Wednesday, 26 February 2014


It seems ages since a French film was reviewed here..!

Fabienne Godet comes across as a seasoned observer of human psychology - her drama "Une place sur la Terre" [Eng. Title: A Place on Earth] explores with authority friendship and love between a disillusioned middle aged photographer and a budding marine archaeologist - both going through depression.

Antoine (Benoît Poelvoorde) considers himself a failure, and when he's not trying to mask his sadness through dry humour, is seeking solace in alcohol. His close (and only) friend is six year old neighbour Matéo (Max Baissette de Malglaive) whose mother is away most of the time. When twenty-something Elena (Ariane Labed) moves into the neighbourhood, across his courtyard, Antoine first becomes aware of her presence only through the piano music coming from her apartment - it's not so much the music, but the way she played it that stood out.

His curiosity will take a voyeuristic turn when he begins to watch her through his camera, and takes pictures unbeknown to her. It is during one of his curiosity-satiating moments that she throws herself off the roof - and Antoine had captured it all with his camera. He rushes her to hospital, taking care not to utter a word to anyone about her attempted suicide. Lucky not to have suffered spinal injury, Elena recovers in full, and a tentative friendship develops between the two.

Antoine will soon start feeling more 'alive' than he'd ever before - there is after all a new purpose to his life now - make Elena smile. He falls in love, even if that's not the way she feels, for she is herself a lost soul barely hanging on - we're not given reasons for either's mental illness, but Elena's way of coping is through volunteering as a youth worker - helping those who'd lost their way in drugs, whilst she prepared for her doctorate. Elena isn't pleased to discover Antoine's pictures of her, and when she moves to Alexandria to pursue her career, they depart under a cloud of mixed feelings. Antoine will now have to overcome her absence and find a new purpose in life - this time, his own...

The storyline might sound depressing, but the film certainly isn't - Ms. Godet has handled the subject with a great deal of skill, subtlety and humour, because of which characters thoroughly engage by taking us along with them in their search for happiness - we smile with them just as much as we feel their loss. The performances are heartfelt; Benoît Poelvoorde convincingly gets into his character - perhaps drawing from his own personal experience of depression, and beautiful Ariane Labed is able to project her character's sadness and joy through her trademark gaze alone, and the camera is unashamedly (justifiably too) obsessed with her just as we, looking through Antoine's eyes. Well edited and put together, the cinematography is slick and stylish. It's also the most impressive new French film I'd seen so far this year, and Highly Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link [PAL]


The Nudity: Ariane Labed
There is brief nudity in a couple of scenes when Ariane Labed's character is in a bath, and during a sex scene. She may not be showing much of her body in this film, but the Attenberg star has us transfixed nevertheless whenever she appears on screen.

Ariane Labed in the French film Une place sur la Terre


Monday, 24 February 2014

A review: "Tan de repente [2002 Argentina, Netherlands]


Diego Lerman makes an assured directorial début with his neatly packaged character-study-as-comedy feature "Tan de repente" [Eng. Title: Suddenly]. Set in and around contemporary Buenos Aires, the film vividly captures a lot more than its meagre storyline, thanks to an imaginative screenplay and minimalist black and white cinematography.

Chubby, affable Marcia (Tatiana Saphir) works as shop assistant at a lingerie store that hardly appears to draw customers. Still recovering from the end to her previous relationship and desperate to get back in circulation, she attends fitness classes and readily listens to advice from anyone regarding weight issues, only to end up comforting herself with food in front of tele late at night. Her unhappy yet relatively stable world is challenged one day when she's approached on the street by two tough-looking girls with attitude, Mao and Lenin (Carla Crespo and Veronica Hassan). When Mao propositions her for sex whilst proclaiming that she isn't a lesbian, Marcia, taken aback a bit ("Shall we fuck?" being Mao's first words to her), rejects the request. So they kidnap her at knife-point, car-jack a taxi, and head off to a beach to impress Marcia, who'd never been to one.

