Private Collections is an anthology movie consisting of several
erotic short stories. The director most closely associated with that format is
Walerian Borowczyk, who did two such movies, Immoral Tales and Immoral Women.
Borowczyk is again represented in Private Collections, but this time he created
only one of the three tales, sharing the billing with two other masters of
erotica, Just Jaecklin (Emmanuelle) and Shuji Terayama (Fruits of Passion).
Severin has done a magnificent job at digging up these rare and
forgotten treasures of soft-core erotica and re-mastering them digitally. For
years, we really had no access to this film at all (as with many others in the
Severin collection), and now we have an uncut and uncensored widescreen DVD for
fans to admire. There's even a short featurette about the making of the Just
Jaecklin segment, with commentary by Jaecklin himself in good English.
The Rare DVD site is
again running a 2-for-1 sale for us on this item, so click on the link below to
see if you like the package he's put together.
Terayama's Kusa-Meiku is the most beautifully rendered of the
three stories, and has the best sex scene, but is also the most opaque. The
essence of the story is that a young man cannot resist the siren call of the
local madwoman, who keeps summoning him to her bed. The call is so powerful that he
has to follow the Ulysses tactic of having himself lashed down. He's not at
sea, so a tree pinch-hits for the obligatory siren-thwarting mast.
That story, mythological though it is, could have been told
without a dense narrative, but Terayama decided to take it into dreamscape
territory. It's filled with all sorts of symbolic scenes of surreal beauty. For
example, a beautiful bolt of red and gold cloth is laid across a vast expanse of
sand dunes, and a stark naked Ulysses-san escapes the madwoman's horny clutches by
staying on the cloth, ala the Yellow Brick Road, until he and the
cloth are tiny dots in the distance. By the way, I'm only
guessing that the scene was symbolic. It seems that it was meant to be, but I
guess I really don't know what the hell it could have symbolized. It did
look really cool, so maybe it was just an "ars gratia artis" indulgence in
imaginative beauty. There are other scenes which also seem to have been chosen
simply for their physical beauty. A beautifully decorated parasol is turned upside
down and left in the rain - that sort of thing. It's the kind of material that
leaves you awed by its visual splendor and scratching your head to decipher the
Anyway, if you'd like to see what Salvador Dali might have
accomplished as a Japanese filmmaker, this is the segment for you!
L'Armoire is the segment directed by the esteemed Mr. Borowczyk.
He has created a period costume drama adapted from a
de Maupassant story (the link is in French) about the seamy underbelly of Paris in the time of the
great impressionists. The visual presentation of the
clubs and back allies of the late 19th century is highly stylized and many individual frames could be
mistaken for paintings by Renoir or his contemporaries. The film stock and
filters have been carefully chosen to give off the same feel as the familiar
paintings of that era.
Unfortunately, the look is all this one has. There's not even
any worthwhile erotica. The Japanese story reviewed above has both a gorgeous look and some fairly hot sex, but this one has
very little sex and nudity in the main story. A prostitute played by
Marie-Catherine Conti briefly exposes her breasts before sex, but this segues
into a lethargic sex scene which is performed man-on-top with a blanket over
their lower bodies. There is so little erotic content within the exchange that
the director felt obligated to add a completely gratuitous scene with some
unidentified lesbian can-can girls in a naked embrace!
Oh, that rascal de Maupassant - the Howard Stern of his own day!
To make matters worse, the story isn't told very well. De Maupassant
wrote a surprise ending to a story about a prostitute and her john who hear
noises in her apartment. What are those noises? The film delivers the narrative
with no real suspense, so that the eventual surprise ends up as a "so what?"
moment rather than a release of tension.
L'île aux sirènes
L'île aux sirènes is the name of the segment directed by Just
Jaecklin and starring one of Jaecklin's favorite stars, Laura Gemser, the
beautiful Indonesian woman commonly called "Black Emmanuelle."
A flabby, bald, sloppy-looking sailor is marooned on what
appears to be a deserted island.
The good news is that the island is actually
inhabited by four beautiful women who seem to love it when they have sex with Paul Giamatti-lookin' dudes.
The only thing they like better than the sex is serving him any way possible.
The bad news is that "How to Serve Men" is a cookbook.
Also Soylent Green is people. PEE- PUL!!!
And Kyser Soze is ...
But I digress.
This section doesn't compare to the other two segments
artistically, and it has a lame cop-out ending, but it has one very strong point
- four beautiful women topless at all times, one of whom is the spectacular Ms.