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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Poison Ivy II (1996) - Worth it only to look at Alyssa

Poison Ivy II

The "Poison Ivy" franchise started out with high intentions.  Several reputable actors were in the 1992 original, notably Tom Skerritt, Cheryl Ladd and Drew Barrymore. It told the tale of a seemingly innocent girl who befriends a loser daughter and schemes her way into taking over the entire family.

Poison Ivy II
Oh, secrets in a box, I think I'll become a tramp!

The original struck a chord with viewers, mostly because Drew Barrymore played on the "Lolita" theme and dramatically morphed from innocent to sexy. With that surprise success came the unexpected need for a sequel to cash in, and that's where "Poison Ivy II" came in.

Poison Ivy II
This is about as sexy as it gets

With the audience in place, the producers went the schlock route and emphasized the sex, dumbed down the writing and kept costs low by hiring cheap actors. Alyssa Milano was in between TV series at this point, and had been reduced to playing off her her years as a child star by going the sexy route.  She had just starred in the extremely risque "Embrace of the Vampire" and went topless on "The Outer Limits," and the transition from child star to adult actress was proving extremely awkward. With the unexpected success of "Vampire behind her, she moved on to the higher profile "Poison Ivy" franchise. She brought along her "Vampire" director, Anne Goursaud, a proven expert at soft-core exploitation.

Poison Ivy II
As usual in these exploitation flicks, we get the weird party scene

As is often the case in these low-rent rip-offs of high class productions, there is only the most tenuous of connections to the original. The original stars are all gone (which, in the case of the very butch Sara Gilbert is a blessing), and in their place we have Alyssa and a bunch of no-names. Really, the only reason to watch this now is to see Alyssa once again going topless and playing the "simulated sex" game.

Poison Ivy II
Schaech bore the slightest resemblance to Brad Pitt

For my money, "Embrace of the Vampire" showed Alyssa off to better advantage, but there are worthy scenes of her in this film, too. She becomes the object of lust of her art instructor, and poses nude for him, but, while flattered, she really isn't into him. Instead, she has to placate her muscular boyfriend, which she does several times to very good effect.

Poison Ivy II
Alyssa is now the little victim, so they make her look as girlish as possible
Alyssa knew what she was doing. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and a whole slew of other former female child stars went down the same well-trod path. Shed the innocent-girl image or face oblivion. Since she was cute enough to pass muster, it worked, and eventually she got "Charmed." So don't feel sorry for her, she was using you, the viewer, not the other way around. As she said much later, presumably after counting her money, "I hope my 'Poison Ivy' days are behind me." The cynical strategy worked, so indeed they are.

Poison Ivy II
Jaime's expression says it all about that film

Jaime Pressley followed a year later in yet another lame sequel of the Poison Ivy franchise, showcasing her smoking body, and that worked out precisely the same way for her, leading to several more risque movie roles before landing "Earl." After that, the franchise mercifully died.

Poison Ivy II
Not so unhappy when you are getting what you want, right?

Alyssa doesn't show much, and we'd seen it all before by that point, but the production values are much higher here than in "Vampire," so it is worth a look. We see her in the show, seducing her boyfriend, having sex with her boyfriend, posing topless for her art instructor, and so on and so forth. If seeing Alyssa's body is that much of a treat for you, give this one a look, otherwise, you will be bored silly by the end.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Embrace of the Vampire (1995) - Alyssa Milano Surprises!

