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Collections Privées

Private Collections

France/Japan 1979
produced by
Pierre Braunberger, Jean-Paul De Vidas (executive) for Les Films du Jeudi, FFF-French Movies, Toei
directed by Just Jaeckin (segment L'Île aux Sirènes), Shuji Terayama (segment Kusa-Meikyu), Walerian Borowczyk (segment L'Armoire)
starring segment L'Île aux Sirènes: Roland Blanche, Laura Gemser, Catherine Gandois, Marpessa Djian, Hedwige Thabuis (= Hedwige De Mouroux); segment Kusa-Meikyu: Hiroshi Mikami, Takeshi Wakamatsu, Keiko Niitaka, Juzo Itami, Hiromi Kawai, Florence Delay (voice); segment L'Armoire: Marie-Catherine Conti, Yves-Marie Maurin, Isabelle Jeannette, Michel Lévy, Alice Deneige, Louis Lalanne, Francoise Quéré (= Rosette), Laurence Caubet, Sophie Blanchard, Brahim Bouillon, Louis Colla, Jean Rios, Hubert Lassiat, Régis Le Rohellec, Ari Arcadi
segment L'Île aux Sirènes: written by Jean-Michel Ribes, music by Pierre Bachelet; segment Kusa-Meikyu: screenplay by Rio Kishida, Shuji Terayama, based on the novel by Kyoka Izumi, music by J.A. Seazer; segment L'Armoire: screenplay by Walerian Borowczyk, based on the short story by Guy de Maupassant, music by Carlo Rustichelli

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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  • L'Île aux Sirènes: A castaway (Robert Blanche) is washed ashore on an island inhabited by four topless girls (Laura Gemser, Catherine Gandois, Marpessa Djian, Hedwige Thabois), who fulfill each and any of his wishes, as long as they may use him as their sextoy - which is what he wishes to be most of the time anyways). But soon the girls develop habits that include cannibalism ... ouch!
  • Kusa-Meikyu: Akira (Takeshi Wakamatsu) wanders the country to track down the lyrics his mom (Keiko Niitaka) sang to him as a child (played by Hiroshi Mikami in the flashbacks), and soon he finds himself in a parallel world full of witches and brothels, weird customs and fertility stones, sex and violence, where past, present and future seem to exist as one. What he finds is more than enough - everything but the lyrics of that blasted lullaby in fact ...
  • L'Armoire: A wealthy customer (Yves-Marie Maurin) of a nightclub pays one of the dancing girls (Marie-Catherine Conti) to spend the night with him, just as men from his class are used to, and in his typical smug manner, he thinks he has got her all figured ... until he finds out she had her son (Jean Rios) sleeping in her wardrobe just so she can spend the night with Mister Money to earn a few meagre but much-needed bucks.

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It's impossible to pass judgement on Private Collections as a whole because other than quite a bit of nudity, the three episodes have nothing in common, so let's take them one at a time:

L'Île aux Sirènes: Is your typical Just Jaeckin-film - it's nicely filmed but lacks any substance, is weak on characters, and despite its strong female characters little more than a macho fantasy. And as a whole the thing is rather forgettable.

Kusa-Meikyu is a wonderful and poetic piece of non-linear surreal storytelling. And though at the end of the story you might have no idea what it was actually about, it was a trip as weird as it was beautiful, while disturbing all the same.

L'Armoire shows once again that Walerian Borowczyk is not only a stylish filmmaker with a knack for the erotic, but also a versatile storyteller - and he's got a good story at his disposal in this one, too.

Now again, I have no idea who thought these three movies would go well together, but at least, two hits out of three is not the worst result ever by a longshot, right?

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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