After running out of petrol, they seek out Lenin's aging aunt (Beatriz Thibaudin) whom she hadn't seen in years, and crash at her home housing two other lodgers - painter Delia and shy medical student Felipe (María Merlino and Marcos Ferrante). What starts off in the vein of a Thelma-Louise bad-girls-on-the-road movie transforms into a riveting character study of the unlikely threesome.

While Marcia is worried about her fate, she doesn't attempt to escape even when opportunity presents itself - it's as if she was secretly longing for something like this to happen to her, or perhaps, a rebel inside her was waiting to break free of conformity to experience something different from clockwork routine. Mao is a girl with a mean streak - after having had her fun with Marcia, she suddenly looses interest and starts eyeing Felipe. When a distraught Marcia tries to leave, she'll also prove to be a big bully by trying to have her own way.

This is when the film begins to unfold unexpectedly - instead of a meek and submissive Marcia asserting herself, we rather see transformations in Mao and Lenin. Behind Mao's aggression and butch behaviour is a young woman just as lonely and craving for love as Marcia - her frailty and insecurity laid bare during the course of the film. The elderly aunt's natural warmth and positivity will bring to fore Lenin's own longing for normal family life - she left home after a fight and hasn't spoken to her mum since.

The film tries to tell us that unexpected things happen, and that we should make the most of every moment, while we can, during all our encounters and relationships. It engages by drawing us into the characters' lives and observing them beyond their defensive outward persona, without forcing any judgements upon them. It's a film that's beautiful in its simplicity - message and tone, and will appeal to those who'd like to be entertained and challenged in equal measure. Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]



The Nudity: Paula Ituriza, Tatiana Saphir, and Carla Crespo
There are two scenes featuring nudity in the film - the first is in a shower showing Paula Ituriza and Tatiana Saphir, while the second is during a sex scene between the characters played by Tatiana Saphir and Carla Crespo.


Friday, 21 February 2014

A review: "Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari" [2013 Russia]


After taking us on a metaphysical journey into the unique customs and traditions of a distinct northern Russian tribe with his 2010 Ovsyanki aka Silent Souls, Aleksey Fedorchenko revisits the region and its people to inform us of some of their more practical concerns, relating to sex and happy marriage - all seen from a female perspective. Fedorchenko believes "Nebesnye zheny lugovykh mari" [Eng. Title: Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari] to be his Decameron to the Mari people.

Presented as an anthology of twenty three short stories - unrelated, save the fact that all the characters' names start with the letter 'O', they range from minute-long snippets to ten-minute segments featuring pagan customs that Mari people had absorbed into their Christian faith in pursuit of sex and love. They don't see conflict between the two belief systems - for them, life exists hand-in-hand with death, and change alongside continuity. And shame and virtue are not defined by the deeds themselves, but the time, place, and context within which they happen.

For a people in close connection with nature and its surroundings, even simple acts like bathing in a stream or kissing under a tree have a sanctity and decorum associated with it. It is a world cohabited by fairies and devils, dead and the living, and where the long departed 'prepare' young women just about to embark on a life of marriage. It is also a world where blessings and hexes are currencies used to trade favours. The film focuses on the varied ways in which women have taken advantage of these customs and beliefs to empower themselves.

The cinematography, by using formal compositions of the landscape and its seasons, the people and their costumes, may have given the film a documentary semblance, but nevertheless evoke a variety of emotions - it is bewildering, enchanting, scary, touching, wildly funny, and also erotic. That's the reason why the film deserves more than a passing reference to Decameron, and Pasolini - it carries an authenticity and storytelling-by-the-camp-fire charm that Pasolini would approve of, and like him, Fedorchenko approaches the unscientific using visual poetry and inference. The film is not necessarily an anthropological study even if it might interest those into it - it gloriously celebrates the Mari way of living without judging their idiosyncratic beliefs.

Some stories may be too short to give insight into the broader context within which they're placed, but they are also among the more beautiful ones in the anthology - a bit like an imaginative haiku. One of my favourites is the touching story of Olika (Yekaterina Sokolova), a young bride who dies after a snakebite - I must've seen it separately a dozen times, but have yet to grow tired of it.

