Monday, October 5, 2015

Chasing the Muse (Artsploitation DVD)

I’m used to reviewing Porn. I review porn at least twice a month courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama series. I’ve become educated; enlightened even. I know longer view adult film as something to laugh at (or at least not only to laugh at) but can try to appreciate movies in the context of the filmmakers body of work, the time in which they were shot and the content as it relates to actual cinematic values. It’s a nice feeling to grow out of the mindset that adult movies are spank movies only. I encourage you to watch movies from the golden age of porn with new eyes and without your hands in your pants whenever you can restrain yourself, and it is with that very though in mind that you have to check out the new documentary from Artsploitation, Chasing the Muse. The disc also includes Exhibition, a movie from the best era of adult cinema. Combined, you have a chance to see the linear path of porn and understand better the mechanics of adult movies.

That doesn't make Chasing the Muse perfect. It's a bit slow, and it has some strange transitions. One might question why some of the movie is actually censored if we're watching a hardcore picture, but without whole knowledge of the situation I would imagine it has to do with being able to screen the documentary in documentary venues as opposed to screening it at neo 42nd street imitation grinders. 

Having enjoyed French erotic film, I’m sure that I have seen Jean-Francois Davy’s movies before but only now am I keenly aware of his name after witnessing him making an adult feature. You have to understand the complete process, that it is a process and not some back ally audition with a hummer, dehumanized and demeaning. Actors are actors whether they take part in an adult film or a child’s program. The actions required by them in each circumstance are different and bare challenges and some of those are divulged on film, intelligently with philosophical discussion and grace.

On the other side of the coin you have the opportunity to witness one of Davy’s works from the golden age of porn, when porn was considered an art form by some (not all) and had real cinematic qualities seen less in this day and age. Exhibition is a true Davy’s classic, was very popular and filled with the kind of filmmaking that made porn, adult cinema. This goes way beyond the web cam.

Exhibition is subtitled (it's French remember) and it doesn't quite follow the same formula that even the best American made pornos followed. That makes it refreshing. It's no Misty Beethoven, but it certainly is a nice production with plenty of beautiful actresses and an existential feel that is pure Europe.

I’ve included the notes from Artsploitation below on Chasing the Muse, Exhibition and Davy’s so you can better understand this disc. It’s actually quite a lot to take in and summarize much of the history lesson that I’ve been gradually unraveling through my study of adult cinema in the early 80’s and 70’s through my reviews of Vinegar Syndrome’s output. This will pair nice for fans of Vinegar Syndrome’s work; they have a rather devoted cult following who will at the very least appreciate the offering of Exhibition if not engage in the educational, erotic process with Chasing the Muse. 

As an interesting note, I kept thinking about how Vinegar Syndrome has been successful with their adult fare and thought it might be been a better fit with the current market to show off Exhibition on the cover as a double feature or as the leader. Share the cover a bit more. It feels like Exhibition is an afterthought.  Retro is in. Retro porn is in deep. 

From Artsploitation:

Adult filmmaker Jean-Francois Davy, while not a household name in the USA, is a legendary figure in France as well as in erotic-film-loving Europe. Since the early 1970s and the beginning of modern porn, Davy has been making provocative, at times humorous, and always erotically-charged films that celebrate the womanly form in all its possibilities. And his film releases have not been limited to just porn house fare as several of his carnal tales have played mainstream cinemas and world-famous film festivals. Jean-Francois Davy is definitely not your typical adult filmmaker.

Artsploitation Films is proud to present two of Jean-Francois Davy's best films in one DVD set (and in selected VOD outlets) creating a cinematic bookend of his career. First is his latest work, the X-rated documentary Chasing the Muse (2014).  Coupled with this film is a new digitally restored Director's Cut of one of his early and most celebrated works, Exhibition (1974). Chasing the Muse (formerly titled Transgression) follows the now 70-year-old filmmaker as he travels through Eastern Europe in search of a new star for his upcoming feature.

About  the film Exhibition:

Exhibition was, on its initial release in 1975, a pornographic blockbuster (3.5 million admissions in France alone) and highlighted the Porno Chic craze when it was selected for the 1975 Cannes Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. The two-film DVD will be released on October 6, 2015.

After decades of filming his naked beauties anonymously behind the camera, Jean-Francois Davy turns his probing lens on himself as well in this penetrating documentary. Davy and his cameraman travel to the major cities of Eastern Europe – from Prague to Budapest, with stops in between – as he searches for a beautiful muse to serve as the leading lady of his next carnal opus. As countless gorgeous young women undress to audition for the camera, Davy keeps looking for a girl with a special quality, and when he finds her in the juvenile and beautiful form of Kitty. He falls head over heels for her charms, her deep blue eyes, her lack of fear and her seductive gaze. A pure and honest account of this sexual encounter and the proceedings of this relationship where the author plunges into the film and uses his own body to reconcile cinematographic and sexual expression. Sizzling and candid, TRANSGRESSION is for mature audiences only.

Exhibition is Davy’s most celebrated film. It was popular with mainstream cinema-going audiences (over 3 million admissions in France alone) but also road the Porno Chic craze by being selected at international film festivals (and being the first porn film to play the Cannes Film Festival.)  It has become a classic in the DVD market although only in cut and poorly transferred versions. The film is a documentary about the French porn industry and in particular, porn actress Claudine Beccarie. As the woman opens up about her painful childhood and her eventual entry into porn, scenes from her previous films, interviews with her fans, her co-stars and even her mother unspool. Candid, sensual and stimulating.

About Jean-Francois Davy:

Known as the grandmaster of French erotic cinema, Jean-Francois Davy (born 1945) has enjoyed a long career as a film producer, director, screenwriter, and actor. He achieved his biggest success with the pornographic cause celebrate film Exhibition and has continued his professional focus on film and sex for over 40 years. After making a series of short films as a teenager, Jean-Francois began in the film business when he became an assistant to director Luc Moullet on his 1966 comedy Brigitte et Brigitte. Then he set out on his own by directing L'attentat (1966) and since then has directed 18 other fiction and documentary feature films. And quite unlike the styles of the French New Wave that was flourishing at the time, Davy staked his career on the adult market. Hence, his films (all of which he has produced) are mainly broad comedies and melodramas and filled with abundant nudity and love-making. His films include Prostitution (1975), The Pornocrates (1976), Exhibition 2 (1978), and Exhibition 79 (1979). After more than two decades away from directing, Davy returned with the 2006 drama Red Needles and the 2009 film Tricheuse (So Woman!).

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