A Most Violent Year
New York, 1981. An ambitious immigrant businessman tries to stay legit, despite stiff competition and violent threats from his ruthless, corrupt and often criminal rivals
"See Barbarella do her thing", "The space age adventuress whose sex-ploits are among the most bizarre ever seen." The charmingly dated, endlessly funny Jane Fonda cult favourite
Fonda's signature role has inspired everybody from Duran Duran (who named themselves after O'Shea's bad guy), to Kylie Minogue (who based the video for her single 'Put Yourself in My Place' on Fonda's naked floating around in space).
Released in the same year as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Roger Vadim cast his then-wife, Jane Fonda, in this delightful OTT sci-fi fantasy adventure that largely consisted of Fonda either in peril or preparing to have another other-worldly, futuristic sexual experience. Looking, as one critic described her, like a dishy mutation of Joan Jetson, Barbarella (Fonda) is dispatched to hunt down Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea), who has invented a planet-destroying device.
It's all pretty hokey of course, with Barbarella's flimsy outfits tumbling off at every opportunity and a whole bunch of ridiculously OTT damsel-in-peril sequences in which Fonda gets to battle razor-toothed dolls and assorted other enemies. But with its broad comedy, B-movie special effects and luminous star, it's also great fun.
Along the way Barbarella battles against tiny vampire dolls, makes love to a fur-clad huntsman (Tognazzi), a blind angel (Law) and a rebel leader (Hemmings) as well as avoiding the Sapphic advances of the evil Anita Pallenberg and actually destroying Durand Durand's 'excessive orgasm machine' before restoring peace to the universe.
The film shows its 1960s comic book origins but the sets are wonderfully realised through Claude Renoir and the cast play up the camp aspect with glee. In her later, more seriously political years, when Fonda was asked where her head was while making the film, she replied, "I don't know; up my armpit, I guess." It's a shame since she portrays a genuine talent for comedy she rarely indulged apart from Nine To Five. In 2007 there is every chance Barbarella will ride again, with Robert Rodriguez's remake slated for 2008.
A kitsch cult classic.
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