Like It Is (1968)

This documentary on the “youth movement” of the late 1960s focuses on the hippie pot smoking/free love culture in the San Francisco Bay area. Included are discussions of the drug scene with some of the kids themselves and, naturally, several examples of the hippie philosophy of peace, love and gratuitous nudity.

Romance X (1999)

excerpt from “Senses of Cinema” on Catherine Breillat:

“But it was with the release of Romance in 1999 that Breillat would face censorship internationally, when the film was either banned altogether in some countries, or given an X rating. It was a situation Breillat spoke out about when she declared that, “censorship was a male preoccupation, and that the X certificate was linked to the X chromosome.” Breillat’s statement was echoed in the French poster for the film, which features a naked woman with her hand between her legs. A large red X is printed across the image, thus revealing the source of the trouble: a woman in touch with her own sense of sexual pleasure.

Romance, and the world-wide discourse about pornography that erupted in the wake of its release, best typifies the challenge and the interest of her work. Romance is about a woman, Marie, whose boyfriend refuses to have sex with her. Her frustration leads her to a series of affairs in an effort to not only find pleasure, but seemingly to arrive at some better understanding of her own desire. The film is sexually explicit, and features, as do many of Breillat’s films, acts of unsimulated sex, hence the many accusations leveled against Breillat that she is a pornographer. Indeed, Breillat willfully courted such accusations by casting Rocco Siffredi, a famous Italian porn star, as one of Marie’s lovers. Moreover, Marie’s sexual encounters are marked by a sense of sadomasochism. Indeed, after having her baby she winds up with a man who is also the principal of the school where she teaches, having blown up her apartment and her boyfriend (who is also, presumably, the father of her child) on the way to the hospital.

Romance was banned in Australia upon its release in January 2000. In his review of the Office of Film and Literature’s (OFLC) report on the film, Adrian Martin describes the reason for the ban. And in so doing, Martin arrives at precisely the thing that makes Breillat’s films so difficult, and so interesting. Martin surveys the censors’ objection to the scene where Marie is solicited by a man in the hallway of her building. In this scene, a man offers Marie twenty-dollars to perform cunnilingus on her, to which she assents without saying a word. Of course, more occurs, as Marie is turned over (or turns over) as her perpetrator then enters her from behind. As he continues, Marie seems to sob, and when he leaves, she shouts that she is not ashamed. Martin notes that in describing the scene, the writer of the OFLC report says that “he orders Marie to turn over,” and that she tries to “scuffle away.” Martin replies, “…I did not see Marie try to ‘scuffle away’ during the scene, or be forced to turn over.” Martin’s point is that this writer’s language reveals his own moral response to an image, as opposed to what is actually present in the image: “One of the most interesting things about Romance is the way in which it inscribes in its own material ambiguous designation of obscenity.” In other words, neither Breillat nor Caroline Ducey (Marie) give us any concrete signs of her own response to what is happening. We cannot walk away confident of Marie’s outrage, only our own, at best. Indeed, the whole scene begins with a voice-over where Marie proclaims that it is, in fact, her fantasy to be taken this way. Yet, the act itself is inscribed into the realist space of the plot, thus blurring the line between fantasy and reality that is signaled by Marie’s voice-over.

As such, when we watch this act on screen, and many others like it, we are left only with what we think of what we see. Moreover, we project our own values back on to the screen, as Martin further notes when he cites a review of the film that describes the scene between Marie and Rocco Siffredi as a “humiliating affair.” Of course, there is, to my eyes, no signs of humiliation in that scene. If anything, it is a frank and very physical depiction of a sexual encounter. Siffredi asks Marie if he can have anal sex with her, an act that stands as the possible source of said humiliation. However, this possibility is complicated by the fact that she very calmly consents, on the condition that he first continue to make love to her. Moreover, the scene begins with Marie telling Siffredi, while holding a soiled condom, how men like to keep things hidden – how easily they are disgusted. The only sign of shame in the sequence comes when she admits to Siffredi, in the middle of sex, that she only sleeps with men that she doesn’t like. If there is shame here, it is the viewer’s.

Confessions (1977)

Housewife has a double life: while her husband is at work, she has sex with many men. Behind every great woman is a confession. The only way to know what beautiful Cindy Johnson wants in life is to see her latest film “Confessions Of A Woman” – where she shows you in intimate detail, her overpowering sexual needs, and to what lengths she’ll go to satisfy them.

This highly arousing adult motion picture probes the erotic secrets of a beautiful woman, giving her and the audience and eye-opening revelation into her lusty but hidden life. This is the only Karen Cluster video. Adult stars also making their debut in this video: Barbara Lovelynn, Sonny Lust, Ron Rodgers.

