Sunday, March 7, 2010

Venus in Furs (1969)

I've had Venus in Furs laying in my apartment for a while now. Njuta Films released it, but I've been waiting for the perfect moment to watch it. This weekend felt good, because I've already watched one masterpiece from Uncle Jess and was prepared for one of his most celebrated movies. So I started to watch it yesterday evening and decided after ten minutes that this was to fucking good to be wasted on just that moment. I gave it a try tonite again and now it felt like a good opportunity to feel the vibe of how a trippy jazz-filled drama-thriller should be done!

James Darren, good choice of actor by the way, plays Jimmy Logan, a jazz-musician who after witnessing three decadent rich fuckers (Dennis Price, Klaus Kinski and Margaret Lee) torture and maybe kill a young woman, Wanda Reed (Maria Rohm). Some time after this he's confused and depressed, but finally finds his trumpet again, buried in the sand in Istanbul. There he also finds the body of Wanda and he decides to leave everything and travel around the world. He stops in Rio and falls in love with Rita (Barbara McNair) and also manages to be able to play jazz again. But one evening a totally lookalike to Wanda comes into the club and Jimmy suddenly falls in love with this this woman who everyone thinks is dead. But is she the real Wanda? Is she same woman that kills the people that killed Wanda? Reality, death and dreams melts together...

The production of Venus in Furs was troubled, which everything from changing story to concept. Franco didn't edit the movie either, so there's some overuse of flashy fast images, but trouble always makes big art - and Venus in Furs is big art. It's without a doubt the most stylish movie Franco ever made, and his script is damn inspired stuff. Like Eugénie from yesterday, this is a movie that feels thought through, but never becomes mechanical or stylish just for the sake of style. Franco tells a great love story here, a black and depressing one, but still something that feels real. Darren, Rohm and McNair gives it all in a symbolic Ménage à trois. Everything has Manfred Mann's brilliant jazz score wrapped around it and it's just perfection we're talking about here. Franco let the characters have time to develop, and though the movie is very visual, it never takes away the humanity from our heroes and anti-heroes.

Price, Kinski and Lee has small but important roles, and makes the best of it. Kinski has hardly any lines, but still manages to steal every shot he's in. Those eyes, god damn. It's scary how they seem to eat themselves through the screen. Paul Muller, another favorite and a Franco-veteran, has a minor part as the wacky party-host in a couple of scenes and it great to see him playing such a lightweight character for once. Yesterday he was fucking his stepdaughter, and here he's throwing feathers in the air and acting very drunk and funny. This is such a beautiful movie, a movie that inspires to do something yourself. It's like a creative trip, and I know I will have a hard time sleeping tonite just because these images will be in my mind.

Njuta Film's release is excellent and also has a couple of interviews - and as usual Franco is the best, churning out smart stuff and funny anecdotes. He knows what he's doing, and Venus in Furs is another proof of that.

4 comments:

dfordoom said...

Definitely another of Franco's masterpieces. That's a cool DVD cover as well.

Alex Bakshaev said...

Ha ha, Muller throwing feathers around is great. I too felt they overused dissolves and cours in the edtining, but that still didn't kill the film. I got hooked on Manfred Mann after this film.

Fred said...

And the sick thing Alex, is that Manfred Mann was in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago! And I just couldn't connect why I recognized the name... now I know...

Alex Bakshaev said...

Christ, that is a bit sick actually:)
Such a small world we live in...