The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Pierre Clémenti Day


‘The cinema of Pierre Clémenti resists easy comprehension in much the same way its maker resisted society

‘Perhaps best known for his role in Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, Clémenti the actor was also an ardent creator who sought to explore cinema’s intrinsic connection with the subconscious, a relationship often made literal in his distinctly, deliberately avant-garde works. Hindsight sees these films as distinct creations of their time, ready to be dismissed by those who see only the counterculture elements long since rendered cliché. Treading arguably pretentious and fatuous grounds, Clémenti’s smorgasbord utilization of sight and sound demands one engage it on its own ever-shifting terms, which routinely break the fourth wall and were surely made with the intention of being experienced under the influence. Viewed sober, his films (considered here are four works: Certificate No. X, New Old, In the Shadow of the Blue Scoundrel, and Soleil) remain trips whose nature transcends traditional designations of good or bad; as if finally escaping a hazy, disorienting fog, the only word I could use to describe them is essential.

Certificate No. X is broken up into two separate works that, while bearing separate names, Visa de Censure No. X and Carte de Væus, and filmed eight years apart (1967 and 1975, respectively), render what appears in context to be a seamless whole. Seamless, however, is hardly a word to use in describing a viewing experience that makes everything from Un Chien Andalou to Inland Empire look relatively straightforward by comparison. Commencing with the image of a nude man (Clémenti himself, a regular in his films) exiting the mouth of a cave (Plato’s, perhaps?), Visa de Censure quickly lobs the viewer into a tailspin of psychedelic imagery both thrilling and exhausting. Images of war, religion, oppression, and frank nudity are interspersed with a stylistic freefall of strobe lighting, camera filters, layered shots, and scoping effects, among others. The effect is less powerful in any given instance than it is as a cumulative, primordial mood piece, though several key images leave a lasting impression (a face is juxtaposed over simmering flames, a man “plays” a woman with a violin bow, etc.). Steadily, a theme of broad enlightenment emerges: Obsession with circles gives way to eyes and spectatorship, and the film wordlessly speaks to the necessary union held between the art, the artist, and the viewer.

‘The smooth transition into Carte de Væus suggests a deliberate comedown from the preceding hysteria. Warm images aplenty (including the face of a girl Clémenti was obviously enamored with, at least as a subject) don’t negate the heavy lifting, however, a quality humorously acknowledged by the image of a white bunny being forcibly pushed along toward the inevitable rabbit hole. Coming on the heels of Visa de Censure No. X, an experience that initially suggested the freak-out sequences of Ken Russell’s Altered States, Carte de Væus is something singularly unique, and Clémenti pulls out all the stops in establishing a self-serving mythological tone (the same can be said for all of his works to some extent). Words flash across the screen as additional mood enhancers atop images as far ranging as that of an animated skiing penguin and an impromptu shot of a vagina. As art goes, the entire Certificate No. X is most certainly fubar. It’s up to each viewer, I suppose, to determine whether that’s a good thing or not.

New Old, from 1979, is described as Clémenti’s autobiography, but viewers hoping for something more narratively straightforward might be disappointed to instead find a work merely somewhat less diffuse than its predecessor(s). Assembled from the approximately 15 hours of footage Clémenti shot during a self-described nomadic existence (carefree frolicking, streaking, and dancing abounds), the hour-long feature bears witness to an unflinching life of exploration complete with an ongoing creative struggle and insatiable longing for truth. The framing device of a writer at his typewriter is both appropriate and, scantly returned to, only vaguely literal. New Old‘s bombardment is more controlled and, ultimately, more scintillating than Certificate No. X‘s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, tapping into a dreamlike euphoria as it utilizes similar techniques with greater focus as well as a number of devices from the silent era’s bag of tricks (the use of a negative shot recalls Nosferatu, but a simple effects shot involving Satan on a beach is my favorite). The film doesn’t end so much as eventually wind down, affirming the work of an artist as a lifelong endeavor. The words of Robert Altman hover about the proceedings: “Retirement? you’re talking about death, right?”

‘The closest Clémenti ever came to making a traditional film was In the Shadow of the Blue Scoundrel (shot and assembled from 1978 through 1985), a noir-ish tale of social dystopia and political espionage, the subversions of which are probably all the greater for their relatively straightforward presentation. Placed in the fictitious Necro City and starring Clémenti as the city’s military leader General Nutsbody, Blue Scoundrel is less stylistically assaulting in composition, but its ramshackle appearance (fish eyed lenses, over- and underexposed images, cheap effects and makeup, etc.) are both oddly poetic and appropriate to the storyline, suggesting that the film itself is the product of revolution. Amid a plot involving drugs, murder, and hidden motives, what stands out is the voiceover used to increase dramatic momentum, while the looping used for dialogue, while probably a budgetary necessity, further suggests that the film is little more than its maker’s id poured directly onto the screen.

