REVIEW: After Blue (Dirty Paradise): Soft-core porn under the guise of art

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After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is the second feature for director and writer Bertrand Mandico. I had the experience of watching his first feature The Wild Boys (Les garçons sauvages) at the AFFFF 2019 and having seen that I felt I had to see After Blue.

After Blue (Dirty Paradise)

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is set on another planet, the film begins with a little exposition, in a style that reminded me a lot of 80s’/90s’ fantasy films. This style continues throughout the film and is something I found quite nostalgic. We are introduced to the main character Roxy (Paula Luna) explaining how she has a big head so died her hair blonde to be more inconspicuous… yes it makes little sense, little of this film will.

 

She goes on to explain how the earth was ruined and so they came to this new planet for a fresh start, and decided to not use technology (for some reason, although they still have neon signs, plasma balls and street lamps everywhere) other than for hunting. All the men who came to this new planet died as their hair grew on the inside and killed them all off, and all the women now need to make sure they don’t get too hairy too, so they laser shave (I forgot to mention the laser shavers).

After this exposition, the story begins with Roxy (known by some as Toxic for some reason) and some other girls who she calls friends, even though they seem to dislike her (I mean the name they use for her is Toxic…) hanging out on the beach shooting their Gucci rifle (yep). While dancing around in barely any clothes, shooting guns and being carefree girls, they find a head on the beach that they think is rotting. It turns out that it’s a women buried neck deep in the sand. She introduces herself as Kate Bush (yes…) who promises Roxy three wishes if she sets her free. A pretty sweet deal she thinks, so after about a minute she obliges, essentially opening Pandora’s box.

 

Roxy and her mother Zora (Elina Löwensohn) are taken aside by the elders/council members and told they must hunt Kate Bush (played by Agata Buzek) down or they will be exiled forever and her mother, the town’s laser hairdresser, will lose her laser shave studio. Thus begins a long (and erotic) trek for Roxy and Zora and the mysterious landscapes and characters they meet along the way. In particular, a larger portion of the film involves the gun toting artist Sternberg (played by Vimala Pons) and her Mandroid, Olgar 2 (Michaël Erpelding).

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) / After Blue (Paradis Sale)

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is visually striking and quite beautiful, it oozes in B grade 80s/90s fantasy/sci-fi, from the high contrast colours, neon and plasma balls, filters over landscapes to make them seem more alien than they are. One of the great things to see in After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is how a huge amount of the film is done with practical sets (set design by Toma Baquéni), props and lighting compared to digital, a bit of a rarity in this age.

 

Aside from the beautiful practical sets and props, I’m pretty sure that some effects were done digitally and this is a great example of how to mix practical and digital effects well, they both definitely have their place. There are neon effects added to characters, and exaggerated glints and flares, and they really fit well here, I am impressed and thankful that the choices on the visuals for this film were made and I feel they were made for the right reasons, it’s visually very impressive and I commend the crew for their effects and decisions.

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) / After Blue (Paradis Sale)

Sadly, considering how interesting the story could have been, how visually appealing it is, the fact that there are attractive women getting in touch with their sexuality constantly and there are breasts everywhere, I somehow found myself bored, after about an hour in I was praying for something to happen other than another 5 or 10 minutes of women kissing and touching themselves or others or phallus shaped objects. Unfortunately, not much happens in this film other than that.

 

I feel it had great premise and a solid foundation for a story was in there somewhere but instead it was used as a stage for nudity and eroticism, and not much else. Just to clarify here, I’m not a prude, but I prefer to watch film for the story telling, acting, emotions. Rather than to see pretty women mud fight until they kiss. As a result, I consider After Blue (Dirty Paradise) more of an art-piece rather than a film, there’s not much of a story here, and crumbs that are here are used as vessels and distractions from why this isn’t being shown in an art gallery or in an obscure section of the soft-core porn genre at a rental site or something.

 

If you want to make a drinking game out of this one, I suggest playing “find the phallus” as I’m certain there is a penis hidden in everyone scene, sometimes very obviously (looking at you random penis like plant covered in a sticky white substance that a character “accidentally” runs into and then for some reason decides to sort of rub her face all over it) and some harder to spot, it will really help dealing with the 10 minutes between fondle sessions where you are bored and waiting for something to happen.