Embrace of the Vampire: Alyssa Milano at her Sexy Best

DVD cover Embrace of the Vampire 1995

Some films really only serve only one purpose, but they serve it quite well. "Gia" is a fine movie if you want to see a dynamite Angelina Jolie, "Mischief" is great if you want to see Kelly Preston in her prime, "Femme Fatale" is the film to see if you want to see a lot of Rebecca Romijn in more ways than one, and so on and so forth.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"I think I'll casually take my clothes off now...."
Well, "Embrace of the Vampire" (1995) has one true purpose, which it also serves extremely well. That is to get Alyssa Milano out of her clothes and into the arms of various others. Female others, mostly. Because, you know, in soft-core thrillers, if it's two girls together, it's not nearly as serious to those who care about such things as it would be if it were a girl and a guy. I know, go figure, but that's how it worked then, and undoubtedly still does in the world of cheesy thrillers like "Embrace of the Vampire."
Kemp and Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
Oh, there is this annoying guy who keeps taking up screen time in which Alyssa could be making out with other girls
That purpose is to show Alyssa Milano in a lesbian seduction, wrought by upperclasswoman photographer "Sarah" played by Charlotte Lewis. The scene is a masterpiece of its kind, starting out with Alyssa dressed in a virginal white outfit, sitting sweetly and innocently on a park bench by herself in what appears to be the early morning, just waiting to be picked up.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"My, what big knees you have!"
Suddenly, along comes the seductress Lewis, clad in black and holding a large phallic camera. Almost no words are exchanged, and believe me, this scene doesn't need any. Somebody knew their business when they blocked out this one. Of course, there's absolutely no need for this scene in "Embrace of the Vampire" at all, it just pops out of nowhere and leads nowhere, so you can always fast-forward through it if you find the plot absolutely gripping and don't want to be bothered with this lesbian nonsense....
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
Alyssa getting mentally primed for the big seduction scene
Let's back up a second. In "Embrace of the Vampire," Alyssa Milano plays Charlotte (it gets a little confusing with all these Charlottes around, but bear with me), an innocent virgin (but not for long) who is having bad dreams about sex. She learns that a vampire is after her, though it's never quite clear whether she really "realizes" it or not, because she invariably is seeing visions or sleepwalking during these encounters. The vampire is cursed and must seduce her (apparently she's the only virgin around) and make her love him within three days or he will die. The only problem is, Charlotte is in love with someone else. Now, I could go on and on about how this is a fine movie with a wonderful plot, starring a fine villain (and I cannot fathom under any circumstances why Alyssa did not receive top billing), and which furthers the media's endless efforts to turn every single last book and film into a tale about non-existent creatures known as vampires.
Charlotte Lewis Embrace of the Vampire 1995
Charlotte Lewis sizing up her prey
Well, "Embrace of the Vampire" is not a fine movie - unless you watching it for its sole purpose for being. Then, "Embrace of the Vampire" is stellar! So, on with the big seduction scene.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"OH MY GOD, you want me to take my top off? Really? Oh, well, fine."

