Let it never be said that I am the sole member of the Kenny household who gets wound up over certain movie writers/writing. Somehow, My Lovely Wife has gotten herself on the e-mail list of a site called Women & Hollywood (sample post excerpt: "What's interesting is that while high brow critics on the one hand berate the low art of Sex and the City, they also validate its success precisely because the conversation about Top Girls and its cultural implications would not be happening had Sex and the City not been the success it is. Sex and the City is a change making movie," boldface in original), and every week, like clockwork, I get an e-mail from My Lovely Wife fuming about the sheer tunnelvisioned banality contained therein.
"You're going to love this one, particularly the paragraph on Catherine Breillat, from this woman who claims to be so dedicated to women in film," MLW e-mails me this morning. The graph in question:
Also on tap this weekend is French director Catherine Breillat's new period piece The Last Mistress in limited release. Having missed the screening I can't give any assessment and I am embarrassed to admit that I have never seen one of her films. I have added her to my netflix list and will be hopefully catching up on her work.
While I never cease to admire My Lovely Wife's feistiness, I can't work up much of a froth of indignation about this. Even many putatively enlightened and/or "edgy" feminist critics (I'm not gonna name names, it'll only get me in trouble) would prefer to engage Nancy Meyers over Lizzie Borden, Madonna over Diamanda Galas. Breillat is a marginalized presence but she does get more attention than others on account of both the relative accessibility (most of her pictures are linear narrative) and the putatively sensational content of her works.
That said, I would love to see the followup report from the proprietor of Women & Hollywood. I'm only hoping that she doesn't do 2002's relatively subdued Brief Crossing right off the bat. Because just about any other Breillat picture is likely to make this writer's head explode.
I'm thinking of the chicken-plucking scene in Une Vraie Jeune Fille. Hell, I'm thinking of any scene in Une Vraie Jeune Fille. The finale of A Ma Soeur (Fat Girl). The tea-brewing in Anatomy of Hell. Even the non-explicit stuff, like Annie Parillaud's psychological machinations in Sex is Comedy, are of the stuff that is not dreamed of in Women & Hollywood's philosophy. I eagerly await some verdicts.
Speaking of Breillat and chicken, incidentally, I think the tone of The Last Mistress is definitively set in the opening scene, in a shot in which the Count of Prony (the ever great Michael Lonsdale) bites into a chicken leg so shocking pink you believe that in the next scene he'll be pronounced dead of salmonella. Indulgence and fleshly rot in one pithy, queasy moment. If you're wondering, I do adore the film.