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This is one of those movies that you love or hate, but that moves you anyway. It has so many details, so many reactions of the characters so the pleasures game that the director wants to play that is difficult for me to treat the film only in only direction or conclusion. As you may have read before, it tells us about a film director in his forties that is shooting an erotic scene and he discovers how the actress enjoys breaking the taboo of masturbation in front of a camera. She tells him how intense and marvelous that feeling was, but after a time they meet by random and she tells him he traumatized her... now the director is interested about what crosses to someone's mind when breaking a rule himself has imposed. I will not say this is a psychologist study, nor a pornographic film although the extremely explicit content, but it is such and intense and dark look about how we can become blind by our passions instead of use our head and the advices we receive from our friends (wife and grandmother in the film). And we all know how naturally and honestly french talk about feelings, which make the film believable. For me, it was a whole experience and, with the Danish film Princess, and maybe the Swish Snow White and Brannagh's The Magic Flute, the only worthy film of the Sevilla 06 film festival.
The French filmmaker François (Frédéric van den Driessche) decides to
make a movie about female pleasure and break of taboos in sex. He
interviews many young women about their secret fantasies and proposes
auditions, with each woman naked and masturbating in front of a camera
until they reach orgasm. He finally casts Julie (Lise Bellynck), the
unstable Charlotte (Maroussia Dubreuil) and the compulsive liar
Stéphanie (Marie Allan) to the lead roles and creates a sexual tension
among them in a threesome. The relationship with the three actresses
affects his marriage, while two fallen angels and the spirit of his
protective grandmother follow him.
"Les Anges Exterminateurs" is a pointless and pretentious soft-porn with lots of eroticism and voyeurism. The movie is pure exploitation, with the exposition of the gorgeous unknown naked actresses, and disguised of "art-movie" with the beautiful cinematography and the omnipresence of two fallen angels which existence is never explained and the ghost of the director's grandmother. It is funny to see intellectual explanations to such a silly and messy story of female orgasm. My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "Anjos Exterminadores" ("Exterminating Angels")
This film is nothing like as meaningful as I am sure the makers would have wished but neither is it tosh. Brisseau tells of a director who sets out to capture the beauty of the female nude during orgasm. Not interested in the porn actresses' rehearsed turns he seeks young women not used to performing the act so that he might thereby capture the 'mystical moments'. He also proposes that if she transgresses the norm she will more likely reach the maximum sensations. Hence, we get masturbation in a restaurant, in a hotel room with the door open, with other girls etc. I do not particularly take issue with any of this but I just don't think it's particularly profound. It is a slight theory which if proved does not really lead us anywhere. Where it does lead us of course is to the frank and pretty explicit presentation of some pretty erotic scenes. Not all bad then! Simple enough to start with this gradually turns into a melodrama involving the director's wife, the girls' partners and even the police and the ghost of his grandmother. Gradually we seem to loose sight of what seemed the film's only premise, but who knows maybe Brisseau really was making a film about the nature of love and how men and women are affected so differently.
I agree with most negative IMDb reviews of Brisseau's film, and want to
take the discussion one step further: the booking of this film (and his
next film) at Lincoln Center in NYC, as well as becoming a Cannes Film
Festival selection, showing how easily a phony like Brisseau can
hoodwink the gatekeepers of the international festival circuit.
On all key points, Exterminating Angels (title a la Bunuel) is a failure: originality: Zero; writing: Zero; realization: Zero; self-serving content: 100%.
On the DVD, Brisseau is interviewed alongside his collaborator (dating back to his humble super 8mm beginnings) Maria Luisa Garcia by a French critic who comically looks like Bill Gates -what Gates might have become if he'd gone to some Film School instead of studying math and science at Harvard. They discuss the evolution of the film's screenplay, and it becomes evident that what started as an unapologetic defense of Brisseau's sexual harassment activities on his just-previous film Choses Secretes, was elevated to pretentiousness by the insertion of fantasy elements STOLEN whole cloth from Jean Cocteau's classic 1950 film Orphée. The voice-over recitations by Brisseau are familiar to any art-house fan of the Cocteau work, allusions to the radio transmissions from the Underground during WW II. Since every film student and film buff over a certain age has seen Orpheé and absorbed it as perhaps THE art-house film of all time, I don't know how Brisseau thought he could get away with this ripoff.
The screenplay is extremely poor, with the director/hero repetitiously going through a gee-whiz, do women have orgasms? approach that is ludicrous. Structurally, it is reminiscent of the "white-coat" earliest hardcore porn films at the end of the 1960s, when sex had to be treated in fake-documentary fashion to escape censorship (before the semi-documentary style I Am Curious (Yellow) was famously cleared by the Supreme Court, thus opening the floodgates for modern porn). Brisseau as interviewed is proud as a peacock of his dialogue, which he says he adapts from run-throughs and meetings with the cast, but it is a mass of boring clichés.