As is sometimes the case in these kinds of take-it-to-the-limit-female-exploitation flicks, the director is a woman (Anne Goursaud), which insulates "Embrace of the Vampire" from at least one line of attack as being, well, anti-woman. It was made by women, right? It almost makes watching this sexualized crap a feminist statement! Lordy, lordy, Hallelujah! Feminists can be such suckers.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"Don't look, I'm so shy. Oh, wait, no I'm not!"
Because of the success of this project, Goursaud and Alyssa went on to do "Poison Ivy 2," which isn't nearly as titillating as "Embrace of the Vampire." (Goursaud's directing peak, by the by, was "Another Nine & a Half Weeks," which tells you something about her special talent right there).
Lewis and Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
Ok, back to the real action. Alyssa just looks so uncertain, that's the key to the whole scene working
"Embrace of the Vampire" has made its backers a TON of money on video sales, and thus stands as one of the all-time most successful movies that you never heard of. How can that be?? See above about the "sole purpose," or glance at any of the accompanying pictures. These kinds of films, the ones that go so far that they fall out of the "good date movie" category because girls get jealous and don't like them (yes, that's a gross generalization). Thus, the films look like failures if you just look at what they earned on general theatrical release. However, sometimes films like "Embrace of the Vampire" find their true life in the film kingdom's afterlife - video sales, where guys can just buy the tape or DVD without their significant other having any say about it. You'd be amazed - or at least I am - at some of the real stinkers that everyone thinks are flops, but wound up earning tidy sums from sales and rentals. "Embrace of the Vampire" is a classic in that regard.
Alyssa Milano lexbian kiss Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"You really don' t need to kiss me for that autograph...."
There are odd corners of the Internet where the question is endlessly debated, "what is the hottest mainstream film sex scene?" Let me tell you, the Milano/Lewis scene in "Embrace of the Vampire" comes up a lot in such places.
Charlotte Lewis Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"Nah, I'm not into this at all."
I'll be honest with you here, as always. I have a confession to make. I don't think I've ever made it all the way through "Embrace of the Vampire" in one sitting. "Embrace of the Vampire" is just not that kind of film... if you know what I mean. Sitting through it in the theater must have been torturous. Watching it at home? Pure bliss.
Milano and Lewis Embrace of the Vampire 1995
Charlotte Lewis also helps make the scene work, with her determined pushing of Milano forward
As drama, as comedy, as just about anything, "Embrace of the Vampire" is as dull as dishwater and opaque as mud. Figuring out what the hyperventilating vampire really wants - or, put more precisely, caring about what he wants - takes way too much effort. It's one of those things where he has rules, and he has to go about things indirectly, and he just becomes annoying. On the other hand, watching Alyssa Milano undress and be seduced takes no effort at all. No problems there, mate! Alyssa Milano has said that she took "Embrace of the Vampire" during a period of her career when she would have taken just about anything - and believe me, "Embrace of the Vampire" is just about anything.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"Well, I'll suffer through this I suppose...."
One of the odder stories about the early days of the Internet concerns Alyssa Milano. Her mother was aghast - AGHAST - that people would post nude photos of her daughter online (I guess she wasn't as aghast that her daughter posed for those photos in the first place, but then, when the photos were taken, Alyssa got paid, but when they were posted online, well....). And Alyssa's little brother could find them online! Her LITTLE BROTHER! And innocent little Alyssa was being spread all over the Internet like a common harlot! Or vampirish vixen.
Alyssa Milano lesbian Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"I really don't need mouth-to-mouth, but I'll try anything once....."
So, mama spent countless hours and much time and money hunting down the offenders and blasting that filth off the web. This actually was a big deal back in the '90s, which wasn't all that long ago.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
I wonder if Alyssa Milano had a few drinks before filming this?
Well, a very, very, VERY quick look will tell you that mama must have given up, because today there are countless screen captures of her daughter's famous (topless) scene from this film on the Internet (as well as similar scenes from "Poison Ivy 2"). Maybe it was all a publicity stunt, but a very strange one for any mother to play out.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
These scenes really have nothing to do with the plot, but you won't mind.....
Just so you know, the plot is something about Alyssa being the object of lust for some vampire (Martin Kemp, I think he was in Spandau Ballet or something, like, whatever, good for him) who pines after her. I mean, don't they all? Does the vampire get her? Who cares! The lesbian seduction scene comes along way before the vampire does anything, and by then, you will have switched this thing off - I can practically guarantee that.
Alyssa Milano goth look Embrace of the Vampire 1995
The Goth look really works on Alyssa
No, this is not a cinematic classic. It did not win any Academy Awards. The music is forgettable, and the acting is wooden. So what?
Let me be clear: even fully clothed, Alyssa Milano is just smokin' hot in  "Embrace of the Vampire"
Alyssa Milano is so cute and adorable, isn't she? Jennifer Tilly of all people shows up mid-way through "Embrace of the Vampire." She has the thankless task of following Alyssa Milano's big sex scenes, and you don't want to do that. Not if you want to get any attention yourself, that is.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
All the girls are going, "What shade is that lipstick? I want to try it." The guys are like, there's lipstick?
I hear they are considering re-making "Embrace of the Vampire" for who knows what reason. Well, we know the reason, it made a ton of money. I absolutely, positively guarantee you that, though, that because any remake of "Embrace of the Vampire" would not have a young Alyssa Milano disrobing ("I really hope my Poison Ivy II days are behind me," Alyssa Milano has said, and by that she really meant "Embrace of the Vampire," not "Poison Ivy II," which isn't nearly as salacious) and being groped by another woman, it will not be as good as this version.
Alyssa Milano Embrace of the Vampire 1995
"You fiendish brute! Would you hurry up and take my top off now?"
That really is all you need to know about Alyssa Milano in "Embrace of the Vampire." Below is a short clip which unfortunately is mostly of Martin Kemp hyper-ventilating, but you take what you can get. The film's set-up is ridiculous, "I have found her!" indeed.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Mischief (1985) - The Climax of '80s Teen Sex Comedies

Original poster of Mischief, showing Doug McKeon holding Kelly Preston's panties
This is one of my favorite films of all time, and for all the wrong reasons.  But even beyond its obvious prurient appeal, it has a quirky charm all its own.  You really do get a feel for the repression of the 1950s and the associated impositions on ordinary folks yearning to break free from.... Oh, who am I kidding - it's a teen sex comedy, folks! Enjoy it for what it is!

original still of Kelly Preston and Doug McKeon falling out of their car
That's how falling out of a car looks when carefully posed....