‘For an artist so purely guided by creative self-actualization, it seems obvious that his final work, the short film Soleil, would be his masterpiece. Released in 1988 (11 years before his death at the hands of liver cancer), it is a breathless outpouring of exquisitely rendered philosophical rhetoric comprised more of questions than answers, delivered here in the form of a stream-of-consciousness voiceover set to personally and politically appropriate imagery. In its dogged quest for truth, it encapsulates an entire worldview, and to attempt to further put the experience in words would be both futile and an affront against its purity of essence. The use of footage from the previous three films shows an artist both resourceful and daring, one who cares not what you think of him, only that he might force you to truly think in the first place.’ — Rob Humanick, Slant Magazine





Pierre Clément @ imdB
Blow up – Pierre Clémenti par Ange Leccia
Hommage à Pierre Clémenti
¡Encerradlos a todos! Pierre Clémenti
Pierre Clémenti | Rapporto Confidenziale
Pierre Clémenti: Un acteur engagé au cinéma comme dans la vie
The Passion of Pierre Clémenti: European cinema’s christ-devil child
Pierre Clementi Fan Site 1 (French)
Pierre Clementi Fan Site 2 (French)
Pierre Clementi entries @ CinebeatPierre Clementi Facebook Page
Cinememorial: Pierre Clementi
The CV of PC’s son Balthazar Clementi



P.Clementi J.P Kalfon B.Ogier on LSD FREAKBEAT PSYCH

Pierre Clementi, l’absolue liberté (extrait avec Philippe Garrel)

Pierre Clementi’s Grave


Conversation entre Pierre Clémenti, Miklos Janscó, Glauber Rocha et Jean-Marie Straub (1970)


Pierre Clémenti : Quand les gens découvriront le cinéma, ils changeront, en créant leur propre cinéma.

Jean-Marie Straub : Et c’est exactement pourquoi ils ne sont pas autorisés à le découvrir pour le moment. Parce que ces salauds le sentent bien, ils ont un bon odorat. Et c’est aussi à cause de ça qu’il est dangereux que les critiques intellectuels se mettent à raconter que nous faisons du cinéma pour une minorité, etc. Ils s’alignent d’eux-mêmes, avec cette prohibition. Mais quand le peuple – je n’aime pas le mot « masses » – découvrira le cinéma, alors quelque chose se passera…

Miklos Jancsó : C’est presque la même trahison qu’à l’époque où les intellectuels étaient confrontés au nazisme. Il est clair que les critiques, les intellectuels, sont du côté de…

Straub : Inconsciemment. Sans s’en rendre compte, ils soutiennent le système en proférant les mêmes vieilles stupidités…

Clémenti : Quand les gens voient un film, ils expérimentent une sorte d’identification, ils subissent l’influence de la star du film. Je pense que lorsque les gens se mettront à filmer avec leurs propres caméras, quand ils les pointeront sur leurs familles, leurs maisons, leurs boulots, quelque chose va faire tilt dans leurs têtes, ils découvriront que dans les films ça n’a rien à voir …

Straub : Ils s’apercevront que tout ce qui est montré dans les films est complètement hors de propos, que ça n’est que rhétorique. De la rhétorique qui tourne au vide complet. Ce que j’appelle « pornographie ». Les gens vont découvrir que sous le nom d’ « art », c’est de la pornographie qu’on leur jette en travers du visage, que le cinéma commercial n’est rien que de la rhétorique, de la pornographie, de l’illusion.

Glauber Rocha : Ce terrorisme dirigé contre le cinéma est malheureux. Malheureux le moment où on classifie un film d’ « artistique ». Parce que personne ne parle de peintures « artistiques », ou de romans, ou de poèmes « artistiques » – mais ils parlent de films « artistiques ». C’est déjà un jugement péjoratif… Et des contradictions finissent par sortir de ce terrorisme qu’on a imposé pour des raisons d’intérêt économique. Et puis il y a quelque chose de pire encore : l’ignorance totale des producteurs, des responsables. Ils sont complètement analphabètes – pas tous, mais 99% d’entre eux. Ils ne savent pas les bases du fonctionnement des choses…

Jancsó : Non, ce n’est pas ça. Pour ces gens, le cinéma est une chose complètement différente. C’est le pouvoir, c’est…

Clémenti : Pour les gens, le cinéma, c’est ce qu’ils ne voient pas à la télé. Comme la télé leur apporte ce qu’ils trouvent généralement au cinéma, tôt ou tard ils ne bougeront plus de chez eux. Ils iront directement à l’usine. La télé sera la nouvelle machine divine qui les comblera, qui satisfera tous leurs désirs. Le cinéma disparaîtra. C’est une possibilité, parce que je suis certain que si des gens très intelligents s’emparent de la télé, ça deviendra quelque chose de très puissant, de fabuleux, colossal. Quand la télé recouvrera tout son pouvoir, chacun, tous ceux qui travaillent seront ramenés à leur ghetto. Elle aliènera des nations entières, les gens ne sortiront plus, sauf pour aller à l’usine – ils seront complètement aliénés par une machine, qui prendra la place de la religion, des histoires, des grandes histoires. Je crois que le seul art capable de combattre cela aujourd’hui est le cinéma. Au moins le cinéma en tant qu’extension logique de ce qui se passe aujourd’hui.

Hartog : Beaucoup de jeunes gens aujourd’hui font des films en dehors des structures de l’industrie. Ils soutiennent que l’idée d’un film de 90 minutes est une idée commerciale. Ils font des films underground ou des actualités ou des choses dans le genre. Trouvez-vous que c’est une bonne direction ou pas ?

Clémenti : Quand les gens voient un film underground, ils réalisent soudain qu’ils pourraient faire pareil, voire mieux. Et c’est le stimulus qu’il faut pour leur faire acheter une petite caméra. Ces jeunes cinéastes qui passent un ou deux ans à trouver l’argent pour finir leurs films… Une caméra super 8 ou 16mm leur permet de faire le film qu’ils veulent, et rien que pour ça, le cinéma underground est révolutionnaire. Et le cinéma underground a aussi de positif qu’il éveille quelque chose dans les consciences.

Rocha : Je suis globalement d’accord avec Pierre, mais il y a deux façons de voir le cinéma. L’un comme un moyen d’expression, comme la littérature, auquel chacun a accès, et l’autre comme une profession. Quand les cameras s’achèteront aussi aisément que des machines à écrire ou des stylos, les gens se serviront des images et des sons pour écrire des lettres. Mais en littérature, il y en a qui écrivent des poèmes, des essais, des romans, des pièces… Moi, je suis un professionnel.

