Friday, 30 August 2013


Russ Meyer by Sophie Cossette

If you know your sexploitation sinema, this fellow need not require an introduction. If you don’t, here’s a clue: he’s sizing up your boobs right now! (If you’re a woman, that is.) And if they’re not big enough, well, he’ll pretend you don’t exist. Yes, you guessed right, I’m referring to Mr. Tease himself: the one and only Russ Meyer!

Meyer comix by Sophie Cossette

But in my story on Meyer in my book, Sinemania!, I am Mrs. Tease and I’m not afraid to tempt him with a heaping helping of big tits and asses, while sardonically yet affectionately poking fun at his unending fetish for mammoth-sized mammaries. Add to that, his repetitive scenarios, cartoonish characters, sex-entric sleaze-ball personality, and testosterone-fueled macho philosophy! All of which, I actually love! Yes, I’m a big Russ Meyer fan and I had a lot of fun filling my story with catty tongue-in-cheek humor just for the sake of making you laugh or, better, crap in your pants.

Meyer comix panel by Sophie Cossette

To hit the skid marked tracks, I’ve spoofed some of the most hilarious and iconic scenes in Meyer’s movies, the ones you shouldn’t miss and will never forget, like those in these panels. Much of the dialogue coming out of his characters’ mouths is to die for with its witty over-the-top humor. Many of his bosomy female stars, such as the unforgettable Tura Satana, became legendary B-movie sex symbols and, at his most inspired, lecherous ol’ Russ really was the king of the cartoonish sex and violence genre. He was the master of sexy sell-u-lloid and bears some responsibility for the unwanted babies which were spawned as a result of his films being shown in drive-in theatres or passion pits, as they were often referred to.

If you’re itching to learn more about this weirdo at his worst and his breast, uh, best, along reading with my Sinemania! story, I suggest you pick up the book shown below. It’s a great read about the man, his films, and his life. 

Big Bosoms and Square Jaws book

I’m not going to go into further detail about Meyer here. Instead, I’m going to spotlight some cartoonists sharing the filmmaker’s fascination for beautiful buxotic babes with big bazongas! Some of these talented guys have also influenced my drawing style. Or so I hope…

Bill Ward
Bill Ward (1919-1998)

No one drew voluptuous women quite like Ward! For more of his fantastic pinups and gag cartoons, you can’t go wrong with this site:

Eric Stanton
Eric Stanton (1926-1999)

Go ahead, you naughty reader, peer through the keyhole at the illustrations of the sweet and sadistic Stanton:

Al Capp
Al Capp (1909-1979)

No doubt that the cinematic world of Russ Meyer is very Li’l Abner-esque: hillbilly hjinks without explicit nudity. To see what I mean, check this out:

Bill Wenzel
 Bill Wenzel (1918-1987)

Although Wenzel might have been a tamer version of Bill Ward, this paperback artist and gag cartoonist was still very much at the top of his game and these websites prove it!

Now lusty Russ-ty has also inspired many contemporary artists and here are just three. (I can’t feature of all of them; the tributes to Meyer’s 1965 classic, ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill, Kill!’, are endless!)

Mitch O'Connell

The fantastic Mitch O’Connell

Ghoulish Gary
The gory Ghoulish Gary

Sophie Cossette Show Poster from 1999

And yours truly…

Ah, well, I had to throw that poster from 1999 on here, too. As long as people have a taste for broad humor - in more ways than one! - that goes for the jugg-u-lar (okay, I’ll stop!), Russ Meyer’s movies will remain a source of sexy inspiration. Long live the King of Bosomania! 

Coming soon to this blog: Italian director Federico Fellini and his hard-ons!

In the meantime, let Meyer’s 1975 drive-in movie masterpiece, ‘Supervixens’, act as a visual aphrodisiac! 


