Saturday, 30 April 2011

Valeria Solarino & Claudia Gerini in "Viaggio Segreto" [2006 Italy]

Roberto Ando's melodrama, "Viaggio Segreto" [Eng. Title: Secret Journey] attempts to achieve a lot. It's ambitious in its scope but somehow fails to get there, and that's mainly because the story isn't fully developed. There is plenty of suspense, and it also builds up like a thriller, but nothing nearly substantial emerges towards the end.

I think Ando visualised grand scenarios and tried to patch-up a story around it. There's the haunting imagery of the protagonist recollecting events from the past as he walks through his forlorn childhood home, and the tense but deeply loving relationship between brother and sister pointing to a common harrowing past. All this is fine, but when it gets to explaining what happened, it falls way short. The film by itself is beautiful to watch, the cinematography is sumptuous, even if I have reservations with the lighting, Marco Betta's soundtrack is mesmerising, and the Billie Holiday song has been used effectively to recreate the brooding atmosphere. And of course, the film is filled with well dressed (and undressed) beautiful people. Shame - it had the potential to be a great film!

Leo, a psychoanalyst in Rome, receives a letter from the priest in his childhood town in Sicily, about his family home being put up for sale. The last time he was there, he was a thirteen year old boy, and his sister Ale, seven. They left Sicily after her mother gets killed under strange circumstances, and the father is imprisoned for manslaughter. The letter brings back memories and he decides to pay a visit after twenty years, with the intention of perhaps even making an alternative offer to the estate agent. The visit will open up dark secrets hidden away in Leo's consciousness and bring it to the fore. The same happens to Ale, as they finally come to terms with their past.

Compilation 1: Claudia Gerini
Adelle - the mother of Leo and Ale, is a passionate woman in love with father Michele, but also prone to tantrums, mainly caused by jealousy. Leo worships her, and watches everything she does from a distance. Adele is excellently portrayed by Claudia Gerini - intense and full of passion.

Claudia Gerini in Viaggion Segreto

Scene Guide:
  • By the swimming pool - Leo won't get naked but Adelle likes to swim in the nude.
  • Recollections of Leo as he watches his parents arguing, making up, dancing, and having sex in the living room, assuming the kids are asleep.
  • On the night Adelle is killed, both Leo and Ale are witness to what happened. I've of course edited this to avoid giving away the plot.

Compilation 2: Valeria Solarino
Ale grows up to be a beautiful young woman. She had completely blocked out what happened on the fateful day when they had to leave Sicily, but retains a strong bond with brother Leo. Ale is played by the classy Valeria Solarino. She gives a restrained but effective performance as the sister determined to move on with life.

Valeria Solarino in Viaggio Segreto

Scene Guide:
  • A brief look at Anna, the estate agent commissioned to sell Leo's parental home. Leo and Anna develop a bond during his stay in Sicily - here he finally tells her that he had lived in the property she's trying to sell until he was thirteen, a fact Anna already knew but waited for him to disclose on his own. Anna is played by bella ragazza Donatella Finocchiaro.
  • Ale had asked brother Leo to come and see her - she had something important to tell him. She emerges from the bath and tells him she's being seeing someone for the past three months - a painter, and is even considering marriage.
  • No nudity but sexy upskirt as Ale answers a call from Leo. I just love those legs..!
  • This is a beautiful scene - with brother Leo. It's also the scene when Ale remembers her parents and events from childhood, and starts to come to terms - it's a closure of sorts - now she can start life afresh...


Friday, 29 April 2011

Elizabeth Cervantes & others in "El Infierno" BR720 [2010 Mexico]

Luis Estrada has followed up his hugely successful and highly acclaimed social satire "Le Ley de Herodes" with his latest film, "El Infierno" [Eng. Title: Hell]. Even if this story is set in modern day Mexico, both the films deal with crime, corruption, unaccountability and the general ineptness of law. Like its predecessor, El Infierno is a dark comedy drama reminding viewers of the biggest issue raging in their country today - organised crime and mindless violence, and more importantly the system that enables this to happen.

Benny returns to his home town in Mexico after twenty years - he'd just been deported from the US. He returns to sees the place has hardly developed at all - and even worse, overrun by drug-traffickers fighting for turf, much like in northern Mexico today. He hears more bad news - his little brother is dead - he was involved with one of the gangs. While he initially tries to keep away from the business, he gets invited (the poor chap didn't have a choice) to takes his dead brother's job by the person for whom he worked. As irony would have it, Benny goes on to become an accomplished assassin himself, and wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. But like in everything in life, there's always a price to pay..!

Brilliantly written and directed by Estrada, this film couldn't have been better timed - it was released during Mexico's bicentennial year, to remind its people the real state of affairs. It's technical values are equally impressive - be it cinematography, editing, or the awesome soundtrack. As are the performances by all the actors in the film, including the perfectly cast Damián Alcázar who plays Benny. Several actual news events that one would never get to see unless they're either the victim or perpetrator, are enacted in a gruesomely realistic manner, albeit with a touch of black humour. All I'd say is, if you can understand Spanish, you should give this a go. Highly Recommended Viewing!

The compilation below are some of the lighter moments in the film, provided by señorita caliente Elizabeth Cervantes, and some other mamacitas as Benny reaps some of the benefits of his turn of fortune. The scenes below were cut from Blu-ray - I've downsampled them slightly for this post, but are still of good quality.

