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3.1 out of 5 stars
Quiet Days in Clichy
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2002
Format: DVD
Quiet Days in Clichy was the first Henry Miller book I read, at the impressionable age of 17. While traveling through Europe, I bought the Grove Press movie tie-in edition, featuring numerous stills from this picture. I read the book several dozen times, and as a result the images from the movie formed part of my memory along with Miller's words.
Now, more than 31 years later, the film is available at last, and I finally got to see those pictures come to life.
For me, watching this was a wonderful experience. It was one of those rare films that transported me completely to another time and place. For a brief 90+ minutes, I was my younger self again.
The story hasn't changed, but I have. I no longer find Miller's caustic sexism charming; in fact it seems childish to me. The explicit sex in the movie (there are a few bits that could be considered hard-core porn) is no longer shocking, and the freewheeling lifestyle depicted is, I now understand, something that was, and is, almost wholly imaginary.
For all the sexist attitudes of the two male leads, the female characters are brilliantly portrayed. Country Joe McDonald's brilliant music brings more surrealistic magic out of the picture, giving it not only a contemporary feel (the original story was set in the 1930s) but an atmosphere that helps it transcend the limitations of its low budget.
This is a faithful adaptation of Miller's book, which is good news for Miller's fans. If graphic sex makes you at all uncomfortable, by all means avoid this film. But if Miller's erotic work appeals to you at all, you owe it to yourself to give this one a chance.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2006
Format: DVD
Quiet Days in Clichy is based on a formerly banned Henry Miller novel. The film itself was banned at one time due to the graphic sexual content. What there is of a story involves the sexual exploits of Joey and Carl, who spend most of their time wandering around the French city of Clichy and meeting up with women. There is lots of explicit nudity, though, fortunately, all the women are fairly attractive. Joey and Carl aren't as attractive as the women they have sex with, but apparently their lustfulness and sexual candor is charming.

Quiet Days in Clichy is filmed in black and white, and rather arty. There are long stretches where no dialogue is spoken and narrative duties are taken on by the music of Country Joe McDonald. I've only heard one song by Country Joe before this film, which was an anti-Vietnam song, but in Quiet Days in Clichy he sings mostly about what Joey and Carl are doing on screen. Sometimes this movie seems like a really long music video.

The sex in this film isn't really arousing or anything, primarily because Joey and Carl are seen naked almost as much as the women. As I said before, neither Joey or Carl are particularly attractive. There's one scene where Joey is in the bath tub with a couple of prostitutes and decides to pee for no good reason, causing the women to leap out in disgust. I'm pretty sure this movie isn't really intended to be erotic. Or the director has a strange idea about what erotic is. Joey and Carl come across as juvenile misogynists alot of the time.

There are moments of humor in the film, and there is a bohemian style about it that I liked, but it's not exactly a good movie by typical standards. If you want something a little different and aren't troubled by graphic sexuality, Quiet Days in Clichy isn't too bad. I doubt the majority of filmgoers will be able to sit through it, though.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon December 31, 2004
Format: DVD
Free spirits, nihilists, professional nonconformists, and unabashed civilization despisers count author Henry Miller (1891-1980) as one of their patron saints. It's not hard to see why. Miller's numerous books espouse a carefree lifestyle that rejects hierarchy, embraces living in the moment, and condones a reckless lifestyle marked by free expression, drink, and experimentation of all sorts. I suspect the phrase "I'll try anything once" describes Miller's philosophy to a T. In now lionized books like "Tropic of Cancer" and "Tropic of Capricorn," Miller outlined his own outlaw lifestyle during his tenure as an American expatriate in Paris. "Quiet Days of Clichy," another book about his days in France, documents his friendship with Alfred Perles and their subsequent wild and wacky adventures. While I haven't read a word of any of Miller's books, I did recently sit down to a 1970 film version of "Clichy" directed by Jen Jorgen Thorsen. It's no mistake this film arrived in theaters--at least the ones daring enough to screen it--during the heights of the counterculture. The ideas expressed in the movie certainly fit the worldview of many American and European youths in that era. A word of warning at the outset: if you dislike racy depictions of "human interaction," avoid this film at all costs.

Meet Joey (Paul Valjean) and Carl (Wayne Rodda), two devil may care miscreants roaming around the highways and byways of France picking up women, drinking, and generally having a fun time. In more ways than one, it's surprising Joey is so successful with the ladies: he's bald, thin, and wears glasses. Nonetheless, he and Carl bring back to their filthy apartment a string of young French women looking for a night of carousing. Since both men don't have stable employment, the daily struggle for existence moves to the forefront whenever the ladies disappear. For example, finding enough money for food is always a problem. Joey spends the better part of an evening roaming the streets of Paris looking for handouts. When that fails, he launches into a thorough scouring of the apartment's kitchen before finding something in the trash on which he may dine. Fun, eh? Expect to see many seemingly mundane scenes like this one stretched out for minutes at a time. I say "seemingly" because there is a philosophy behind the characters' day to day activities. Whether it is a philosophy either realistic or worth engaging in is an interesting question, but it strikes at the heart of Miller's worldview.

Most of "Quiet Days of Clichy" deals with the women. We see Carl bring a young, mentally challenged girl back to the apartment amidst much consternation from Joey. A minor engaging in the sorts of activities these two take part in every day could cause problems with the authorities. One day the two men follow this girl around the city watching what she does from afar. Why? Because they have nothing better to do, of course! Since many of the women Carl and Joey bring back to the apartment are harridans, most of these encounters deteriorate into arguments about fiscal matters. Even a fun evening that involves a bathtub, wine, and a lot of laughter eventually turns ugly when discussions of payment enter the picture. The relationships between these two guys and the women they seek to spend time with often contain an ugly, misogynistic tone. Whether that tone finds expression in Miller's books or not I don't know, but that sort of behavior shouldn't fly at all in the nice, shiny modern age. Feminists will sputter in rage over the activities of these two cads.

Good grief, it's difficult to write a summary of this film! Primarily because nothing much happens beyond two guys out and about looking for a good time. Even the trip they take to Luxembourg doesn't show us all that much. But as I wrote earlier, that's the point. It's the idea of living from moment to moment, never planning anything and never reducing oneself to another person's whims that fuels the activities in this movie. When viewing the picture through this lens, "Quiet Days in Clichy" succeeds wildly. Another factor that makes this film worth viewing is Thorsen's direction and editing techniques. He occasionally uses cartoon dialogue bubbles to express the characters' inner thoughts, and his reliance on rapid-fire cuts give the film an amazingly modern feel. This is the sort of MTV style editing techniques adopted by nearly every television show and blockbuster type film since 1985, but Thorsen did it first. The black and white film stock doesn't prohibit us in any way from enjoying the city and country scenery that forms the backdrop for much of the movie's action. An unforgettable score from none other than Country Joe MacDonald will keep you humming--I'm humming the title track now, in fact--for ages after the film ends.

I'm not surprised at all to learn Blue Underground transferred this film to DVD. As usual, they did an excellent job. The extras alone will keep you busy: a trailer, two easter eggs, stills, cast and crew biographies, an eleven minute interview with Country Joe MacDonald, and an extensive interview with Grove Press's Barney Rosset, Miller's American publisher who led the fight to lift the numerous bans on the writer's books, provide more than enough background on the film. While I think many of the situations in the film are silly, if not downright eye rollingly ridiculous, I have to give Thorsen's picture and the DVD high marks.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2004
Format: DVD
Transgressive cinema from 1970, variously banned and criticised for years after initial release. The acting, staging and photography (B&W) show some age, resembling prehistoric reality TV- unsanitised, unwashed and at times just plain distasteful.
The film is notable for its innovation, including the use of "speech bubbles" and a unique and often humourous score. The issue with showing generally unappealing and uninteresting people is that the film is similarly imbued with the same character. The scenes of 70's Paris are however great fun.
Watching this leaves a strange taste in the mouth, like eating cake and forgetting to remove the cardboard base, or finding a hair in your mother-in-law's moussaka.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2010
Format: DVD
I consider myself quite well connected with the late 1960s, even being quite a Joan Baez fan in kindergarten! In the mid-seventies a relative gave me a big stack of old Evergreen Review magazines, and I started an interest in more counter-culture things from the '60s because of that, since I was just a child when much of it took place. One of the films Evergreen released in 1970 that they gave a lot of coverage to was Quiet Days In Clichy, showing tantalizing pics of the cast in naked moments. And in 2004 I finally got to see what the hubbub was about...

Mainly a curiosity of the late '60s and of interest mainly for those interested in the "art" cinema of that time, this film is really another of those where philosophy and intellectual conversations are padded with people having sex, showing even the intellectuals have a base interest just like everyone else. But since it centers around someone like Henry Miller, it's high art apparently. Certainly off to an interesting start, the film immediately gets one to think though that there is a promise of more like the hardcore footage shown right after the strange credit sequence. That might have been better actually, because instead we then mainly get characters meandering around Paris and Luxembourg, laughing a lot and wondering why they are never satisfied.

