Category Archives: European cinema

RIP Agnès Varda (1928 – 2019)

Agnès Varda was a Belgian-born French film director.

Her films were popular among critics and directors, giving her the status of a cult director.

This is perhaps not the best of times to rid the world of a minor misconception regarding the work of Varda, but it is what I must do after researching her oeuvre following her death.

Agnès Varda made one film about the Black Panther Party, just one. That film was Black Panthers (1968), a color film which can be viewed in its entirety at[1].

Another film from that same year is called Huey! and is directed by a certain Sally Pugh. It can be seen in full on YouTube [below] and has nothing to do with Varda, although the general subject matter as well as some scenes overlap.

Gratuitous nudity #17

Gratuitous nudity #17

via Cinema X Cinema X was a british film magazine best known for its coverage of sexploitation films. Early issues of the magazine were undated, but it is believed the first issue was published in 1969. The first film to grace the cover of Cinema X was Loving Feeling directed by Norman J. Warren.  Other films covered in the first issue were I Am Curious (Yellow), Curse of the Crimson Altar and Therese and Isabelle, people interviewed in the premiere issue included Norman J Warren, John Trevelyan and Anthony Newley. Related:  Continental Film Review British exploitation Sexploitation film slicks 1963–1973 Erotic film magazine British sex film Bachoo Sen


Cinema X was a british film magazine best known for its coverage of sexploitation films. Early issues of the magazine were undated, but it is believed the first issue was published in 1969. The first film to grace the cover of Cinema X was Loving Feeling directed by Norman J. Warren. Other films covered in the first issue were I Am Curious (Yellow), Curse of the Crimson Altar and Therese and Isabelle, people interviewed in the premiere issue included Norman J Warren, John Trevelyan and Anthony Newley.


“Gradiva” by Alain Robbe-Grillet out on DVD Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Still from Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

The good people at Mondo Macabro[1] are releasing Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle), the last film by French master-erotomaniac Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Monell points out in a recent post [2].

C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle (2006) is a French language film by Alain Robbe-Grillet starring: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo. It premiered at the 2006 Venice film festival on September 8 and in French cinemas on May 9 of 2007.

The film, Grillet’s last, is a Franco-Belgian production loosely based on Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy by Wilhelm Jensen. The setting has been updated to modern times, at least, no earlier than the 1970s, based on vehicles and appliances seen in the film. It begins with an English art historian named John Locke is doing research in Morocco on the paintings and drawings that French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) produced when he spent time in that country (back then, a French colony) more than a century before. Locke spots a beautiful, mysterious blonde girl (Gradiva, of course) in flowing robes dashing through the back alleys of Marrakech, and becomes consumed with the need to track her down. Like most of Robbe-Grillet’s cinematic output, this film is highly surrealistic and also involves a surprisingly explicit amount of “sex slave” nudity and S&M, although it is a serious film and not just softcore fluff.

Some of the film’s prehistory.

via Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy

A Pompeiian Fancy is a novel by Wilhelm Jensen published by in German as Ein pompejanisches Phantasiestuck (Dresden and Leipzig: Carl Reissner) in 1903.

The story is about an archaeologist named Norbert Hanhold who holds a fascination for a woman depicted in a relief that he sees in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Hanhold later dreams that he has been transported back in time to meet the girl, whose unusual gait captivates him as he imagines her walking on the stepping stones that cross the roads in Pompeii while the hot ashes subsume the city in 79 AD.


Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva (1907) is an essay by Sigmund Freud that analyzes the novel Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen from a psychoanalytical point of view.

After that, Gravida became a favourite of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí used the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife, Gala Dalí. He used the figure of Gradiva in a number of his paintings, including Gradiva encuentra las ruinas de Antropomorphos (Gradiva finds the ruins of Antropomorphos)[3]. The figure Gradiva was used in other Surrealist paintings as well. Gradiva (Metamorphosis of Gradiva)[4], 1939, by André Masson explores the sexual iconography of the character.

In 1937 the Surrealist wirter Andre Breton opened an art gallery on the Left Bank, 31 rue de Seine, christening it with the title: Gradiva. Marcel Duchamp designed it, giving its door the form of a double cast shadow.

via Gradiva

The Last Days of Emma Blank by Alex van Warmerdam


The Last Days of Emma Blank[1] by Alex van Warmerdam

Chances are slim that you come across this film if you live outside of Europe or even Dutch-speaking countries, but if you see this film playing near you, don’t miss it. Warmerdam is the best director of The Netherlands and has been for some time now. His palmares includes Abel (1986), The Northerners (1992), Little Tony (1998), Grimm (2003)  and Waiter (2006).

The Last Days of Emma Blank (Dutch original: De Laatste dagen van Emma Blank) is a Dutch film by Alex van Warmerdam released in May 2009. The film is co-produced with La Parti Productions in Belgium and is the story of Emma Blank, a rich woman who is incurably ill and who is living her last days. She is surrounded by personnel who patiently await her death, which takes longer that originally envisioned.