The compilation below are some of the lighter moments in the film, provided by señorita caliente Elizabeth Cervantes, and some other mamacitas as Benny reaps some of the benefits of his turn of fortune. The scenes below were cut from Blu-ray - I've downsampled them slightly for this post, but are still of good quality.

Elizabeth Cervantes in El Infierno

Scene Guide:
  • Gualalupe was the girlfriend of Benny's brother, and works as a hostess at a bar. Half way through their session, he asks if he could take her from behind - and she's game for it. Lupita is played by Elizabeth Cervantes.
  • Elizabeth is ridiculously hot throughout the film, as in this scene even if there's no nudity - she drops by Benny's garage to tell him she's got some 'business' to attend to with some gentlemen and hands him her money!
  • Again no nudty but sexy with a nippleslip, as she tries to calm a visibly shaken Benny - he'd just returned after watching his boss blow off some guy's brains (not shown here).
  • At a night club - Benny helps himself to a dishy mamacita (shame her name's not in the credits). His boss enters and asks him to hurry up.
  • Benny with the buxom Gloria, played by Flor Eduarda Gurrola.


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Belén López & Marina Gatell in "Intrusos en Manasés" [2008 Spain]

I'm not a great fan of spooky films, but decided to watch one, if only to catch a glimpse of the dishy Marina Gatell - Juan Carlos Claver's film, "Intrusos en Manasés" [Eng. Title: God's Forgotten Town].

Watching the film only reminded me why I don't enjoy horror films - the plot usually involve people behaving stupidly by courting trouble for no rhyme or reason. Paranormal magazine journalist Julia and her team of three visit a remote village called Manasés on one of their assignments. Apparently the entire inhabitants of the village disappeared after a Nazi plane transporting to Berlin an ancient South American 'mystical' relic that would have enabled them to win the war crashes nearby, thwarting Hitler's plans - now that's what I call providence!

In the village, buildings appear intact but not a living soul's in sight. After arrival, the crew are bedevilled by poltergeist activity and frequent terrorising by Nazi ghosts (and it is funny when one of the guys still doesn't believe that there's anything untoward happening). A young girl-ghost finally comes forward to help save the beleaguered crew. I'm over-simplifying events, but the film is nevertheless rubbish, even if it is technically well made.

Anyway, the brief compilation below is of Julia having a bath, played by Belén López, and Syra the video cameraman, changing into something comfortable - Syra is played by Marina Gatell. These were cut directly from DVD.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Romina Ricci & Charo Bogarin in "Paco" [2009 Argentina]

Argentinian actor-director Diego Rafecas' impressive film "Paco" tackles the ills of drug abuse, particularly of the cheap and toxic 'Paco' variety, made from the residue of 'mainstream' drug production. He had also boldly and intelligently raised several related issues - social, moral, political, criminal, and legal. The film reaches out to the middle classes by pointing out that the system, even with good intentions, cannot be perfect, and makes a plea for common sense to prevail.

Constructed as a drama, the film outlines the sad stories of various inmates in a drug rehabilitation centre and follows their progress. Some of them succeed in conquering their demons, while some, even when cured of the addiction, have yet to find new focus. As quoted in the film, "everyone must discover their own purpose in life - no one can do it for them". Easier said than done! In all respects, this is a very well made film with sincere performances by all main characters, and the technical and creative aspects such as cinematography, editing, and direction, are all of high standard. And I simply loved the eclectic soundtrack, which adds something extra to every scene. Argentinian cinema had been going through something of a renaissance over the past few years, and this is one such fine example.

The DVD includes lots of goodies apart from the 'Making of', like separate soundtracks, music videos and interviews - it is real good value for money, and what's more, part of the proceeds from the production go to a charity working with drug rehabilitation. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing!

Romina Ricci & Charo Bogarin

Romina Ricci in Paco

Scene Guide:
  • Yamila hangs out at a joint and will do anyone for two lines of 'Paco'. When she takes one of the traders in, the other holding guard is also coaxed to treating himself, and the buyers escape with the stuff, leaving Yamila to deal with the consequences. Not a pleasant scene, but you will notice that Romina Ricci who plays Yamila has a rather impressive rack.
  • Brief nudity. Nora couldn't wait until her boyfriend could turn up, and desperate for a fix, begs the 'kitchen' guards for a fix. The owner sees her and takes her inside and everyone have a go. Nora is played by Charo Bogarin.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Arta Dobroshi in "Le Silence de Lorna" [2008 Belgium, France]

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have made another excellent conscientious drama in "Le Silence de Lorna" [Eng. Title: The Silence of Lorna]. Focusing on the immigration racket to show how cold and calculating people use loopholes within the system to exploit people, it follows the fortunes of Lorna, an Albanian immigrant who marries native Belgian Claudy to procure citizenship. Claudy, a junkie, also gets paid for marrying her. The deal is that after Lorna gets her ctizenship, she's to become quickly available for getting married to a Russian smuggler who wants EU citizenship. Claudy had been chosen carefully so that he could be disposed off easily through an overdose. But Lorna prefers to simply divorce the guy instead. She applies, and is granted divorce after showing medical staff some self-inflicted wounds. Claudy is also trying to come off drugs and turn a new page. But the cartel are impatient, and things don't go according to plan...

