Days of Infamy

Will this vision of the only time the U.S. was subject to aerial bombardment serve to promote the newfangled SDI fantasy? How could it not? "President" George W. Bush isn't much of a movie fan, but you don't have to be Criswell to predict that he'll have something nice to say about this hollow tubthumper.

Somewhat diagrammatic—and definitely X-rated—Catherine Breillat's long-unreleased first feature, A Real Young Girl, is a philosophical gross-out comedy rudely presented from the perspective of a sullen, sexually curious 14-year-old. A Real Young Girl, which was made over a period of two years in the early '70s (and pointedly set in the months following May 1968), is a hymn of adolescent liberation. "I hate people—they oppress me," schoolgirl Alice (Charlotte Alexandra) muses on the train home for vacation.

Strenuous romance and boisterous bonhomie: Affleck and Hartnett in Pearl Harbor
photo: Andrew Cooper
Strenuous romance and boisterous bonhomie: Affleck and Hartnett in Pearl Harbor


Pearl Harbor
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Randall Wallace

A Real Young Girl
Written and directed by Catherine Breillat, from her novel The Air Duct
Cinema Village
Opens June 1

Farewell, Home Sweet Home
Written and directed by Otar Iosseliani
June 1 through 7

The visual metaphor for her parents' farmhouse is the sticky ribbon of flypaper over the kitchen table. While Alice and the folks eat in silence, she secretly diddles herself with a spoon—then goes outside to wander aimlessly with her panties down around her ankles. Alice is also something of an intellectual. She pukes on herself and is inspired to write in her diary. Visiting the family chicken coop, she idly crushes an egg in her hand—merging impulse behavior with what Marx once called the "idiocy of rural life."

Overstuffed with wildly tactile (if mainly autoerotic) sexual adventure, A Real Young Girl has an outrageously elemental quality. Breillat can't resist filming a dog carcass decomposing on a dirty beach. Alice spends her days lolling about in a bikini, flirting with her father, and picking wax out of her ears until she finds an object of desire in the person of the hunky hired hand (Fellini Satyricon star Hiram Keller). As fascinated by her bodily functions as she is, the round-faced, ample protagonist might be the subject of R. Crumb's fantasy "Gurl." Alexandra, who subsequently starred in Emmanuelle 3, is necessarily a bit older than the part she plays, but she carries off a demanding role with considerable aplomb—including performing in several spectacular fantasies as infantile as they are sexual.

Reinserted, so to speak, in film history, A Real Young Girl belongs with such mid-'70s post-porn provocations as John Waters's Pink Flamingos and Jean-Luc Godard's Numero Deux. It's a far better introduction to Breillat than her risible hardcore polemic Romance—and particularly timely in that the filmmaker has revisited the scene of adolescent sexuality in her sensational Fat Girl, likely to appear here in the fall.

Farewell, Home Sweet Home, written and directed by Otar Iosseliani, is a movie of mysterious maneuvers, both business and romantic. The ensemble is dispersed; such narrative as exists concerns a family of eccentrics (headed by the filmmaker himself) whose particular "home sweet home" is a stork-haunted chateau on the outskirts of Paris. Rich people want to be ordinary; ordinary people want to be special. No matter how bizarre, the comings and goings feel distanced, mainly for being in middle shot. Iosseliani's droll, elaborately off-handed sight gags amount to a sort of genteel circus. The movie exudes a cheerful energy—laying out a deck of narrative cards, then reshuffling them in the final 10 minutes.

Farewell, Home Sweet Home's weeklong run (a U.S. premiere) inaugurates BAM's second annual series of movies culled from The Village Voice's Film Critics Poll of the year's best and best unreleased films. The latter category includes such must-sees as Chantal Akerman's The Captive, two features by Jia Zhangke (Xiao Wu and Platform), and Aleksei German's scabrous Khrustalyov, My Car!

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