Monday, 26 August 2013

The Picture of Madonna Gray

The Picture of Madonna Gray

In his 1890 novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, Oscar Wilde tells the story of a young man who sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth. A creepy and frightening painting ages in his place and exposes the man’s sick soul. Dorian is vain, mean, self-centered, and lives a life of debauchery. So what does that have to do with Madonna? Well, I see a strong parallel. The youthful version of Madonna was blessed with stunning beauty when she came to fame in the ‘80s. Now in middle age, she’s still unapologetically vain and will do anything to continue looking young and hot, and if that means going under the scalpel, so be it. Sure, that doesn’t make Madonna very different from other aging stars, but the Material Girl, er, Lady, is also known to be an ultra-bitch when interviewed, and debauchery remains her middle name, or so that’s what she’d like us to believe.

Mae west

As she’s gets older, Madonna reminds me of the raunchy 1930s movie star Mae West who, by the time she was 80, surrounded herself with young muscular boy-toys in diapers. West was desperate to stay in the spotlight without being regarded as an ageing has-been. Fifty-five year old Madonna not only kind of looks like her, she also has a potty mouth like Mae, although West was way wittier. And as she holds on to her sex symbol crown for dear life, she even acts like her. All Madonna needs to do now is promote the joy of enemas to seal the deal!

But before mimicking Mae West, Madonna was very much trying to follow in the high-heeled footsteps of Marlene Dietrich who was the sex goddess of the Silver Screen in the Dirty Thirties. Dietrich, as Madonna did decades later, got involved with a famous filmmaker. Both very dominant women and iconic spotlight grabbers, the similarities between them gave me the devious idea for a symbolically funny story for my book, Sinemania!

Love At first Bark by Sophie Cossette

In my story, “Love at First Bark”, Madonna and Marlene compete to win first prize at a… dog show! The two divas bitch and brag non-stop about who’s ‘best in show’ while recalling their experiences with their magnificent pets’ prowess. I won’t tell you more, except to say that the competition is fierce!

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich

The eccentric Josef von Sternberg, or ‘Joe the Great Dane’ as I drew him in “Love at First Bark”, was one of the finest filmmakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. His over- budget extravaganzas with their over-the-top sets were often compared to the movies of his fellow Viennese Jew, Erich von Stroheim, who by the way, was his hero. Von Sternberg did six movies with Marlene Dietrich and they’ll forever be linked as lovers and cinematic legends.

He discovered Dietrich, a young -married mother of a little girl, and made her a huge star when he cast her as Lola Lola in his 1930 film ‘The Blue Angel’. They became romantically involved and moved to the U.S. where they made five other flicks together. Dietrich had an open marriage, staying with her husband during her liaison with von Sternberg. She enjoyed having rumors of bisexuality follow her around, just for the fun of spicing things up. (Wait, didn’t Madonna do that, too?) Strangely enough, Dietrich had the reputation of seeing other women as rivals, even claiming that she despised being in their company because “what all women do is count your wrinkles!” Maybe she had never heard of the psychological term ‘projection’, but let me get back to von Sternberg’s work…

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich by Sophie Cossette

His 1934 film, ‘The Scarlet Empress’, was very far-out and scandalous for its time. The cinematography and décor in it are just mind blowing! Check out this trailer featuring grotesque sculptures in the background, and enjoy some delirious Russian decadence while you’re at it.

By the following year, the relationship between Dietrich and von Sternberg began to deteriorate. Marlene loved to seduce everything that moved. The scandal around ‘The Scarlet Empress’ and the studio favoring her stardom over his didn’t help matters. It was like something out of ‘A Star is Born’: a bad tango of inflated egos was about to finish in blood and tears…

Sternberg and Dietrich by Cossette

The last movie the director and his sexy star did together was ‘The Devil is a Woman’. That title symbolized their toxic relationship perfectly and the film was the final nail in their coffin. The atmosphere on the set was like a bullfight, with von Sternberg the dead matador who saw his own career disappearing into dust, miserably witnessing his muse Marlene reach the top and stay there without him. 