Straub : Et c’est exactement pour ça que j’ai voulu faire mon dernier film (Othon, 1970) en 16mm. Juste pour montrer que ce n’est pas quelqu’un qui joue tel ou tel rôle dans le cinéma, mais que n’importe qui peut le faire. Ça n’est pas compliqué – n’importe qui aurait pu faire un film comme celui-là.

Rocha : Vous devez absolument voir ce film. C’est très important. C’est une évolution de la technique…

Straub : Il n’y avait pas de plateau – on a tout tourné en extérieurs. Le seul danger du cinéma underground est que c’est du cinéma underground. Il y a déjà des trusts et des monopoles qui projettent de mettre le grappin dessus, de transformer…

Clémenti : Mais c’est déjà arrivé. Les livres, c’est fini. Les livres disparaîtront pour laisser la place à des bibliothèques de films super 8. En Amérique maintenant on trouve des caméras super 8 qui développent 1000 ASA et qu’on gonfle en 35mm. Donc je suis persuadé que l’industrie du film va complètement changer, et qu’elle va périmer…

Straub : Elle va coloniser l’underground…

Rocha : On ne peut pas montrer un film underground à Broadway, de la même façon on ne peut pas amener de film hollywoodien sur les campus américains. Parce que le marché underground y est déjà…

Clémenti : Sur tous les campus américains, on peut montrer des films underground.

Rocha : Mais, voyez-vous, c’est déjà un système, une industrie…

Clémenti : C’est une société alternative qui n’en est qu’au début, et qui attaque le système – que ça soit positif ou négatif importe peu. Pour le moment, c’est positif…

Rocha : Non, pour le moment, j’ai l’impression que tout s’oppose à Hollywood. C’est très positif…

Clémenti : Je crois que les géants comme la Paramount se désagrègent en ce moment. A cause de quoi ? Parce que des gens ont fait des films à petits budgets et ont gagné des millions. Les grands studios ne savent plus quoi faire. Ils sont finis.

Rocha : Mais je sens que la crise de l’industrie américaine n’est qu’illusoire, et que par-dessous ils tiennent tout très bien…

Clémenti : Non, il est foutu, le cinéma américain… jusqu’à ce qu’il trouve, qu’il réinvente un langage filmique. Mais dans les conditions actuelles, tous les grands studios disparaissent.

Straub : Ça fait cinq ans qu’ils sont foutus. Et il en faudra encore dix pour qu’ils lâchent prise.

Jancsó : C’est pour nous un problème très sérieux – on est toujours gêné par les distributeurs internationaux. C’est vrai, c’est l’évidence. Je ne sais pas ce que nous pouvons faire, il faut faire quelque chose. Nous devons détruire…

Rocha : Au bout du compte, c’est un problème politique.

Clémenti : En ce moment je peux vous dire qu’on fait à partir d’un seul enregistrement dix millions de copies, et il y aura…

Rocha : L’année prochaine, avec l’arrivée sur le marché des cassettes, il y aura un système de distribution des films sur le même modèle que les livres.

Clémenti : Oui, il y aura un tel système, mais seulement pour les films à consommer, c’est-à-dire les films qui ont contaminé tout le monde, toute la nature humaine. De plus en plus le cinéma devient une entreprise de crétinisation. Sauf pour le cinéma lié aux ciné-clubs et ce genre de choses, où tout ce qui est projeté est complètement nul, où on n’entend pas le son, où l’image est pénible, les copies terribles. Pourquoi ? Parce que les jeunes distributeurs n’ont pas l’argent pour faire de bonnes copies ou bien n’y croient pas. Et donc on aura des bibliothèques de films super 8, avec des millions de copies de chaque. Je crois que c’est la fin de l’industrie du film… Il y a eu tous ces chamboulements révolutionnaires. Le cinéma en France est de plus en plus aliéné, en harmonie avec la télévision, avec les chaînes de télé. Et j’ai l’impression que le cinéma qui essaie d’être en rapport avec les gens, de changer leur conscience, sera mis de côté. Le travailleur qui veut acheter un livre, achètera un film. Mais ça sera circonscrit, car la société sait très bien que…


26 of Pierre Clementi’s 111 films
Luchino Visconti The Leopard (1963)
‘Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) is an epic on the grandest possible scale. The film recreates, with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento—when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, The Leopard translates Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece.’ — The Criterion Collection




Luis Bunuel Belle de jour (1966)
‘He had a legend, the aura of genius, a friend to the mysterious and the strange. I arrived full of holy terror and mad hope all at the same time. I was struck immediately by one thing, only one: he’s a man of whom you only see the face. The fabulous mouth, worked by life, heavily wrinkled skin, the driven eyes, but in their black ring, a sparkling light. I was incapable of saying a word, I don’t even remember if it was a production office, an apartment, a hotel room. I looked at the deep earth of his face, the clear water of his regard. They told me ‘Speak loudly, we don’t know if he’s deaf or if he pretends to be . . .’ But how to speak? I repeated to myself ‘Come on. You have to speak.’ I thought that my silence and my insistence on staring would become intolerable. Someone else would surely have addressed me, would have started to speak, if only to reduce the tension a little. He was content to just look at me. Simply, directly, as if we had met there for a mutual exam and that words weren’t necessary. A guy walked in, perhaps an assistant, I can’t remember. Buñuel turned towards me. ‘This is Clémenti. Show him the script.’ If I understood properly, I had just been hired for Belle de Jour…With no other director did I have such a feeling of confidence.’ — Pierre Clementi


Excerpt (dubbed)


