Monday, November 30, 2009

Viva (Anna Biller, 2007)

Regular readers of House of Self Indulgence likely saw the review of Anna Biller's retro homage Viva. I do not aspire to outdo Yum Yum's review, but wanted to spread the word after seeing the film.

Viva is remarkable if only for the attention to detail. This movie was made in 2007, but is nearly indistinguishable from those early '70s sex comedies it parodies. The look of the film, the costuming, the acting style are nearly perfect. Biller, who stars, directs, and writes the film (aside from producing and costume direction) puts on her best Jan Brady voice to bring Barbie/Viva to life. The only anachronism I spotted was in a song which mentions letting your "freak flag fly" which is an expression of dubious origin, but one I would think is contemporary... However, not being one of the cool kids, I am not positive.

The film is a sex comedy, so there is a lot of nudity, full-frontal male and female, but it is not an overly dirty movie. The sex is much like the films of the time, being more implied than presented. The most difficult part of the sex is that Barbie/Viva is never a willing participant, but rather is drugged before each encounter.

The film follows William Rostler's The Agony of Love (1966 starring Pat Barrington) or a less surreal Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967, starring Catherine Deneuve). Barbie is married to Rick Smith who seems unwilling to touch her. He is constantly away on business and ignores his wife except for the times she is doted upon by other men. This leads Barbie to become "Viva" and seek a life of adventure, which turn out to be a life of prostitution. Barbie is too naive to realize this.

This film is for '70s sleaze enthusiasts only. As far as dirty movies go, you could do better. The acting mimics the high school drama club style so prevalent in the '70s, and if you don't recognize this you will find it incredibly annoying (just ask my wife ;-). It is funny how bad some of the men's wigs are. Is it possible that most men cannot pull off the '70s hair styles any longer? Is Michael Imperioli blessed or cursed in this regard?

I don't use Netflix, and do not want to pimp for them, but I know many of you are Netflix users, so if this sounds like your cup of tea find it here: Viva on Netflix


Keith said...

I just added this to my Netflix queue. It sounds pretty cool.

Unknown said...

"Letting your freak flag fly" is a line from a CSNY tune; it dates from 1970. The album is Deja Vu and the song is "Almost Cut My Hair":

Almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It's gettin' kind of long
I could've said it was in my way

But I didn't and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it, to someone...

A really fantastic song, and if you haven't heard it before you should definitely check it out.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Keith - it is pretty enjoyable, particularly in a retro viewing sense ;-)

@Tim - Nice catch. I'll have to check out and see if it is on there.

Unknown said...

Ya know... the only dead giveaway from the DVD cover that the movie wasn't from the 70's, is that Cat's freshly waxed chest! LOL!!

Great blog.. and THANKS for the tip on removing the dreaded top blogger banner!!

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Dad... - Glad you enjoy the blog, and welcome aboard. The waxed chest is a giveaway. Most seventies sex stars have that thing where you don't know where the eyebrows end and the pubic hair begins :-D

Unknown said...

I actually DID see this on House of Self Indulgence and I added to queue after I read it, but now that you also say it's good...then it MUST be good!

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