But the story of two super egos’ destructively combusting like oil on fire is an eternal one. Which brings me to Madonna and filmmaker Guy Ritchie A.K.A. ‘Guy the English Bulldog’ in my “Love at First Bark” story. She was introduced to him by some mutual friends and like Madonna, Ritchie was cocky, elitist, successful, good-looking, attention-seeking, and very ambitious.

Ritchie and Madonna by Cossette

His excellent and acclaimed 1998 film, ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ put him on the map as a new talent to watch for and sure enough,  Madonna took note of him.

They teamed up for a few projects, the most enjoyable of which by far was Ritchie’s BMW commercial in which Madonna plays herself (although I’m not sure if she’s spoofing herself or not). If you’ve never seen this ad, here it is for your entertainment.

Ritchie also directed one of her music videos and unfortunately gave her the starring role in his poorly inspired remake of a 1974 Italian film, ‘Swept Away’. But after a lavish wedding, a son, an adopted kid, and the co-ownership of a London pub serving overpriced beers, the superstar couple’s honeymoon was over. Ritchie would complain that he’d have to make an appointment to have sex with her. Madonna, in turn, lamented that he was insensitive towards her after she broke many bones in a horse riding accident, brushing it off by telling her, “You’re a tough girl, you can handle it!”

Guy Ritchie was right: Lady Madonna is a tough cookie. After a very costly divorce, she went back to her old ways by adopting interchangeable ‘puppy dancers’ as boy-toys and becoming a movie director herself. Her first filmmaking attempt was 2008’s ‘Filth and Wisdom’, a dark comedy about struggling youngsters in London. The critics trashed the movie and it was poorly distributed. I’ve never actually seen it, but you can watch this trailer for a little glimpse.

If you’re not impressed with the contents of that trailer, here’s how I’d imagine Madonna might respond…

Madonna, Beatty and Penn by Cossette

The critics consider her to be a dreadful director and actress. Like Frank Sinatra (who, mind you, could be a hell of an actor), Madonna insists on doing only one take in front of the cameras. Convinced that she’s always right and cocksure of her talents, she has the reputation of being an ultra-perfectionist, but that doesn’t apply to her acting, bizarrely enough.

Madonna’s also known to be a very strict control freak mom and her extravagant demands to hotels when she travels around the world with her crew are insane!

On top of that, she’s also been accused of plagiarism and has seen her share of lip-syncing controversy:

The media and gossip websites take immense perverse pleasure in reflecting Madonna’s nasty aging image back to her. The fact that the world is watching must be a sore spot for the superstar since it regularly focuses on her veiny arms and hands (she wears gloves now), swollen plastic surgery-ridden face, and extremely narcissistic behavior. Until she does a Greta Garbo-style vanishing act, that’s the price Madonna’s got to pay for her ongoing fame.

Well, it’s obvious by now that I don’t admire the woman. Then why did I bother writing and illustrating a story on her? Frankly, I found her impossible to resist! Thanks to her huge ego and ‘my shit don’t stink’ attitude’, Madonna’s painfully colorful and irrationally strange to me. Yes, the ‘woman I love to hate’ makes me cringe and reminds me of everything bad about the ’80s: superficiality, the ‘greed is good’ philosophy, the obsession with having a perfect body (thanks to you too, Jane Fonda!), hyper-materialism, and the growing division between rich and poor that’s reached epidemic proportions nowadays. To me, she symbolizes all that.

This is my picture of Madonna Gray and I hope it won’t you give nightmares.  So, sweet dreams and goodnight for now!

The Portrair of Madonna Gray

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Boulevard of broken dreams

Erich von Stroheim by Sophie Cossette

Austrian-born director Erich von Stroheim, like underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger, was a fantastic teller of tall tales and had one hell of a big chip on his shoulder. After his initial success in Hollywood, he found himself snubbed by Tinseltown’s powers-that-be. It was thus only too appropriate that Anger devoted a short chapter to Stroheim in his infamous book, ‘Hollywood Babylon’.