The film raises several questions, about government immigration policies, our own fears and prejudices, loopholes that can be easily exploited by criminal syndicates, and exploitation of women in general. The film is fast-paced through most of its duration, and towards the end have some bizarre twists, which I won't mention, but it is these that I feel were a bit contrived. But overall, the film has our full attention, and Arta Dobroshi gives a heart-felt performance in the titular role of Lorna. Recommended Viewing.

Arta Dobroshi, as Lorna:

Arta Dobroshi in Le Silence de Lorna

There is only one nude scene in the film, interesting nevertheless. Now that Lorna has got a divorce and will be leaving soon, Claudy is shattered, and now desperately wants a fix - he had been encouraged by Lorna to get off drugs, and it had been working. When he decides to go out to buy some more drugs, Lorna locks the door and throws away the key, and in order to take his mind off drugs, disrobes and offers to have sex with him for the first time.


Monday, 25 April 2011

Carmen Trigiante & co in "Il Sottile Fascino del Peccato" [2010 Italy]

Very rarely, even jaded cinephiles like me stumble across a film that they wished they'd never watched, and couldn't wait to get it out of their system. I've never heard of Franco Silvia and wanted to give "Il Sottile Fascino del Peccato" [Eng. Trans: The Discreet Fascination of Sin] a try as it was billed as an erotic thriller. A few films like this, and one can easily unlearn what one knows about film making.

I've watched films from this genre by the dozen (agree - I was going through a phase) - from masters of Giallo like Fulci, Bava, Argento, and Martino, to more 'sanitised' French erotic horror a la Rollin, and even Spanish equivalents like Franco and particularly Naschy who I think Silvia was actually trying to emulate plot-wise. But the direction is poor - a lot of the scenes have no sense of composition, and timing, because of which even people who can act end up looking like amateurs - and spare a thought for those who can't, like most them in the film!

The story in a nutshell - A writer of erotic novels returns to her village for her mother's funeral - everyone claim she committed suicide, but she thinks it might have been murder. She investigates, sometimes wearing ridiculous lingerie possibly borrowed from Tinto Brass' costume department,  and we come across witches, satanic rituals, priestesses (who at least should have got naked as is only customary - but they barely do), corrupt police and, plenty of roses! I'm actually glad I'd already forgotten most of the film. I don't remember the character names and can't be bothered to load the DVD to find out - so I'm not going to give a scene description here, apart from adding that the nudity is brief, probably even unintended, and perhaps remnants of lazy editing with assorted nipple-slips and downblouse, baring a short scene where we see Carmen taking a shower in full view of the camera.

Carmen Trigiante plays the writer with a decent ass investigating her mother's death, Milena Miconi the blonde witch/priestess/hotel manager/father's mistress/generally evil thing (and possibly the only person who can act among the lot), Fabrizia Martano the curly haired waif who is the girlfriend of our writer's 'platonic' childhood friend. A couple of uncredited 'tette' also appear somewhere in the compilation.

Carmen Trigiante in Il Sottile Fascino del Peccato


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Miriam Mayet & Lana Cooper in "Bedways" [2010 Germany]

When I received my pre-ordered DVD of RP Kahl's "Bedways", I was disappointed - the film was shot in full-frame (4:3), but the CrabTree release was letterboxed to widescreen. I had to re-order the uncropped version from Germany, and the Koch Media DVD was not only full-frame, but also had some interesting extras including an interview with Miriam Mayet, the star of the film. So if you're considering purchasing a copy, you now know which version to go for.

The subject of filmmakers experimenting with film, love and sex, either in a commercial studio or a run-down apartment isn't new - it had been done before, perhaps even more convincingly. What however sets "Bedways" apart is the open-minded theories of the protagonist-director, who allows things to be played out to their natural conclusion, where the project becomes a study in itself, but also the fact that the film is aided by some unsimulated sex scenes not frequently seen on cinema.

Young director Nina invites friends Maria and Hans for a screen test for a film project. She tells them she wants to explore the theme of love and sex, and wants to observe whether something more than just professionalism would be involved to capture sex in all its authenticity. Hans and Maria have never met before, but were expected to build a chemistry starting from nowhere and take it to the end. Nina uses psychology to get them to come up with own initiatives and ideas. Over the period, we see the margins of film production and reality getting blurred, and begin to wonder where this is all heading.

Of course, this film is going to be more famous for its sex scenes than its exploration of emotions as part of some artistic endeavour. But it nevertheless showcases how difficult shooting sex scenes can be - not only for the director, but importantly for the actors involved - it is not like making porn where actors are paid for performing sex acts to camera, and that's it. In that respect, all the three actors who play the main characters have done an excellent job. The direction is also competent, but I felt the characters could have been developed a lot further. We're made aware that there's a history between Nina and Hans, but are left wanting to know more, and that's a required element for the film to work. The soundtrack fits the film's theme fine, but not sure if it was necessary to show an entire song being performed by the band. In conclusion, this is not a great film, but not poorly made either. If you're willing to overlook its minor shortcomings, you'll enjoy it.

Compilation 1:
Made from several scenes of Miriam Mayet who plays the director Nina Bader.

