Earlier this year, the largest video store in the United States, Scarecrow Video had a Kickstarter to help fund its survival and conversion to a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of video. Of course, being a film-loving Seattlite, I was just about contractually bound to contribute to the Kickstarter — and one of the perks was being allowed to curate a top 10 list that’d be available for folks to browse in the store. That list is here — though it’s not really a top 10 list, but more of 10 movies that may be a little obscure that are worth checking out. (And I believe a fair number of these I first saw from Scarecrow!) In no particular order, those films are…
Le couple témoin, or, in English, The Model Couple, is, unfortunately, William Klein‘s last fiction film to date. Like Who Are You, Polly Maggoo and Mister Freedom, it’s available in the great Eclipse DVD set The Delirious Fictions of William Klein. It’s a satire, as the other two films are, although it’s neither as straightforward as Maggoo, nor as over-the-top as Mister Freedom (though, of course, what else could be so?) — but somewhere in the middle. The Model Couple feels a little bit like science-fiction, but not in terms of space and lasers; rather, it’s social-science fiction. The titular couple are analyzed and processed and placed in an apartment where everything is labelled (including a wall, helpfully labelled “wall” and a lamp that is the word “lamp” in neon) or lettered for proper, exact data collection. While the man, Jean-Michel spends 8 hours a day at “work”, testing various consumer products, the woman, Claudine keeps house with state of the art devices (that the couple was not given outright, but given a discount on).
Some movies don’t need to be perfect. Some films are uneven and a little scattershot but couldn’t be anything else. Mister Freedom is one of those. The whole’s not greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts themselves are so huge, well, it doesn’t really matter. To say it peters out at the end wouldn’t be a lie — it does — though when it’s at its best it’s going along at a higher altitude than most consistently good movies.
The rough plot is that an American Cowboy-Football-Ultra-Patriot superhero is transplanted to France to staunch the influence of Anti-Freedom Forces, and ends up creating one-man Cold War. In such a film, though — the plot is more or less superfluous and the best technique is to just let the film wash all over you, bathing in its bright colors, absurdist lines and moving images.