However, there are also beliefs portrayed in the film that are as outrageous as could have been conceived by a Marina Abromovic for her Balkan Erotic Epic - its fixation with genitalia and their functions can be off-putting to a prudish audience, but is nevertheless presented in a tactful manner without resorting to explicit imagery. The film ought to be seen by every adult as it is a celebration of life itself in all its shades, from a Mari, but importantly female perspective. Highly Recommended Viewing..!


The Nudity: Olga Gilova, Anna Grachova, Yuliya Aug, Aleksandra Masko, Yana Troyanova, Olga Dobrina, and several others
Apart from two long scenes, nudity is generally brief where depicted.

Olga Gilova, Anna Grachova, Yuliya Aug, Aleksandra Masko, Yana Troyanova, and others in Nebesnye zheny lugovykh mari aka Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari.

Scene Guide:
  • Odacha (Yaroslava Pulinovich) is worried being groped under the sacred birch.
  • Onalcha (Polina Aug) - who people say is the daughter of wind, offers to cure a man of 'fear', provided he doesn't turn back to look. Well, he does. (No nudity)
  • Ovrosi is unimpressed in being chatted up by a guy who's about to get married, especially since one of the girls bathing in the stream is also his bride.
  • Oshanyak (Anna Grachova) still has a young girl's features, and aunt Okanai (Olga Gilova) sets about 'luring out her beauty' the traditional way to turn her into a desirable woman, which apparently involves a good bit of rubbing. :-)
  • Oropti (Yulia Aug) just realises that a wicked hex placed by the giant forest woman had gone, as a result of which her husband can now touch her vagina again.
  • Oshalyak (Olga Dobrina) is a music student getting some extra tutoring by her professor after college hours.
  • Ormarche - she's only twelve, but begs to be allowed to join the older girls in their 'kissel' festival. A traditional Russian dish that has the consistency similar to that of semen, kissel is offered to invoke ghosts. They turn up to bless each of the girls with a good husband - the girl who picks up the thrown pig's hoof get to dance and impress the ghosts first. The dancer we get to see for the longest, in all her glory, is Pokavi, played by Aleksandra Masko. She's joined by others - Viktoriya Kozhurina, Galina Trofimova, Natalya Ni, Aleksandra Andreyeva, Yekaterina Orlova, Karina Tsvetkova, Veronika Leushina, and Anna Zoteyeva. By the time villagers arrive to chase away the ghosts, they'd already left, leaving them to get an eyeful of their fair and totally naked maidens splashed in kissel (inserted at the end of my compilation).
  • Orika (Yana Troyanova) had picked up some bruises walking through the forest when returning from a party - her husband had stayed behind drinking. When he eventually stumbles home, she tells him that the bruises were caused by the ravine devil Vuvar, who raped her after seeing her travelling alone.
  • Osylay (Veronika Aktanova), whilst getting ready for a party, trims her pubic hair in the hope of seducing a boy that she likes (implied nudity).


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A review: "Der amerikanische Soldat" [1970 West Germany]

Mention "Der amerikanische Soldat" [Eng. Title: The American Soldier], and we'd be talking about early Fassbinder. For this was the period when Rainer Werner Fassbinder was experimenting with various genre in his own unique style that was still evolving, before maturing and finding international acclaim in few years through films like Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.

As part of Fassbinder's gangster-themed trilogy, The American Soldier is outwardly presented as a pastiche of American film-noire, only to shatter the viewers' preconceptions few minutes into the film. It's a different kettle of fish altogether - cleverly mixing a straight narrative with images ranging from digression to deviant mischievousness. The outrageously grotesque final shoot-out scene, shown in slow-motion, is just one example of Fassbinder's digression from established film-noire expectations. The film is replete with such moments, but it doesn't necessarily make a mockery of traditional story-telling - it does retain a conventional narrative structure, but is more concerned with the tone than the story itself. Portraying realism is also sacrificed in the process.