Miriam Mayet in Bedways

Scene Guide:
  • Nina leaves behind some broken glass after her shower, only for Marie to step on. Not much nudity in this scene but it includes some lesbian toe-sucking - erotic in context of the film.
  • Nina and Hans meet up and visit a gay bar where people could watch goings on between different booths, and they decide to give it a go. Nina wants to explore for herself a theory - "...just me and the camera". They speak to each other over their mobile phones while masturbating - Hans is not shown nor heard until she asks him to come in. This is a must-see - a long scene done in a single take - for close to 10 minutes Miriam Mayet masturbates herself in explicit view of the camera. It reminds me of a seminal scene in cinema from years ago - Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan giving a lengthy monologue while masturbating herself in bed from the film "James Joyce's Women". In this film, while there's not as much as a monologue from Ms. Mayet, the focus remains feminine pleasure, as opposed to male gratification.
  • I've re-jigged his scene for continuity sake. This is what happens next, and includes brief cunnilingus and fellatio between Hans and Nina.
  • The closing shot of the film where Nina is on a bed holding a mirror.

Compilation 2:
Scenes of Lana Cooper who plays Marie Traunstein.

Lana Cooper in Bedways

Scene Guide:
  • Brief nudity but important scene where Nina briefs Marie what she's expecting to achieve in the film. She prompts Marie to come up with ideas of her own.
  • When Marie is hesitant to take off her top, Nina removes her own to put her at ease, takes Hans' place and shows what needs to be done - i.e., masturbating through her panties.
  • Nina arranges the nude bodies of Hans and Marie as if it were still life.
  • Interesting scene where Marie, wearing transparent panties, sits on a chair with spread legs, while quoting a psychological study from a newspaper. The article mentions that humans are genetically programmed to display certain emotions, in this case - smiling 'for the camera' when they are a bit disappointed - apparently a person blind from birth would also display the same smile as an olympic silver medalist missing gold by a whisker. She concludes by saying that she's also going to use those innate qualities for her acting.
  • More in-your-face nudity when Marie as she prepares for the sex scene.
  • The sex scene is not shown as being filmed, but as reviewed by all three later. But whatever we see leaves little to the imagination as Lana Cooper has unsimulated sex with her co-actor, and it is fairly explicit too.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Julia Schacht in "Naboer" [Norway, Sweden, Denmark 2005]

My first post from a Norwegian film had to be something unusual. And different this certainly is - Pål Sletaune's psychological thriller "Naboer" [Eng. Title: Next Door] chooses the well trodden subject of psychological trauma, but shows this from a totally unique perspective.

John hasn't yet fully come to terms with the end of his relationship with Ingrid, his girlfriend of many years, and who left him for another guy. One day when he returns from work, Anne, a neighbour, asks him for help in moving some things around in her flat. Anne also introduces him to her sister, Kim. Anne later begs John to babysit Kim while she goes on some errands, and he agrees. What happens next is both shocking and disturbingly erotic. And things only get worse later on, which I'm not even going to mention here, as that would give away too much of the plot. The sisters are depicted as young and sexually available, but also creepy, bordering on insane - for a reason we will realise as the film progresses.

The film moves swiftly, and not for a moment will one find it dragging - Sletaune will have us transfixed to what's happening on the screen throughout, and the acting in particular by the protagonist is riveting. But I think for the kind of story and screenplay, the depiction of the scenes should have been bolder, which would have been the case had it been a Spanish or Italian film. Even so, this is a very good film, and therefore, Recommended Viewing.

Julia Schacht, as Kim:
I've restricted this compilation to just one scene even if there are a couple of more instances of nudity. But the scene below is intact without edits so one can see the build-up to what happens here. This was compiled from my DVD.

Julia Schacht in Naboer

Scene Guide:
Kim crudely seduces John by first asking him to sit in front of her with her legs spread. She asks him if men get turned on by a woman who'd just had sex. When he answers in the negative, she disagrees, and goes on to narrate an episode where three men have sex with her simultaneously, while mimicking their actions. She later admits that didn't happen, and it was just something she read somewhere. They start kissing, but all of a sudden Kim slaps and lands a punch on John's face. She repeats these actions, and after failing to restrain her, John punches back, and they go back to what they were doing. But the blows keep coming in between their lovemaking, which get bloodier and vicious by the minute. This is one freaky scene, and download at your discretion. Whoever said, "Love hurts"..!


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Macarena Gómez & co in "Carne de Neón" [2011 Spain, Argentina]

Paco Cabezas remade "Carne de Neón" [Eng. title: Neon Flesh] for the big screen, after the earlier success of his TV version. What was initially a comedy had turned into a comedy thriller, and I think he just about managed to pull it off. I wasn't expecting too much from this film, but was pleasantly surprised by its high level of production. The stylish cinematography and editing compliments the soundtrack and, for what is essentially an action-packed film, pretty well made. Add to that, there is also a dark sense of humour pervading through the film - so whether people take what they see at face value, or look beyond the narrative, they will be entertained - a sure recipe for box-office success.

Ricky is a hustler, and works the streets alongside prostitutes and transvestites. He's been doing this from the age of twelve when his prostitute-mother gets imprisoned. He'd been saving money to start a classy club-brothel of his own, and make his mum proud when she gets released - that was actually her ambition. She is released, but alas, she is now also suffering from Alzheimer's disease and doesn't even remember she has a son, but Ricky takes her with him nevertheless. This mother-son bonding is happening amidst the backdrop of flesh trade, gang warfare, pornography and the like. There are several elements to the plot, and I don't want to throw in spoilers for those who want to watch it. Rest assured, it is worthwhile. The DVD is out, from which these scenes were cut, and Recommended Viewing..!

