Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rochelle, Rochelle

Of all the fake movies referenced in several Seinfeld episodes, one in particular Rochelle, Rochelle is one that actually looks interesting to me. I usually get a chuckle from some of the silly fake movie titles mentioned in the series like Checkmate, Sack Lunch, Chunnel, and Prognosis Negative, but Rochelle, Rochelle appeals to the inner cult movie fan in me, and I just can’t help wishing that the movie was real and directed by someone like Jess Franco. The tagline: “A young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk” reminds me of Franco’s Eugenie… the story of her journey into perversion, and it also brings to mind Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle Around the World. Could it be that the writers of Seinfeld had these types of films in mind when coming up with the Rochelle, Rochelle gag? In the series, the movie is referred to as foreign and apparently generated a lot of hype, but the general response ended up being that the plot was unbearable, and it was just the nudity that made it revered. Now I absolutely love this kind of stuff (especially if there are horror elements fused in), so you usually won’t find me making such remarks.




What do you think? Is there more to most foreign erotic movies than just the sex and nudity?
  

10 comments:

  1. I always wanted to see DEATHBLOW. Also, that sad drama called "Coma"... I think it was coma. I just remember the George line after Kramer spoils the end "Ohhh I wanted to see that!"

    Great stuff.

    It wouldn't surprise me that they were into cult and genre stuff. They did a whole episode centered around Jerry wanting to go see Plan 9 and make fun of it. You know that Seinfeld, Larry David, and probably most of the writing team are into some pretty cool shit. You'd have to be to put together the best sitcom ever.

    Great post.

    zombiehall.com

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    1. Thanks Kev!

      Deathblow sounds like fun too --"Oh Man! We're missing the Deathblow"!! It's funny hearing some of the lines from these movies during the scenes that take place in the theater, despite not being able to see the screen. You can actually hear Larry David during this one: "Rochelle Rochelle, what are we gonna do with you"? heh heh

      Agree with you that it's the best sitcom ever.



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  2. Of course there is; it's sex and nudity done with style. The word "erotic" actually suits it, whereas it's a title that hangs rather poorly around the neck of most American products said to bear (bare?) it.

    After BASIC INSTINCT, the American sex picture--the softcore sex picture, that is--was reborn after years of teetering on the brink of extinction, an astonishing explosion of films that continues (though in increasingly degraded form) to this day. But though the "Skinemax" picture became a massive genre, most of the movies were pretty crappy. They were treated as sub-b-pictures for undemanding audiences--find a top-heavy lass or two who could fake a bedroom gaze, throw in some bodies against which they can undulate, and come up with some thin plot to string it all together. When it's in the can, send it directly to video or late-night cable.

    The makers of the Euro-flicks you mention, on the other hand, both treat the sex picture as a serious genre, and have the skills to make it one. Pull out something like Tinto Brass's CHEEKY and watch it back-to-back with any Shannon Tweed movie. Their only similarity is that they're both sex pictures. Brass is an artist who works in the celluloid documentation of flesh the way master sculptors work in clay. He has a distinct point of view he's expressing, and an absolutely astonishing eye for imagery. Shannon's movies usually just look like cheap, quickie knock-offs of whatever was popular at the time, barely distinguishable from the one that came before or after. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, and the American productions did very occasionally come up with a genuine gem, but on the whole, they're definitely radically inferior products.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, J! You’ve made a point that I was hoping would get across in the resulting discussion to this post. For me, it’s like these erotica pictures should be viewed as works of art, style, and imagery and not just something that only has the ability to arouse viewers. When I buy something like a DVD of Vampyros Lesbos or A Man for Emmanuelle, I can’t help feeling that the cashier thinks I’m buying pornography, but there is something more to it than self-fulfillment, they're movies I’m interested in watching from beginning to end knowing that there’s something I’ll take from it that doesn’t involve one-handed viewing.

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    2. Of all the days for this topic to be on the table, Sylvia Kristel--Emmanuelle herself--died today from cancer (she was only 60). Just Jaekin's original EMMANUELLE was, in 1974, one of the biggest box-office hits in French history, and was part of a very brief era when such films were often taken seriously. Kristel often worked in sex pictures after that one; she was in the Emmanuelle sequels, then gave up the role, then returned to the series intermittently.