The film is about the eponymous soldier, named Ricky (Karl Scheydt) - a Vietnam veteran who's now a hired assassin. A group of corrupt cops, under pressure to crack a case, decide to close investigations by finishing off suspects by not getting directly involved, and hire Ricky to do the dirty in Munich, a city that he also hails from - he was born to a German mother and American father. Ricky, who'd become a heartless thug after all that he'd seen and been through during his war years, will not be distracted by a German past even as old acquaintances try to haunt him, but he'll use his old childhood friend Franz (played by Fassbinder himself) as a reliable sidekick for the mission. He'll later visit his mother, with whom his strange brother still lives, and after establishing their uneasy relationship, the film finishes with the afore-mentioned shoot-out sequence.

  • Interestingly, the film anticipates "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul" by partly revealing its plot during a passage of play, through a maid played by actress and future film director Margarethe von Trotta.
  • The film was made around the time when Fassbinder also married Ingrid Caven. She appears in a scene, at her glamorous best, as club singer Inga - Ricky's old flame - the scene includes actual footage from their wedding reception.
  • Fassbinder's on-and-off girlfriend Irm Hermann also makes an appearance in the scene when we're first introduced to Ricky - she plays a talkative prostitute picked up by him upon arrival in Munich, only to grow tired of her quickly.

As a work of art, the film may not be among Fassbinder's most refined works, even if it is wickedly satisfying and funny. But it does offer a glimpse into his mind at work - into his pet themes like impractical love that'll later become his obsession. If you're new to Fassbinder, this is probably not the first place to explore his work, but if you've already sampled some of his later films, this little nugget is Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]


The Nudity: Elga Sorbas and Karl Scheydt
Rosa, played by Elga Sorbas, is girlfriend of one of the corrupt cops who hired Ricky. When the cop overhears Ricky calling for the services of a 'classy' prostitute to soothe his murderous nerves, he asks Rosa to fill in - a role she assumes with indignation, but one that she'll soon begin to enjoy. The hotel maid (Margarethe von Trotta), who'd set her eyes on Ricky, is peeved upon finding a paid-for woman in his room - she had offered herself to him gladly, and his preference for a 'prostitute' instead is hard to take.


Sunday, 16 February 2014

A review: "Bonitinha Mas Ordinária" [2013 Brazil]


Moacyr Góes tries to update Nelson Rodrigues' torrid play "Bonitinha Mas Ordinária" [Eng. Title: Pretty, but Ordinary] for the twenty first century, but one couldn't help wondering whether it was a futile exercise...

It's a tragic story of seventeen year old Maria Cecília (Letícia Colin), the daughter of powerful businessman Dr. Werneck (Gracindo Júnior), after she had been raped by five black men in the nightclub of a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Her parents decide to get her married, and ask their manager Peixoto (Leon Góes) to find a husband who could remain subservient to them. He chooses Edgar (Leon Góes), a simple man in their company who'd worked his way up after joining as an 'Office Boy' eleven years ago.

Even though Edgar had been trying to win the affections of the rather stubborn neighbour Ritinha (Leandra Leal) - and his is still a work in progress, he's hesitant to accept the proposal because of the Wernecks' attempt to 'buy' him by dangling dowry-like financial rewards. But when he meets Maria Cecília and learns about her rape ordeal first-hand, he begins to fall in love with her as well. The dilemma presented between Edgar's principles and genuine feelings of love towards both women will be resolved when additional facts concerning Ritinha, Maria Cecília, and Peixoto come to light...

The issue with the film is that it appears outdated for today's Brazil, and most certainly for Rio; marriage and prostitution seem to be the only viable prospects available for women, rich people are shown to be doing whatever they want as if it were some feudal society, and while class barriers and racial stereotyping still exist, in reality it is a whole lot more subtle than how it's shown here.

But my main problem with the film is the quality of the production itself, which has more in common with a daytime telenovela than proper cinema. It was disappointing to see that Moacyr Góes' screenplay has not been fully developed, especially since I'd thoroughly enjoyed his earlier film O Homem Que Desafiou o Diabo. The quality and style of editing is poor, because it snuffs out whatever drama the actors get to project. While Leandra Leal gives a fine performance as she always does, the rest are at best passable. For a more convincing interpretation of the story, I'd recommend the older version of the film (Bonitinha Mas Ordinária ou Otto Lara Rezende, from 1981 - itself a remake).

