The Duke of Burgundy movie full length review - Reflects what's wrong with current cinema & worship of "sexploitation" maestros
The meretricious film "The Duke of Burgundy" sinks under its own pretentious weight - an obnoxiously bad example of music video directors (Fincher and the like) taking over contemporary cinema.
I'll briefly comment on what ordinarily I would merely toss (DVD) into the waste basket, informed by the director's telltale interview comments in the "bonus" (or bogus) material.
Claiming a budget of a million pounds (pity the fools running Film 4 and BFI in England these days) he mentions originally being pitched to direct a remake of a lousy Jesus Franco porn film from the '70s, a project he quickly tired of (who wouldn't - Franco remade all his losers from this period a dozen times over himself).
Instead he pounces on the flimsy juxtaposition of a a BDSM submissive living in co- dependence with an older woman who doesn't really get the BDSM imperative and only partially derives sustenance vicariously by pleasing the other. That plus unbelievably pretentious imagery about entomology spins out a tedious exercise that once again is all tension and no release - a surefire recipe for either putting a viewer to sleep or having him (or her) make a mad rush for the exit.
I have been watching a vast cross-section of lesbian porn in recent years, from the key sources such as Girlfriends Films, Sweetheart Video, Filly Films, Abigail Productions, Girl Candy and others. To varying degrees they all deliver the goods - naturalistic sex, real orgasms (believable at any rate), beautiful female performers, modest but fairly interesting story lines, an emotional connection, full nudity and explicit XXX visuals (with no cocks in sight). There are no cocks (or males) in "Burgundy", but no nudity, not even interesting soft-core sex, and precious little emotion or faked orgasm. The entire movie is a cheat, typical of the junk that clutters Film Festival schedules around the world, aimed at a coterie of fest programmers and so-called critics who for many decades practice virtual masturbation at the screening rooms with "artistic" pretend- pornography (see: Walerian Borowczyk, name-dropped by this hack alongside Franco).
Most telling interview statement is how the self-made genius who created this movie admires the films of hacks like Franco because they have been overlooked by mainstream film historians. What he fails to mention is that for approximately 25 years now the "outlaw" or euphemistically termed "exploitation" cinema has been egregiously promoted in conjunction with the rise of video (VHS then DVD) as prime source of viewing for younger would-be film buffs and due to the vagaries and ignorance of distribution predominates over mainstream works. Ask any young film buff today about Italian films and they will know by heart the works of Dario Argento, Joe D'Amato and perhaps Deodato and Umberto Lenzi (plus of course Sergio Leone) but would they have seen a single film by Ermanno Olmi, Francesco Rosi or even Marco Bellocchio (beyond his pornographic "Devil in the Flesh"), let alone the geniuses like Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni, Rossellini, Germi, Bolognini, Risi, Monicelli, Scola, Wertmuller and dozens of others?
No, the Tarantino revolution elevating junk (ALL of which I saw 40 or 50 years ago in cinemas in parallel with the "high art" I'm namedropping here) above quality has become firmly entrenched. If "The Duke of Burgundy" is to represent the 21st Century's version of "Arthouse cinema", just contrast it with the most ubiquitous titles I used to see over and over 50 years ago at my local revival and art houses, neither of which has been shown hardly at all in the past 25 years: Bourguignon's "Sundays and Cybele" and Teshigahara's "Woman in the Dunes" (latter also dealing with entomology). Back in the day it was often decried how those two titles were "overexposed" since programmers became infatuated with them (alongside the most popular of the day, Bergman), but who knew they would be forgotten and Joe Sarno films of the '60s would replace them in the consciousness of so many film buffs two generations later.