Mischief, directed by Mel Damski (sorry, I LOVE that name) and written by Noel Black (who claims it is "somewhat autobiographical," yeah, well, probably not the Kelly Preston part), belongs in the pantheon of teenage sex comedies.  If you watch this largely (unjustly!) forgotten film, it should be because of Kelly Preston's awesome performance as the beauteous fair maiden Marilyn, the object of lust for our hero, Jonathan, played by Doug McKeon.

Kelly Preston and Doug McKeon actually falling out of the car
That's how you REALLY fall out of a car! Notice the prominent panties!

Set in small-town Ohio in 1956, this tale follows the path of Jonathan as he pursues the aforesaid wondrous Marilyn, the prettiest girl in town.  At first (and, to some eyes, always) a complete nerd, Jonathan gets advice from a transient friend Gene (Chris Nash) who has watched one or two too many James Dean films.

Kelly Preston dancing in water from broken fire hydrant after car accident
He just ran into a fire hydrant because of her, so what does she do?  Dance in the water! And he loves it!

That is the whole story.  It's a simple lust-after-the-impossibly-beautiful-yet-seemingly-unattainable-girl-but-somehow-finally-get-her film.  Isn't that true wish fulfillment?  Along the way, there are various sub-plots and complications (there are bullies and runaways and school events and that sort of thing) that do little to distract from our hero's quest.  This guy might as well be Sir Galahad given his single-mindedness! Everything but Jonathan's mission to seduce his love object really is just there to fill the time.  Oh, and speaking of annoying sub-plots,   Catherine Mary Stewart plays a classmate who is the object of Gene's lust, and, yes, they play out the whole classic James Dean film scenario, leaving town on his bike.

Doug McKeon smashing his car into his rival's car
Those old cars took a lot of punishment

As usual in these sorts of seemingly throwaway films, there are some minor characters played by then-unknown actors who went on to bigger things.  Terry O'Quinn, the best (and, some would say, only good) thing about the 2000's TV series "Lost," plays Jonathan's very strict dad, a violinist of all things.  Jamie Gertz, who had some minor TV success in the 1990s and 2000s  (she almost got a part in "Friends"!), also is around but makes little impact here.  Interestingly, this was probably the height of  the careers of Doug McKeon and Kelly Preston - if you don't count Kelly's subsequent relationship with Charlie Sheen and marriage to John Travolta as career moves, that is.

black and white shot of Kelly Preston holding up her skirt and dancing in water from broken fire hydrant
This is the picture that was in my local paper when they reviewed it.

Seriously, the best thing about this film - apart, obviously, from Kelly Preston - is the atmosphere.  You are immersed in small-town 1950s life.  The main set, the actual town square in Nelsonville, Ohio when the film was made (and probably today, too!), apparently was little changed from the 1950s (and still is, according to some locals).  There are lots of classic old cars and situations that feel authentic, but the sexual shenanigans are strictly 1980s.

Kelly Preston with look of lust before sex
I really shouldn't have to say anything about this picture sequence....

The key scene is set in Marilyn's bedroom with Marilyn and what's-his-name, sorry, Jonathan.  No, they aren't playing Parcheesi!  Kelly completely dominates this scene.  Ah, the look of outrageous lust!  Kelly sure has it.  If female desire repulses you, stay far, far away from this film.

Kelly Preston look of lust before sex, without dress on
Wait!  Where did her dress go?????

Kelly is very natural about getting naked.  I think she has the best eyes in the business. She really knows how to communicate raw, overpowering seduction.

Kelly Preston look of lust before sex while topless and about to go bottomless
Oh My God, now her bra is gone, too, run and hide the children....

 Kelly is, of course, just as beautiful with her clothes on.

Kelly Preston at school in Mischief
That nerdy girl with the glasses is always around in the background to emphasize Kelly's beauty.  Thank you, nerdy background girl!

