2016 Blind spot series: Betty Blue (1986)

My contribution to Ryan McNeil’s 2016 blindspot series blogathon where I watch a film each month that I have never seen before.

Oscar-nominated French drama/romance. A touching and at times humorous 80s cult classic. Based on the 1985 novel by Philippe Djian. A star making turn by model Béatrice Dalle as the title character, a mentally unbalanced and sexually aggressive free spirit who becomes involved with Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a repairman and aspiring writer.

I saw the longer director’s cut which is three hours.  Has quite a bit of nudity, the film starts with a sex scene, and later we see scenes leaving little to the imagination of them naked. It’s a running theme that the main characters feel uncomfortable wearing underwear, which links to how free-spirited and sexually liberated they are.

An example of cinéma du look, which referred to a group of French films from the 80s that had a slick, gorgeous visual language with loving attention to the smallest detail. A focus on young, alienated characters who were said to represent the marginalized youth. Luc Besson, Jean-Jacques Beineix and Leos Carax were considered key directors of “le look.”. These French filmmakers were inspired by New Hollywood films (most notably Francis Ford Coppola’s One from the Heart and Rumble Fish), late Fassbinder films (Lola), television commercials, music videos, and fashion photography.

The story feels light-hearted, but if you look a little deeper it’s about how relationships and friendships affect your life. Betty is described as a wild horse, who cannot bear immobility and wasn’t made for that.

It’s a brave choice to let Betty do unlikeable things, even if those she has hostility towards are not exactly likeable themselves, such as the man who asks them to paint the holiday homes, the grumbling woman at the restaurant, and the book reviewer who trashes Zorg’s book.

I’ve read criticism that Zorg in real life would not have put up with Betty’s antics, and that the film is only about skin, but I didn’t have those problems, and I believed in their intense feelings and that they were head over heels in love.

The film worked best during the opening 90 minutes. After the funeral scene, I felt the story lacked urgency, although the scene with the piano on the truck was fun. The last act is certainly memorable, and explains what came before.

Despite these quibbles, a beautiful and sensual film which you can lose yourself in. Strong performances by the two lead actors, and a haunting score by Gabriel Yared.

Raing 8/10

2016 Blind spot series: Weird Science (1985)

Directed and written by John Hughes. Coming of age comedy/fantasy/science fiction. A film where you have to suspend your disbelief and just run with it in order to enjoy the movie.
Has its touching John Hughes moments, especially in the smaller human interactions which I wish there were more of. For the most part, the story is over-the-top and the screenplay has a number of contrivances. Sports cars appearing out of thin air, the computer gaining extra power just by a phone call, a smashed up house is fixed miraculously.
I prefer when John Hughes goes for something down to earth in films such as The Breakfast Club (1985), Uncle Buck (1989), and Pretty in Pink (1986).
I can go along with the woman is created from a computer, but Lisa having all these super powers is just too much and why are the teenagers attracted to a woman who is much older? This movie is just bonkers and really the title is quite fitting. The humour is juvenile and maybe if I was 14 years old I might like it more than I do now. In almost every scene, Anthony Michael Hall has an open-mouthed expression of surprise on his face, which is too repetitive.  It’s watchable if you like John Hughes. The Oingo Boingo title track is not bad, but the story and soundtrack are not as great as other films by the writer/director. The life lessons are there amidst all the craziness.

Favorite quote:
Lisa: “You had to be big shots didn’t you. You had to show off. When are you gonna learn that people will like you for who you are, not for what you can give them”

2016 blind spot choices

 

I’ve decided to continue with Ryan McNeil’s 2016 blindspot blogathon. Other LAMB bloggers are also participating, so it should be fun. The idea is you select 12 films you’ve never seen before and write about a film each month.
My list is not varied in terms of decades. All of the selections tie in with an 80s music project I’m doing on the blog. I’ve tried to pick films that have soundtracks that look intriguing or films I missed by acclaimed directors. I realize some of these films are lowbrow entertainment and not necessarily masterpieces, but sometimes that’s what you need.

I took the liberty of borrowing a header banner another blogger created, hope that’s alright! Anyway, feist your eyes on the 12 films:

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) (Michael Apted)

 

Valley Girl (1983) (Martha Coolidge)

 

The Killer (1989) (John Woo) (Review)

 

Sid and Nancy (1986) (Alex Cox)

 

One from the Heart (1982) (Francis Ford Coppola)

 

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) (Paul Schrader)

 

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) (William Friedkin)

 

Weird Science (1985) (John Hughes) (Review)

 

Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) (Adrian Lyne) (Review)

 

Streets of Fire (1984) (Walter Hill)

 

Betty Blue (1986) (aka 37°2 le matin) (Jean-Jacques Beineix) (Review)

 

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) (Stephen Herek) (Review)

What do you think of my choices? Have you seen these films?