      The original, of course, spawned that string of sequels that continue to this day, and more spin-offs than you can shake a stick at, which, in turn, also spawned an infinity of sequels. The most successful of the latter is the Italian black Emanuelle pictures, mostly with Laura Gemser. Not long ago, I took in EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, and the last sequence of that one is really amazing. Most of Emanuelle's party has run afoul of a tribe of cannibals (cannibal flicks being the rage at the time), and she has to save the last of them by posing as the tribe's goddess, rising from the sea to claim the woman for herself! Not just anyone could pull off the part of a goddess. Gemser certainly could.

      In the '60s, the U.S. had a thriving, semi-underground sex-picture industry that produced all sorts of interesting (often bizarre) work, and some serious artists, as well (Something Weird has done an heroic job of resurrecting a lot of this work). Artistically speaking, Joe Sarno probably rules that particular sandbox. His specialty was what could perhaps best be called "psychological sex films." Great stuff. His films have been ripped off a lot by more recent Hollywood pictures (SIN IN THE SUBURBS became EYES WIDE SHUT, THE LOVE MERCHANT became INDECENT PROPOSAL, etc.). He left, near the end of the decade, for Europe, where he worked for the rest of his life. Europe, broadly, became the center of serious softcore productions for a number of years in the '70s before hardcore began killing it there as was happening in the U.S. after DEEP THROAT.

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    3. I had a similar occurrence with my last article, The Sect, some weeks ago when Herbert Lom passed away just a couple of days after I published it. It’s a very strange and ironic feeling.

      I know all too well of the Black Emanuelle films with Laura Gemser, as they are a guilty-pleasure past-time of mine. The scene you speak of from The Last Cannibals was by far the most noteworthy moment in that film and was the first time I realized how physically gifted Laura Gemser is. As far as that series goes, there are far weirder and bizarre, just check out the above title I mentioned in the post and also Emanuelle in America.

      I have yet to see any of Sylvia Kristel’s Emmanuelle films. The only ‘double mm’ title I’m familiar with is A Man for Emmanuelle staring Erika Blanc from 1969. Even though it predates the original Emmanuelle film that you mentioned, most don’t think it even counts since the character in that film is so unlike the Emmanuelle character from the novel by Emmanuelle Arsan. I recently submitted a review for this film to IFR a few days ago, and it should be published sometime in the coming days.

      Thanks again, J, for your comment, it stands alone as a magnificent write up, and I’m honored to have it here.

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  3. If the comments of everyone else in the world I have heard all my life are to be believed, Americans don't have a healthy and open view of sexuality. So where our films would usually tend to take on an "I can't believe I'm seeing naked people! Wow!" sort of tone, in European films sex would be more of a tool or symbol used to communicate some larger idea in the story, if that makes sense? Like as an element of a film in America the sex would be the end and in Europe a means to an end.

    It's hard to make an assessment, being an American yet not viewing myself as a Puritan or a prude, and on the other hand knowing the supposed American view of things has to have affected me in ways that I as a product of the environment can't perceive.

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    1. Those are great points, Erin! I like how you’ve contrasted the use of sex in American and European film; I think it makes a lot of sense.

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a good comment. I feel so spoiled for having such great blogging friends. :)

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  4. RIP Sylvia Kristel. I remember back as a teen we had a converter box on the TV. The Emmanuelle series was pretty big back then on Cinemax. Of course my parent didn't subscribe to Cinemax and all I saw were wavy lines. Until one day I found that fine tuning it I could get a grainy black and white, low sound picture.

    Those were the days, lol.

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    1. I actually went through the same thing with Cinemax back in the '90s at a friends house when I was 12 or so. We could get a fairly good grainy picture on channel 3, without sound but it was in color. Those were the first times I'd seen sex on the screen, and it planted the foundation for numerous fantasies that I still have as an adult. I'm not sure if what we were watching were Emmanuelle films, but I wouldn't be surprised.

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