(dir. Wakefield Poole, 1972)
On his way home after a long day at work, a construction worker (Ronnie Shark) witness a young woman (Cassandra Hart) being hit by a car. Of course, being the gentleman that he his, our brave hero is there to help a lending hand. Well, I should say thieving hand. He steals the young woman’s purse and makes it back to his apartment. Obviously shaken by what he has just witnessed, he decides to get a load off (no pun intended) his mind and have a little bit of rub and tug to the music of Led Zeppelin (you know, mood music), he takes it in to the shower but starts to get images in his head of the woman and abruptly stops (fair play). He notices a flyer for a club called Bijou in the woman’s purse and decides to hit the place up to help take his mind off things. When he arrives all is not as it seems and things get a little strange from here on in.
Bijou is the follow up to the hugely successful Boys in the Sand. This time however, we have something more of a hallucinogenic acid trip. What we witness within the Bijou nightclub is a series of highly erotic and often surreal sexual acts. It’s not for everyone, not just for the fact that this is a gay porn film. If you don’t like experimental film, you will most certainly not like this at all. Wakefield’s use of both contemporary and classical music is once again second to none, no matter what your sexual preference or opinions on the sexual content, you can’t deny that Poole is a true artist and visionary. The sets are simple, essentially blacked out spaces (Poole’s own apartment) with minimal use of theatre style lighting, but work brilliantly for what you are seeing unfold on the screen. His use of mirrors and smoke machine certainly add to the affect. In my honest opinion, this is a very tough film to review. From a simple viewpoint, this is a great example of the underground and experimental cinema of the time. However, if you look more closely after repeat viewings, there is a lot that can be potentially dissected, especially in terms of the “psychosexual puzzle” as stated within the synopsis of the DVD. One thing is for certain, this is definitely a film (as Poole himself intended) that will affect people in different ways.
Just like Vinegar Syndrome’s release of Boys in the Sand, you get a healthy amount of special features. There is an audio commentary and video introduction with Wakefield Poole. As well as a vintage interview with himself and an interview with author Linda Williams. Not only that, but you get original audition footage and of course, a trailer. Do I really need to tell you how much of a good job this release is? It’s safe to say that Vinegar Syndrome’s restoration is once again top notch and the overall package is a great thing. If you are a fan of Wakefield’s work or this film in general, you must go out and buy it. If you’re looking for an interesting experience no matter what your tastes or sexual preferences, this is also a release worth owning.