Let's be honest, shall we?  Most people are going to view this now in order to see Kelly Preston disrobe and get in sexual situations.  She does a fantastic job of taking off her clothes, one of the best such performances I, personally, have ever seen.  And, again being honest, I've seen quite a few. Yes, she gets completely nude, naked as the day she met John Travolta.  It turns out that she has desires of her own, and is very forthright about fulfilling them.  This is one of the best "the sweet and blazingly hot, innocent girl really isn't (innocent, that is)" performances you ever will ever.  You may not be into seeing the object of lust for all the men in town being taken down like, well, a prize stag, but if you are, well, this is your film, buddy.  You are welcome!

guy on motorcycle pretending to be James Dean

Let me put this yet another way.  If the only thing that interests you about the film poster at the top of this post is the fine, fine classic American automobile in which our two heroes are situated, well, that is another reason that this may not be the film for you.  But, if you are here for the sex, the film also does showcase fine old US wheels!

classic car, 1956 Chevy?
You really can play "ID that car" with this film.

If I haven't fully communicated the true thrust of this film completely enough yet, here's one last odd fact about it: the original film poster was subtly altered for the much later DVD and other releases.  In the original 1985 poster put in all advertising in newspapers and outside theaters (with the classic shot of Marilyn sprawled on a car seat after the passenger door has been opened), Jonathan is shown holding Marilyn's panties in his right hand.  That still may be the case in foreign releases, I don't know, but the panties are no more on current US DVDs and other media.  Airbrushing is evil! I want my panties! LOL. Anyway, that is why I found and put an original (foreign, that's all I could find) poster atop this post.  Incidentally, my old VHS copy also has the panties shown where they should be.  I suppose they figured that a boy holding a girl's panties was just a little too risque for modern family audiences of the 2000s... or, much more likely, some bullying, censoring stores that were still minor players in 1985 wouldn't agree to carry a DVD like that after they got big and arrogant (cough cough WMT cough cough).  Sadly, I guess times have changed.

Kelly Preston and Catherine Mary Stewart at school in Mischief
Yep, there's the girl with the glasses in the background again to make Kelly look even prettier. Thanks, nameless nerd girl!

Highly recommended for the reasons stated above.  I don't know this for a fact, but I think that free-thinking female viewers will (at least secretly, who knows) like this film too, for its portrayal of female maneuvering toward the ultimate goal of everybody involved (and it may be a good test of such free-thinking hint hint). This is not "Citizen Kane," but if you enjoy films such as "Two Moon Junction" and "The Hot Spot," you really should find a copy of this one. 

The Dreamers (2003) - Splendid, if a bit Off-Beat

Eva Green's First Role Makes Her a Star

The Dreamers Eva Green

"The Dreamers" (2003), directed by cinema legend Bernardo Bertolucci, was Eva Green's true breakthrough role. It led directly to her James Bond film with Daniel Craig, "Casino Royale" (2006), but her role as young rebel Isabelle (no last names) in "The Dreamers" is by far her best performance. One could say that Eva got the plum "Casino Royale" James Bond film gig because she showed herself in "The Dreamers" to be utterly fearless and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Few would question her determination, as Eva goes all the way ... and beyond ... for her art here. Well, to be fair, she was chosen for the Bond film due to her being fearless and the fact that Eva is stunningly beautiful and a terrific actress. She certainly brings to mind young Liv Tyler in Bertolucci's classic "Stealing Beauty," but Eva goes way beyond anything that Liv did in that earlier film.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva conveys everything with her enigmatic smile

Eva Green continues to get great roles, and in 2014 she dazzled again in "300: Rise of an Empire." Few roles, of course, will get someone as much exposure as that of a Bond girl, but Eva has managed it again. From a sophisticated Parisian family, Eva purposefully hasn't sought out many blockbusters for quick paydays as others might have done. When she is in one, though, she is the person who creates the buzz.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva Green is put into dozens of poses

Eva also has chosen quirky projects along the way that, no doubt, interest her own artistic impulses and not necessarily those of the masses. Plus, she has had the luxury of learning her craft in a slightly lower-profile setting, while still cranking out the occasional blockbuster as they come along. We should all be so lucky as to have those kinds of options in life.

The Dreamers Eva Green
This turns into a very sexy scene

Set in a 1968 Paris that is beset by student radicals and garbage strikes, "The Dreamers" is about growing up in all of its many different forms. Rather than just becoming a standard US "coming of age" film where the cute boy fighter learns how to fight from his wise Sensi or something like that, "The Dreamers" heads right where it counts in the real world: sex and politics. It is aimed at a sophisticated audience, and most definitely is not intended for everyone.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva Green at her sultry best

Make no mistake, "The Dreamers" is an art-house film with a decidedly French sensibility in almost every sense of that term. You get lots of sex, lots of nudity, lots of philosophizing, some nods to French radicals of the past, mordant wit. Along the way, we learn that everyone, no matter how assured, has to grow up, everyone is vulnerable, even the teachers are just yearning to be taught. One of Bertolucci's aims was to pay homage to films and student leaders of the 1960s, so there are delightful homages throughout that you will only get if you either lived through those times or are a student of 1960s French culture.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Everybody gets along famously, but there are underlying tensions. Note how the mirrors reveal who is really looking at whom in their minds. Now that's film-making.