Stroheim had a megalomaniac personality. His tendency to go over-budget, constantly re-shooting scenes while enjoying directing orgies on the set, eventually contributed to his downfall. Near the end of his life, the once wealthy director was destitute, scratching out a living writing and acting with a jaded edge. Stroheim’s most notorious role was that of the curmudgeonly butler, Max von Mayerling, in Billy Wilder’s 1950 film noir masterpiece, ‘Sunset Boulevard’.

Being a sucker for true stories of the fallen gods and goddesses of Hollywood, I felt that the temperamental Stroheim would be perfectly cast for a role in my book, Sinemania! Seeing as how ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is one of my favorite movies of all time, it made perfect sense for me to spoof that film and feature Stroheim as the main character recalling his flamboyant life while twisting the facts around. Using silent film-style title cards, I wanted to contrast his lies with the sad reality of his life.

Stroheim Comix panel1

Stroheim Comix panel2

What makes ‘Sunset Boulevard’ stand out on a list of legendary film noirs is the way its plot reflects the true facts about the decline and fall of a once hugely successful actress, Gloria Swanson, as well as Erich von Stroheim and some of their peers. The movie isn’t only great in and of itself, it also serves as a timeless and powerful piece of Hollywood history.

Billy Wilder by Sophie Cossette

Billy Wilder couldn’t have made a bad picture even if he had tried. And his reputation as one of the finest ever filmmakers is well deserved. But like the protagonist of ‘Sunset Boulevard’, Joe Gillis, Wilder struggled for years as a writer. He had a hard time paying the bills until he found success in 1944 with his film noir hit, ‘Double Indemnity’. And just like Joe Gillis, when he was a young journalist in Vienna, Wilder made extra money charging older women to be his partners on the dance floor. No wonder that writing the script for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ came naturally to him.

Buster Keaton by Sophie Cossette

‘Sunset Boulevard’ is full of wonderful cameos of silver screen legends and  practically feels like a documentary or “cinema vérité” film. Besides Gloria Swanson portraying Norma Desmond, a fictitious has-been goddess of the silent movie era, and Stroheim playing her man-servant, other Hollywood legends actually appear as themselves, including Buster Keaton, Hedda Hopper, Anna Q. Nilsson, H.B. Warner, and Cecil B. DeMille.

In ‘Sunset Boulevard’, when Swanson as Norma Desmond visits DeMille at Paramount Studios, the director is shown on the genuine set of his 1949 film, ‘Samson and Delilah’. (DeMille and Swanson worked together a number of times in real life. He was even credited as the man who made her a star, affectionately nicknaming her ‘Young Fella’ years earlier, just like he does in ‘Sunset Boulevard’.) Fiction and reality also intersect when Norma Desmond mentions her admiration for Greta Garbo. ‘Sunset Boulevard’ also makes references to numerous other real Hollywood luminaries and even jokes about the shocking ‘Black Dahlia’ murder during a party scene. 

Sunset Boulevard by Sophie Cossette

All the Norma Desmond memorabilia in her mansion consists of Swanson’s own artifacts of her former golden years. One scene in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ depicts Desmond mesmerized by her past beauty and stardom while watching ‘Queen Kelly’, a film the real Gloria Swanson starred in and financed.  And, get this, it was directed by… Erich Von Stroheim!  Who in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ happens to play her butler and ex-husband and the director who brought Norma to stardom. Oh yeah, before I forget, I should also mention that ‘Queen Kelly’ made the real life Gloria Swanson go bankrupt and brought about the decline of her career.

Stroheim Comix panel3

You see, Stroheim and Swanson happened to be their own worst enemies. Like Norma Desmond, whose long deluded tirades make the movie that much more colorful, the real Gloria Swanson had once been a very powerful film star. Her fortune had been astronomical and the fact that she had had Joe Kennedy for her lover had made her indestructible in the Hollywood hierarchy. Well, that’s what she believed before she got together with Stroheim for the production of ‘Queen Kelly’. Its sulfuric script was too extreme for the era, and making an extremely expensive silent movie and releasing it after the talkies were taking over turned out to be the perfect recipe for a flop of epic proportions. As a result, Swanson (like Desmond), saw her stardom and career eclipsed by the new talent the talkies attracted.

