Are you ready for what some are calling the very first worldwide, all-French Internet movie gala, My French Film Festival? Yes, from January 14 until January 29th, for less than $20, you'll be able to screen and vote on the merits of twenty brand new Gallic features and shorts on your iPad or what have you. Here's a dream come true for Roger-Ebert wannabes and the more cultured among us. If you fit the bill, get your thumbs in shape and your Brie room temperature.The selections seems choice synopsis-wise, although so far all I've viewed are Bruno Collet's must-see short "Petit Dragon" in which a Bruce-Lee doll wakes up in the computer age, and Christopher Thompson's highly respectable feature debut, The Last Summer Tour, or as it's known in its home country Bus Palladium.
The decade is the '80s, LPs are still being played, and this is the story of Lust, a band reputed by its members to be the best to arise since the Rolling Stones, pre-Brian Jones' demise. With failure apparently an impossibility, the group's four lads gear up to hit the big time with an energetic innocence. Their sound: very Traffic. Their onstage presence: rather charismatic. The groupies: plentiful. Their psychological makeup: a little troubled.
You see, the lead guitarist Lucas (Marc-Andre Grondin, a Keanu-Reeves-lookalike) and the singer Manu (accomplished vocalist Arthur Dupont) are bromantic, affectionate without the fringe benefits of orgasm. All is going well until Lust gets a record contract, and two pals fall in love with the same young woman, Laura (Elisa Sedanoui), who insists she's not a "skanky" groupie or a muse. She prefers "icon."
Manu "seemingly" wins Laura's affections, but the beginnings of fame are causing him to drink, do drugs, and jump off very high cliffs. Can the band survive? And will Lucas, who has a job with an architectural firm in London awaiting him, continue to nurse his own broken heart and Manu or start building mega-stadiums? Oh, no! Before he decides, the two are going to fistfight and cause Philippe (Abraham Belaga), the drummer to shout, "Just play and keep your dicks in your pants."
With sound advice, fine performances by all, plus a solid soundtrack (e.g. Sylvester, David Bowie, Ten Years After), the film is never less than enjoyable even though it clearly doesn't break any new ground in the "troubled rock-star" genre. It can be argued, however, that this film's the first to share that the "Emperor Chou-Hsin could carry a woman around a room on his erection. He was reputed to make love to ten women a night without ejaculating to preserve his 'Extracts of Life.'" What the screenplay omits is that the good emperor became impotent and consequently beheaded his medical advisor who counseled him to behave in such a manner. (For more phallic facts, consult Maggie Paley's The Book of the Penis. For more French films, you now know where to go.) - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is currently teaching "Queer Theater" and "Intro to Mass Communications" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire.com, The New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton).