My January 2011 film column for Maximum Rock N Roll. Originally appeared in issue 332.
THE MUSICIANS WERE GOOD, BUT ANOUSHKA WAS OFF AND FAKE
The title of the film La Brune et Moi is a play on the French name of the Jayne Mansfield film The Girl Can't Help It. The Girl Can't Help It was released in France as La Blonde et Moi. The stories of both films are similar. In La Brune et Moi a punk girl accidentally bumps into a businessman in the street. He is attracted to her. He follows her into a club and makes her an offer. If she will become his girlfriend he will give her anything she wants. At the time she blows him off, but later decides she will accept his offer. She wants him to make her a punk rock star.
Naturally, I immediately think aren't punk rockers supposed to make themselves into stars (or anti-stars)? Of course, someone will always point to Malcolm McLaren. But La Brune et Moi was made in 1980 not 1976. Hadn't that whole faux-Svengali thing been played out by then? Also the businessman in La Brune et Moi hardly fits into that evil puppeteer stereotype. He genuinely seems to want to help her out. I'll assume there was a big difference in France at the time between being a punk star and being a rock star. The businessman is portrayed by Pierre Clémenti who has been in a variety of well-known films such as Belle De Jour, The Conformist and The Leopard.
The flimsy story of La Brune et Moi is simply there to showcase some of the French punk and new wave bands of the time. This is the reason to see the film especially from a historical perspective. The Dogs and Les Privés are fairly well known to American punk fans. Les Privés portray La Brune's (played by Anoushka) backing band. The other bands included are Edith Nylon, The Questions, Astroflash, Marquis de Sade and Go-Go Pigalles. Each band gets to perform a full song. The musical styles range from garage punk to synth new wave to rockabilly. The best performance is by The Questions who perform their song in the businessman's office while La Brune fantasies about her future stardom.
La Brune et Moi was released in 1980 and celebrates its 30th anniversary with the release of this DVD. Included with the film are interviews with director, producer, a member of the band Ici Paris and others. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles for these interviews and with my limited French I barely know what was being said. Perhaps you will fare better. La Brune et Moi
La Peste are one of the best bands from Boston. Like most of the great bands from that city they are barely known. They released one amazing single in 1978 before lead singer and guitarist Peter Dayton left to try his hand at a solo career. The band replaced him and continued on for a few more years before they broke up. I first heard La Peste on the radio during their brief existence, but I never got to see them live.
The DVD release of La Peste Live Boston 1979 is the closest I will ever come to seeing this great band. The DVD doesn't state it, but after snooping around the website I believe this show was recorded at the Paradise Club. The show consists of eight songs shot on black & white video. There are two cameras capturing the band as well as the crazed dancing crowd. Everyone seems to be having a great time. The audio seems to be taken from a different show. It sounds to me as if it is from the Rat show that was broadcast on WBCN and appeared on La Peste's 1996 Matador record. The audio on this recording is of excellent quality and the syncing job with the video is almost flawless.
Also included on the Peste Live Boston DVD are six addition songs which have been made into videos including live footage, photographs, fliers and other unrelated footage. In addition there is an audio pix gallery which shows more photographs and fliers while six more songs play. Although I would have preferred more live footage, I do enjoy reminiscing even if it's not completely my past. I am pretty sure I saw a picture of the late Billy Ruane rockin' out. A flier for a show at the Inn-Square Men's Bar reminded me that as a kid I always wanted to go there, but never got to since they closed in 1984. La Peste DVD
I am always looking for films to review. If you made one, send a copy to Carolyn Keddy, PO Box 460402, San Francisco, CA 94146-0402. If your film is playing in the San Francisco Bay Area, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will go see it.