Sunset Boulevard original poster

It’s hard to imagine another actress better suited to play Norma Desmond. But, bizarrely enough, Gloria Swanson was not Billy Wilder’s first choice. Both Mae West and then Mary Pickford declined the role for personal reasons. It was actually a fellow filmmaker, George Cukor, who suggested Swanson. To portray struggling writer Joe Gillis, Wilder thought of Marlon Brando or Montgomery Clift, but finally went with William Holden who was thirty-one in 1949. Swanson was fifty and at a time when cougars were mostly found in zoos, they made for one pretty odd couple in ‘Sunset Boulevard’.  But it was a perfect match.

Swanson and Bardot by Cossette

One aspect of the movie that remains ageless is the problem of ageism. Turning forty for an actress was, and continues to be, the kiss of death! If she wants a good part after hitting the big 4-0, she has to play a matronly or despicable vile woman eaten alive by jealousy, or else forget about it! Just look at the kinds of roles Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Shelley Winters, and Bette Davis got after they reached middle age. These days, with the help of plastic surgery, some actresses try to delay the onset of the ordeal of bad parts by trying to hide their true age on

At the time of ‘Sunset Boulevard’, Hollywood films never had a problem with showing older men with spring chickens. But depicting an older woman with a younger stud was seen as very gutsy. By playing Norma Desmond, Gloria Swanson took a risk that kind of paid off for her. It put her back on the map, but also gave her the stigma of being “the most glamorous grand-mother in America”! All the roles she got after ‘Sunset Boulevard’ were those of mean old ladies.

Swanson even ended up playing Aggripina with the very young and beautiful Brigitte Bardot in a very forgettable 1956 Italian movie called ‘Mio figlio Nerone’. At the time Jergens Face Cream was actually showing Swanson in their ads, asking the reader: “Will you be as fascinating as Gloria Swanson at 52?” When Bardot got to be that age, she was far away from the spotlight and I’m sure Clarins never had her in mind to sponsor their cream.

Yes, my dear reader, watching ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is like reading Kenneth Anger’s ‘Hollywood Babylon’. Wilder’s picture is one great tour of the underbelly of Hollywood. It mixes murder with the dark side of stardom and the fear of ageing, of being forgotten, or becoming invisible. That fictitious yet true-to-life tale of ‘the boulevard of broken dreams’ will always strike a chord and will forever remain an all too real human tragedy.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Vice is nice, but insects are best! Part Three

Stephane Audran by Sophie Cossette

When I think of a female French redhead, Stéphane Audran immediately comes to mind. That glamourpuss was married to director Claude Chabrol as well as actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. (Though not at the same time!) She is best known outside of France for her role as a virtuoso cook in the 1987 movie ‘Babette’s Feast’. Audran’s singular beauty and finesse have given her a long and prosperous career, rare nowadays for aging actresses. Luis Buñuel noticed her angular facial features and casted her for his cinematic stabbing at the heart of political correctness, ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’ (1972).

In this wacky nod at his surrealistic roots, Buñuel’s attempt to make fun of the middle class is very well calculated. Inspired by his own dreams, the film is one crazy incoherent collage of scenes featuring the next-to-impossible attempts of people with ‘good taste’ to get together to eat fancy meals. Oh yeah, throw some quick orgasms into the story, too.

Even if ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’ is a delirious chaotic examination of the illusion of respectability, Buñuel wasn’t so sure of the end result what with the negative reviews it got. He disliked the promo poster and even commented that his favorite things about the film are the cockroaches! No need to analyze what the bugs represent here: basically, if you want a bourgeois life, you are simply ridiculous.

Carole Bouquet by Sophie Cossette

Buñuel’s last raspberry in the face of respectability was his final film, 1977’s ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’, starring the 20 year-old Carole Bouquet. She plays a loose woman who drives a lovesick older man mad. The poor sap has the hots for her and can’t see clearly through her sexy manipulative scams. I guess she just eats away at him like maggots.

