The Good Old Naughty Days (Strand, opens March 28, at the Quad)
In true genre fashion, this silent-era porno compilation leaves something to be desired. Likely the first theatrically distributed vintage hardcore collection since Alex de Renzy's A History of the Blue Movie (1970), Naughty Days has several advantages over its free-love-era ancestor. Whereas Blue Movie compiled poorly printed, now familiar American loops, Naughty Days beautifully restores rare French flicks of the anything-goes 1920s. The production values outstrip their Yankee counterparts, with expressive, professional lighting, elaborate indoor sets, and expensive-looking costumes. Setups include naughty nuns in soixante-neuf with buggering abbots, a Musketeer frigging a milkmaid, and an orientalist Madame Butterfly parody. The pickles-and-beaver shots found in cheaper films are absent, though surprisingly raunchy bits occur, some with animals. But given the substantial scholarly interest, the winking intertitles are disappointing. Only the tiniest bit of historical background is given about the films' provenance, padded out with corny, badly translated jokes. An American production, the animated Eveready, is tacked onto the end without explanation. Still, erotophiles should appreciate this peek into yet another period when French meant freedom. Ed Halter
Dreamcatcher Directed by Lawrence Kasdan (Warner Bros./Castle Rock, in release)
In the course of Lawrence Kasdan's go at Stephen King, our central elder-frat foursome (Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, and Jason Lee) glimpse only two womenone a possible escapee from eminent screenwriter William Goldman's old haunt, Stepford, the other an alien-infested corpse. It's a man's world, and it ain't pretty. As the pals big-chill at a cabin, grousing about the telepathy gifted them years ago by an otherworldly "retarded kid," their woody weekend of beer, "bite my bag"s, and buckshot is ruined by body-snatching, egg-laying slugs with toothy vagina-like maws attended by red kudzu. Meanwhile, megalomaniacal heli-cop Morgan Freeman hovers above, planning mass extermination to halt the alien rash. If hopeless literalist Kasdan could have decided on a tonepsychological heebie-jeebies (bloody specter-child calling across highway), gory gross-out (slugs grow in tummies and exit assways), castrating combat (mano-a-slug, chopper-a-handgun), or stratospheric camp (Donnie Wahlberg as drooling hero; Freeman cursing the thought of killing "Americans" who "never miss an episode of Friends")this could have been a gynophobe's Independence Day. Laura Sinagra
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