Compilation 1:
Florencia Limonoff, Maria Zamarbide, Agatha Fresco, Vanessa Oliveira & others

Florencia Limonoff, Maria Zamarbide, Agatha Fresco, Vanessa Oliveira & others in Carne de Neón

Scene Guide:
  • Ricky and his friend Angelito visit a flesh market to pick up some fresh girls for their new establishment. The girl who strips in front of everyone is Florencia Limonoff.
  • Angelito wanted to give the new girls some 'training', but just couldn't perform during the hour of need, instead he makes friends with them by showing a picture of his dog.
  • A quick parade of topless girls - the blonde one is Maria Zamarbide.
  • This scene would not be funny in real life, but quite hilarious here. Marisa and her husband have paid 30,000 Euro to get themselves a baby through Ricky. Ricky's mum is supposed to perform the errands, by taking the lady to he beach to complete the transaction, and taking Mobila, a young black woman to the grocery store where she'll perform in a porno shoot. Either due to her illness, or on purpose, Ricky's mum drops Mobila at the beach, and takes Marisa to the grocery store. When Mobila's boyfriend barges into the store looking for her, he instead finds this poor old lady getting banged doggy-style by a stud (the only instance of frontal nudity in the film). Either she's having the worst day of her life, or finally getting her wildest fantasy fulfilled! Marisa is played by Agatha Fresco.
  • A montage of Mobila, played by beautiful Vanessa Oliveira.

Compilation 2:
Macarena Gómez, Blanca Suárez and some assorted nudes

Macarena Gómez and Blanca Suárez in Carne de Neón

Scene Guide:
  • Soledad is a junkie, pimped by Angelito. Here she asks him if she really should service customers in the new club as well. Soledad is played by Macarena Gómez,
  • Soledad getting beaten up by a customer, and Angelito takes cares of him. Nipples show through her meshed top in this and the above scene.
  • A topless and oiled up Soledad - signature shot of the film. Other assorted nudity.
  • No nudty but sexy upskirt tease - Veronica is the Police Commissioner's daughter who's being escorted back to her boarding school. Unfortunately Veronica seems to be the only character under-developed in the film. She's a prick-tease and has her eyes on one of the police officers escorting her. When her dad calls to check up on her, she fakes the conversation to the guys in front by giving the impression that she's having an incestuous relationship with her dad. The policemen get distracted and nearly cause an accident. Veronica is played by cute Blanca Suárez.
  • Veronica gets abducted by a gang leader as revenge for his son's death in custody. Her father comes to rescue, but is outwitted.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Renée Soutendijk in Paul Verhoeven's "De Vierde Man" [1983 Netherlands]

Continuing the early filmography of Paul Verhoeven, "De Vierde Man" [Eng. Title: The Fourth Man] successfully crosses over into 'Noire' territory by drawing inspiration from various peers of his era, notably Hitchcock and Chabrol. He also experiments with various stylistic elements which he'd later put to use in Hollywood, like in Basic Instinct, which in fact has several parallels with this film. But I feel The Fourth Man is a much more rounded product, where the suspense and ambiguity are retained throughout the film, in fact even after the film.

Like in most of his films, the female characters are as strong and domineering as their male counterparts, and in this film, they're not just strong, but shown as having the potential to be dangerous too. Disillusioned, bisexual, and alcoholic writer Gerard is invited to a remote town to give a lecture at a literature convention. There he meets Christine, a widow and the society's Treasurer, who invites him to stay at her place for the night when he misses his last train back to Amsterdam. Gerard isn't averse to a one-night stand when it comes by, and they end up in bed together, but during the night he secretly reads one of Christine's private letters from a handsome man, who he instantly is besotted with (the letter by the way, was left deliberately on the table by Christine), and when Christine asks him to live and work with her, he readily agrees, in the hope of meeting her young lover. During his stay, he discovers that Christine had already been widowed thrice, and suspects she might have killed each of her husbands to amass wealth, and is now looking for a fourth man (hence the title). Whatever the case, it is clear both Christine and Gerard have different agenda, but who's in control, and who'll have the last say..!

This is great film with attention to detail in lighting, cinematography, and fine performances by its lead characters, not to mention the crisp editing and fine direction. As for the nude scenes, some are awesome, and the compilation below is made from my DVD. All in all a fine Verhoeven film - and therefore, Recommended Viewing..!