 

If you want to watch soft-core porn with your friends but don’t want to say “hey, let’s watch some soft-core porn together“, this might be a good option, and if anyone says to you during the film “hey, is this soft-core porn?” you can just say, “what’s wrong with you, this is art, not smut“.

 

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is more art than film, and art being so subjective I can see reviews for this film going either the way of 1 or 5 stars, I assume people with struggle to find a middle ground with their feelings on it.

 

It gets 2 croissants out of 5 from me, it would be 1 but I greatly respect and appreciate the visuals and the fact that as far as I can tell, a huge amount of the set/world building is done with practical effects not digital, which I really commend them for.

2 CROISSANTS

Bruce Bordelais watched  After Blue (Dirty Paradise) via an online screener.

 

After Blue (Dirty Paradise) is showing at the Fantastic Film Festival in Melbourne and Sydney

 

To find out when and where the film is showing: https://www.fantasticfilmfestival.com.au/films/after-blue-dirty-paradise

 

 

For more French film, read the following articles:

Alliance Française 2020 French Film Festival films to stream/rent online

11 French movies from the 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival to watch on SBS on Demand

13 films from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 to stream

 

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12 films from France to see at Europa! Europa next month

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New film festival Europa! Europa will be in cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney in February. Among the many European films in the program, there are 12 from France including some films where France is just one of the countries involved in the production. We tell you about the films from France in French and not in French below.

Europa! Europa

EUROPA EUROPA FILMS FROM FRANCE IN FRENCH

Bloody Oranges

Country: France

Director: Jean-Christphe Meurisse

Through a series of intersecting comedic vignettes, Bloody Oranges shows a France in which a retired couple overwhelmed by debt try to win a dance contest; the minister of economy is suspected of tax evasion; a teenage girl encounters a sexual predator; and a young lawyer attempts to climb the social ladder.

This is an ultra-dark satire calculated to have you laughing one moment and then questioning whether you should have just moments later.

Content warning: Contains scenes of high impact sexual violence and high impact gore.

 

France

CLOSING NIGHT FILM

Countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy

Director: Bruno Dumont

France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux (The French Dispatch, No Time to Die, Blue Is the Warmest Colour)) is a star journalist whose high-profile world is upended after a traffic accident in which she injures a pedestrian. Reality’s unwelcome arrival calls everything into question. Her attempts to slow down and live a simple anonymous life are seemingly worthless as her fame continues to pursue her.

France is a bewildering critique of mainstream media.

 

Olga

Countries: Switzerland, France, Ukraine

Director: Elie Grappe

Languages: French and Ukrainian

Olga is the first feature film from French filmmaker Elie Grappe and Switerland’s submission for Best International Feature Film at the Academy Awards.

It tells of Olga a 15-year-old gymnast torn between Switzerland, where she trains for the European Championship in preparation for the Olympics, and Ukraine, her home country, where her mother is a journalist.

Olga’s struggles with her new teammates, the pressures of her body and the politics of international sport are exacerbated when Ukraine is plunged into the 2014 revolution.

 

The Restless

Countries: Belgium, France, Luxembourg

Director: Joachim Lafosse

Inspired by the director’s own experiences with his bipolar father, The Restless depicts what it’s like to live with a bipolar disorder and what it’s like to live with somebody who has severe episodes of mood swings.

The film tells the story of Leila (Leïla Bekhti) and Damien (Damien Bonnard) who are deeply in love. Damien attempts to pursue his life with her knowing his bipolar disorder may prevent him from ever being able to provide her what she desires.

While sympathetic to the difficulty of living with bipolar disorder, the film also accurately portrays how difficult it can be to have him around and how Leila’s love for him is pushed to the limits.

 

The Vortex

Countries: Belgium, France, Monaco

Director: Gaspar Noé

In a depart from his previous films known for their nightmarish and hallucinogenic subject matters, The Vortex comes to reality with the real-world tragedy of dementia causing decline in an elderly couple.

The film was shot in split screen and shows the couple’s daily rituals. The couple is played by Françoise Lebrun and Dario Argento (in his first leading role at age 80!)

The Vortex is another film depicting the difficulty of loving someone, this time someone with dementia who is slipping away.

