›› Ozon Remastered and Uncut short films compilation ‹‹

From the good folk at New Queer Visions comes this compilation showcasing the erotic twists and transgressive turns of the early short films of auteur director François Ozon, as digitally restored to their former glory, being in effect, a narrative mix of five sexually diverse short films.

›› Overall Duration - 105 mins | VOD Release Date - 20th October, 2022 ‹‹

poster work courtesy of and with thanks to IndieCrush Shorts.

›› posted: Friday, 20th January, 2023 ‹‹

›› A Summer Dress - Une Robe d'été ‹‹

a short film by François Ozon.

1996 | 15 mins | France.

the light-hearted tale of sun, sea and sex.

Dave says:

Of the many short films by noted French writer and director François Ozon of Time to Leave and of late Summer of 85 fame, this is probably his most well known title and here it's easy to understand why.

For this is the light-hearted tale of sun, sea and sex, one that begins with Sébastien Charles as his namesake camping it up big time to the sound of the classic song "Bang, Bang" here sung by French chanteuse Sheila, much to the annoyance of his more macho boyfriend Luc (Frédéric Mangenot) who all but yearns for peace and quiet to take in the sun. With that in short supply on the veranda of their holiday home, it isn't long before Luc heads off to the nearby beach, only to find himself seduced by the Spanish charms of sexually confident Lucia (Lucia Sanchez); namely a girl who's clearly in the mood for some adult styled fun. Only can she tempt Luc to embrace the straight side of the sexual rainbow?

In short, this is a work that finds Ozon delight in refusing to pigeon-hole the sexuality of his leading men, reversing their active / passive nature along the way, whilst equally playing on the camp aspect of the piece, with the opening "drag without the drag" performance by Sébastien nicely countered by Luc having all but taken a cross-dressing liking to that summer dress.

Yet and for all of the homoeroticism on show, including many a scene in which the camera lingers, voyeuristic fashion, on the Speedo clad shorts of the male members of the cast, that is when clothes are to be found, given Mangenot is all but naked for most of the time, lies a narrative that vividly depicts the mindset of a trio of youths free to enjoy a summer of sexual experimentation, without shame or guilt. The result is something of an Ozon classic and certainly when compared to the dark atmosphere of many of his works, full of joy at embracing the sexual diversity of life.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - bare-arsed cheek, plus | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› X2000 ‹‹

a short film by François Ozon.

1998 | 8 mins | France.

the naked aftermath of the New Year's Eve party of a lifetime.

Dave says:

It's the morning after the New Year's Eve party of a lifetime, namely the dawn of the year 2000 and as partygoer / actor Bruno Slagmulder is set to discover, he's not alone in waking up to the new millennium, even if his fellow flatmates like him, are worse for wear. Leaving his girlfriend (Denise Aron-Schropfer) in bed, he walks around the almost empty high-rise apartment devoid of clothes, chancing upon twins sharing a sleeping bag together, before catching sight of a couple making love in the apartment opposite the one he's in. With his girlfriend now awake, taking a bath, he falls from his voyeuristic vantage point, hitting the floor so hard as to awaken the twins; two young men wrapped in the arms of each other.

Cutting straight to the chase and perhaps this is just me, but frankly I cannot see the point of this short film; one that certainly is not for those with a fear of insects. Slagmulder handles his role for what it is - well, embarking on a solid career as an actor, thereafter. Yet here he's reduced to all but displaying his manly charms, making for a short film that's high on nudity, if low on entertainment, even if the narrative cannot help but make you wonder if there was an incestuous angle to the untold story of the twins; a twist that whilst controversial, would have been of more interest than what we have on offer here. Enough said.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - the full monty | Overall - file under ... 1 star

›› Truth or Dare - Action Vérité ‹‹

a short film by François Ozon.

1994 | 4 mins | France.

the transition of childhood to adulthood.

Dave says:

As one of Ozon's earliest and certainly shortest works, this short film focuses on a group of four teenagers; two boys and two girls here played by Farida Rahmatoullah, Aylin Argun, Fabien Billet and Adrien Pastor, who delight in the adolescent styled fun of a game of Truth or Dare. Only with each qustion, the sexual stakes become increasingly raised, from acts of heterosexual to homosexual intimacy, until one such dare results in an act that signals the transition of childhood to adulthood.