DVD Order Link [NTSC]


The Nudity: Letícia Colin, Beatriz Bertu, Lisa Fávero, and Patrícia Elizardo

Pretty Letícia Colin appears nude in three scenes, and all three are about the rape as seen from different viewpoints - the 'official' version of events, Maria Cecília's, and later Peixoto's. Beatriz Bertu, Lisa Fávero, and Patrícia Elizardo - they play the younger sisters of Ritinha - appear briefly nude during a scene when all the sisters are raped at a party organised by Wernek.

Letícia Colin, Beatriz Bertu, Lisa Fávero, and Patrícia Elizardo nude in Bonitinha, mas Ordinária


Friday, 14 February 2014

A film review: "Q smette di ricordare" [2014 Italy]


And now for something completely different..!


Sebastiano Montresor's "Q smette di ricordare" [Eng. Title: Q Quits Recollecting], is the second part of a duology made in the style of a graphic novel, and adhering to his principles of agrestic cinema. The first part concerned itself with 'K' trying to quit smoking, while this part is all about 'Q'; 'K' and 'Q' apparently referring to the man and woman - the anonymous King and Queen.


Rather than me waffle a storyline, here's a synopsis straight from the horse's mouth:
Q has surrendered to the mysterious power and vice-like grip of the 'Substance', in trying to erase an old memory that she’d been a victim of. Her 'Pusher', fed up with the ceaseless manipulations she’s been through, decides to help her out by pointing to the parallel reality that 'the Substance' had created for her. Through this, Q will identify those hiding behind it and slaughters all her tormentors. Helped by 'the Agent', Q will fight them - the 'Runner' whom she simultaneously loves and hates, the beast of a Nazi woman who tortures her after imprisoning her in a dungeon, and the 'Cinephile' - the primary culprit responsible for setting off a chain of events in motion, and the one who wont hesitate locking up innocent women to satisfy his filthy cinematographic lust...

"It is not every child who sucks in this way. It may be assumed that those children do so in whom there is a constitutional intensification of the erotogenic significance of the labial region. If that significance persists, these same children when they are grown up will become epicures in kissing, will be inclined to perverse kissing, or, if males, will have a powerful motive for drinking and smoking."
- Sigmund Freud, from "Three essays on the theory of sexuality" (1905)


In a nutshell, the film is a modern-day critique of the cinema industry - Montresor's agrestic theory aims to dismantle the artificial edifices and barriers in film-making put up over the years, and bring it back to its purest form, not unlike a Alejandro Jodorowsky sans the mysticism. It also takes a dig at the so-called sub-genre cinema, like film-noir, western, sexploitation, nazisploitation, sc-fi, and horror etc. Montresor's frustration with limitations in commercial cinema is plain to see, and as if to drive home his point, he'd also perused pornographic elements featuring gratuitous nudity and object-insertions.


The film is irreverent in many respects - it doesn't take itself seriously, but nevertheless casts meaningful references between its over-the-top reveries. The 'Substance' that Montresor refers to takes the form of a cigarette, helping us make a connection with Freud's theories on smoking. There's also a clip from Ingmar Bergman's 'Summer Interlude' that's repeated often, with even Q uttering the same dialogue during a scene. It refers to Bergman's Marie trying to recall something from her dream, and past. It makes a direct connection with the protagonist's desperation to recall her own memory.


Montresor defies categorisation, and even though his films consistently lean towards the camp, and outright weirdness, they are meant to be seen as caricatures - he defines his view of cinema by stating what it shouldn't be, more often than what it should, and in the process persistently challenges our own notions about what cinema should be. At least for this reason, his films, including this one, is Recommended Viewing..!

