Anomaly film festival continues Friday with imaginative, wildly erotic ‘After Blue’ 

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“After Blue (Dirty Paradise)” has lots of guns and lots of breasts and lots of hair. Sounds like a million 1980s grindhouse action movies, right? Well, director Bertrand Mandico’s imaginative, wildly erotic head trip doesn’t have Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal — or, come to think of it, any other man.

"Earth was sick, rotten, so we had to look elsewhere,” says Roxy, the mulleted protagonist played by Paula Luna. “And we found After Blue ... a sort of paradise." When the humans relocated to this new planet, though, all the men started dying from the hair growing inside them. (Yes, inside them.) Women are now the only population on this planet.

The film follows Roxy and her mother, a hairdresser named Zora (Elina Löwensohn), on their quest to find and kill the evil and curiously named Kate Bush (played by Agata Buzek). The mission is complicated by Roxy’s intense sexual attraction to the notorious Bush.

As mentioned, Anomaly viewers should plan for eroticism and nudity galore. The inhabitants of this man-free world are really comfortable with their bodies. “After Blue” wants to be feminist, but after a while, the litany of kinks — human-robot couplings, metal balls falling out of breasts — is more than a little objectifying.

Mandico makes his films in a curious way, recording the audio in post-production so that he can focus on the visuals while filming. All of this focus and thought on the “After Blue” aesthetics pays off, from the dazzling lighting (notably the green, blue, red and yellow projectors) and beautiful color palette to sets that bring to mind 1980s adventures like “The Princess Bride” and “Labyrinth.” This retro feel works for the western fantasy world Mandico is trying to create.

All this, plus some fairly overt Shakespearean references: Roxy confers with the witch-like Kate Bush — which leads to the deaths of her friends — before dealing with the psychological torment of her decision (including seeing the victims’ ghosts) in the aftermath. It’s like a clothes-optional “Macbeth.”

The alternate title to the film, “After Blue: Paradis sale,” implies that After Blue is the equivalent of paradise/heaven. And Mandico hinted at the Locarno Film Festival that a trilogy might be in the cards, with “After Blue: Purgatory” up next. In other words, it’s potentially all downhill from here.

Anomaly — The Rochester Genre Film Festival presents: “After Blue" (in French with English subtitles) alonside the short film "1-888-5-Blue-You" on Friday, Nov. 5, at 9:30 p.m., at The Little Theatre 5, at 1240 East Avenue. $12 general admission, $10 students and seniors. Proof of vaccination, photo ID and mask required. 585-258-0400.

Gabriel Veiga is a member of the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications program’s 2021-21 cohort at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.Feedback on this article can be directed to [email protected].
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