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Second Time Around 

Wednesday, Apr 1 1998
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The Image
In the '60s and '70s, Europe was viewed in some corners as a kind of sexual Shangri-La, an idea brought home in the steady imports of European erotica to the grindhouses of America. Radley Metzger was the best of the many art-porn auteurs who tilled this fertile field, and his faithful adaptation of an infamous French S/M novel, The Image (1975), plays heavily to American fantasies of a "shocking" foreign culture where all is permitted. The film is narrated by Jean (Carl Parker), a typical Metzger "sophisticate" who chronicles his adventures with a dominatrix friend, Claire (Marilyn Roberts), and her bloody, beleaguered slave Anne (Mary Mundum). In a series of elegant environments instantly recognizable as Metzger-land -- a haute couture store, a gleaming dungeon, an elaborate rose garden -- the three play complex sex games that involve everything from whips and water sports to bloodletting and blow jobs. Like Metzger's Score (at least some prints), The Image has hard-core elements and plenty of full-frontal male and female nudity. Ultimately, though, Anne's endless degradations get a little too real for comfort, and the director's misogynist tendencies puncture this coldly beautiful canvas.

-- Gary Morris

The Image screens at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 3, at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street, in Yerba Buena Gardens). Tickets are $6; call 978-2787.

About The Author

Gary Morris

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