Friday, December 31, 2010

Les Idoles (Marc'o, 1968)

Directed by one Marc'O, producer of Isidore Isou's Venom and Eternity, with assists from André Téchiné, Jean Eustache, and apparent location scouting from Paul Virilio (!), Les Idoles had every reason to be a fabulous film. Instead, it wastes its Lettrist fervor by informing us that, what's this now, pop music idols are really manufactured products and authenticity cannot grow in late capitalism's multinational gardens. Aw. Such profound revelations must have pained the film's vanguard creators. But not as much as its putative pop songs hurt us.

Based on a Living Theater-like play, Les Idoles frames its story with an unorthodox press conference designed to show off three pop idols: Charly Switchblade (Pierre Clémenti), Crazy Gigi (Bulle Ogier), and Simon The Magician (Jean-Pierre Kalfon). The trio's devious handlers allow a warehouse full of fans to ask any question whatsoever which inevitably wears down the singers and compels them to reveal the sham underneath their youthcult-galvanizing images. Via flashbacks, we learn about the manipulation that propelled them to stardom, a trajectory Monsieur O seems chuffed to lay out for us. But because he's cocooned himself so successfully from the "evils" of the pop machine, the overall effect is more arch than revelatory (obviously). Here's yet another movie which feeds the filmmakers' delusions that they can keep it unreal and emulate actual pop music's blissful inauthenticity. I'm no lover of French pop. But I cannot imagine someone hating it enough to applaud the horribly sung approximations/parodies of Johnny Halliday and France Gall that Clémenti and Ogier essay in this sorry context (and lord knows who Kalfon is trying to ape - some sort of cross between Scott Walker and...Pat Smear?). After about fifteen minutes, the self-satisfaction in a job very poorly done becomes unbearable. And M. O's camera offers no counterpoint, establishing the film's righteousness with every aimless dolly shot. Great fashions and maisons, though...


Anonymous Sam said...

Looks pretty damn cool to me. Thanks for bringing it to my attention

1:00 PM  

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