Renée Soutendijk in De Vierde Man

Scene Guide:
  • After asking Christine to disrobe, Gerard comments that she has the fine figure of a beautiful young man, She brings her breasts closer and asks him if she still looks like a young man. Gerard presses his hands against her breasts and spreads them apart, saying, "now you do". They are both turned on, and there's also some subtle humour when Gerard apologises for slipping out of her during sex, indicating his general preference for the rear entrance.
  • Gerard is now aware that Christine has another lover, Hermann, one that he fancies himself, and coaxes her into telling more about him, in the pretext of writing a story based on their lives. When Christine complains that Hermann comes too quickly, Gerard offers to help in that regard, and asks her to invite Hermann over so he could 'work' on his shortcomings. He plays with Christine's breasts while saying this. Christine is played by the rather dishy Dutch bombshell Renée Soutendijk.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Sabila Moussadek & others in "Sans Queue ni Tête" [2010 France]

Jeanne Labrune's 2010 drama, "Sans Queue ni Tête" [Eng. Title: Special Treatment] is an interesting observation of its protagonists - one, Xavier, a psychoanalyst, and the other, prostitute Alice - both are experienced in their respective professions, but are reaching a kind of dead-end where neither one of them want to carry on doing what they're doing and decide to seek help. Xavier's wife of many years has just left him, he is no longer keen to listen to his patients' woes, and instead feels that venting his sexual urges with a prostitute would help rejuvenate him. Alice meanwhile is going through a crisis of her own and wants to talk to someone who can help with her desire to quit what she's doing. Both these needs cross paths, and after several setbacks, achieve their respective goals.

The film is well made, and Isabelle Huppert plays the role of Alice with her usual elegance. There's however no nudity from her in this film, provided instead from other characters.

The first one is of Sabila Moussadek, who plays Alice's friend and fellow prostitute, Juliette. The second is when Xavier takes a ride down a sex den of sorts where bizarre acts happen. If you really need to know, the girl on the cross is Marine Drouhet, and the woman with the pig is Malika Benhadj. The compilation below was cut from my DVD.

Sabila Moussadek in Sans Queue ni Tête

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Penélope Velasco in "Café Solo o con Ellas" [2007 Spain]

Álvaro Díaz Lorenzo's debut film "Café Solo o con Ellas" [Eng. Title: Love Espresso] is a fairly ordinary brat-pack comedy set in Madrid - all the characters are cliché. The film's about a group of guys - friends, and their various adventures with picking-up/winning back women.

I simply cannot bother with a detailed review here as there is really nothing to write about - you can just read the scene guide for who is who below. The compilation however, was made from a good quality DVD.

Penélope Velasco and Silvia Juliá in Café Solo o con Ellas

Scene Guide:
  • Uncredited actress - she's one of several girls the guy beds - shame you have some titles interrupting, but still interesting view. The girl wants him to change positions so she could see his face as it apparently turns her on, but he likes to look at her ass instead, and hands her his photo ID so she can look at his face in it.
  • The guy returns home to hear moans in his room - he thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him and barges in, only to see his brother with his girlfriend. He knew he was arriving, but thought it was the next day. The girlfriend is played by Silvia Juliá.
  • This is the best of the lot - a worried guy (Pedro) barges in while his friend is having sex with a girl he picked up that evening, Sara. When Pedro is asked to leave, Sara interrupts and says she doesn't mind him staying at all - and asks her guy to hear Pedro out. Pedro and Sara introduce each other and he goes on to have a serious conversation with her, including tips for winning back his girlfriend, and all the time Sara hasn't stopped riding her fella. Sara is played by Penélope Velasco.


Saturday, 16 April 2011

Isabella Ferrari in "Amatemi" [2005 Italy]

Renato De Maria's 2005 drama, "Amatemi" [Eng. Title: Love Me] is a woman's quest for love and a meaning in her life, after her husband of twenty years suddenly decides to separate.

Nina, an announcer at a supermarket returns home one evening to have a bombshell thrown at her by husband Claudio - he wants to separate because he had ceased to be in love with her for some time, and that he's now in love with another woman. A desperate Nina implores him not to leave, to no avail. She finally come to terms with reality and decides to start afresh, giving herself a makeover, and clubbing with her friend Giulia. One night, she sees a stranger at a club and promptly follows him - they never utter a word, as they take a room at a hotel, have sex, and leave. She feels she could now finally lay to rest her past relationship. Neither of them even bothers to ask for each other's name or telephone number, but after they go their separate ways, Nina begins to miss him, and frequents the bar in the hope of meeting him again. When he doesn't turn up there, she takes on a string of lovers, deciding not to expect anything, and not allowing them to either. She finally meets up with the stranger from a bar, after watching him on TV.

Her philosophy can be summed up in her own words, "I don't want to count how many people I've known, but whether I've loved each one of them enough, and they felt likewise. I do this without expecting anything, not their truth, their lies or betrayal. One thing is for sure, I never want to be alone again." Whether we agree with Nina or not, the film is adequately made, with some solid performances by Isabella Ferrari as Nina and an under-used Pierfrancesco Favino as Claudio.

I've put together several scenes from my DVD for this compilation - not all of them contain nudity, but they're still watch-worthy.

Isabella Ferrari in Amatemi

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity - Nina begs her husband for sex one last time before leaving.
  • Some upskirt, downblouse, and brief nudity in the bathtub.
  • Nina with the stranger at a hotel room.
  • Lesbian kissing - one of Nina's friends suddenly finds her irresistable in the bathroom. The other woman is played by Camilla Filippi.
  • Brief nudity while being serenaded by one of Nina's lovers.
  • Quick frontal flash as Nina gets ready to leave.
  • Intermittent nipple-slips while Nina is in bed with her favourite lover, the stranger from the night cub.


