Moviedrome Mondays: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) (Mark Cousins intro)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to late director Michael Cimino’s 1974 crime comedy Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was November 1, 1998 (read here). Not much to add here except that I concur with Cousins completely on this one. If any of you readers are interested, here is a list of my favorite Michael Cimino films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

John Charet’s Take On: Je t’aime moi non plus (I Love You, I Don’t) (1976)

Please note that the following may contain a spoiler or two. If you have not seen the film, I recommend not to continue reading from here.

Don’t bother going to see my film, see Gainsbourg’s. That is a work of art.

Francois Truffaut (read here)

Given that it was theatrically released in France one week before Small Change (see here and here), one could easily conclude (based on his above critical rave) that even celebrated French New Wave veteran Francois Truffaut (who helmed the latter) saw Je t’aime moi non plus as the greater masterpiece. Undoubtedly, any aspiring director would envy that kind of praise. Limited to his 5 feature-length films alone (one of which is a documentary), Je t’aime moi non plus served as cult musician Serge Gainsbourg’s directorial debut and to this day, it still stands out as a quintessential example of cinematic outsider art.

Driving through what looks like a desert area (a rural part of France maybe?), gay truckers Krassky (Joe Dallesandro) and Padovan (Hughes Quester) stop and enter a cafe where they are served by boyish waitress Johnny (Jane Birkin). The cafe’s owner Boris (Reinhard Kolldehoff) does not take too kindly to either Krassky or Padovan, but when the former falls for the lovesick Johnny, she can’t help but follow his lead. Nevertheless, their sexual relationship ends up enraging the already insecure Padovan, who goes so far as to almost kill Johnny during the climax.

On the one hand, Je t’aime moi non plus can arguably be seen as an inspired small-scaled collaborative effort. For starters, it is not only scored, but directed and written by noted enfant terrible Serge Gainsbourg. Since 1969, he had been in an open love relationship with the film’s lead actress Jane Birkin. In fact, the film’s title originated from a song Gainsbourg himself had written in 1967. Nevertheless, it only gained popularity (or notoriety) when he and Birkin sang it as a duet two years later.

While it is not unreasonable to expect Je t’aime moi non plus to work simply as a star vehicle for his then lover Jane Birkin, by doing so, we would be underestimating the already unpredictable Serge Gainsbourg’s talents as a director and writer. To complete Birkin, Gainsbourg wisely casted former Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro. Similar to how he approaches Birkin, Gainsbourg (through his camera) happily gazes upon Dallesandro’s body, as do us viewers. As to be expected from the most iconic male sex symbol of American underground cinema and gay subculture (read here and here), the charismatic Dallesandro not only oozes raw sexuality, but also a subtle kind of gentleness. Birkin typically exhibits beauty (even with cropped hair) and (through facial expressions alone) undeniable charm. She truly is to Dallesandro what Jean Seberg was to Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless. Maybe it is just me, but If Birkin were an actress during the silent era, she would have been celebrated as a giant.

If Jane Birkin and Joe Dallesandro embody the heart of Je t’aime moi non plus, then director/writer Serge Gainsbourg represents the mind. Gainsbourg debatably has two faces. Whereas Johnny (Birkin) and Krassky (Dallesandro) personify the romantic within him, Padovan (Hughes Quester) arguably symbolizes his rebellious sensibilities. Once you combine the former with the latter, Je t’aime moi non plus finishes up as an erotically charged drama with an anti-erotic bent. After all, Gainsbourg did intend Je t’aime moi non plus as an anti-f**k song (read here and here). This can be clearly emphasized in it’s bittersweet ending (i.e. Krassky leaving Johnny). Johnny and Krassky’s sexual escapades are often titillating, occasionally hillarious, and at once, delightfully tasteless. Much of the film’s humor (as subtle as it is) comes in the form of a running gag involving Johnny and Krassky being kicked out of motels due to their loud lovemaking. Krassky’s attempts to subdue a hysterical Johnny (upon discovering that he is gay) could have easily been nothing more than a mean joke. On the surface, it is, but in the hands of the truly talented Gainsbourg, it becomes as weirdly irresistible as anything found in John Waters underground work. Considering the two were still romantically involved with each other at the time, a credible argument can be made that Je t’aime moi non plus serves as Gainsbourg’s love letter to Birkin.

As of 2022, I would not rank Small Change (despite my love for it) as the greatest of Francois Truffaut’s 1970’s work (that honor goes to the following year’s The Man Who Loved Women), so yes, I too nod in agreement with Truffaut in his sentiment that Je t’aime moi non plus is the superior film. Though Serge Gainsbourg may lack the impressive filmographies that have shaped the respective careers of Truffaut and fellow French New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard as filmmakers, as a musician, he has more than proven to be every bit as accomplished. Given that I have only seen Je t’aime moi non plus, I can not say for sure whether Gainsbourg would have measured up to them. The one thing I can confirm is that when it comes to directorial debuts, Je t’aime moi non plus resembles the cinematic equivalent of a triple threat. As an erotic drama, Je t’aime moi non plus is simultaneously funny, outrageous and sexy.

