Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye Farrah (1947-2009)

Farrah Fawcett will always be one of the Angels. That’s how I met her, the earliest of my TV crushes for beautiful, distant and unattainable actresses. She was not my favorite Angel – that had to be Jaclyn Smith – but she was the one that dressed the sexier and that looked… well… freer. Maybe it is a misjudgment caused by time and distance, but I still get that impression from her pictures and from her posters.

My love for her deepened all through LOGAN’S RUN (1976) – a brief fling on screen – and SATURN 3 (1980), the movie with the most promising of posters. I remember reading the tie-in novel first, on a dream date with Ms. Fawcett (she was no longer Mrs. Majors after her divorce in 1979) that would never come to pass.

Our relationship ended too soon because of my immaturity. I confess I didn’t react well to EXTREMITIES (1986). Yes, I know her character Marjorie was one of the best in her career, and I know her performance won well-deserved acclaim. She even let her nipples show, although not in an erotic or titillating manner. Maybe it was because of it, of watching the movie as one watches sunbathers at the beach, without any concern for plot or character development that did it. But our relation ended then and there. I never looked for her again. I didn’t even gave a spin to the CHARLIE'S ANGELS DVDs waiting on my shelves.

But like all youthful flings I could never really forget her. Every time I glimpsed her name on the credits of some movie or TV Series my heart would jump like a startled horse. I’m sure we would come to terms again. Age heals all wounds of youth. Alas, but now no more. Farrah has left us… the most unfair of deaths… way too soon. I’m sorry I never looked her up again, never saw any of her recent works. But I kept on loving her. I still do. Goodbye kid, you’ll be missed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eve and Lillith

They say Eve was born out of Adam’s rib. But surely not CRANK’s Eve played with sizzling allure by Amy Smart. This Eve has something of Lillith in her, and Lillith was born of no mere mortal. She was born out of God’s wet-dreams. She’s a temptress in a virgin’s disguise. She’s every viewer’s erotic fantasy.

She’s not a character per se in this film. She’s the embodiment of lust, the über blonde bimbo air-head that every adolescent has up in the golden shrine to the promises of tomorrow. She’s hotness personified. She’s the god-mother, the life giver, the nurturing erotic fertility symbol.

When we’re allowed to enter her abode it is with the perspiring skin and hammering heart of a heathen to whom it is given to contemplate divinity. She stretches like a lithe feline, moves like a caress, dresses like a testosterone induced dream. She is all female, sexy and young and prim, and yet she seems unaware of herself… she’s natural. She doesn’t care that each of the simplest moves she makes has the potential effect – like Helena’s before her – of launching a thousand ships.

She’s the virgin and the whore, the Madonna and the Mistress under the same guise. She’s at the same time ripe and unattainable, innocent and temptress. She looks like an angel and behaves like a devil. She could fuel a hundred tracts on theology, and still remain a thousand year old woman on a girl’s body, a girl lost on men’s violent world.

There’s a certain degree of innocence on the deepest of sins, for only the truly innocent can really sin deeply. Although she has but a few lines, she’s the center of this movie. She’s the prize both Good and Evil covet; she’s the fountain of sin and the cradle of redemption. For all the killers, for all the lions, for all the weapons raised and fired, she’s the only one to decide over life and dead… She’s the eternal girlfriend, blowing his man while traversing a hailstorm of bullets, she’s the one officiating the public ritual of resurrection, with both Mary and the Holy Father looking in envy over her shoulder.

She’s every man’s dream, every woman’s nemesis. She’s Lillith the temptress. She’s Eve, the innocent. God, I can’t wait to see CRANK II.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sensory Overload

You couldn’t be a teenager in the mid-80s and not be aware of the Brigitte Nielsen phenomenon. At just 22, she starred as the titular character in RED SONJA (1985) alongside genre-veteran Arnold Schwarzenegger, married his real-life main competitor Sylvester Stallone and went on to star in two of his actioneers, cult-fave ROCKY IV (1985) and macho ego-booster COBRA (1986). In 1987 she broke up with hubby Sly, starred on BEVERLY HILLS COP II and then went under the radar for the target-audience of her films.

I confess I was not a big fan of Mrs, Stallone. She was a sexy presence on-screen – that I can not deny – but somehow her Nordic androgynous looks and clearly enhanced breasts didn’t exert a strong attraction over me. I didn’t particularly enjoy RED SONJA - being a huge fan of the Roy Thomas’s version from the comics I couldn’t sympathize with her portrayal of the iconic character, and the confused politics of the film (that seemed unsure towards what kind of demographics, or what kind of feminist demographics, it wanted to please) didn’t help matters much. I enjoyed her wet t-shirt scene in COBRA and the way her long legs drew the camera when she first appears on-screen on BEVERLY HILLS COP II coming out of her stretch-limo, but it was her portrayal of the icily beautiful Ludmilla in ROCKY IV, sporting a Soviet uniform, that most pleased my feverish adolescent mind.

Not even her nude photos on the French magazine PHOTO (“La Femme Rambo Pose Nue”, January 1988) made me change my mind. Naked, she seemed more awe-inspiring than truly erotic or arousing, and I couldn’t help but think that there was something mannish in her strong, tall, athletic body.

It was only Ivana Massetti’s demented and pretentiously surrealist opus DOMINO (1988) that opened my eyes to the depths of sensuality that Nielsen did harbor. The film is a jumble of vacuous dialogue, with a kind of sub-Zalman King musing on the nature of life and love spurting at every moment from the characters’ mouths, but presents itself in a striking palette of vivid colors, strange tableaux and boner inducing erotic scenes. One such scene burned itself into my mind, never to be forgotten. That’s when young Domino (Nielsen), convinced that she is being spied from a window on the building from across the street, wants to confront the anonymous voyeur that she sees only as a silhouette backlit on the window of the otherwise dark facade. Donning a ravishing but simple white dress with white gloves, and bearing an auburn wig – intimations of a desire for anonymity on her part as well, or just a mask, another persona to help fulfill her empty nights? – she ends up meeting the upstairs blind neighbor (veteran actor David Warbeck) who tells her that the couple that used to live on the now empty apartment where she is sure she saw the peeping tom had passed away on a car accident about a month before.

When we first meet the Blind neighbor (Warbeck) he is cutting a magazine with a pair of scissors. The interior of his darkened apartment is lit with a diffuse blue light whose source is not apparent on-screen, and is cluttered by a hanging forest of wind-chimes, which doesn’t seem very practical for a blind man. But then again, he doesn’t seem like an ordinary blind man – he is something more akin to Matt Murdock or any other of the plethora of blind masters that plagues pulp fiction in general. His movements are measured, slow and deliberate, like those of a spider moving softly over her thread as not to give any intimation of its nature to the eventual prey. Domino, our unsuspecting fly – or is she? – hears on his (fatuous and unctuous) words an echo of her own loneliness. The dialogue is awkward – some would say boring, ridiculous and unreal – and for no reason other than aesthetic, the Blind Man complains about the heat and – easily, with the supernatural ability that’s born out of blind habit – turns on an electric fan, thus raising a storm of sound and paper as the swiftly moving blades send the chimes into a frenetic dance and throws all the confetti-like paper clippings into a frenzy of festive proportions.

Caught in this sensory web, Domino unwittingly uncovers an old standing mirror that draws her in as some kind of window into her personal demons. She looks like a deer caught on the headlights of her own self, as she – and us – see her reflected in the twilight-y umber of the room, the Blind Man explores her face and hair with is fingers, building is own image, an utterly sensorial one… a vision of touch, smell and sound. Only her (and us, the voyeur audience) have sight.

He unzips her dress, send his hands roaming down her sensuous arching back, and it’s only in the mirror that we see them closing like spidery shapes over her breasts, underneath the white – so purely white – dress. It’s a mesmerizing moment, an hypnotic ritual, as we are caught by the erotic dance on the screen, on the mirror, caressed by the wind chimes, a soft tingling rhythm interspersed from time to time with the staccato, final, banging of a door or a window disturbed by the wind.

The storm is internal and external as we are drawn into that fury of sound and image, bereft of touch, another point on the sensorial triangle we close with them. The hands slide under her dress, over her breasts, between her thighs… she arches her back, arms held up in sensual surrender, her own (gloved) hands reaching – not to him – but to her own body. She is the goddess being adored, homage. This is her ritual. Not a fly at all, but the Queen of us all.

Her moaning mingles with the wind, the myriad confetti a caressing creature with a thousand fingers; she moans, she writhes, she orgasms, overpowering the storm. She shatters the barriers; looking into the mirror, she became as much the voyeur as the one she was meaning to confront. And we, the viewers, the voyeurs, are satisfied as well.

I saw few of the movies she starred after this one. I somehow enjoyed her role as corrupt lesbian prison warden in CHAINED HEAT II (1993), but she never got to the sublime heights of this little forgotten scene in the annals of second rate erotic films. So I thank her for the memories, as the song goes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Resuming Transmission

Interruptions happen when one least expects them. Just as I was about to cap my participation on Pam Grier Week with a short review of Gerardo de Leon’s WOMEN IN CAGES (1971) more pressing professional compromises demanded my full and undivided attention… until about now. And suddenly, I feel myself unable to follow up on my previous posts as if the time gap between them made them feel as if written by somebody else. So, dear readers – dear patient readers – I’ll begin anew, looking back at Ms. Grier’s week with great fondness and promising you that this coming summer, when work matters will be a lot less pressing, I’ll review WOMEN IN CAGES as a bridge between these last few films and a bunch of later WIP movies. As for now, let the program resume, hoping that no other extended interruption shall prove necessary.Thanks for waiting…