Here are some of the perplexing things for me:

--Joey complains that Nys could have left him a few francs after he first met her and gave her his money, but Joey actually INSISTED she take all of it to begin with.

--The guys keep yakking about how Colette's brains are in her genitals and that she just wants to have sex (a feeling they seem to have about women in general), but by watching this whole film it seems Joey and Carl spend all their time trying to get laid as well.

--The women are portrayed as a bit mentally off, except for Colette's mother (upon which Carl then just says how hot she was, which seemed like belittling her after she was kind to them).

--Joey is a writer, but we rarely see him even doing that, he just complains how he has no money and has nothing to eat, but can spend a lot of time walking around town and looking for sex.

--Suddenly while in Luxembourg, and somehow with money, they wind up pouring bottles of wine all over prostitutes and letting the bread they have to just wind up in the tub and going down the drain with the wine. If we're supposed to appreciate Joey and Carl's "bohemian lifestyle," it doesn't help that they just waste food and drink after always saying they never have it.

--Hoping there would be a resolve to the story, instead, after a naked woman can't have sex with them because she was crying over the memory of her late husband, the others just sit there naked and laugh while the camera zooms in on their genitals. Huhhhh??? That's it?

I don't regret seeing this film after wondering for so many years what it was all about, and discovering more curiosities from that era. It's just that I think some people will find any reason to say it's poetic mainly because Henry Miller is involved -- if this were not based on him and just a film of its own, I doubt as many folks would be worshiping it. Had a film been made of a character based on Henry Miller washing dishes for an hour and a half, I'm sure these people would somehow come up with many a thesis on the amazing meanings of it.

But it all just comes down to silly naked people laughing, in my eyes...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
When the only english language print of Quiet Days in Clichy was imported into the U.S. It was seized by customs for being obscene. It took a court ruling to allow it to be distributed here. The film is based on a book by controversial author Henry Miller, and tells of the sexual exploits of an American (probaby based on Miller himself) and a French buddy in Paris during the 1920's. The light-hearted tone of the film is accentuated by original music by Country Joe Macdonald. Shot in Black and white, the film retains the gritty style of Miller's writings. This is definitely art house stuff, not mainstream. There is considerable frontal nudity, both male and female, and a scene with unsimulated sex. The film is very definitely sexist, so if your wife is a card-carrying feminist, don't show it to her. It's the type of film that you will either love or hate. Anyone familiar with Henry Miller's writing should know what they are getting into before they purchase this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 2, 2009
Format: DVD
i own an evergreen black cat book edition of quiet days in clichy, published by grove press. my copy has illustrations from the film released in 1970. deep throat appeared on the screen in the united states, bringing porn above ground, in 1971. it would be interesting to find out where the film, quiet days, played, if at all, in the united states between 1971 and 2009.

for fans of henry miller's book (and books), the film is a must see. the black and white cinematography frames scenes of paris, evocative of some of the photograhy of brassai, henry miller's friend.

the music score features piano and accordian, a combination used by some jazz musicians today. jazz fans also get to see and hear the great ben webster playing two songs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This is kind of like watching 70's soft porn meets Spinal Tap. Only Spinal Tap is really funny and has a fast pace to it. This one could have used a lesson in editing and pace. Way too much montage -- for everything ! The characters don't really learn anything and they don't evolve. Amusing if you have nothing better to do and you are nostalgic for Europe in the 70's. The nudity is rather artful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
If you're looking for stylized sex and graphic nudity, the context might not be so arousing. But if you're in it to learn something about the harsh realities of life and how to make the most of it, the sex is used as a vehicle to teach you about how to live life. It is quite artsy and funny.
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on February 15, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I owe Jim Carrey an apology for saying “Dumb and Dumber” is the stupidest movie ever. After reading the reviews others did, I can see that I'm just not a film critic. I'm just disappointed that I paid for the rental. I don't spend a lot of time watching movies, but when I do, I want to feel like my time was well spent. Didn't happen this time. I could only watch the first 45 minutes of it before I turned it off. I kept waiting for it to get better. I watched the last 45 minutes the next to see if I just give up too soon. But alas, no. I should've known that it was going to be bad (to me) after the first 60 seconds.
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