What's more - he's also readily offered to share the film with everyone by giving us a torrent link for the DVD - here's a director with a mission..!
Q smette di ricordare Torrent


The Nudity: Diana Simona Gasparini and Roberta Gemma
Beautiful Diana Simona Gasparini hid her face whilst showing everything else in an earlier Montresor film - it has thankfully been rectified here - she is indeed gorgeous. She plays the Agent from a parallel reality who helps Q see her past (and share some lesbian kisses in process). Pornstar Roberta Gemma makes an appearance as a robotic video player - only her robot plays back people's memories - she's literally plugged into a monitor to play back 'Q''s actions, and she also 'delivers' some left-over Substance to the Pusher.

Diana Simona Gasparini and Roberta Gemma nude in Q smette di ricordare


Bonus Photos: From the shoot of the last scene featuring Roberta Gemma - and in COLOUR too..! :-)

Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot
Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot
Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot Roberta Gemma film shoot


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A review: "Una Noche" [2012 Cuba, USA, UK]


Lucy Mulloy has made a stirring directorial feature film début through the Cuban drama "Una Noche" [Eng. Title: One Night]. Set in Havana for the most part, it narrates events during a momentous day and night in the lives of three young people - Raúl, best friend Elio, and his twin sister Lila.



Raúl (Dariel Arrechaga), an apprentice in the kitchen of a posh hotel, is a frustrated and angry young man - frustrated about his mother's terminal illness, and angry that there's little he could do to help her in a city that functions at its own pace and logic. During the course of the day, he'll end up being pursued by police for a crime that he wasn't responsible for. He believes the only option available is fleeing Cuba, that very night, and presses friend and co-worker Elio (Javier Núñez Florián) to help him build a raft out of materials they could rummage, to sail the ocean and hopefully reach Miami.



Best friend since childhood, Elio is also secretly in love with Raúl and will do anything for him. Elio however has sister Lila (Anailín de la Rúa de la Torre) to think about - the one person in his otherwise dysfunctional family that he deeply cares for. After stealing food from the kitchen for Raúl's journey, he too will now have to consider joining his friend. When Lila discovers Elio's plans, she insists that they take her with them. All three, for different reasons, suddenly feel compelled to leave everything behind and venture on a perilous journey where their chances of survival, if any, are very slim...



In realising the film's premise, Ms. Mulloy has managed to paint a vibrant portrait of Havana that few from outside get to see - of ordinary people and the youth - their enterprise, dreams, and frustrations. It is about a city and its people in the cusp of change, where practical necessities could no longer get in the way of their aspirations, and whose natural ingenuity is tested to the limit at every turn. The film's imaginative shot-selections and editing make their scenes burst into screen with raw nervous energy.



To learn that none among the film's crew had worked on a full-length feature before was a revelation. Ms. Mulloy herself began this project as part of her thesis for film school at NYU - even if the idea to make a film about Havana had long been on her mind. From a short film, it evolved into a full-length feature, thanks also to a tutor and mentor no less than Spike Lee himself. Mr. Lee's influence (particularly his early work) is certainly noticeable in some scenes, but I believe she might have also been inspired by older films such as Soy Cuba. The film is however entirely original and it carries a sensibility all of her own. For those interested, here's an interview with a charming and very down-to-earth Ms. Mulloy, about the making of her film.



Another feature of the film is its casting. In exclusively using non-actors, the director had taken a leaf from Italian Neorealism in preferring authenticity over professional performances to portray her characters - the three main actors fill the role more than adequately, and it was a joy listening to their accent with the distinct Cuban twang, even if that meant I having to rely on subtitles for the most part. Watching the film is like re-experiencing something fleeting, exotic and invigorating, like youth itself. It's a gem lovingly crafted with ingenuity and improvisation - it is Highly Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link [NTSC] | Instant Video


The Nudity: From a few.
Not often have I drawn a blank in identifying actors appearing nude in a film that's being reviewed - we have an exception here. Few characters are addressed by their names and all appearing nude are first-time actors - impossible to identify unless those involved come forward. However, there are at least four scenes that include brief nudity, and featured in one of them is an authentic and pretty transsexual.

