Couch Trip

Philippe Garrel X 2

There's a moment in Philippe Garrel's I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar that I'll never forget, a single image so unusual that it all but defines the movie. While sitting on the toilet in mid-urination, Marianne (Johanna ter Steege) casually but passionately kisses her boyfriend Gerard (Benoit Regent). It's all right there in front us — no half-shut doors or "tastefully" concealing angles. We hear the tinkle hit the water, and since Garrel isn't one to use a Foley effects artist, we assume she's really urinating.

It's this idea of uninhibited, real-world beauty — sometimes in settings that are cinematically verboten — that attracted the attention of Jean-Luc Godard, who said, "Garrel's films have always seemed to be as close as teeth are to lips to the idea of natural beauty."

This was lofty praise from Garrel's biggest idol. Garrel, whose father was an actor and whose son, Louis, is one of today's prominent French thespians, was born of new wave bravado. He made his first short in 1964, smack in the heart of the rule-changing nouvelle vogue movement. He's directed 27 titles since, but only one — 2004's sprawling treatise on the 1968 student uprising, Regular Lovers — has been released on DVD in this country. Zeitgeist is finally getting the release ball rolling with Philippe Garrel X 2, containing a pair of films that may or may not be the best introduction to his work.

The earliest film in this set is 1989's Emergency Kisses, a meandering anti-drama about a director, played by Garrel himself, whose "reel life" becomes his real life when he refuses to cast his wife (Garrel's real wife, Brigitte Sy) in a role based on her, instead casting a French movie star whom he proceeds to sleep with. Fiction becomes nonfiction, perception becomes reality, and love is nothing but an elusive, philosophical bargaining chip. It is as complicated as it sounds, until Garrel all but abandons the story for a series of vignettes involving his family (including 5-year-old Louis in his first screen role), all playing versions of themselves. Holy self-reflexivity, Batman!

Shot in stark black and white, with the documentary feel of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Garry Winogrand photographs, the film is full of scenes that go on too long for traditional attention spans and others that are abbreviated before they play out. The jazz notes that punctuate choice moments keep the rambling pace going, acting more like semicolons than exclamation points. There are overt and subtle references to Michelangelo Antonioni and Robert Bresson, and, like their films, Emergency Kisses is above all an experiment in searching.

I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar isn't quite the achievement of Emergency Kisses, though many count it among Garrel's masterpieces. There's more of a story; it's based on Garrel's real-life relationship with German chanteuse Nico, who got him hooked on heroin only to drift in and out of his life. But the film is, again, drained of all melodrama. His characters are blank, modern-art canvases upon which he paints philosophical repartee. He deprives the spectator of information, rather than supplying it. He films the inaction between the drama, not the action itself.

Both films are polarizing enough to either gain a new legion of viewers or alienate just as many. Frustrating or fascinating, pointless or profound, lifeless or full of life — reaction will generally fall into either of these camps. I wouldn't recommend Garrel to the average moviegoer, but for avant-gardists, his films are the lost link between Antonioni and John Cassavetes — or as Garrel himself prefers it, between Freud and Lumière. —John Thomason

Battle of the Bootys
Jules Jordan Video 

Let's start by saying that if every woman had a keister anywhere near the size of the back ends attached to the gals engaged in fevered sex war here, Spanks would be out of business. 

These are the magnificently thick African-American, Latin and yes, Caucasian female buttocks that you've yearned for on the streets of Detroit, attached to bank tellers, waitresses, even bus drivers. Pants-defying butts that serve as pillows of erotic tenderness, as well as smothering flesh globes of chunky, pistoning action. 

Spoiler alert: Beware pimples, scars, stretch marks, perhaps even a bruise or two on these monstrous cheeks, but it goes with the titillating territory. And that's a big territory. 

Shame-be-damned vixens Flower Tucci, Pinky, Sandra Romaine, Skyy Black, Roxy Reynolds, Aurora Simone, Sinnamon Love, Cherokee, and Olivia O'Lovely prove that the only door to perception is the back one. 

Director Alexander DeVoe has assembled an all-star team of ass talent, and the game gals mix it up in every scene. To be blunt, there are lots of girls putting their tongues in other girls' places that would make their mothers, let alone health care professionals, cringe. When it comes to a battle of booties such as these, even John Lennon would gladly have not given peace a chance. —Fern LaBott

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