Saturday, February 25, 2012

Body Love (Lasse Braun, 1978)

As I watched this steamy relic from a bygone era flicker before me, I was amazed by the sheer amount of options that lay languishing before me in the reticulated viewing sphere that is my mind's eye. Technically, I could approach the film as yet another uninspired slice of bland pornography. Except, Lasse Braun isn't the type of director to allow his films to be seen merely as mindless masturbation material for the mentally challenged masses. And by casting Catherine Ringer as the lead, he makes it abundantly clear that he's not interested in making your run-of-the-mill fuck film. In fact, with only four sex scenes in total, some might say: what fucking? Nevertheless, opening with the sight of Catherine Ringer, a performer best known for being one half of the great French new wave duo, Les Rita Mitsouko (Fred Chichin, R.I.P.), stretching her legs in a black leotard and a scrumptious pair of red thigh-high leg warmers, Body Love makes the first of its many bold statements. You see, what Catherine's character Martine is doing smacks of being artistic, and if there's anything the raincoat crowd hates more, it's to be reminded that there is art in this world. Still stretching in her leg warmers (the kind that I've seen on headless mannequins hanging from the rafters at American Apparel), Martine tells her father, "The Baron" (Jean-Gérard Sorlin), that her stepmother Glenda (Glenda Farrel), a world famous actress, has left. Watching her drive off through a window located on an upper floor of their spacious mansion/castle, the way Martine stood there motionless reminded me of something you might see in an Ingmar Bergman film, or a parody of an Ingmar Bergman film. If that wasn't enough, the music of Klaus Schulze can be heard throughout the film. And, of course, we're not talking about your stereotypical "bom chicka wah wah" porn music, Klaus makes cutting edge synthesizer music for discerning fans of electronic music.

Seriously, the score is incredible. Reminiscent of the chill out techno music that was semi-popular in the early '90s (The Orb, Pete Namlook, The Aphex Twin, etc.), the music–to be blunt–is way too awesome to wasted in a film like this. Okay, I realize that what I just said oozes the worst kind of porn prejudice (what? you don't think porn movies deserve to have cool music?). What I'm trying to say is that there are only handful movies in this world that are truly worthy of the music Klaus Schulze was making in the late 1970s.

Since I've already exposed myself to be a porn snob, I might as well continue in that vein by declaring Catherine Ringer's performance way too awesome to be wasted in a film like this. It doesn't take long to realize that Catherine is immensely talented, as even the sight of her standing motionless in a window manages to convey a surprising of amount of depth. The audience is no doubt thinking to themselves, "Who is this woman, and why does she fascinate me so much?" Of course, nowadays, this kind of emotional breadth is no longer welcome in the realm of modern day erotica. But let's not dwell of the differences between the arty smut of the past and the crude, dehumanizing porn of the present, let's get back to extolling the many virtues of Catherine Ringer–who is credited here as "Lolita Da Nova."

As Catherine Ringer is stretching her legs on a free standing barre, you'll notice that only a small swath of thigh skin is being soothed by the room's sooty air. Why is that, you ask? Well, the skimpiness of her black leotard combined with the excessive of length of her red thigh-high leg warmers has caused there to be a bit of an impasse, a flesh-based deficiency, if you will, in terms of how much skin is exposed. While this may sound like a negative, it's not. If anything, the volume of thigh skin Catherine Ringer exposes in this scene was, as far as I'm concerned, the perfect amount.

Playing a young woman named Martine, Catherine Ringer continues to stretch (the creaking sound the barre made as her leg rested on it did not, much like her exposed thighs, go unnoticed by this viewer). Suddenly, something outside grabs her attention. Look. It's a blonde woman wearing a reddish suit. Where she is going? I didn't wonder, as she got into her car, a white Mercedes-Benz. After she's finished watching the woman drive off, her father, a blonde man with a snooty aura, asks her if she's ready to be "mounted" for the first time tonight. Yeah, that's right. He used the word "mounted." Which, like you, I thought was a little odd.

Wait a minute. I hope this isn't one of those movies where a rich aristocrat tries to "convert" his lesbian daughter to heterosexuality by forcing her to participate in an elaborate orgy set to ambient techno music. Because if that's the case, I would totally watch that movie.

Remember how I pretended not to care where the blonde woman was going in her fancy car? Well, I wasn't being entirely truthful. To be honest, part of me does want to know where she was going, and that part is about to find out. Driving to a secluded house in the country, Glenda gets out and starts to explore its many rooms. I liked the creepy atmosphere Lasse Braun creates as Glenda explored the abandoned house. Startled by a man dressed like the ghost of Robert E. Lee, Glenda runs downstairs only to be confronted by two men sporting, what she later claims to be, "normal cocks."

