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on 6 May 2014

A young woman is arrested for the murder of her flatmate and taken to a nunnery where she is imprisoned for interrogation. Once inside the convent walls she starts using her charms against her captors and begins to make those around her captive to her charms.

Successive slidings is a dark, surreal slice of erotica from Alain Robbe-Grillet, whose work has been unavailable for ages and is only now being restored and released to the general public. The film seems to crawl inside the disturbed and erotically charged mind of its central character and while rooting around in her psyche uncovers a world of sado-masochistic pleasure. The film is chock full of bizarre and provocative imagery that would give Jess Franco a run for his money and the narrative is as fractured as its central characters mind.

Give this film a try and you will be richly rewarded. Especially if your a euro-horror/sleaze enthusiast. Grillet is an exceptional writer director and this erotically charged work of art is a very rewarding film that deserves to be in any fans collection.

Word of caution though. Redemptions disc is region locked to A so unless your multi region capable your not going to be able to play this. Not to worry though as the BFI are releasing a box-set of his work in the UK with added bonus material including Tim Lucas commentary track so UK fans are probably better off waiting for that release. Redemptions transfer is great however so if the BFI disc is at least as good as that it should look an absolute treat.

Either way a highly recommended film from an excellent film maker.
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on 1 September 2014
"Successive Slidings of Pleasure" is another of the recently released DVDs of films written and directed by the French auteur Alain Robbe-Grillet. For decades, Robbe-Grillet's works have been difficult to access - especially for N. American audiences - but a recent arrangement with the, deceased, film-maker's wife (Catherine Robbe-Grillet ) has now made 6 of his earliest films from the 1960-70's period available. Redemption DVD has issued 5 individual disks in N. America, and in England the British Film Institute (BFI) has produced a box set that includes all 6 features in a single package (note: the BFI set is a Region 2 PAL format & requires a 'region-free' DVD player to access).

"Successive Slidings of Pleasure" was made when Robbe'Grillet was in mid-career and it, arguably, might be said to represent the director at his peak - with all of his 'trademark' elements developed to their fullest. This is really an 'art film' with a capital 'A' and is full of enuf ambiguities and enigmatic images and plot twists to keep the viewer constantly perplexed. In a sense, this is Robbe-Grillete's goal as he 'plays' with the conventional mechanisms of cinema in un-conventional ways to challenge the viewer's perceptions of the reality that his screenplays promulgate, and subsequently provides a very surreal viewing experience - somewhat reminiscent of Bunuel's early works. This movie has the barest of 'plots' based around the premise of 2 women (of 'easy virtue') living together - one of whom is mysteriously murdered - and the other is 'questioned' as a suspect. While this may sound straight forward - the way in which the director presents the characters and situations is totally non-linear and ultimately provides no concrete conclusions. Events and people are introduced from multiple perspectives and time frames as the film progresses and the director 'toys' with the audience's 'suspension of disbelief' by constantly altering the sense of the reality of what is occurring in the film. After viewing several of Robbe-Grillet's works it becomes apparent that for this director the 'film' itself is the artistic 'experience' - not the 'story' that is being told. Once one abandons the premise that anything is going to 'make sense' it is possible to slip into the film's lush visuals and go-along for the psychedelic ride. Robbe-Grillet utilizes many techniques to reinforce his surrealistic visions - including startling, incongruous sound effects in many scenes and an eerie frozen motion for the actors on occasion that makes them appear almost like mannequins within the action. There are also many allusions to other 'contemporary' artists & art movements.

BUT - what makes Robbe-Grillete's films stand out from many of the other New Wave-ish directors of his day was his particular fascination with erotica and especially the realm of 'dominance and submission' - aspects of which he and his wife practiced in their own personal life, and which found their way into many of his cinematic efforts. "Successive Slidings of Pleasure" contains quite a bit of full female nudity throughout its content and many scenes that feature BDSM elements (as per the DVD box-cover image!). Robbe-Grillet presents most of his sadeo-erotic imagery in artful tableaux rather than graphic 'porn' style action - and it is all rather lyrical in its' depiction. There is even a bit of 'nuns-ploitation' woven into the mix. While relatively 'tame' by modern standards these transgressive erotic visions were off-putting, to some, back in the day of their initial screening, and helped contribute to the suppression, and resultant obscurity, of Robbe-Grillet's films.

In the final analysis I found "Successive Slidings of Pleasure" to be an engaging and unique viewing experience - replete with very beautiful actresses shedding their clothes regularly - and many exquisitely photographed scenes. Enigmatic in the extreme, perhaps a trifle tedious at times, but definitely worth watching. This film is presented in color - pristine print quality - French language with English subtitles... and some nice extras.
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