In her heyday, Bouquet represented Chanel (like Catherine Deneuve), was a Bond girl (in ‘For Your Eyes Only’) and at some point dated Gerard Depardieu. Besides being an actress, she was a model, and with no qualms about appearing nude, was in high demand and a constant fixture in ‘Paris Match’ magazine. Today, Bouquet has three husbands under her belt. If she’s not a maneater in real life, she sure was good at portraying one in ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’.

In the film, Bouquet is Conchita, obsessively desired by a man in his fifties, played by Fernando Rey, who can never really have her sexually. The script is based on the novel ‘La femme et le pantin’, first made into a movie in 1929. Marlene Dietrich and Brigitte Bardot later had the chance to portray that nasty femme fatale.

But just to make matters more interesting – and confusing - in Buñuel’s version of the story, Conchita is not only played by Bouquet, but also by another actress, Angela Molina. Well, Buñuel was the maestro of Dadaist decadence and only welcomed the opportunity to fuck with his audiences’ minds.  You’d think that crazy decision was premeditated on his part, right? Nope! Here’s what Buñuel wrote in his autobiography:

“In 1977, in Madrid, when I was in despair after a tempestuous argument with an actress who'd brought the shooting of That Obscure Object of Desire to a halt, the producer, Serge Silberman, decided to abandon the film altogether. The considerable financial loss was depressing us both until one evening, when we were drowning our sorrows in a bar, I suddenly had the idea (after two dry martinis) of using two actresses in the same role, a tactic that had never been tried before. Although I made the suggestion as a joke, Silberman loved it, and the film was saved.”

So, does the film work with two women playing the same character? Not really, but considering that it‘s Luis Buñuel we’re talking about and that it was his last film, it kind of makes surreal sense anyway.

Well, I hope my spotlight on Buñuel and a few of his French female stars didn’t bug you too much! Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a couple of dry martinis waiting for me. Back soon with more stories from the world of Sinemania!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Vice is nice, but insects are best! Part Two

The Surrealists of the ‘20s created art by combining elements without rhyme or reason to achieve maximum emotional power. Their basic premise was something along the lines of: “Hey, I like these things! Why not mix them together?!” Salvador Dali’s 1933 painting “Portrait of Gala with Two Lamb Chops Balanced on Her Shoulder” is a perfect example of that philosophy.

Gala in a Dali painting

Watching his movies, it seemed to me that Surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s nonsensical love of gorgeous French women and creepy crawly bugs made perfect sense! So here’s how I see how he put the two together, surrealistically, symbolically, and sometimes literally.

Jeanne Moreau

Actor/filmmaker Jeanne Moreau is a French icon. Her beauty and charisma burned the screen in the “Nouvelle Vague” films she appeared in. For me, her greatest role was in Luis Buñuel’s 1964 classic, ‘Diary of a Chambermaid’, in which she played Celestine, a Parisian maid who starts working in a very bourgeois provincial estate in the 1930s. She witnesses class snobbery, human hypocrisy, shoe fetishism, sexual harassment, and if all that isn’t enough, she has her hands full with a murder mystery. 

Buñuel’s exposé of social malaise and his vivid depiction of a sickening caste system are more relevant today than ever. Just ask any live-in Filipino nanny here in Toronto and she’ll confirm that! Or simply spend a few minutes watching the reality TV show, ‘MasterChef’, and witness the perversely narcissistic behavior of two of its judges. Crappy or not, programs like that one do a good job showing the Machiavellian condescendence the upper classes have towards whomever they believe is below them. Which brings me back to Buñuel: for me, the snobby characters in ‘Diary of a Chambermaid’ who flaunt their expensive clothes and jewelry, and walk all over people are the real bugs! Which also brings me to…

Catherine Deneuve

Catherine Deneuve is the epitome of French elegance and glacial sex appeal. (She also had a daughter out of wedlock with a married Italian actor, Marcello Mastroianni.) In his tell-all autobiography, ‘Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda’, her ex-husband, director Roger Vadim, described Deneuve as a manipulative, shopaholic, temper tantrum-throwing diva. That, by the way, was his book’s least affectionate depiction of his trophy wives.

