reels and reused by Borowczyk as the nucleus of his next feature, The Beast.

Mediocre: A Real Young Girl

A Real Young Girl (1976)
Directed and written by Catherine Breillat
Produced by Guy Azzi, Pierre-Richard Muller, André Génovès
Starring Charlotte Alexandra, Hiram Keller, Bruno Balp, Rita Maiden, Georges Guéret, Shirley Stoler
Misanthropy, sadistic seduction, bodily exploration and esthetic indulgence were still fresh themes for Breillat when she adapted her fourth novel as a drab debut feature to the revulsion of French viewers ere its proscription. On holiday with her stodgily bourgeois parents (Balp, Maiden) at a squalid rural locale, a sulky adolescent (Alexandra) broods idly, swoons over tacky pop songs, hatefully lusts for a hunky prole (Keller) employed in her father’s sawmill and introduces a farrago of foreign articles to her love canal. No stranger to scabrous characterization, Alexandra’s aptly cast and uninhibited as the pretentious and farouche flirt, a prototype of Breillat’s many dallying protagonists consumed by libido and whimsies. As bold as boring whenever it isn’t peevingly comedic, Breillat’s first film is effectively evocative of teenage ennui and concupiscence…often at the expense of any intentional entertainment.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Nocturnal Uproar.