Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Criterion Collection Releases The Delirious Fictions of William Klein

Acclaimed street photographer/filmmaker William Klein has recently been given the Criterion Collection treatment. The Delirious Fictions of William Klein box set includes the films Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966), Mr. Freedom (1969) and The Model Couple (1977), which have all been digitally remastered and are now available for your viewing pleasure. Below are the informative Criterion synopses.

The Model Couple

In 1977 France, the Ministry of the Future chooses two "normal," white, middle-class citizens, Claudine (Anémone) and Jean-Michel (André Dussolier), for a national experiment. They will be monitored and displayed for six months in a model apartment outfitted with state-of-the-art products and nonstop surveillance—the template for "a new city for the new man." A searing satire of the breakdown of individual freedoms in the face of increasing governmental control, William Klein's The Model Couple deftly investigates the fine line between democracy and totalitarianism.

Mr. Freedom

William Klein moved into more blatantly political territory with this hilarious, angry Vietnam-era spoof of imperialist American foreign policy. Mr. Freedom (John Abbey), a bellowing good-ol'-boy superhero, decked out in copious football padding, jets off to France to cut off a Commie invasion from Switzerland. A destructive, arrogant patriot in tight pants, Freedom joins forces with Marie Madeleine (a satirically sexy Delphine Seyrig) to combat lefty freethinkers, as well as the insidious evildoers Moujik Man and inflatable Red China Man, culminating in a star-spangled showdown of kitschy excess. Delightfully crass, Mr. Freedom is a trenchant, rib-tickling takedown of gaudy modern Americana.

Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?

After a nearly decade as New York Vogue's most subversive fashion photographer, William Klein made this wild, pseudovérité peek into the world of Parisian haute couture. Elegant, scathing humor ties together the various strands of this alternately glamorous and grotesque portrait of American in Paris Polly Maggoo (Dorothy MacGowan), a mannequin-like supermodel who becomes the pinup plaything of media hounds and the fragmented fantasy of haunted Prince Igor (Sami Frey). Klein's first fiction film is a daring deflation of cultural pretensions and institutions, dressed up in ravishing black and white.

Still from Mr. Freedom (dir. William Klein, 1969)