Friday, 15 April 2011

Omahyra Mota & Karin Viard in "Les Derniers Jours du Monde" [2009 France, Spain]

Larrieu brothers' (Arnard and Jean-Marie) most recent film, "Les Derniers Jours du Monde" [Eng. title: The Last Days of the World, Festival Title: Happy End] is a typically French take on the apocalypse theme - generally the preserve of Hollywood blockbusters. While the latter rely heavily on grand special effects to propel the story, 'Dernier Jours' uses it sparingly and to good effect, instead devoting considerable attention to the people's mindset as the calamity unfolds.

It is essentially a road movie, where the protagonist - aptly named Robinson, wanders through France and Spain searching for the woman he wants to spend his last few days with, Laetitia, while people keep dropping like flies all around him. We get to know about Laetitia through a jigsaw of flashbacks. He holds faith that she is still alive, somewhere, as those who abducted her surely needed her to be. The film doesn't delve into the happening cataclysm, merely depicting things happening within Robinson's vicinity, and that too in the background. The film audience go through a surreal experience, just as anyone living the apocalypse would undergo. Surprisingly for a bleak film, it also has its lighter moments, when we are shown examples of absurdity only capable by humans. I think this film's a unique cinematic experience, and definitely Recommended Viewing.

I've made two compilations from my excellent DVD, focusing on different periods of Robinson's life, save one scene that happens towards the very end - it is also the seminal and most sublime moment in the film.

Compilation 1: Omahyra Mota
We are shown through flashbacks, the purpose behind Robinson's quest - to find the woman he loves, former barmaid Laetitia, played by Latin American born model, Omahyra Mota.

Omahyra Mota in Les Derniers Jours du Monde

Scene Guide:
  • Robinson's first encounter with Laetitia requires no words, it is after all purely sexual.
  • Laetitia and Robinson at the beach.
  • A frustrated Robinson realises that Laetitia is hiding something from him, but he puts up with it,  of course, for what he sees in her. Even her labia is briefly visible in this strategically lit scene.
  • They are at a spa in Taipei where men and women are segregated, but Laetitia breaks protocol and enters the men's section, much to the displeasure of the Taiwanese gentlemen, and Robinson's embarrassment.
  • At the hotel, Robinson is visibly annoyed with Laetitia's behaviour in the toilet.
  • The most beautiful moment in the film. Robinson locates Laetitia back in his flat in a presumably post-apoclyptic Paris. They decide to shed their clothes, as if symbolically starting humanity afresh, and run through the streets of Paris as a naked Adam and Eve. But has everything really ended, for a new beginning..!

Compilation 2: Catherine Frot, Karin Viard, Clotilde Hesme
All these scenes happen in the film's present time. Robinson has lost one of his hands, and these are his experiences as the world is coming to a violent end.

Catherine Frot, Karin Viard and Clotilde Hesme in Les Derniers Jours du Monde

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity. French refugee Ombaline and Robinson find momentary companionship in Spain. She's played by Catherine Frot.
  • Certainly the only erotic moment in the film. Robinson heads back to France and runs into his wife Chloé - they have separated. Chloé is now volunteering at a disaster zone, and invites him to her office for 'lunch', to relive a happier time. Shame they had to be interrupted by another emergency. Chloé is played by sexy MILF Karin Viard.
  • Iris is dying, she's the colleague and lover of Robinson's best friend whom he meets by accident. After the friend shockingly kills himself, Iris requests Robinson to accompany her during the last few moments of her life. Iris is played by Clotilde Hesme.
  • This is a bizarre scene - Robinson stumbles into a 'Suicide Hotel', where guests gather to live out their last fantasies for a night before killing themselves. In one instance a woman tries to give Robinson a blow-job. He politely refuses, forgetting that it was the poor woman's fantasy, and asks her the direction for the Internet room instead.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Rita Rusic in "Attila, Flagello di Dio" BR1080 [1982 Italy]

Franco Castellano and Giuseppe Moccia made this bawdy historical spoof, "Attila, Flagello di Dio" [Eng. Title: Attila, Wrath of God] with popular comedian Diego Abatantuono. Apparently this film had attained a cult status among a particular generation of Italians for its witty dialogue. While I found the film funny in places, some of the jokes simply went past me as they're spoken in regional slang.

The reason for this post however is for the very dishy Rita Rusic who plays Uraia, Attila's woman. The film was shelved for a number of years because of her nude scenes - she's a producer herself now, and possibly didn't want to be associated with the film at the time. But good things can't be bottled up forever - it has now come out in Blu-ray, in all its restored glory from which these compilations were made

The film depicts Attila as an accidental invader perfectly happy roaming the countryside with his bunch of misfits and picking fights with the Romans. One day when he and his men return from a hunt, they see their village gutted, and women gone after a raid by the Romans. Attila heads to Rome to seek revenge - what incensed him was the fact that they'd taken the horses too! After a series of Monty Python-style misadventures, Attila returns with his woman and gold. Overall it isn't a terrible film at all, and I did like the film score very much, and of course, lovely Rita doesn't get to wear anything apart from bikini's for much of the film, so definitely worth taking a look even for non-Italians.

Compilation 1: Rita Rusic

Rita Rusic in Attila Flagello di Dio

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but sexy - when Uraia is kidnapped by Romans while toiling in the field.
  • The Centurian gets Uraia washed and brought to his tent. Rita Rusic shows us some of her martial art and horse riding skills as she escapes wearing nothing but a thong, and also climbs on to a tree to hide until the following morning. This is supposed to be shown as a night scene, but I removed the filter for the sake of this post, and thanks to the Blu-ray quality, I think I just got away with it.
  • No nudity, but some sexy barbarism from Uraia against the Romans before escaping with Attila.

