Staying Vertical [Rester vertical]

(France 2016)

Writer-director Alain Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical is a strange trip indeed. Traveling through the mountains while writing a script, screenwriter Léo (Damien Bonnard) comes upon Marie (India Hair), a single mother of two and a shepherd who works on her father’s farm. Within the first 20 minutes or so of the film, he knocks her up and sticks around after the baby is born. Without explanation, Marie takes off with her two boys, leaving Léo behind to care for the baby. Marie’s father, Jean-Louis (Raphaël Thiéry), allows him to stay on the farm in exchange for taking care of the sheep.

Meanwhile, Léo develops an obsession with a pretty young buck named Yoan (Basile Meilleurat), who lives down the road with a cantankerous old man, Marcel (Christian Bouillette). Their relationship is ambigous: Yoan seems to do nothing but occasionally clean Marcel’s house—and not very well—while Marcel sits in his chair, blasting Pink Floyd and condemning Yoan with anti-gay rants. While this is going on, Léo seeks assistance for his writer’s block from a spiritual healer (Laure Calamy) while dodging his publisher (Sébastien Novac).

Staying Vertical has some great characters, particularly Marcel and Yoan. It also has a few gorgeous and memorable images, such as a brood of vagrants descending upon Léo and the baby under a bridge and a truly odd final scene involving wolves coming out of the dark onto the farm. Other than that, though, it’s really nothing more than a number of episodes and subplots that don’t exactly connect. A pervading homoeroticism that starts out mildly interesting goes somewhere completely unbelivable. I’m not sure what the point of it is, but I can say that about a lot in this film.

98 minutes
Not rated

(AMC River East) C

Chicago International Film Festival

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

(UK/USA 1975)

“I, Robert Sabetto,
Pledge allegiance
To the lips
Of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
And to the decadence
For which it stands
One movie, under Richard O’Brien
With sensuous daydreams, erotic nightmares, and sins of the flesh for all.”

—The Rocky Pledge of Allegiance

Through high school and into college, a sure bet on a Saturday night was that two films would be playing at midnight: Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Every. Damned. Weekend. In the case of Rocky Horror, it’s no wonder: dressing up, shouting at the screen, throwing shit around the theater, and acting and singing along to the movie is more fun than a burlesque science fiction gothic drag hoedown—essentially what it was. At some point during the ’90s, it stopped. I couldn’t resist catching Rocky Horror again with a group of friends when it played at a theater near me.

A movie version of Riff-Raff/Richard O’Brien’s stage musical, the story is silly—stupid, even: a newlywed couple, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), are forced off the road during a rainstorm. I love that Janet reads The Plain Dealer in the car. Anyway, they end up at the castle of mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry)—he’s just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania—who’s about to unveil his newest creation that took him just seven days to make: Rocky (Peter Hinwood), a gorgeous tan man with muscles and tight gold shorts. A strange journey of an evening tinged with sexual tension, motorcycles, and music and dance ensues.

The characters and costumes are iconic, and the songs are a campy blast. Watching it this time, I picked up on a sexy overtone that I was kind of surprised to see it retains. Bostwick exudes an adorably dorky charm that I’ve always liked. It’s impossible to picture anyone but Curry as Frank-N-Furter, but Mick Jagger was after the role ( Meat Loaf makes for an interesting cast member. And who doesn’t love Magenta (Patricia Quinn)?

The Rocky Horror Picture Show bombed when it was originally released, but an astute marketing person recognized its potential in a different format—the rest is history. It’s an okay movie, but what goes along with it makes it a truly unique experience. Audience participation is a concept created here, and nothing else ever will be—or can be—quite the same.

In 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed The Rocky Horror Picture Show “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry (

101 minutes
Rated R

(Music Box) C+