Shot entirely in close-up, this telling work vividly depicts teenage sexual experimentation and if anything, sexual identities that for some have yet to be defined. It's a narrative that's filled with more lies than the spoken truth. Yet it's equally one that abruptly switches from innocent, harmless fun to the realization of sexual maturity and of a body all too capable of reproduction. That the close-of-play results in a shocked silence from both cast and viewer clearly shows the early signs of a director who would continue to push the cinematic envelope in intentionally alarming directions. Say no more.

Gay Visibility - covert | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 2 stars

›› See the Sea - Regarde la Mer ‹‹

a mini-feature by François Ozon.

1997 | 52 mins | France.

a decidedly dark tale of two women and a baby.

Dave says:

With her husband away on business in Paris, young Sasha (Sasha Hails) is left to raise her baby Sioffra (Samantha) by herself, dividing her days between the ever constant duties of motherhood, with more relaxing time spent with her daughter on the beach, building sand castles and walking side by side in the sea. It's an idyllic life that's set to be shattered upon the arrival of mysterious traveller Tatiana (Marina de Van); namely a woman who asks one too many questions, before practically demanding to pitch her tent on Sasha's land. Inviting the stranger into her home for dinner that evening, the two strike up a somewhat awkward friendship, before things take a decidedly dark turn for the worse.

Essentially a two-woman play; albeit with a baby included so as Hails' did not have to be separated from her own daughter during filming, this mini-feature defines the very narrative backbone of many an Ozon work, given it's all but apparent that Tatiana is a deeply troubled woman, with scene after scene reflecting her disturbed, if not homicidal mind, with the film itself notorious for its sickening toothbrush scene.

That both actors excel in their notably differing roles, goes without saying, with Hails' outgoing personality in marked contrast to de Van's almost expressionless persona, showing no feelings of guilt or remorse throughout. Yet not everything here is black and white; for in many ways you have to question just what's going on in the mind of Sasha who sees in Tatiana a reflection of her younger carefree self, before the responsibilities of life all but took away her joie de vivre. It's a mindset that finds her leaving her child alone with a total stranger and later cheating on her husband, casual sex fashion, in the nearby woods.

Complete with many a scenic shot of the surrounding coastal area that doubles as the local cruising ground, above all this is a work of contrasts, juxtaposing acts of outright kindness with the actions of a stranger who clearly is a danger to both mother and child. And whilst Ozon layers his work with a strong sense of foreboding, the ending is nonetheless as shocking to Sasha's husband upon his eventual return home, as it is to the audience. Not an easy watch by any means, but for those who like their films with an unsettling, shock value to them, then this is undoubtedly for you. Others however with a-liking for more feel-good, upbeat works may well want to give this a miss. It is however trademark Ozon.

Gay Visibility - none | Nudity - the female monty | Overall - file under ... 3 stars

›› The Little Death - La Petite Mort ‹‹

a short film by François Ozon.

1995 | 26 mins | France.

an unconventional take on love, loss and friendship.

Dave says:

In theory, this is the uplifting story of how estranged siblings Paul (François Delaive) and Camille (Camille Japy) put aside their differences to attend the hospital bedside of their dying father (Michel Beaujard). Only with Ozon at the directorial helm, it was never going to be as clear-cut as that.

Co-written with Didier Blasco and well-played throughout, it's all but apparent from the onset that Paul is a deeply disturbed young man, having refused to see his father for over six years in his belief that his father not only found him ugly, but questioned whether he was even his own child. Carving out a career as a photographer with a preference for taking photos of the faces of men in a state of orgasm, his ever moody persona cannot help but make you wonder what his boyfriend Martial (Martial Jacques) finds attractive in him? For here Jacques' upbeat performance as the ever loving boyfriend, is akin to a breath of fresh air blowing through a work that in dealing with the failed deathbed reconciliation between a father and his son, does so in the most disrespectful way possible.

That their father's passing could result with a self-pitying young man finally seeing his late father in a different light, is a close-of-play that the narrative leaves you with, even if the somewhat innocent image of Camille as a woman who yearns for the animosity between her and her brother to end, is shattered courtesy of an earlier scene that shows her going out of her way to manipulate the situation by way of a photograph that speaks louder, than words. Only look closer and you'll see that the character Paul is but a cinematic reflection of Ozon himself. All of which makes for an unconventional take on love, loss and friendship and of a director who like the protagonist here, is ever keen to push the boundaries of public acceptability and in particular on what should OR should not be caught on camera. But then, you already knew that.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - the full monty | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

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