The casting of the actor playing the Brisseau-like director in the film is a real mistake no one seems to have noticed -he looks a lot like the famous American porn director/star Paul Thomas, known as PT to his crew. Thomas has made many hundreds of adult films and in several of them he portrays a director working on a sex film project, closely resembling the format of what Brisseau is doing here. It's easy to imagine mainstream fans not picking up on this, but perhaps Brisseau can claim ignorance of Thomas's work, though I doubt it.
Brisseau works with a budget most porn directors (not the makers of epics like Pirates) would die for, yet his lighting and framing of the sex scenes here is remote and unimaginative, ultimately failing to "deliver the goods". Unlike his compatriot Catherine Breillat, he does not feature male actors in sex scenes (no ever erect Rocco Siffredi on call), avoiding the censorship problems of hardcore footage. Though both films are about lesbian sex, he also carefully avoids the paraphernalia, such as dildos and strap-ons, of hardcore lesbian sex films. Julie at one point holds up to the camera a small egg-shaped device she claims to use as a masturbation device, but it is not visible during the subsequent auto-erotic scene, again rendering the material softcore and as usual, simulated.
The resulting package is aimed squarely at the festival set, an international group of cineastes who live the life of jet setters (sort of), showing new films by mainly esoteric but also anxious-to-self-promote mainstreamers, throwing gala parties, and holding endlessly boring (I've walked out on enough in my lifetime) q&a sessions, on a circuit that has expanded in recent decades to something of a cottage industry. Cannes was invented 70 years ago as a gimmick to promote the town during the off-season, and the idea has spread far afield, to the Hamptons and (courtesy of Robert De Niro) even TriBeCa in my neck of the woods. Many films (and filmmakers) never escape from the festival route, showing at Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Toronto, Montreal, Edinburgh, Sundance and hundreds of other places, but worn out (or deemed unworthy) by the time it comes for theatrical distribution. The schmoes who booked this one at Cannes, and both this one and his next at Lincoln Center, are not-so-closet voyeurs: the so-called art film has always had a thread of sexploitation about it. (Recall that the most successful art films in the 1950s imported to the U.S were sexy Bergman ("Monika") and other Scandi product, then Bitter Rice, Lollobrigida, Loren and finally endless Brigitte Bardot vehicles.) The first hardcore porn film shown at Lincoln Center was a pseudo-docu Exhibition which I remember seeing back in 1975 -a piece of junk, still in circulation on DVD to bore a new generation of unsuspecting fans. The tastemakers of this "elite" side of the film industry are easily bamboozled by a fakir like Brisseau, with his embarrassingly undercooked combination of art & exploitation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I guess you've got a number of French writers at IMDb, and the global
rating of "Les Anges" is good (6,6 for 19 votes : it's better than most
French films I guess). Nevertheless none dared to write even a brief
comment on this "thing". I will try to. If you don't like watching
young, very desirable, girls playing with themselves under the table of
a fancy restaurant, this film is not for you. If you're not attracted
by beautifully filmed saphic loves in a hotel corridor, this film is
not for you.
That should leave plenty people as potential public but has the film a point in itself, or is it only a gorgeous sex show ? The answer is complex for Brisseau never hide that his main interest is filming female orgasm, true or perfectly played. He was jailed for having "forced" actresses to masturbate in front of his camera on the pretext that they were casted for his next film. Unfortunately, all the girls were not kept for the cast...and some sued him . Les Anges is therefore a pro domo plea where Brisseau explains that his objectives were of clearly artistic nature, and not mere voyeurism . This debate is at the center of the film, more or less drawn into a ludicrous scenario, and deserves all our attention. Anyway, I shall remember "les Anges" as some of the "hottest" films ever, and that's certainly worth the price of a ticket.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As nearly as I could tell, this film is about the heavy cosmic price that's extracted (only sometimes, unfortunately) from the clueless. The film's filmmaker, Francois, wants to make a film about orgasms. He doesn't want porn stars because they might fake orgasms, so he goes out and finds, uh, "real" actresses. Because he's clueless, Francois doesn't notice that his actresses, not to mention his wife and just about everybody else, are waving enormous red flags, along with sirens and flashing danger lights, in his direction. And, because he's an eedgit, Francois eventually has very bad things happen to him, but not as bad as they could be because he's such a nice eedgit that even one of his exterminating angels cuts him some ill-advised slack. Meanwhile, around him swirl a variety of pretentiously mysterious signs and apparitions that describe the amount of effort that heaven, or whatever, is spending to demolish Francois. Not least of these signs are the cryptic messages that mirror those sent via radio to the French Resistance during WW2. Do these signify that the relationship between the sexes is an undeclared war? Who knows. Cocteau used them much better in Orphee. However, and this is a big however, this film has some very hot women having sex with each other. French (or Belgian) women -- yum! So there it is -- a pretentious film about the downfall of a bonehead, filled to the brim with luscious women. Your call.