La Nipote (1974)

Set in the 1950′s Nello Rossati’s erotic comedy follows an orphaned young woman (Francesca Muzio) who is invited to stay the summer at her uncle’s Italian country villa. What she finds out is that all of the members of the family are more interested in sex than allowing her to mourn over the death of her mother. Also stars Giorgio Ardisson, Orchidea De Santis, Annie Carol Edel & Carla Mancini

Teenage Twins (1976)

Brooke and Taylor Young are two (real-life) twins who basically have sex with people and each other in this 1976 hardcore flick. Not my rip – I got it off DV. Very nice quality (ie it’s a good rip of an average source – the original seems to be kind of faded, but the transfer is clean.)

Naked Came the Stranger (1975)

This review may be a first for Twitch. I don’t think we’ve ever reviewed a proper adult film. We’ve certainly not shied away from films with unsimulated sexual contact, but those scenes have typically been incidental rather than integral to the film’s plot and its reason for existing. Trust me, if this were your garden variety porno trash, I wouldn’t be bothering with it. However, after covering other works by this director and getting positive response, I thought it was only right to continue exploring his oeuvre, wherever that journey may take me. The director in question is pioneer of erotic filmmaking, Radley Metzger, also known as Henry Paris, his nom de porn, and the name in the credits of Naked Came the Stranger. Naked Came the Stranger has a very interesting history, even before it became a film. The back story involving the book and its author(s) is detailed in this package, but I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. In 1969, a columnist at Newsday decided to conduct an experiment and deduce how far our collective literary standards had fallen in the wake of trash novelists like Jacqueline Suzanne taking over the best-seller charts. Mike McGrady assembled a number of his fellow Newsday writers and asked them to each pen separate stories surrounding Gillian Blake and her sexual exploits. The only requirements were that the chapters be vulgar and poorly written, beyond that he gave the authors carte blanche. The resulting novel was published collectively under the pen name of Penelope Ashe, who didn’t exist. The book, which was so salacious and vulgar that is should have failed, was a huge success. The group nominated one of their own sisters-in-law to play the part of Penelope Ashe and go on TV and radio interviews regarding the book. Eventually McGrady and his team couldn’t take it anymore and outed themselves and the entire hoax, hoping that it would put an end to the book’s popularity, however, it had the opposite effect and sales got stranger, which eventually led to a “major motion picture” adaptation by Metzger/Paris, and that’s where we find ourselves now. Radley Metzger was a master of erotic filmmaking going back to the mid-60s. His series of steamy films including The Lickerish Quartet, Camille 2000 (briefly referenced in Naked), Score, and many others, were a watershed collection of films which no other filmmaker could touch. The mix of opulence, sophisticated art design, and modern sensibilities made his films huge hits both at home and abroad. However, with the advent of Deep Throat and the resulting era of porno chic, Metzger’s brand of cinematic teasing became passe. His two choices were to either jump on board the hardcore train, or stop making films, and so Henry Paris was born with the introduction of The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann. Metzger was not one to completely surrender his own style in order to make a living, though, and his hardcore films retain much of the style of his early work. His adaptation of Naked Came the Stranger works perfectly well as a raunchy romantic comedy if you can somehow manage to extract the penetration. That is what makes him such a great filmmaker, the urge with the films of Henry Paris is to fast forward through the grinding to get to the next dialogue sequence. He has a remarkable eye, and an ear for clever dialogue. What could have been a mindless series of sexual encounters is actually an engaging comedy of errors in which we follow the lead, Gilly, as she discovers her own sexuality and eventually realizes that what she was looking for was in her bed all along. All that being said, this is a porn, there are no two ways about that. There are numerous sex scenes which leave nothing to the imagination and are just as explicit as anything you might see today, only shot with more style and sense of humor. First and foremost, Metzger/Paris was a storyteller, and the story in this film is very entertaining. He cuts no corners and created memorable tableaux for his erotic encounters in places like an abandoned ballroom, the top of a double decker bus on Fifth Ave in New York, or even in the stairwell of a 5th floor walk-up. Metzger does his best to infuse these sequences with a bit of style, but ultimately most porn becomes tedious pretty quickly, and the demands the genre work against him to some degree. However, the film works, and the handful of Henry Paris films that came out of the seventies are among the most accomplished hardcore films ever made. It is important to recall the era in which these films came about, and what it meant to make them. The breakout success of Deep Throat ushered in an era where everybody was going to see what all the fuss was about. The era of the porn star was born, and among this tight knit community there was an idea, however far fetched, that they were pioneers. These women and men felt like they were the first among a movement that would blur the line between hardcore films and mainstream cinema. In fact, a few of them were able to make a living on both sides of that fence, but not many. Of course, that never happened, and as our country seems to revert to more and more puritanical values, it will probably be a very long time before it does. Naked Came the Stranger is a historically significant film in several ways. First of all, as an adaptation of a best selling book, it is certainly worth looking at. Second of all, it shows what hardcore adult films are capable of achieving artistically. This is a fun movie, even without the naughty bits, and that is something that probably can’t be said for much porn these days. I definitely recommend this title to anyone interested in ’70s sleaze, or just looking for a good time. If you’re okay with lots of close-ups of people doing the business, I can’t imagine anyone not liking this as a film. Definitely recommended.