Pierre Clementi Visa de censure n° X (1967)
‘Shot in 1967 but not released until 1975, actor Pierre Clémenti’s acid-infused experimental whirlwind of colour and music featuring a who’s who of the French 60s underground.’ — letterboxd

the entire film


Michel Deville Benjamin ou les mémoires d’un puceau (1967)
‘Pauline Kael wrote that Pierre Clementi “indicates adolescent innocence by being loose-limbed and girlish. It is essential for the boy to suggest the kind of man he will become once he has learned what everyone is so eager to teach him, but Clémenti looks as though he would become a lesbian.”‘ — collaged


Behind the scenes


Bernardo Bertolucci Partner (1968)
‘Everyone agrees that the film is under the influence of Godard (one critic claims that Bertolucci is exorcising this influence; considering The Conformist, one must say the exorcism failed); but whereas Godard conceives of films in non-narrative terms, Bertolucci conceives of his in narrative terms but then goes and jerks up, obscuring, the storyline. Over time, he became more and more conventional and (presumably) himself. Giacobbe is funny when he boxes his own shadow or converses with himself aloud, attempting to spur his gumption; but the killer he becomes under the other Giacobbe’s tutelage is a bummer, however dazzling Pierre Clémenti’s double performance the year after his half-performance in Buñuel’s Belle de jour.’ — Dennis Grunes




Pierre Clementi The Revolution is Only A Beginning. Let’s Continue Fighting (1968)
‘Half family photo album, half ciné-tract, the film was shot in Paris during the events of May ’68 and in Rome where the actor was featuring in the film Partner by Bertolucci.’– mubi



Philippe Garrel Le lit de la vierge (1969)
‘I believe my point of view on the Christian myth is quite clear in LE LIT DE LA VIERGE (THE VIRGIN’S BED). It is a non-violent parable in which Zouzou incarnates both Mary and Mary Magdalene, while Pierre Clémenti incarnates a discouraged Christ who throws down his arms in face of world cruelty. In spite of its allegorical nature, the film contains a denunciation of the police repression of 1968, which was generally well understood by viewers at the time.’ — Philippe Garrel




Luis Bunuel The Milky Way (1969)
‘The first of what Luis Buñuel later proclaimed a trilogy (along with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Phantom of Liberty) about “the search for truth,” The Milky Way (La voie lactee) daringly deconstructs contemporary and traditional views on Catholicism with ribald, rambunctious surreality. Two French beggars, present-day pilgrims en route to Spain’s holy city of Santiago de Compostela, serve as Buñuel’s narrators for an anticlerical history of heresy, told with absurdity and filled with images that rank among Buñuel’s most memorable (stigmatic children, crucified nuns) and hilarious (Jesus considering a good shave). A diabolically entertaining look at the mysteries of fanaticism, The Milky Way remains a hotly debated work from cinema’s greatest skeptic.’ — The Criterion Collection



Pierre Clémenti La Deuxième femme (1969)
‘The reconciliation of the visual with the colorful psychedelic impulses of these luscious times… To find again the chant of origins, images that inscribe themselves in us like a double and that wave to us. To grope for… In the dark room of multinational ideas, I quiver and I mumble. Cinema of the inside and the outside, of the behind and the inside. In front of the magical mirror of multiple visions, I find the thread of my memory and open a little the family album of births and deaths. In front of the flood of multicolor impressions, cartoons, reanimated by passion and love of the man with the cardboard suitcase, I was waving my huge scissors and carving and re-carving like a sculptor inspired standing in front of his first work.’ — Pierre Clémenti



Pier Paolo Pasolini Porcile (1969)
‘One of Pasolini’s most difficult films, Pigsty is made up of two parts which are intercut throughout the film: in Orgia (Orgy), set in a seemingly timeless Dark Age, Pierre Clementi plays a young outcast reduced by hunger to cannibalism. Porcile (Pigsty) is set in contemporary West Germany. Jean-Pierre Léaud plays the son of a powerful industrialist with Nazi ties. Unable to join or rebel against a world that repulses him, he indulges in his fetish for pigs. Clementi is ultimately set out as hyena fodder by an angry populace, while Léaud is devoured by his porcine companions. Rosalind Delmar writes for Monthly Film Bulletin: “It is certainly not a naturalistic film about cannibalism and bestiality, but much more about consumption and consciousness. Thematically and stylistically it is very much what we have come to expect from Pasolini’s later films: innocence, guilt, expiation, human isolation, the relation between social determination and human will, are again his themes.” On the film’s U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival in 1969, Richard Roud noted, “What is certain is its compulsive and disturbing beauty. It may be unlovable, but it is triumphantly unforgettable.”’ — BAMPFA




Peter Emmanuel Goldman Shell of Ashes (1969)
‘All the American film-makers we admire came into the cinema young. Now they’re old but no one’s taking their place. When Hawks started out he was the same age as Goldman and Goldman is alone…There will be other great American film-makers (there’s already Goldman, Clarke and Cassavetes).’ — Jean-Luc Godard




Bernardo Bertolucci The Conformist (1970)
‘Bernardo Bertolucci’s expressionist masterpiece of 1970, The Conformist, is the movie that plugs postwar Italian cinema firmly and directly into the emerging 1970s renaissance in Hollywood film-making. Its account of the neuroses and self-loathing of a sexually confused would-be fascist (Jean-Louis Trintignant) aching to fit in in 1938 Rome, who is despatched to Paris to murder his former, anti-fascist college professor, was deemed an instant classic on release. It was, and is, a highly self-conscious and stylistically venturesome pinnacle of late modernism, drawing from the full range of recent Italian movie history: a little neo-neorealism, a lot of stark and blinding Antonioni-style mise-en-scène, some moments redolent of Fellini. And it was all framed within an evocation of the frivolous fascist-era film-making style derided by Bertolucci’s generation as “white telephone” cinema. Add a dose of unhealthy sexual confusion and it’s hardly surprising that it was one of the international hits of the year. It also offered the blueprint for the new wave of Hollywood film-makers to a different kind of cinema and a roadmap of new formal possibilities – not merely for those of Italian descent such as Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese.’ — John Patterson




