Documentary about the Emmanuelle movies, looking at their making as well as their social and cultural impact.

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Documentary about the Emmanuelle movies, looking at their making as well as their social and cultural impact.

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Emmanuelle: A Hard Look  »

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Emmanuelle without Passion
14 May 2006 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

I was so excited when I read about a documentary being produced about the Emmanuelle film series. To me the Emmanuelle series is as exciting as any genre film series, i.e. zombie movies, post-apocalyptic movies, westerns, martial arts films, etc. I was even intrigued by the fact that it was being directed by filmmaker (and so-called cinephile) Alex Cox. However after watching this poorly executed documentary I couldn't help but think what a greatly missed opportunity this film is. The Emmanuelle film series deserves better then Alex Cox. The documentary really needed someone who truly loves this series for all of its greatness and for all of its flaws. It's obvious that Cox has nothing but contempt for the series. He uses clips from different parts of the series and edits them in a way to accentuate the movies shortcomings. He scores interviews with Sylvia Kristel (the original Emmanuelle), Just Jaeckin (the director of the original film), and somehow and most importantly Laura Gemser (Black Emanuelle). Gemser is now retired from acting, and is famous for refusing interviews about her career. The most exciting news about A Hard Look is that Gemser finally breaks her silence. However Cox waists this amazing opportunity, in fact he makes Gemser looks stupid. Cox uses sound bites that make Gemser come off like a moron about her career and about the Emanuelle films in general. For no reason what so ever Cox finds a way to include an interview with Dennis Hooper, with pointless effect – and that is what this film is; a documentary chalked full of pointlessness. I guess the only reason Cox includes an interview with Hooper is that it gives him an excuse to show footage from Cox's terribly mediocre movie Straight to Hell (starring Hooper). Showing footage from Straight to Hell allows Cox to draw comparisons between the Emmanuelle film series and Spaghetti Westerns. This comparison leads Cox to conclude that Spaghetti Westerns that were once considered an eye sore of the Western genre are now considered classics, and that erotic films (like those of Emmanuelle) are still considered "second rate." Why he asks – "what's wrong with sex, what's wrong with pleasure?" He draws a comparison between the bodily pleasures, that of having sex outdoors and drugs – both which are banned. This sequence concludes with Alex Cox enjoying cannabis, and validating the saying, "dope is for dopes." The only saving grace of A Hard Look is that it demands another filmmaker to make a truly loving documentary about this amazing film series, from someone who is truly passionate about every nuance of Emmanuelle.


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