Anailin de la Rua de la Torre, Dariel Arrechaga, others nude in Lucy Mulloy's Una Noche


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Challenging taboos: "Feuchtgebiete" [2013 Germany]


Carla Juri in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands

David Wnendt's brilliant comedy "Feuchtgebiete" [Eng. Title: Wetlands] is not for the squeamish - it is a frontal attack on our senses, sensibilities, and taboos bound by societal norms. Centred around a young woman coming-to-terms with a childhood trauma, and a subsequent obsession with her bodily fluids (the German title literally translates as 'moist areas'), the film ceaselessly challenges viewers to confront their preconceived ideas on what we can or should not talk about, of what is 'acceptable' behaviour and bad taste.


Carla Juri in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands

Based on a best-selling novel - rightly, by a female author (Charlotte Roche), "Feuchtgebiete" aims at nothing less than changing our conditioning and attitudes towards the human body and sexuality. The film works because the director, being a male, approaches the novel from an 'alien' viewpoint - bemused and fascinated in equal measure with his eighteen year old female protagonist Helen Memel (Carla Juri). We observe her idiosyncrasies, her obsession with everything that her body secretes, and her sexual adventures - all portrayed in a matter-of-fact manner.


Carla Juri in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands

The film begins with skateboarding Helen make a pit-stop at a public toilet that even Ewan McGregor's Renton (Trainspotting) would hesitate to use. Unlike Renton, Helen actually suffers from haemorrhoids, and unlike Renton who reluctantly swims to retrieve his suppository, Helen relishes her battle with the surrounding germs - she after all has a healthy 'pussy flora'!


[caption id="attachment_11731" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Carla Juri in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands Agony - Carla Juri in "Feuchtgebiete" aka "Wetlands".[/caption]

It is during a hurried shave that Helen gets nastily injured, and ends up in hospital requiring surgery (anal fistula, if you really need to know). And it is during her stay that most of her eventful back story is recalled through flashbacks. Reflecting upon her childhood with a neurotic mother and a self-centred father (played by Meret Becker and Axel Milberg respectively), Helen will learn to come to terms with past events, and in the process also discover love through Robin (Christoph Letkowski) - a male nurse in attendance. But she'll nevertheless want her divorced parents to get back together, and will go to lengths to arrange their crossing of paths...


Carla Juri in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands

This must be one of the grossest films I'd seen in a long time - you could almost 'smell' the scenes here - and they're not always pleasant. But if you stick with it, you'll discover a warm and loving family drama centred around a young woman with revolting habits but a purity and uplifting exuberance in spirit. Carla Juri is sensational as Helen and she makes us love her character despite her shocking shenanigans. A reviewer elsewhere likened her character to Audrey Tautou's Amélie, only with the odd habit of sticking her fingers into her crotch - I couldn't agree more.


Carla Juri in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands

The main cast perform exceptionally well in their respective roles, and the film is supported by some fine cinematography and editing. It also boasts an ingenious selection of music and a soundtrack that's full of wit and charm, in the process also challenging my hitherto held association of Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube with Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odyssey - you'll know what I mean when you get to watch it. The film is in many ways a welcome attack on our senses and is aimed at an informed male and female audience, it is so obviously Highly Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link [PAL] | Blu-ray Link


The Nudity: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse, Meret Becker, Anna König, Selam Tadese, and others
There are intermittent scenes of sex and nudity - some of them even explicit, featuring male erections and ejaculations. Carla Juri understandably appears nude in several scenes. Marlen Kruse, as Helen's best friend Corinna, appears topless in one scene along with Carla Juri. Christoph Letkowski (as Robin) briefly appears nude during one of Helen's masturbatory fantasies. Meret Becker (as Helen's mother) angrily flashes at a table full of guests when the husband chooses a poor comparison to describe her vagina during childbirth. Anna König plays the prostitute that Helen uses to celebrate her eighteenth birthday - mimicking the custom of fathers 'initiating' sons to sex as part of their 'passage of rites' for the occasion. Selam Tadese (as Helen's male colleague from work) also appears nude in a scene when he shaves her vagina.

Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse, Meret Becker, Anna König, and others nude in Feuchtgebiete aka Wetlands