Friday, June 01, 2007

Three cheers for Arte

Arte is a cable TV channel with a focus on arts and culture. It's one of the few things that make me regret that I understand so little German, and no French at all; most of their programme seems to be in French with German subtitles, so I don't watch it very often.

But last night, by sheer chance, I caught a marvellously bizarre film on Arte; fortunately it was shown in the original English, with German subtitles that weren't difficult to ignore: a 1968 film called Vixen!, directed by one Russ Meyer who is apparently a cult filmmaker (I'd never heard either of him or of the film before, but that's not really surprising given my scant knowledge of film history).

The bizarre thing about the film is the mixture of topics in it. Most of the film is a mildly X-rated story of a seriously oversexed young woman named Vixen (I bet that incest had rarely looked that much fun on film before :)), but at the same time, especially in the last third or so, the movie explores much more serious subjects: one of the protagonists is a black draft dodger from the U.S. (the movie is taking place in Canada), who repeatedly becomes the victim of Vixen's rather shockingly racist comments; another protagonist is an Irish communist who attempts to hijack an airplane and get himself flown to Cuba. (For a more thorough synopsis of the story, see this review.)

Anyway, I have no idea why the filmmakers decided to mix such disparate topics into a single movie, but the result is delightfully weird and certainly a lot of fun to watch. Thank you, Arte, for bringing this obscure gem of a movie to my attention :)



Anonymous Michael M. said...

I think there are two tv channels worth watching: Arte is one, and 3sat is the other. I hardly watch television these days, but that's where I spend my time if I do. They really get it right.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger ill-advised said...

I agree, 3sat is nice too, but not much use to me as it's all in German :) Our cable provider also has something called Performance Channel or something like that, which is similar in many ways to Arte, except that it's in English. The other major difference is that it contains advertisements -- damned Anglo-Saxon unwillingness to finance high culture from the public purse! :))

Sometimes I also watch documentaries on National Geographic, Discovery, or Travel Channel. Or I just listen to music on VH1 or MTV while reading a book.

Incidentally, also on the subject of bizarre things on television -- I never cease to be amused by the fact that Deutsches Sportfernsehen -- DSF -- seems to feature more softcore pr0n than sports... :))

Saturday, June 02, 2007 9:04:00 PM  

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