Saturday, September 13, 2008


One of the interesting things about the late Positif film critic Robert Benayoun's film Serious About Pleasure (1975) is how seamlessly it appears to (a) channel the modernist sound-image shenanigans of Daisies, Tati, maybe even Rivette and Resnais, and/or (b) bring to full bloom entrenched comedy "plastics" in the mode of Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis. The two approaches meet in the middle, they kiss and fall in love, they hang out in this little modest, and modestly meta, comedy—which is no doubt comparable to Bertrand Blier's Les Valseuses in terms of a French ménage à trois, but as I haven't seen that film, I won't be doing the one comparing.

"Jerry, deciding at the outset that every gag has, of course, been used at least once before, decides to make us guess what his gags are going to be."

—Benayoun, "Jerry Lewis: Man of the Year" (Positif, March 1963)


Anonymous said...

WOW, how did you get to see this, Zach? Benayoun is a very interesting figure; his Tex Avery book of was recently republished in France. He once said, divertingly, that he was "only truly critical", achieving maximum lucidity, when he got to make films. And the Benayoun-Serge Gainsbourg tie-up in intriguing; RB gave an interesting account of it on SG's death, in POSITIF. BTW, the title of that film is hard to capture well in English, but it's more like 'As Serious as Pleasure' than 'Serious About Pleasure'.

Andy Rector said...

Seconding Adrian:
what the hell!? How did you get to see this!?

Funny: the Benayoun quote you conclude with is in contradiction (well, maybe not...) to something Benayoun and Jer himself discuss in Benayoun's BONJOUR MONSIEUR LEWIS, about the Stan Laurel style of comedic presentation of a gag...but I have to dig out the tape and get the exact words.
And obviously, now I've got to see this film - "plastics" "only truly critical" - !

keep your right up,