Execrable: Je t’aime moi non plus

Je t’aime moi non plus (1976)
Written and directed by Serge Gainsbourg
Produced by Jacques-Eric Strauss, Claude Berri
Starring Joe Dallesandro, Jane Birkin, Hugues Quester, Nana Gainsbourg, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Gerard Depardieu
Ever the trailblazer, Gainsbourg baked cinema’s first great queer turkey years before that particular platter was served annually as Oscar bait. In a rural pseudo-America, the relationship of two strapping, gay garbagemen is disrupted when that twosome’s hunkier homo (Dallesandro) falls for a boyish gamine (Birkin) employed as the barmaid of a remote roadside cafe, to the chagrin and eventual, violent ire of his embattled boyfriend (Quester). Lest he deviate from wont, their transitory romance is consummated with shrieking sodomy, for which they’re ejected from several hotels. Trite (if not tame) by contemporary standards, Gainsbourg’s foul fiasco hasn’t much to recommend it save the considerable, concerted screen presence of its attractive stars. Alas, Quester is the only one among them who can actually act; the camera loves them both, but Little Joe is almost as stiffly unfit when dubbed as usual, and hasn’t any chemistry with the director’s scrawnily curveless mistress. Their adorable bull terrier Nana steals her every scene, mayhap because she’s spared any lines. As in all his pictures, some tackily gimmicky shots are sprinkled throughout elsewise technically sound direction, and ham-fisted symbolism abounds in most scenes, uttered often as daft dialogue verifying that Serge’s verbal verve was strictly lyric. Just as wearisome are his patently sham American trappings: a Mack truck, hamburgers, bluejeans and a rock band that performs during and after a horrific competition of dumpy ecdysiasts. Depardieu’s briefly squandered in the role of an addled equestrian, as is perennial nebbish Michel Blanc. Nearly a decade after its controversial release, voxless variants of Gainsbourg’s classic, celebrated, titular, trademark signature single serenade the leads as they kiss ineptly. Lingering shots of a dumpsite and a climax wherein Birkin and Dallesandro generate minimal erotic heat via anal intercourse in the bed of his garbage truck remind us what this movie is, and where it belongs.

Instead, watch Going Places.

Palatable: Nocturnal Uproar

Nocturnal Uproar (1979)
Directed and written by Catherine Breillat
Produced by Pierre Sayag
Starring Dominique Laffin, Bertrand Bonvoisin, Daniel Langlet, Dominique Basquin, Bruno Devoldère, Bruno Grimaldi, Joe Dallesandro, Marie-Hélène Breillat
In her sultry sophomore undertaking, Breillat’s again incarnate as her heroine, a pretty, pettish, dedicatedly labile budding filmmaker (Laffin) who revels in promiscuity whilst rationalizing her megrims…until she falls hard for a rugged roue (Bonvoisin) whose insouciance and aversion to commitment scuttle her wanton M.O. From an intellectualization of the irrational and aphrodisiacal, Breillat embodied the integral personal archetype inchoate in her first flick: lovable, insufferable beauties who she’d exploit in subsequent works through the early aughts. Singular even among her compatriots, she plumbs the chafing, ephemeral niches when the erotic and erratic concur, and the irrepressible salacity of her scenarios and characters are sure to gratify both her fans and enthusiasts of carnal cinema. During her tragically truncated career, Laffin enjoyed but a few meaty parts that she represented with vehement verisimilitude, and she’s as pertly beguiling here as she’d ever be. Appearances by Dallesandro and lovely Marie-Hélène are regrettably curtailed, but Serge Gainsbourg’s infectious rock score redresses their shortage.
Recommended for a double feature paired with A Real Young Girl.