Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie Review: House of Pleasures

If you want to find some nudity on Netflix and watch an entertaining film, check out "House of Pleasures" in the foreign section. It is a French film set at a high end brothel in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century. Having read the NY Times review of the movie, I am unsure if they watched the same film as me. They have some plot and character actions or traits completely wrong. The acting is good, the cinematography and shot selection are fantastic, and costumes and set design are great. I really enjoyed this movie. With the costume and sets, you'd expect a refined portrayal of prostitution, but no, we see routine acts, a locker room vibe, boring stretches of time, a sisterhood, and the grind. An odd touch is using modern music in some scenes like "Nights in White Satin". It seems all for mood. This is a pretty dark film.

Ten Quick Thoughts
10. Were the special evenings the light haired man arranges that hires Madeleine S&M as the NY Times review describes or just lesbian? I vote lesbian, but the Times didn't want to bring attention to a scene where lesbians might be sexually aggressive.
9. What was the direction for the dining scene, the waiting scenes or the river scene? Was it tight direction or more improvisational? If scripted completely; excellent.
8. Prostitutes should dress like these hookers did.
7. The 1899 interior design, funiture and wallpaper were pretty cool. As my wife said, 'you know they're trying hard to impress'.
6. Syphilis was a death sentence. Adding this movie's brush with it to the Stefan Zweig autobiography, antibiotics truly were a game changer in human sexual habits and behavior.
5. When a girl has her debts paid off by a customer, she receives an emerald in a box from him. I do not know if this was a real ritual, but it was an interesting touch.
4. Who keeps their two small children in the brothel when a customer habitually brings a panther?
3. One of the lead hookers (Madeleine) is Jewish. Jews make up 1% of France now. Was this required by the film producer? Come on. Give me a belle epoque break.
2. Midget lesbian (at the above referenced party).
1. The actress playing Lea does the robot as she pretends to be a 'doll' for a client. I laughed out loud when she started her performance.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lots of prostitutes in the West apparently were Jews in the late 19th century. There was a population explosion in the Pale of Settlement in the 19th century, so there were lots of poor Jews. Many girls were tricked into prostitution in the West with classic swindles like promises of marriage (the pimps were often Jewish).

Naomi Russell is no longer in the business. Reportedly, she's got HIV.

Son of Brock Landers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Check out Zwi Migdal.