Miklós Jancsó The Pacifist (1970)
‘From Italy, France and West Germany, and in the Italian language, Miklós Jancsó’s La pacifista revolves around Barbara, a journalist who becomes a target of the neo-fascist group she is covering. While it lacks the formal rigor of the filmmaker’s Hungarian masterpieces, it is a dazzling, enchanting piece of work, pulsatingly contemporary (circa 1970), increasingly frightening and suspenseful, poignant and pitiable. It’s a knockout.’ — Dennis Grunes



Liliana Cavani I Cannibal (1970)
I cannibal (internationally released as The Cannibals and The Year of the Cannibals) is an Italian drama film directed by Liliana Cavani. It is inspired by the Antigone of Sophocles. The film competed in the Quinzaines des Realisateurs section of the 23rd Cannes Film Festival.’ — Wiki

the entire film


Maurizio Lucidi The Designated Victim (1971)
‘Tomas Milian portrays a cheating husband named Stefanio who falls into a strange relationship with the bohemian Count Mateo (Pierre Clementi) in this intriguing thriller. Earning his trust, Mateo lures Stefanio into a sick psychological game, offering to murder his wife so that the unhappy businessman can be free to pursue his beautiful mistress (Katia Christine). In return, he continues, Stefanio must kill Mateo’s brother. Stefanio laughs off the suggestion until the day that his wife is actually murdered and he becomes the prime suspect. As Stefanio’s troubles increase, Mateo applies more pressure, finally forcing his frantic, desperate victim to fulfill his part of the bargain. Fine performances and some blatantly Hitchcockian moments in Fulvio Gicca’s screenplay help to make director Maurizio Lucidi’s film tense and absorbing, if somewhat predictable.’ — Robert Firsching

the entire film


Philippe Garrel La Cicatrice intérieure (1972)
‘The proof of everything that I have advanced is The Inner Scar. The Inner Scar is a masterpiece for whomever does not understand German, it would seem2. Personally, I find this film a masterpiece. A total masterpiece. I can’t explain it… Suddenly, it’s mankind, the whole earth that speaks – the earth in the ancient sense of mother. But it is not even the earth that speaks, it is the humus… It’s incredible: everything is there.’ — Henri Langlois




Dušana Makavejeva Sweet Movie (1974)
‘The winner of the Miss World Virginity contest escapes from a sexless marriage to an oil tycoon, has a wild affair with a famous rock star and settles in a radical commune. Meanwhile, a boat travels the canals of Amsterdam with a cargo of sugar, a demented crew, a revolutionary zealot captain and her lover, a refugee from the Battleship Potemkin. Makavejev’s bizarre and pointedly satirical vision is totally uncompromising and filled with shocking images.’ — TCM



Fred Haines Steppenwolf (1974)
‘Faced with Hesse’s intensely introspective text about the intellectual and emotional crisis of a middle-aged man, Haines opts for a ’60s-ish semi-psychedelic approach, with some fetching animated interpolations, an amusing appearance by Clémenti, and a marginal, simplistic ‘let’s all get stoned’ moral. The latter aspect now looks distinctly corny, and some might regard it as a gross misreading of the original. But even the staunchest Hesse devotee will find compensations in Sydow’s characterisation and the comparative fidelity of the film’s first half.’ — Time Out (London)




Frank Cassenti The Song of Roland (1978)
‘Frank Cassenti’s gorgeous The Song of Roland is not exactly an adaptation of the French medieval epic. Rather than taking place in the tenth century, as the eleventh-century poem does, it takes place in the twelfth. Peasants on a pilgrimage to a holy site are accompanied by a band of travelling players who enact the exploits of Charlemagne’s soldiers. Their journey is upheaved by a peasant uprising, costing the lives of some members. However, Klaus, the actor playing Roland des Roncesvalles (Klaus Kinski, tremendous), becomes a hero himself by taking up the peasants’ cause. Cassenti’s film is a meditation on life and art, but also on time and history. Filled with song and in-the-momentness, the pilgrimage seemingly suspends time, with its religious motive granting it an eternal component. The performances, though, enact a French history of war and betrayal.’ — Dennis Grunes



Alain Fleischer Zoo Zero (1979)
‘Eva is a singer in a Noah’s Ark themed nightclub, where the guests wear animal masks. She sings about a doomed love affair between a lion tamer and a lion. She is approached by a stranger who claims to know her and to remember her singing Mozart which she denies. Driven around in her midget manager’s limousine she encounters bizarre characters who turn out to belong to her incestuous family of ogres. All culminates in a bizarre finale in a zoo featuring Klaus Kinski and Pierre Clementi.’ — IMDb

the entire film


Ange Leccia Stridura (1980)
‘In a desolated world, a martyr (Pierre Clementi) is steered by a man giving orders from a control room. His henchmen torture the resistance fighter. Are the parts played by victim and hangman defined as clearly as it seems? Ange Leccia offers a political reflection about the power of images and their manipulative force.’ — Ubuweb