There is so much nudity, in fact, that Eva Green reportedly was embarrassed to screen the film for her parents. Don't worry, it is all tastefully done, though this is not a film suitable for children. Don't leave it on when your grandparents drop by unannounced. "The Dreamers" is the antithesis of mass-market films such as "Battleship" and "Transformers," meaning it has soul and stretches the limits.

The Dreamers Eva Green

Either you enjoy films like this or you don't. There is no point to torturing yourself by watching "The Dreamers" if your favorite movie stars Jennifer Aniston or involves toys that talk. It is not "family friendly."

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva Green has marvelous feet

Who are the "dreamers" of the title, and what are they dreaming about? You can only fully appreciate this gem if you figure out the answers to questions like that on your own, but doing so isn't easy. Your answer may be different than mine, but thinking that thorny question through is half the fun.

The Dreamers Eva Green
They get down to it eventually, and may I say, not in a shy way

The most direct answer is that the dreamers are simply the three main characters, played by Louis Garrel, Michael Pitt and obviously the absolutely splendid Eva Green. They engage in various kinky sex games in 1968 Paris until ultimately being rudely interrupted by real-world events. But then, don't forget the former student radicals of the 1960s that Bertolucci rounded up to make cameos early in the film. See, it's not quite so obvious as you thought.

The Dreamers Eva Green
They are very free-spirited, but there is more to this scene than a simple jaunt

The characters are metaphors, representing certain points of view in the world of the counter-culture 1960s. The film is designed to make you ponder what has changed since the 1960s and what has remained the same. We see a little of both in "The Dreamers."

The Dreamers Eva Green
"Bande à Part" (1964) is the french film with the original museum scene

The plot is simple and almost incidental: a brother and sister idle away their lives in incestuous, self-indulgent pleasure, while a visiting, classically American tourist is kind of baffled by the whole thing. But is he the only naive character, or is he even the most naive?

The Dreamers Eva Green
Fortunately, they have a big tub

The three are all are whiling away their lives to no purpose, though this is set during only one month of the summer of '68. For example, the otherwise mature-beyond-her-years, tough-talking sister played by Green hasn't ever been on a real date. While full of profundity and cleverness, she lives her life as isolated loner in the midst of crowds of people.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva affects a funny French accent which, of course, must be accurate because she is French. But it's still funny.

This isolation is taken all the way to its limits in a sad scene. After the characters are forced out of their stupor, though, they finally seize the chance to take action. They now finally have "grown up." Who does what at that point sets up the glorious but extremely subtle and perhaps confusing climax.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva Green is a very pretty, but isolated, character in "The Dreamers."

One can read a blunt incest angle into the film, but the brother and sister never are shown having sex with each other. The nudity and sexual situations take it as far as you can go in that direction without actually crossing the line, though some would say they actually do go where they shouldn't. But Bertolucci is quite careful not to give his film's potential enemies any more ammunition than he has to.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva Green giving That Look

So, it is left a bit murky, no doubt intentionally, and also to avoid unnecessary confusion with the film's larger message. But there's absolutely no murkiness about all the sex that's involved. Eva Green spends most of the film in various states of undress.

The Dreamers Bernardo Bertolucci
Director Bernardo Bertolucci, the master, at work

I don't know what director Bernardo Bertolucci's politics are, and it doesn't really matter when viewing his works. Works of art stand on their own. A classic example of a film getting away from its creators' political intentions was "Patton (1970)," a glorious homage to a US General whose liberal creators never meant it to be sympathetic to him. Bertolucci almost certainly is most interested in filming his wistful memories of his long-lost youth, and anything beyond that is incidental.

The Dreamers Eva Green
I'm sure that Louis kind of wished he wasn't playing the brother.