Robbed of her red skirt (plus, the tan, super-sheer pantyhose that lay chicly beneath its funneled exterior), her matching bred lazer, and a white blouse, Glenda loses some of her appeal as the two men, one wearing a blue t-shirt and one wearing a red t-shirt, begin to paw at her organic structure. It's gets worse when her wig falls off and her fake-looking breasts failed to jiggle after being repeatedly poked and prodded by the unruly men. Luckily, the scene is saved somewhat when a naked Glenda wanders back to the mansion to describe, in graphic detail, her encounter with the two burly men to her piano-playing husband. Asking her point blank as he tickled the ivories: "Did you suck their cocks?" To which she quickly responds, "Why certainly." "What kind of cocks were there?" he sheepishly inquires. Uh, "they were normal cocks." I know, Glenda, what's this guy's problem? Anyway, the sex scene itself features the missionary position, some reverse cowgirl action (with an off to side handy), and a brief session of anal spooning.

I'll admit, I was a tad disappointed by the way the film's first sex scene played out. In fact, if it wasn't for the Baron and Baroness' asinine back and forth about fellatio, I would have walked out of the 42nd Street porno theatre and would have not asked for my money back. However, it's a good thing I stuck around because Catherine Ringer is currently acting tormented on the mansion/castle's roof. Relaxing against some shingles in a long grey skirt, Martine is approached by Gilda (Gilda Arancio), a blonde woman who may or may not be her girlfriend. Judging by the way Martine scolds Gilda for flirting with her father, I'd say they're pretty close. This closeness is confirmed when Gilda initiates lesbian sex with Martine by demanding that she kiss her. Starting off like your typical girl-on-girl scene (gentle kissing followed by some light-to-moderate groping), Catherine Ringer decides to shake things up a bit. How so? Well, for starters, Catherine sweeps her long mane of brunette hair over the top of Gilda's head, which created a kind of hair shield that allowed them to make out in private.

Everything Catherine Ringer does in this film flies in the face of conventional porn thinking. Every mannerism and every gesture seems to have been filtered through Catherine's unique point-of-view. I'm not entirely sure of how much input she had when it came time flesh out her character, but I like to think that Lasse Braun tried to nurture her creativity–you know, as opposed to stifling it. Moving from the rooftop to a more discrete location, Martine and Gilda take their sappho indoors with a spot of cunnilingus. Rocking back and forth on a hammock, Gilda, who's all but naked expect for a pair of strappy high heel shoes, hurls the moist contents of her mouth-watering crotch in the direction of Martine's smiling face (you'd be smiling too if you saw what was coming toward her French gob every two to three seconds).

No genuine lesbian sex scene should be without some scissor sex, and Body Love does not disappoint in that regard. As Martine and Gilda are bumping their vaginas together like a couple of clammy rams during mating season, Glenda is chatting outside with a reporter (Jacques Gateau) holding a ridiculously large microphone. Talking about her decision to star in a pornographic film, the Baroness rambles on about sex and cinema. The coolest part about their conversation was the fact that Glenda could not control this large English sheepdog, so, instead of fighting it, she let's it off the leash, and the fact that Glenda towers over Jacques by at least a foot.

This sex themed conversation continues as Martine, Glenda, Gilda, the reporter, and the Baron sit down to eat pastries in an erotic manner. Now sporting pigtails, Catherine Ringer's raw talent still manages to shine through despite being saddled with hokey dialogue. Taking the reporter out to her dingy-looking trailer, Martine decides to share her Uruguayan sex slave Nana (Gemma Giménez) with the inquisitive reporter. And by "share," I mean allow him to have sexual intercourse with her on a stained mattress. Instructing her to disrobe, Martine then tells Nana to play with herself. After she's finished, Martine asks the reporter, "Would you like it if she pleased you with her mouth?" Do I have to tell you what his answer was? Besides, we all know what this leading to. Nonetheless, it's the occasional shot of Catherine Ringer's pigtail framed face, and, not to mention, the sound of Klaus Schulz's swooshing synths, that make this scene interesting.

As Jacques is plowing into the Uruguayan beauty with his erect penis, the Baron is greeting his guests as they arrive at the mansion/castle. You haven't forgotten, have you? There's an orgy scheduled for later this evening, and you know what the say? You can't have an orgy without inviting at least eight people (at least I don't think you can).

You can tell something great is about to transpire just by listening to the way Klaus Schulze's synthesizers were starting to percolate on the soundtrack, and, if you really want to get analytical, by the manner in which Lasse Braun's camera seems to be focusing on a white door. Who's behind the door, I wondered, and what will this person find once they finally breach its ashen threshold? All of a sudden, the door swings open, and Catherine Ringer steps through it, closing it behind her with a campy flair. Wearing the same get-up she had on when we first met her (a black leotard and a pair of red thigh-high leg warmers), Martine is standing in a room full of naked and scantily clad men and women who are frozen like statues.

Performing what can be best described as a weird form of interpretive dance, Catherine Ringer moves her body in a fashion that will be very familiar to fans of her work in the music videos for Les Rita Mitsouko, particularly the one for "C'est comme ça." When she's done pretending to molest this stone-faced mass of Euro-flesh, Martine "activates" them by touching their skin. During a moment of pure awkwardness, Martine activates her father by brushing her hand over his flaccid penis. Of course, no-one in attendance seems to think it's awkward, so I guess I'm just an incest prude. Either way, she's tasted their sexual essence, and is now ready to experience the real thing.