 

Zero Fucks Given

Country: Belgium, France

Directors: Emmanuel Marre, Julie Lecoustre

Cassandra (Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour)) is a flight attendant for a low-cost airline. She is always willing to take on extra hours and does her job with robotic efficiency. She has perfected the same cool detached persona in her personal life. She spends her life between flights, tinder and dead-end parties. Eventually though she will be forced to confront the feelings she is trying to run away from.

Fun fact: The on-board scenes were shot alongside real-life flight attendants

 

EUROPA! EUROPA FILMS FROM FRANCE AND OTHER COUNTRIES – NOT IN FRENCH

 

Copilot

Countries: Germany, France

Director: Anne Zohra Berrached

Languages: English, Arabic, German, Turkish

Asli, a science student meets charismatic Saeed in the mid-1990s. Love at first sight leads to marriage and a promise to never betray Saeed’s secrets. Five years later, Saeed makes a decision that will shatter Asli’s dreams.

Copilot is based on a true story and shows the time from their meeting to Saeed’s devastating action 5 years later.

It is a portrait of Asli and her struggle with the man she loves becoming unrecognisable to her as he becomes radicalised.

 

Earwig

Countries: Belgium, France, UK

Director: Lucile Hadžihalilovic

Language: English

This is the first English language film from French director Lucile Hadžihalilovic (Innocence, Evolution).

Albert looks after Mia, a 10-year-old with teeth of ice. She never leaves the always shuttered apartment. A voice regularly calls to ask about her well-being. One day that voice tells Albert to prepare Mia to leave the apartment and travel to a new destination. A journey begins.

SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with the director

 

Natural Light (Természetes fény)

Country: Germany, France, Hungary, Lativa

Director: Dénes Nagy

Languages: Hungarian and Russian

István Semetka, a simple Hungarian farmer who serves as a Caporal in a special unit scouting for partisan groups, finds his company falls under enemy fire while travelling to a remote village. When the commander is killed, Semetka is forced to overcome his fears and take command of the unit as he is dragged into a chaos that he cannot control.

 Natural Light is the debut feature film from Hungarian documentary filmmaker Dénes Nagy. Inspired by Elem Klimov’s 1985 masterpiece Come and See, Natural Light is a slow-burn drama set in the occupied Soviet Union in World War II.

 

Sundown

Countries: France, Mexico, Spain

Director: Michel Franco

Languages: English, Spanish

Neil Bennett (Tim Roth) is a wealth Brit vacationing with loved ones at a luxury resort in Acapulco. He seemingly has the idyllic life until a phone call telling him there’s been a death in the family and that he, his sister Allison (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the kids must return to London.

At the airport, Neil pretends he’s left his passport at the resort. He tells the others to take the flight without him and that he will take the next flight. Instead, he checks into a budget hotel, drinks beer at the beach and finds reasons to delay his trip home. What is he up to? How long can be delay his return?

 

The Innocents

Countries: Denmark, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden

Director: Eskil Vogt

Language: Norwegian

In this supernatural thriller, playtime takes a dangerous and unnerving time during the bright Nordic summer when a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren’t looking.

Director Eskil Vogt (Blind) is a long-time collaborator of Joachim Trier.

 

The Legionnaire

Countries: France, Italy

Director: Hleb Papou

Language: Italian

Daniel, born in Rome to African parents, grew up in an occupied building. That is an otherwise empty building occupied by desperate people. Police are required to stop this from happening. Daniel decided many years ago to make a life for himself and now finds himself as a police officer required to evict the building where his mother and brother still live and lead the occupation movement.

KEY INFO FOR EUROPA! EUROPA

WHAT: Europa! Europa, a new film festival showcasing European films

WHERE: Sydney and Melbourne

WHEN: 4-27 February

HOW: Buy your tickets via the festival website: https://www.europafilmfestival.com.au/

HOW MUCH:

Single film ticket: $23 for adults and $18.50 for concession card holders and members

10 film pass: $175

 

Which films are you planning to see at Europa! Europa

 

If you’re keen for more film, take a look at these articles about French films you can stream at home:

My French Film Festival: an online French film festival to enjoy at home

13 films from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 to stream

 

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