I believe the film does speak loudly about the politics of the time. You have to decide what that means for yourself, but it ultimately is profitless. The only thing that matters is Eva Green's radiant beauty and the internal politics and resolution of a lover's triangle.

The Dreamers Eva Green
When they confront one another, there are no barriers.

What the characters ultimately learn is that growing up involves responsibility,a and they must break free of their aloof isolation. The world is about more than them, it is about ideas and change and progress. Once they realize the futility of their self-centered direction, they become part of the world and attempt to make their mark upon it. Everyone must grow up and leave home at last, and that is what "The Dreamers" is all about.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva Green just exudes sex even when she isn't trying

The juxtaposition of images of French student leaders from archive 1968 film with similar images filmed by Bertolucci in 2003 is perhaps the film's most powerful statement, but it also forms a question: did they change the world? You be the judge.

The Dreamers Eva Green
On the barricades

The Vietnam War (begun, remember, by the French, so they always felt some responsibility for it even after the Americans took over) dragged on and social injustice continued, but the world did evolve. What was the only immediate result of their agitations? Mountains of uncollected trash in Paris from a sanitation workers strike. Reality trumps philosophy while living our lives, and there is a profound lesson in that which the film attacks from several different angles.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva smokes throughout "The Dreamers"

There also is a larger net cast here. "The Dreamers" passes judgment on an entire generation of people who fought the good fight, joining a lost cause as knowingly as did Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind." It is right to honor them, but none of them appears blinded to the fact that it was just part of the times and the world has moved on.

The Dreamers Eva Green
A lot of affection is shown in "The Dreamers"

One of the central conceits of the film, which has the characters acting out parts from old films, gives the main clue to the where this film is aiming. Whether protesting or not, people at the time were watching helplessly as larger world events unfolded - as if watching a film.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Whilst in the bathtub with your brother is certainly the proper time for deep thoughts

Even when they tried to intervene, their ability to alter the Great Clock (as Tolstoy would say) was limited. The armed riot police would see to that. But still, this was the movie of their own lives, and they had to play their parts. To do otherwise, to simply sit and watch, could not be avoided except at the cost of their very souls.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Eva holds that cigaret in quite the sexy fashion

The three main characters serve a fundamental purpose. They show how people of good conscience, despite their own depravities and self-contradictions, could stay self-absorbed and degenerate only for so long before becoming supremely disgusted with themselves, leading to complete dissolution. Only when becoming actively engaged in events larger than themselves - here, by throwing a Molotov cocktail and storming the barricades - do they become alive and fulfilled.

The Dreamers Eva Green
Yes, let's see that from another angle

Events were too important for even these withdrawn types to ignore. As the American character played by Micheal Pitt aptly puts it, "You must not believe what you say about revolution, because you don't do anything about it." That is the key: you only dream unless you act. In "The Dreamers," at last, the thought becomes action and the dreamers do believe, even if their action only leads to insurmountable counter-reaction. At least they tried. The dreamers become believers.

The Dreamers Eva Green
There is a lot of nudity in "The Dreamers," way, WAY more than just this

Eva Green is a great actress with a flair for giving a naturalistic performance, but you may at times feel that she is posing as "the wild girl" just a bit too much. It is like a little girl playing grown-up and putting on her mother's clothes and shoes. They don't quite fit, but she manages to stumble around quite convincingly. Eva is a big girl, but this is a very big role, and she struggles to pull off the whole "I'm bad" vibe in convincing fashion. She does what she can with a role that may have hit very close to home with all its French historical references. Her stunning beauty and cocksure attitude carries her through the film, but Bertolucci was aiming very high, almost trying to make an existential point, and very few actresses could pull that of completely. Eva Green comes about as close as possible.

The Dreamers Eva Green Michael Pitt Louis Garrel
The black gloves at breakfast, it's got to be a French thing.

I must caution that there is lots of nudity of both genders and simulated sex, so this is a film strictly for mature viewers. It is thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating. It also captures the look and feel of 1960s Paris and the mores and controversies of the time. If any of that interests you, or you simply want to see Eva Green at her dazzling finest, I heartily recommend "The Dreamers."

Below is the trailer for Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers." Below that is a comparison of a scene in "The Dreamers" with the original French film from which it was copied as an homage. It's astonishing how similar the scene are, Bertolucci and his staff must have spent a lot of time to get it just right.

The Dreamers 2003 original film poster