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Chasing The Muse

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Release Date: 
Artsploitation Films
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Directed by: 
Jean-François Davy
Richard Allan
Benoît Archenoul
Frédérique Barral
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From Artsploitation Films comes a two film, single disc experience from Jean Francois Davy, a French adult film director who has made several contributions to the genre both as a writer, actor and producer and was noted for his sensualist, surrealist trademark style with a career that dates back to the early 70’s and the early origins of modern pornography.  Let us take a look at two of his two documentaries packaged on a single disk, which is a cinematic foray into what happens when the porn industry takes a serious look at itself.  Surprisingly, you may need a shower afterward for a whole different reason than ever before from a 5 skull film in one of my reviews…

Chasing The Muse (2014)

Jean Francois Davy is a man who is looking for his next muse, his next dream starlet to work in one of his future films.  A noble pursuit, I suppose, because as a fellow artist with peculiar tastes I must concede that we all must find our inspiration wherever we can, yet in the case of 70 year old Davy it involves him touring the sex parlors, brothels and strip clubs of Europe with his cameraman in tiow, who openly films him openly having sex with young girls who are clearly young enough to be his granddaughter while he waxes poetic through voiceover about the nature of obscenity, of beauty and of the magic transcendent joy of making love to (banging) erotic performers (hookers) on film, capturing their beauty forever.  This is as unrated work, which means that we the viewer, are denied (or is it spared?) the actual details of his ancient pretentious penetrations, but it is obvious to anyone seeing this, that the sex is real…Real depressing.  Eventually, through much taste testing and much intense interviewing (that always seems to end with an act of fellatio) he discovers his Muse, a young blonde woman named Kitty Cat (actress depicted on box cover).  A great portion of the film is footage of him enjoying her; devouring her, relishing her in ways I have never seen any septuagenarian consume anything with such sensory relish other than say a box of Whitman Samplers.  I am not trying to be ageist here, because face it, no one is getting any younger but this whole thing was creepy; and without aesthetic merit, which is something I think belongs in every cinematic depiction of human intimacy onscreen between consenting adults.  Seriously, every first year film student knows that nothing ruins a good documentary moreso than the director inserting himself into the subject matter in every scene, and this raises that film faux pas to a whole new disgusting echelon. As an erotic film it fails miserably, but as a sometimes horror film reviewer I must concede that Jean Francois Davy does make a convincing vampire…even if only purely sexually.  Yet I mean no real disrespect to a man purely because of his age. For example while I openly concede Clint Eastwood is the best living (mainstream) actor, even he knows when to spend the remainder of the career behind the camera in a purely directorial vocation and not reprise his more physical roles. Can you imagine an 85 year old Clint Eastwood reprising his character as a now retired Harry Callahan for a sixth film; chasing young punks off of his lawn with a 357. Magnum? This is kind of like that, only a little more sinister, disturbing and a whole different kind of “dirty”.

Exhibition (1975)

I have seen many documentaries involving the porn industry and they always suffer from one of the following problems.  Either they are too restrained, adhering to an unrated rating which makes them able to be broadcast on pay cable services (HBO, CINEMAX) which makes them the tell all story of folks in a bizarre, hypersexual industry (at the same time removing all visual proof of what makes their job so alluring, unconventional to watch.    Conversely, the x rated documentaries often fail as well because while they always openly depict full penetration, we actually learn nothing more about the performer’s personal lives other than the name of their pets, and the fact that they really, really, really like hot sex. As if we needed a porn star to tell us that in a ponderous, pretentious interview format, just a continuous loop of their last ten person orgy would have said so much more, and with so much more enthusiasm.  EXHIBITION is unique because it is the only time I have seen an x rated documentary that perfectly straddles the line until there is indeed none. Detailing the life of French film  star Claudine Beccarie, it is a tell all biography of interviews taken during the times of her adult life, first in the mid-seventies when she was an industry darling, and later in the early eighties when she was a single mother of two children who regretted nothing.  And while that sounds pretty staunch and subdued, there are lots of scenes of sex in this film which gives it street cred in a way I haven’t seen before. In fact many of the interviews takes place during various sex scenes which simply has to be seen to be believed.  A 25 year old Jean Francois Davy appears on camera, yet does not have sex with anyone this time around which still may be a desirable choice aesthetically considering even as a young man he looks like a cross between Rob Reiner as “Meathead” from ALL IN THE FAMILY and Charlie Manson. 

Aside from these superficial points, the reason I liked this film so much is that it asked you to draw your own conclusion about pornography and the people who star in it.  Between sex scenes, Claudine does something that no “working” adult actress would do in a modern adult film documentary anymore, she confesses her checkered past, including being molested by her uncle, ending up in reform school and spending her youth working in a brothel to make ends meet.  Perhaps most chilling of all were the moments where she speaks about the worst moments of those days where she was asked to sexually service old men.  After having viewed the previous film in this two-fer depicting the exploits of Jean Francois Davy as an old man demanding sexual favors for pay forty years later from countless women at the exact same age of Claudine during the worst time in her life was such a disturbing paradox infused mindfuck that I was sucked into a logic vortex that immediately challenged my thoughts on pornography and prostitution, and even most of the films I review. Of course, if all that philosophical talk of feminism, morality and deeply humanistic issues of free will bores you, it has one of the best female masturbation sequences (according to other critics even more perverted than me) in adult film history.  A perfect art film it teased the senses as it burdened the soul, hitting you both in the head and crotch.

Personally, I think Jean Francois Davy is a senile, dirty old man who honestly can’t tell prostitutes from pornographic actors anymore.  But somehow, unintentionally, his releasing of these two unrelated adult films on the exact same disk decades later approaches a level of sarcastic genius by the sheer cognitive dissonance between the two works, even if I believe it to be purely accidental. 

Extras include trailers.  

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