Une Vraie Jeune Fille AKA A Real Young Girl (1976)

Kay Armatage, Toronto International Film Festival Catalogue wrote:
Une Vraie Jeune Fille, Catherine Breillat’s first feature film, was shelved for 25 years, apparently because the moral/aesthetic disgust couldn’t be overcome at the time. It was released for the first time this year, and immediately re-ignited the scandal occasioned by Breillat’s last feature, Romance.

mongrelmedia.com wrote:
The story centres on Alice Bonnard, a young girl attending Saint-Sulvien Girl’s College, and takes place during a summer in the turbulent sixties. Alice comes homes to spend her holidays with her parents in the Landes region. They run a sawmill where they employ a young man, Jim. Business isn’t going well, although Mr. and Mrs. Bonnard are too proud to admit it and Jim’s nonchalant attitude about his job doesn’t help things. Alice is attracted to Jim, but she’s too scared to let him know it, believing that as far as he’s concerned she doesn’t exist. Her tumescent sexuality begins to obsess her. She becomes fascinated with the excretions, juices and smells of her own body as well as with the slimy oozings and putrid detritus of the natural world. The film gives few clues to distinguish the girl’s fantasies from the events of her life. This is fitting, as the entire film revolves around the girl and her own perceptions. The heightened realism of the direction and cinematography produces a text that refuses either to accuse or to exploit.

en.wikipedia.org, Critical response wrote:
Critic Brian Price refers to A Real Young Girl a “…transgressive look at the sexual awakening of an adolescent girl,” an “awkward film” which “…represents Breillat at her most Bataillesque, freely mingling abstract images of female genitalia, mud, and rodents into this otherwise realist account of a young girl’s” coming of age. Price argues that the film’s approach is in line with Linda Williams’ defence of literary pornography, which Williams describes as an “elitist, avant-garde, intellectual, and philosophical pornography of imagination” versus the “…mundane, crass materialism of a dominant mass culture.” Price argues that “there is no way…to integrate this film into a commodity driven system of distribution,” because it “…does not offer visual pleasure, at least not one that comes without intellectual engagement, and more importantly, rigorous self-examination.” As such, Breillat has insisted that “…sex is the subject, not the object, of her work.”

Reviewer Lisa Alspector from the Chicago Reader called the film’s “theories about sexuality and trauma…more nuanced and intuitive” than other film treatments, and noted the film’s use of a blend of dream sequences with realistic scenes John Petrakis from the Chicago Tribune noted that the film’s director, Breillat “…has long been fascinated with the idea that women are not allowed to go through puberty in private but instead seem to be on display for all to watch, a situation that has no parallel with boys.” Petrakis points out that Breillat’s film “…seems acutely aware of this paradox.” Dana Stevens from The New York Times called the film “crude, unpolished, yet curiously dreamy.”Maitland McDonagh from TV Guide also commented on the film’s curious nature in his review, which states that the film is “…neither cheerfully naughty nor suffused with gauzy prurience, it evokes a time of turbulent (and often ugly) emotions with disquieting intensity.” Other reviewers, such as Christian Science Monitor’s David Sterritt view the film as a way of understanding the director’s early development “…as a world-class filmmaker.”

Several reviewers have commented on the film’s frank treatment of unusual sexual fantasies and images. Filmcritic.com’s Christopher Null pointed out that the film was “…widely banned for its hefty pornographic content,” and called it one of Breillat’s “most notorious” films. Null says “… viewers should be warned” about the film’s “graphic shots” of “sexual awakening…(and) sensory disturbances”, such as the female lead vomiting all over herself and playing with her ear wax. While Null rates this “low-budget work… about a 3 out of 10 on the professionalism scale” and admits that “… it barely makes a lick of sense,” he concedes that “there’s something oddly compelling and poetic about the movie.” The Village Voice’s J. Hoberman called the film a “…philosophical gross-out comedy rudely presented from the perspective of a sullen, sexually curious 14-year-old.” The New York Post’s Jonathan Foreman called the film a “… test of endurance, and not just because you need a rather stronger word than “explicit” to describe this long-unreleased, self-consciously provocative film.”

from “eminenz”
Great film. There’s an interesting story around the film: the film was never released after it was made – it had its first major screening at the rotterdam film festival three years ago (?). had it been released, i think it would have had a profound influence – watching it 30 years later is still a very strong experience. the film is based on a novel catherine breillat wrote when she was 16 – but its sale was restricted to those over 18 – so she couldn’t buy her own book!