the entire film


Philippe Puicouyoul La Brune et Moi (1981)
‘Modeled as a punk version of Frank Tashlin’s THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT (whose French title, LA BLONDE ET MOI, was an inspiration for the film), Philippe Picoyoul’s LA BRUNE ET MOI is the story of a young Parisian girl who wants to become a famous punk rock star. Pierre Clementi stars as an older businessman who falls for the girl (Anouschka), and is determined to make her the star she dreams of becoming. If the plot seems a little thin, it’s because it’s mostly a framework to show some blistering performances from now-obscure French punk/new wave bands, including Edith Nylon, Taxi Girl, Artefact, and Ici Paris. As Clementi and Anouschka bounce from scene to scene, bands perform around them as a part of their world. Even though Clementi often seems like an alien from another planet in most of his movies, he’s most out of place here; a pathetic, balding businessman in love with a scenester who is using him for his ability to make her famous. He does in fact become a creepy, surprisingly effective Svengali to his young protege. More than anything, LA BRUNE ET MOI is a love letter to, and an insider portrait of, a very specific scene that otherwise may have been lost to history.’ — Spectacle Theater

the entire film


James Ivory Quartet (1980)
Quartet is the story of a girl who, adrift with her feckless husband amidst the literati of glittering Paris in the 1920s, becomes entrapped by a rich and sybaritic English couple. Adapted from the wistful, melancholy autobiographical novel by Jean Rhys, Quartet is full of intense confrontations dazzlingly acted by Alan Bates, Maggie Smith, Anthony Higgins, Pierre Clementi, and Isabelle Adjani. This is one of the Merchant Ivory team’s darkest and most compelling dramas of dangerously intertwined relationships.’ — The Criterion Collection



Jacques Rivette Le Pont du Nord (1981)
‘If all of Le Pont du Nord’s games, rules, and neuroses point back to a single theme, it is the fear of death, and the possibility (or impossibility) of cheating it. It’s difficult to say more than that, because for everything you could say about Rivette’s attitude towards mortality, the opposite would likely be just as true. Death is the chief subject of comedy, and at the same time the tragedy for which all comedy exists to compensate; it’s something at once unspeakably awful and unspeakably trivial, unimaginable even as it serves as the basis for all other imaginings. When death does enter into Le Pont du Nord, it comes off as casual, arbitrary, and totally unnecessary, and we don’t know whether to be comforted by its mildness or horrified by its lack of weight. “Death can also be a beginning. Begin a new game,” Marie tells Baptiste as they pore over the map’s central square, the tomb. She pauses. “But in any case, it’s a very frightening game.”’ — Max Nelson



James Toback Exposed (1983)
‘This wild ride, directed by James Toback, stars Nastassja Kinski as Elizabeth Carlson, an unhappy college student who flees to New York and becomes a famous model. But her rise is tinged with cloak-and-dagger tension, starting with the opening sequence of a bomb attack in Paris, and the resulting thriller is also an exemplary tale of leveraging celebrity into politics. Harassed and abused by a professor (played by Toback), Elizabeth drops out of school and makes her way to New York (Toback savors the mean streets). Working as a waitress, she’s spotted by a photographer, and her life changes—and then changes again when she’s stalked by a concert violinist (Rudolf Nureyev) with a sideline in terrorist-hunting, for which he recruits her. Toback skips the details of Elizabeth’s success in favor of the high-stakes maneuvers in its shadows, and, back in Paris, the director unfolds a breathtaking bag of tricks as the violence ratchets up. Tensely pendular tracking shots and deft full-circle pans mesh split-second action with a repressed romanticism; after a tautly efficient car chase, the inevitable conflagration yields a majestic, paranoid stillness.’ — The New Yorker



Gillies Mackinnon Hideous Kinky (1998)
‘“Hideous Kinky” is neither hideous nor kinky. It’s also not terribly interesting. The film, directed by Gillies MacKinnon and based on Esther Freud’s autobiographical novel, takes place in Marrakech, Morocco, in 1972. This was a time when many people, including rock stars like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, retreated to Marrakech in order to “find themselves,” or whatever it was the hippies were doing in those days. Flower child Julia (Kate Winslet) is among this crowd, living out a day-to-day, rootless existence there with her two young children, Bea (Bella Rizza) and Lucy (Carrie Mullan). “Hideous Kinky” will probably be a nostalgia piece for those who participated in the hippie movement of the early ’70s, but there’s little else to engage anyone who can’t relate to hitchhiking through Marrakech.’ — Eric D. Snider