I have no doubt that Deneuve is the perfect French bourgeoise and I believe that she was perfectly cast to play Severine, a frigid bored housewife who decides to take on a day job as a prostitute in Buñuel’s first color film, ‘Belle de Jour’, from 1967. That wonderfully provocative movie explores the dark side of sexuality: sadomasochism, domination, degradation, and bondage. ‘Belle de Jour’ also shows the inability of some people, like Deneuve’s titular character, to truly connect with others on a deeper level. Severine lives in her fantasy world instead of reality and as a result, pays a big and sad price. I’m not saying more because if you’ve never seen that masterpiece, buy, rent, or download it pronto!

Like ‘Diary of a Chambermaid,’ ‘Belle de Jour’ and its depiction of human disconnection still speaks to us in the often impersonal digitalized era we now live in. Along with alienation, Buñuel shows how the obsession with maintaining appearances can leave you trapped. Like Severine, some people hide their true natures beneath the fake façade of respectability, only to find themselves living a double life.

So, how does Buñuel’s fascination with insects fit in with ‘Belle de Jour’? Well, watch this excerpt from the movie for a clue.

That buzzing noise sure sounds like bees to me!

Coming up soon: more of Luis Buñuel’s French broads ‘n’ bugs!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Vice is nice, but insects are best! Part One

Luis Bunuel by Sophie Cossette

Luis Buñuel was way ahead of his time, lemme tell you. In my Sinemania!  story, ‘Diary of a Surrealist Mad Man’, I explore the crazed life of the bizarre anarchistic Spanish filmmaker whose association with Salvador Dali represented both the high and the low points of his career.

 Bunuel and Dali by Sophie Cossette

In 1929, this diabolical duo created a very innovative surrealistic short called ‘Un Chien Andalou’. At the time, it was one damn groundbreaking movie and opened the door to the mad joy of the ‘free expression’ Dadaist movement. Buñuel and Dali teamed up again the following year for the scandalous film, ‘L’Age d’Or', but the ‘folie à deux’ of these wicked Spaniards started to run out of demented gas and they eventually drifted apart.

You can watch both movies in their entirety courtesy of YouTube.

Luis Bunuel comix

After these two ‘Dada-boys’ went their separate ways, Buñuel gave Hollywood a shot with the expected result: the Yanks asked him to go jerk off his vitriolic syphilitic visions elsewhere. Mexico, on the other hand, dug his spunk and, in the late Forties, became his new home where he directed his most innovative and original movies (with stronger plots and a deeper humanitarian agenda) before moving back to Europe.

Francisco Franco’s fascist dictatorship was running out of steam. To prove to the world that he was a supporter of Spanish culture, Franco invited Buñuel to return to Spain, even helping him to finance his next movie, ‘Viridiana’ (1961). Buñuel, however, hated the dictator with a passion and didn’t hesitate to give him the bitter taste of blasphemy in exchange.

Luis Bunuel panel

Sure enough, ‘Viridiana’ got banned in Spain but won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. I can’t imagine a better way to stick it to Francisco ‘asshole oppressor’ Franco! Viva la Revolucion!

The controversial Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini liked to say: “Being shocked is a pleasure.” His equally irreverent countryman, Federico Fellini, stated, “Censorship is free publicity.” But as far as I’m concerned, the real pioneer of such mottos is Luis Buñuel. The perverse pleasure he got out of happily shocking the Vatican, fascists, and the bourgeoisie with his work was very ‘punk anarchist’!  Move over Johnny Rotten! I invite you to read my illustrated look at Buñuel’s eccentric neurotic impulses and ‘shock-o-rama’ approach to art in my upcoming book. But, in the meantime, what I’ll do in my next post is titillate your curiosity about this nutty genius by exploring his obsession with both beautiful French women and… insects! Hola! So stay tooned for more Buñuel and find out what happened when Frogs met bugs!