* * * * (Out of * * * *) stars

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s French original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to a 2019 Re-Release trailer from Kino Lorber

Here is an Amazon link to Kino Lorber’s 2020 Blu-Ray/DVD release of the film

Last, but not least, here is a youtube video link to Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s duet of Je t’aime moi non plus

Moviedrome Mondays: Caged Heat (1974) (Mark Cousins intro)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to late famed director Jonathan Demme’s 1974 exploitation pic Caged Heat. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was October 25, 1998 (read here). Not much to argue with here except that while far from a masterpiece, Caged Heat still ranks for me as one of the better entries within the women in prison subgenre.

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to Caged Heat

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: The Killers (1946) (Mark Cousins intro)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to director Robert Siodmak’s 1946 film noir classic The Killers. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was October 19, 1998 (read here). Not much to add here except that I agree completely with Cousins. While I still rank 1949’s Criss Cross higher, The Killers is still a masterful Siodmak noir and it is every bit (at least for me) as great as Don Siegel’s 1964 remake.

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to The Killers

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Cat People (1982) (Mark Cousins intro)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to director Paul Schrader’s 1982 erotic horror thriller Cat People. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was October 11, 1998 (read here). While far from a genuine classic like the 1942 original (read my review here), it’s visual style serves as the glue that holds it together. Last, but not least, we get an atmospheric Giorgio Moroder score and late legendary musician David Bowie’s awesome theme entitled Cat People (Putting Out Fire). Nevertheless, I think Rutger Hauer should have been casted instead of Malcolm McDowell as Nastassja Kinski’s brother. On an unrelated note, Schrader has directed two great films (First Reformed and The Card Counter) and a very good one (Blue Collar).

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to Cat People

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to another trailer for the film

Moviedrome Mondays: Funny Bones (1995) (Mark Cousins intro)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to director Peter Chelsom’s 1995 comedy Funny Bones. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was October 4, 1998 (read here). Been a while since I have seen this one so I will have to check it out again in the future.

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to Funny Bones

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Shaft (1971) and Force of Evil (1948) (Mark Cousins intro)

This week’s Moviedrome Monday blog entry is a double-bill consisting of a neo-noir and a film noir – both shot on location in New York City.

Shaft (1971)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to African-American director Gordon Parks 1971 action crime thriller Shaft. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was September 27, 1998 (read here). Along with Melvin Van Peebles Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (also from 71), the more mainstream Shaft is reported to have birthed the blaxploitation subgenre, though Ossie Davis Cotton Comes to Harlem (from a year earlier) is sometimes credited as the earliest example. Either way, this is truly a fun film (as Parks himself states) galvanized by Soul singer Isaac Hayes iconic score and theme song – winning an Oscar for the latter.

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to Shaft

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Force of Evil (1948)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to blacklisted director/writer Abraham Polonsky’s 1948 crime drama Force of Evil. Readers can also read Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was September 28, 1998 (read here). I agree with every single word of praise that Cousins showers on this film noir classic.

Here is a youtube video link to Mark Cousins Moviedrome intro to Force of Evil

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Trespass (1992) (Mark Cousins intro)

Season 9 and the two that follow happen to be the shortest seasons of Moviedrome to date.

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to Walter Hill’s 1992 action-thriller Trespass, readers will have to rely on Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was September 20, 1998 (read here). I really do not have anything to add except that it is a very good Walter Hill film. If any of you readers are interested, here is a list of my favorite Walter Hill films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Highway Patrolman (1991) (El Patrullero) (Mark Cousins Intro)

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to cult director Alex Cox’s 1991 crime drama Highway Patrolman (El Patrullero), readers will have to rely on Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was March 8, 1998 (read here). Now isn’t this an interesting Moviedrome pick? Cousins is introducing viewers to a film directed by the former host of the aforementioned program, which in this case happens to be it’s director Alex Cox. Not much to add here except that I agree 100 percent with Cousins thoughts on this excellent film. If any of you readers are interested, here is a list of my favorite Alex Cox films (read here). Also, check out the season 5 episode of Moviedrome that featured then host Cox introducing his great 1987 film Walker, that I recapped here.

Here is a youtube video link to the Kino Lorber 2018 re-release trailer

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s own intro to the film

British film critic Mark Kermode interviewed Alex Cox twice back in 2016 – watch the youtube video links here and here

While we are it, Kermode also interviewed Mark Cousins that same year – watch the youtube video link here

Also, here is a youtube video link to Kermode’s commentary on Highway Patrolman as his BFI Player choice of the week