p.s. Hey. ** Kyler, Top of the morning back to you. I like the sound of a jam-packed weekend. Parade raining alert: I saw ‘Manifesto’ last year and thought it was awful. But, yeah, some people really seem to like it, and pleasure is a good thing. Welcome back! ** Bill, Thanks, B. I was really excited when that Gothic LA project seemed to be in the making, but of course all the ‘good taste’ people with money and power thought it was horrifying and killed it. ‘Good taste’ is so often the reason why we can’t have great things. Forging ahead is always the best way to squash the lag, so good move. How was Axel Dorner? ** Amphibiouspeter, Hi there! Nice, I’m going to look up Lighthouse and see what of their belongings I can see. What a good name: Lighthouse. I would have been fascinated to read your piece on ‘A Serious Man’. I get that urge to write about things I love, etc. that I think aren’t been fully explored a lot, but my urges to do that never seem to get much further than my daydreams and conversations with pals. Coming from fiction editing where, in the editing process you can change anything from, say, a character’s looks, age, etc. to the story itself or the novel’s entire setting, etc., the relatively severe limitations in film editing where you can’t work outside of the footage you’ve already shot as material, are both frustrating and fascinating. So there’s a lot of … ‘oh, why didn’t we think to shoot this moment from a different angle’, or ‘why didn’t think to have the actor try ‘this’ reading of the dialogue,’ and etc. But the limitations force you to try radical distortions and tricks too, which is exciting. I am really enjoying the process, for sure. Thanks a bunch! ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Frank Gehry’s earliest work was pretty interesting, but he’s been a bore for a long time now. ** Sypha, Hi. Me too. Oh, yeah, I understand. And, yes, I do think the post hit some kind of zeitgeist this time around. So interesting when that happens, and the timing of that is interestingly unpredictable. ** S., Hi. Ugh, enough meat talk. I have an intuitive predisposition to like long hairs, probably for a reason as simple as that everyone cool had long hair when I was ‘growing up’. Porn star! Congrats! Porn stars are the new baristas. Religion just makes me scratch my head. It’s like ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben, Ah, yes, why didn’t I remember/think to check Darran Anderson’s feed when I was assembling that post. I’m happy to be back in touch with it, thank you. Still haven’t seen the new ‘TP’. Waiting for a vacation. ** Misanthrope, Me too. Maybe 65% of it. Me too about the creepiness of moving buildings. I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before over the years that I had recurring nightmares as a child of an apartment building that went around killing people, me included if course. Its name was Mike. The second of the recent ‘PotA’ films is very good. The first one, not so much. I owned/liked the first Arcade Fire album, but then I seem to have stopped paying attention to them, so I don’t know their post-first album stuff except in overheard dribs and drabs, I guess. That is def. your prerogative. It’s great when songs do that. No other medium quite does that, or not as deeply maybe. ** Steevee, Hi. Unless one’s music tastes are largely in what very loosely could be called the mainstream, Bandcamp is a quite prominent and central venue. I get virtually all my music from there or Soundcloud, and I almost never check iTunes. It’s true that Bandcamp is more oriented towards post-CD product, yeah. I’m happy you’re also enjoying Pateras’ music. ** B, Hi, Bear. I’m pretty sure the Tokyo hive city project is dead, sadly. Yes, I love editing a lot. We’re in a push because we need to have a cut of the film ready to show our producer on Friday, so the pressure therein is the only drawback at the moment. But then we can keep working, and hopefully without interference and with his blessing, gulp. That’s tough about your parents, and I wish you all the strength you need for that. Do you enjoy being in Arizona? I look forward to reading that interview when you get it finished and up somewhere. I love ‘Infinite Jest’. I think it’s a great novel, so, of course, I’m in the camp encouraging you to read it or try it. Thank you for your wonderfulness too, man! ** Marilyn Roxie, Oh, great, thank you! I’ll have to wait for the weekend because I’m fried and swamped with film editing this week, but I’m excited to see it! Have a superb Tuesday! ** Okay. I decided to use the blog today to pay homage to both one of my greatest heroes and one of the ‘stars’ of my novel ‘The Marbled Swarm’. So naturally I hope you find interest and pleasure therein. See you tomorrow.


  1. Bill

    Ah, another old favorite! Clementi can climb into my houseboat, anytime.

    Axel Dorner was playing with a young band, a bit heavy on the wacky theatrics for my taste.

    Sometime DL Omar is arriving this evening. We’ll see how ambitious we get with the social/cultural plans.

    (First, ha)


  2. Dóra Grőber


    I can’t believe I’m finally back here!
    How are you? How’s the editing going?
    My piece ‘Clothes are Rarely Important in a Highly Emphasized Way’ got published at Hobart yesterday! I’m really proud and thrilled to share it! You and everyone else who’s interested can read it here:
    God, it’s good to be writing to you again! I hope everything’s very lovely on your end!!

    And thank you for this Pierre Clémenti Day! I’ll definitely explore further!

    • _Black_Acrylic

      Hi Dóra, I really enjoyed Clothes are Rarely Important in a Highly Emphasized Way, and it has a brilliant title too. Super interested to see how SCAB develops.

    • h

      Beautiful piece! — thanks for sharing. (Can’t type your name due to my old device, apologies!)

  3. Kyler

    well, I wasn’t very psychic about that one, was I? haha – I can see how some people would find it pretentious. Could have sworn it would be up your alley!

  4. David Ehrenstein

    Great to see this Pierre C. Day. I remember the last time you ran one I got into an enormous fight with Pierre’s son Balthazar Clementi (who can be seen as a naked toddler on the ice floe in “La Cicatrice Interieure” ) as I’d noted that Pierre was Bi and according to James Toback had died of AIDS. Balthzar insisted neither was true.

    Pierre made his debut in “The Leopard” because he’d hitched a ride to Rome with Alain Delon. Visconti took one look at Pierre and immediately cast him as one of the Prince’s sons — something that annoyed Delon greatly. He didn’t have any lines but he didn’t need any. he was perfect. He was in many ways Artaud 2.0 What Garrel says in that clip about his mental problems is half the story as when he was put in asylum the doctors wanted to throw him out as soon as possible as he was organizing the patents to revolt. Rivette wanted him in “Out 1” but he was in an asylum in Italy at that time. Consequently he was happy t have him years later for “Le Pont du Nord”

    For me he’s at his best in the Garrel and Bunuel film, Pasolini’s “Porcile” and Marc’Os “Les Idoles”

  5. chris dankland

    hey dennis !!

    ur probably too busy to watch this, but I thought u would appreciate it so I’ll leave the link here fwiw

    it’s a 15-20 minute video essay about To The Wonder — I think it’s one of the best reviews of that film (& Malick’s later stuff) that I’ve seen. very intelligent and fair review, and does a good job of discussing scenes in context.