The 2009 Cannes Film Festival opened yesterday

2009 Cannes Film Festival

The 2009 Cannes Film Festival opened yesterday

The 2009 Cannes Film Festival opened yesterday evening. On my list of faves there is Antichrist (by Lars von Trier), Bright Star (by Jane Campion), La Merditude des choses (by Felix van Groeningen), Les Herbes folles (by Alain Resnais), Los Abrazos Rotos (by Pedro Almodovar), Soudain le vide (by Gaspar Noe), Taking Woodstock (by Ang Lee), Thirst (by Park Chan-Wook), Vincere (by Marco Bellocchio) and The White Ribbon (by Michael Haneke).

Ruggero Deodato @70

Ruggero Deodato @70


Ruggero Deodato (born May 7 1939 in Potenza) is a controversial Italian film director, actor and screen writer, best known for his infamous 1980 film cannibal film Cannibal Holocaust.

Ruggero Deodato belongs to the same mantle that holds Joe D’Amato, Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Tinto Brass, Ruggero Deodato, Lucio Fulci, Riccardo Freda, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Sergio Leone, Antonio Margheriti and Bruno Mattei.

These were filmmakers of the pre-internet dark ages, the terra incognita of the 20th century, who exploited the ignorance of the general audience regarding prurient matters such as sex, drugs and rock and roll.

In 1979 Deodato started work on Mondo-style Cannibal Holocaust. Deodato caused massive controversy in Italy and the United Kingdom following the release of Cannibal Holocaust, which was accused to be a genuine snuff film. Deodato was forced to reveal the secrets behind the film’s impalement[1] scene and to parade the lead actors before an Italian court in order to prove that they were still alive. More importantly, Deodato was harshly criticized for the use of real animal torture in his films. Deodato’s film license was then revoked and he would not get it back until three years later

Younger viewers may have spotted Ruggero as a client in the film Hostel: Part II.

See also Italian exploitation, Italian horror film, Italian film, cannibal films

Cheri: New Michele Pfeiffer film



Cheri is an upcoming film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend (The Libertine), and directed by Stephen Frears. It is an adaptation of the novel by French author Colette. The film premiered at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. Set in 1920s Paris, Cheri tells the story of the end of a six-year affair between an aging retired courtesan, Léa, and a pampered young man, Chéri. Turning stereotypes upside-down, it is Chéri who wears silk pajamas and Léa’s pearls, and who is the object of gaze.

The film also stars Kathy Bates (Misery) and Anita Pallenberg (Performance).

“Antichrist,” a horror film by Lars von Trier

Via Tomorrow Museum comes the announcement of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist[1]


Lars von Trier‘s Antichrist

Antichrist is a 2009 horror film directed and co-written by Lars von Trier. The film is about a couple who, after the death of child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where they encounter strange and terrifying occurrences. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe, the film is scheduled for release on August 19, 2009 in France.

Lars von Trier (born Lars Trier, April 30, 1956) is a Danish film director. He is closely associated with the Dogme95 collective, calling for a return to plausible stories in filmmaking and a move away from artifice and towards technical minimalism, although his own films have taken a variety of different approaches. Danish film in the 1990s was dominated by Lars von Trier. His films Europa, Breaking the Waves, The Idiots, and Dancer in the Dark received great international attention and were nominated for numerous awards. Von Trier’s 2000s Dogville was a radical departure from the naturalistic rules of Dogme 95, and instead the film invented a completely new style that draws from the theatre but yet remains eminently cinematic.

The antichrist is one under the direct control of the Devil, who will lead the abomination in the end times

Bernd Eichinger @60

Bernd Eichinger @60


Christiane F. (1982, directed by Uli Edel)

To the sound of “Heroes” by Bowie


Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (2008, directed by Uli Edel)

Bernd Eichinger (born April 11, 1949 in Neuburg an der Donau) is a German film producer and director. He attended film school in the 1970s, and bought a stake in the fledgling studio company Constantin Film but continues to produce some films independently (for example The Downfall). He has only directed two movies himself. Eichinger’s latest film is about the left-wing terrorist group Red Army Faction (RAF) based on the book Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (“The Baader-Meinhof Complex“) by Stefan Aust. He debuted as producer with The Wrong Move by Wim Wenders.

Some well-known films produced by Eichinger include:

Volker Schlöndorff @70

Volker Schlöndorff @70

Young Törless (Der Junge Törless, 1966)

Young Törless

Volker Schlöndorff (born in Wiesbaden, Germany on March 31 1939) is a German filmmaker generally categorized in the New German Cinema movement.

New German cinema is a period in German cinema which lasted from the late 1960s into the 1980s. It saw the emergence of a new generation of directors. Working with low budgets, and influenced by the French New Wave, such directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg and Wim Wenders made names for themselves and produced a number of “small” motion pictures that caught the attention of the art house audiences.

Schlöndorff is best-known for The Tin Drum (1979), the film version of the novel by Günter Grass. Of his filmography, I am most eager to see Young Törless (1966).

Young Törless (German: Der junge Törless) is a 1966 German film directed by Volker Schlöndorff, adapted from the autobiographical novel The Confusions of Young Törless by Robert Musil. The film examens the origins of fascism by focusing on the sadistic and homo-erotic bullying in a boys military academy at the beginning of the 20th century. As an added bonus, the film stars British scream queen Barbara Steele.