Sex is universal to every art in every time, in every culture. It's
universal because it's as animal as every man is. So, no theme is more
richly treated, and more thoroughly investigated as sex. That raises
the bar of demand, in other words, if you want to do anything
interesting that concerns sex you have only two choices:
-either you do something that, although not original updates somethings that had been previously done;
-you find any dark corner of sex, usually tied to other equally fascinating worlds, of the human mind or such; this film does nothing in any of the 2 options. it's as dull as its writer sounds. This i say taking in consideration the lines, and an interview i saw on the DVD extras.
Apparently this film was made as some sort of provocation against some sex related charges related to this director's previous film. I think he might see this as an exorcism or something that could be mapped into the realms of the "art" world. Some personal exploitation of the limits of voyeurism in sex; a man who studies female orgasm by watching (and filming) it. I suppose later in the process of developing this, Brisseau himself understood how thin the whole thing was, so he placed a couple of Wenders' borrowed angels, to add a layer of mysticism to the whole watching game and, i suppose, so we could identify with the more active angel, as a voyeur of the voyeur situations.
This could actually work, but only if the director was more interested in making a film, rather than looking like he masters the inner depth of the female orgasm. As it is, this is a shameless depiction of the female body, some women are really and genuinely appealing, but the whole work is just dishonest. I really would prefer to have this made into a softcore exploitative film, than this annoying piece. Anything Brass or Franco do is better than this.
My opinion: 1/5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Following the path of his late feature, "Secret things", "The exterminating angels" probably close an era in Jean Claude Brisseau's career(one of the most interesting of contemporary french cinema). You can film sex and nudity and not ever telling stories of provocation and other things that women could refuse to show but in the attempt maybe you don't realize what the camera-eye is registering: passion,loneliness, madness and ... love. Anyone could say Brisseau hides things but you must check if you are aware enough to see what this movie is really are. One of the best of the year and one of the best exercises of freedom in wide format
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think what is meant to be taken seriously as important and poetic isn't as magnetic as the women who perform in director Jean-Claude Brisseau's Les Anges Exterminateurs. To me, the interpretation I got out of the whole film is that the director wants to establish a filmmaker's pursuit of purity and authenticity on screen but through such expectations often derives problems unforeseen and unprepared. But all that remains after the film ends to me is the provocative nature of the actresses and how they embrace the parts, going the extra mile for Brisseau. I really like the lead actor in The Exterminating Angels, Frédéric van den Driessche, as a sincere director of French thrillers who desires to make an experimental film about genuine female orgasms during a number of taboo acts (masturbation in an elegant restaurant, performing lesbian lovemaking in a hotel where being caught might happen, etc.). The screen tests with a number of delectable beauties (including one young porn starlet that conceals her career so she can defy his stereotyping her) reveal open admissions to him due to his fatherly, mature presence, direct interest in their feelings and thoughts, and comfort/ease shared between them and him. Because he is the kind of man that seems to be significantly approachable, respectful, curious, unintimidating, and personable, the ladies who become mainstays during the casting process of his film confide in, adore, and, in some cases, fall in love with him. The harm when their love is unrequited as the director doesn't have the same mounting feelings of developing passion, intensifying emotion and burgeoning adoration concludes this piece of rather pretentious (the film is said to be based on an experience Brisseau had in his past) erotic melodrama. This film includes "fallen angels" with a mission concerning the director and a possible hidden agenda involving a waitress with a boyfriend who is a hood. The price of asking so much from those performing for you intimately, on camera, and in personal conversation follows the director as he finds himself badly beaten by hooded thugs. There's even a cherubic dead grandmother that visits and attempts to protect the director! I think the film is at its best when the women allow themselves to commit to their passions and desires, and the dialogue that exists about them with the director who has an ability to pull from them what innermost lies behind the veil of uninhibited living. Good scene has a former actress (Raphaële Godin) confiding in the director regarding why she quit acting and how her life changed due to the experience of one breakout role when she was only sixteen years old. I especially liked the revelations of young women who speak honestly about sex and what lies within their fantasies, and how sometimes the director is an object of pleasure to them. This film is brimming with lovely women. A highlight includes a hilarious encounter for the director during an interview where one of the actresses asks the director if he could survey her seducing technique which turns out to be an embarrassingly dire striptease. The tragic breakdown of one of his actresses does conclude that identifying too closely with a person (in this case the director), allowing so much of yourself to be naked before him/her, and expecting something the same in return can result in unfortunate consequences.
This movie is about a director who wants to make a film, with a plot
which has never been done before. He tries to experiment with various
unusual ways to push the boundaries of "what should be" or "what
should'nt be". In spite of the warnings by his loved ones he gives
himself up to his curiosity. He lets his lust control his actions. The
lust forces him to venture forbidden territory (or taboo, as one might
call it). His lust eventually, drives him to a place filled with
deceit, pain and despair.
Overall I feel the movie is only worth watching for an audience who can cope with the darkness and the ill-feeling which the movie makes you feel. That is why I did not like the movie because I felt the story was not so brilliant and too strange to be very honest.
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