Faster than you can say, "I'm gonna need some Nair in here," Catherine Ringer's black leotard is gone and her body is being hoisted in the air by a throng of naked men and women. Who's the lucky bastard to be the first man to watch his penis appear and disappear as it goes in and out of her thickly carpeted vagina? The reporter, of course. Pressing both his hands firmly against her inner thighs in order create thrusting leverage, Jacques plunges his cock deep into Martine's proverbial quagmire with a pelvic aplomb. As the rest of the orgy participants partner up, and Martine accepts three more cocks, and a couple of lady tongues, her red thigh-high leg warmers are the only thing that seems familiar to us, as the scene morphs into an indistinguishable lump of sexual confusion. The crimson glow emanating from their leggy housing comforts the audience as the scene's epicness hits a fever pitch. Orgasms, bodies intertwined, swirling synths, Body Love leaves an indelible mark on the viewer. Pompous porn for the art house crowd.



  1. Holy fucking shit.

    I get Lasse Braun and Lasse Hallstrom confused (he's the guy that did My Life as a Dog). I guess I need to lasso in my Lasse confusion.

    I got a VHS copy of Nightdreams II today. I'm debating whether to rub it on my crotch before sticking it in the VCR. I figure, If you can't answer that question, nobody can.

  2. Question is: when is this shit coming out on Blu-Ray? I need my furry '70s twats in 1080p.

  3. @Thomas Duke: I hardly ever confuse Lasse Braun with Lasse Hallstrom. *lassos self a medal*

    Rub Nightdreams II on your crotch in a gingerly fashion.

    I'm almost finished watching season 1 of Silk Stalkings, featuring the production design of Stephen Sayadian (Rinse Dream), so I could use some Nightdreams II right about now.

    Oh, and I hope your copy of Nightdreams II isn't dubbed in French. :(

    @Scott Is NOT A Professional: Purveyors of retro smut are always shafting the perv community when it comes to delivering furry twats in high definition.

  4. I watched SIlk Stalkings a bit when it was on, and I own a "best of season one" DVD that I bought for a dollar. Now I know why. Maybe I will splooge for the whole thing. I thought I was the only person that watched that show unironically.

    VHS shopping in Montreal sounds like a dicey proposition. Might be the Frenchie version, might not. Haven't watched it yet, but mine is from the good ole USA it looks like. It has to be in English, cuz if an American buys a porn tape in America and it ends up being dubbed in French, he/she will storm the White House carrying a torch.

  5. I believe it was Chekhov who said if you show zettai ryouiki in the first act it must come off by the final act.

    Gemma Giménez, with that nose and pixie bob, looks like the Desert Dike (as Joe Bob Briggs put it) from the third Mad Max Movie.

    And I've got that damn french dub too.

  6. @Thomas Duke: I bet I'm the only person in the known universe who watched Silk Stalkings strictly for the production design; Deborah Rennard's sex dungeon in episode 2: "Going to Babylon" looked like the set of Dr. Caligari and the nightclub scene in the same episode was basically Party Doll A Go-Go Part 3.

    I didn't mean to cause you alarm regarding your copy of Nightdreams II. It's just I've heard that the French dubbed version is the version most commonly available.

    @Sarcastro: Thank you for exposing me to the expression "zettai ryouiki"; it's simply beautiful.

  7. Not a single pizza delivery guy? Jeez. ;-)

    I do love old porn. They at least felt it was their duty to have some sort of story, no matter how silly or flimsy.

  8. Hey. Been out of town, checking out some Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in SE Virginia. No, actually, I was at a conference, but we did get to eat a lot, including one joint Guy visited.

    I remember seeing Les Rita Mitsouko on Night Flight. And I had these leg warmers in the 80s. In the 90s, my mom did some tailoring work and turned it into a sweater for the dog.

    I ran the "Canada Walk of Fame" category on Jeopardy!

  9. @Darius Whiteplume: Not a single musclebound realty agent, either. ;)

    @Karim Amir: I wish Guy would feature more Drive-Ins on the show.

    The only reason Much Music played Les Rita Mitsouko videos back in the day was because they had too (they had to play a certain amount of Francophone content each week).

    The "Canada Walk of Fame" category must have aired on Tuesday, because that's the only episode I missed this week. :( Anyway, congrats on your sweep. :)

    A couple of quick questions: Was Zalman King mentioned in the "in memorandum" segment at this year's Oscars? And what the fuck is The Hunger Games?

  10. "In Memorandum"? HAHAHAHHAHA
    No, I don't remember seeing Zalman King, but I was a little bored by the telecast. I didn't really have a horse in the race.

    Hunger Games? Young adult stuff. I asked a friend who read it if it was an allegory of North Korea. She looked at me blankly. By the way, they filmed the adaptation in my neck of the woods.

  11. Oops, I guess I meant to say "In Memoriam." But judging by your reaction, I'm going pretend I did that on purpose. ;)

  12. Silk Stalkings that was a classic show :)