Imaginary Jean Genet season

maids

In the first of our imaginary seasons of films for 2016, we explore the movies written by (or based on plays by) Jean Genet. From prisons to mansions, bordellos to back alleys, prepare for a journey though power dynamics, shocking desires and struggles against oppression.


CHANT D’AMOUR
France 1950
The only film directed by Jean Genet. An experimental short about the relationship between two prisoners and a voyeuristic guard.


THE BALCONY
USA 1963
In an unnamed city, Madame Irma runs a brothel where people explore role-playing and other sexual fantasies.


MADEMOISELLE
France/UK 1966
Jeanne Moreau plays an undetected sociopath, arsonist and poisoner, a respected visiting schoolteacher and sécretaire at the Mairie in a small French village.


DEATHWATCH
USA 1966
Life is tough for inmates at this brutal prison: sadistic guards, routine punishments and beheadings at the yard’s guillotine for anyone who steps out of line.


THE MAIDS
UK 1974
Solange and Claire are two housemaids who construct elaborate sadomasochistic rituals when their mistress is away.


POOR PRETTY EDIE
USA 1975
When a popular black singer’s car breaks down, she is forced to spend the night at Bertha’s Oasis, a rundown lodge that serves as the bizarre fiefdom of an overweight ex-burlesque star.


QUERELLE
France/West Germany 1982
Sailor-thief-murderer Querelle arrives in Brest and starts frequenting a strange whorehouse. He discovers that his brother Robert is the lover of the owner. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.


POISON
USA 1991
The third section in Todd Haynes’ portmanteau film. John Broom finds himself attracted to another prisoner, whom he had seen humiliated as a youth in a juvenile facility.


 

I’ve promised to programme one imaginary film season a month throughout 2016. We’ll see how it goes. I did this one during Christmas 2015 and then got excited and put together a Mark Hamill Film Festival on 3 January 2016, after I’d seen the latest Star Wars.

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