    I’m with u about Malick’s recent films, I love them and I don’t agree with most of the negative reactions they seem to be getting. they’re very emotional, resonant films to me. so many times I feel like the Malick reviews I see are focusing on all the wrong things and missing the right ones, even the positive reviews.

    thanks for the Clementi day, it makes me want to reread TMS — I stole some pics that I think are from Visa de censure…I’m glad the entire film is in the post, I’m gonna watch it later

    take care !! ttyl

  6. New Juche

    Hey Dennis

    Thank you! A day late. And I’m glad the resurrection of Sypha’s post was a success. I look forwarding to commetning again when I feel a bit better. Intersting to see Clementi, heard of him only through The Marbled Swarm alone.


  7. Jamie

    Hey Deedee! How are you? I’ve been missing you. I’m writing on a train somewhere between Newcastle and Edinburgh. It’s sunny and the clouds are winsome. Most welcome Pierre Clementi day. I only knew him from TMS and now I know more. Thank you! Unbuilt was really really good too.
    How’s the editing? What stage are you at now? I’ve been doing a lot of cartoon scripting and it’s been kind of hard work and not exactly flowing.
    We might have a flat, but the letters are being very rigorous in their checks, so I don’t want to get too excited too soon. But it’s lovely and it’s in a good new hood. And it’s got the finest bath.
    What else has been happening in your world? I hope it’s all good.
    Admantium love,

  8. Bernard

    Ah, yes, Clémenti–the classics. There are a bunch of movies there I haven’t seen, along with the ones I’ve seen over and over: The Conformist, Porcile, Partner. I didn’t remember he was in Sweet Movie, though. He was a little uncanny in everything. Sorry he never got to do “The Antonin Artaud Story.”
    Amphibious, I would very much like to see what you have to say about “A Serious Man”–I also think it was misunderstood or just not engaged with. At some point I turned to my partner and asked, “Do non-Jews get ANY of this?” It’s as much about mysticism and the interesting Greek philosophical background of the Book of Job as anything, I think. Because in the US people receive so much misinformation about the Bible if they learn anything at all, mostly people don’t know that the books represent different eras and quite different cultures. Job is a little like our own time: a very multi-cultural milieu with incompatible values and worldviews, as A Serious Man displays. I love the opening scene, which I’ve shown a lot in classes, since I taught a section on The Dybbuk in my class on the Uncanny.
    We had, rather famously, an unbuilt Frank Gehry building planned at my old job–I heard it was the largest, most expensive American museum planned never to have achieved funding. It was interesting and grisly to watch how little people have to know or do in order to set in motion plans for a major architectural statement. Santiago Calatrava and Richard Liebeskind both presented plans for a new Corcoran, too–much more interesting–but it seemed like the decision to hire Gehry was made in advance just on the basis of his brand, his flashiness. Someone wanted, not a new idea, but something that would signify “new idea” to people who wanted to be identified with “new ideas” but were actually resistant to new ideas. His team joked openly about Gehry giving next to no time to the project–crumpling a piece of paper, tossing it to them, and telling them to base the maquette on that.
    I am thinking of Marcel Benabou’s “Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books” with a very deep sympathy, and now I see, looking it up, that the local exquisite Tosh Berman is a fan, or acolyte. It is a profound art, this not finishing things.

    • Kyler

      Bernard, A Serious Man is one of my all-time faves. I’ve seen it many times. Cool that you’ve shown the opening in your classes. Yes, that opening…and the rest…still offers food for thought.

  9. steevee

    I’ve noticed Tiny Mix Tapes constantly links to Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

  10. _Black_Acrylic

    I always thought Clementi looked supercool but only knew him as the TMS muse. Interesting to see this Day dedicated to his other doings, and I’ll try and track down some of his work.

  11. David Ehrenstein


  12. steevee

    I’d really like to review Dave Weigel’s new history of prog-rock, but I can’t think of any publication which would be open-minded to having me write about it, since I don’t currently write about music. I do like some mainstream prog – King Crimson, Roger Waters-era Pink Floyd – but I hate Yes and ELP and my favorites tend to be the leftfield stuff like Van Der Graaf Generator, Magma and Henry Cow. I think it would be interesting to explore the sub rosa influence of prog -Wire’s 154 and Magazine’s SECONDHAND DAYLIGHT essentially mixed punk and prog, Pink Floyd’s influence is all over Radiohead despite the band’s dismissals, and there’s a lot of prog in some metal genres too -and the way some people are enthusiastic about revisiting once-despised genres like disco but completely close-minded about prog (maybe because its audience and musicians are so straight, white and male.) Do you have any ideas? Do you have a contact person at Tiny Mix Tapes?

  13. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I vaguely remember you mentioning that dream before. That’s a scary dream. Have you seen anyone about it? A psychiatrist? I’m kidding. But it is scary and fucked.

    Speaking of scary, I’m reading Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim…and 90 pages in I realized I’ve probably read it before. What the hell? I’ve never done that before.

    LPS has to go to summer school. Failed at least one class, maybe three. We’ll find out when we get the letter the counselor said was on its way today. Ugh.

  14. Alistair

    Dennis, cool Clementi day. That’s interesting he was in that early Ivory/Merchant film, I can’t remember if I ever saw it. Your explanation of how Bresson is informing the film work totally made sense! When I did the big revision of my book last year, I started watching Le Diable Probablement again, and somehow there was just a feeling in it that really helped me. I liked what you said in one of your comments to someone else about editing film being different from editing writing in that you’re limited to what you already filmed, I’d actually never thought of that, but it’s really fascinating–interesting to transpose that to editing writing. Have a great Wednesday!xo

  15. h

    Dear Dennis: thank you for the Clementi day! He is really inspiring. I commented too late a few days ago, but I think you missed it. Well, nothing much there. I reported things as usual. Very warm here, so brief. But hope your editing is going well.

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