Compilation 2: Anna Kanakis and an uncredited actress
Anna Kanakis plays the deceitful mermaid luring Attila and his men in the sea. There is however no mention in the film credits of the woman who plays the helpful Centaura - she shows Attila and Uraia the way to Rome.

Anna Kanakis in Attila Flagello di Dio


Saturday, 9 April 2011

Isabel Cristina Cadavidad & Linda Lucía Callejas in "Sin Tetas no Hay Paraiso" [2010 Colombia]

Colombian writer/director Gustavo Bolívar remade his earlier TV series "Sin Tetas no Hay Paraìso" [Eng. Trans: No Paradise Without Tits], for the big screen in 2010, and apparently it was a huge success.

It chronicles the completely misguided life of a low-in-self-esteem fourteen year old girl, and the extraordinary lengths she goes to, to get what she thinks is necessary - in her case, bigger breasts equates to greater success. In the DVD extras, Gustavo Bolívar also explains the reason behind his making of the film that had already had a successful run on TV earlier - so that he could follow the original novel more faithfully, where an adolescent Catalina enthusiastically turns to prostitution in order to earn the money required for her breast implant - apparently in the TV series, the story was adapted to portray an older woman.

About the Making of the Film:
The film does have a rather interesting background. Bolívar wanted to find a young lady really wanting to undergo surgery for his film, so that the actual procedure could also be filmed. Twenty one year old Isabel Cristina Cadavidad was consulting with renowned plastic surgeon Alan Gonzalez (who acts as himself in the film too) when she was informed of the opportunity to star in a film. Even though she was 21, she looked 15-16, which was more or less the character's age, and she agreed to play Catalina.

About the film:
Any story dealing with under-age prostitution is shocking to say the least, but the director forces us to look beyond what Catalina ends up doing, in order to explore the motivating and mitigating factors that leads her down the path. The film is therefore very earthy, in a naturally Latin American way, and well made with some interesting screenplay, which switches from melodramatic soap-opera to gritty drama of gang-culture, from teenage romance to erotic drama. The acting is also pretty good, especially from Isabel Cristina Cadavidad, who had never acted before.  The direction and editing are professional, and the sound track is excellent using Cumbia, Pop Latino, and Hip hop and Reggaeton beats - it's as if the entire musical talent from Cali and Bogota have been used for the film. It's all good fun, never boring, of course not when the screen's filled with sexy girls from start to finish. Needless to say, Recommeded Viewing.

It was an uphill task editing bits for this compilation, and I don't want to be making too many graphics for this post, so these have to be larger than usual, but it should give you a general idea about the film, and hopefully you'll want to own your own DVD.

Compilation 1: Isabel Cristina Cadavidad

Isabel Cristina Cadavidad in Sin Tetas no Hay Paraìso

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but sexy cameltoe from Isabel Cristina Cadavidad when Catalina is advised by her brother Byron not to mix with the girls on the street, as they're sluts and a bad influence.
  • We have a quick flash from one of Catalina's 'school friends'. If you really need to know the actress name, it is Caroll Parra. Catalaina is later consoled by her friend after she's rejected by a gangster for her small tits - she's now desperate to sell her virginity, the only thing she thinks she has of value, to anyone willing to pay for her breast enhancement.
  • A bodyguard approaches Catalina after his boss at a private party picks another girl with bigger tits. He promises her the money and has rough sex with her without even knowing until later that she was a virgin he just deflowered. Some awesome nudity from Isabel in this darkly lit scene, with even a hint of her clitoris if you care to watch it studiously.
  • A girl pops out of a cake in the nude at a gangster's birthday shindig - actress name uncredited. Assorted sexy 'Reinas' in the scene appear.
  • Catalina with her first 'proper' customer, a gangster who gets addicted to her just after a night's work, but even then he's unwilling to fork up the 5 Million Pesos for her surgery.
  • More 'Reinas' in the pool, followed by a bizarre scene of a topless girl overseeing a police officer being tortured (actress uncredited).

Compilation 2: Linda Lucía Callejas, Isabel Cristina Cadavidad

Linda Lucía Callejas & Isabel Cristina Cadavidad in Sin Tetas no Hay Paraiso

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but sexy. When Catalina is late from school, again, her boyfriend Albeiro comes looking for her at her home. Catalina's mum Doña Hilda opens the door and offers to make him some coffee while he waits. Hilda is a lonely widow, but sure must be the sexiest mum in town. He later watches her while she's asleep.
  • Catalina leaves for Bogota, and Albeiro comes visiting to enquire about her whereabouts. Doña Hilda has just come out of the shower. And then things happen, predictably.
  • This also had to happen sooner or later - Catalina's brother Byron catches his mum and Albeiro in bed together. What ensues is a bizarre passage of play where he first threatens, then turns philosophical and asks whether he should address Albeiro as a brother-in-law or step-dad, and behaves in a manner bordering on Oedipus complex. Byron by the way makes a living as a hired assassin, unbeknown to his poor mother. Doña Hilda is played by muy sexy señorita Linda Lucía Callejas.
  • Catalina's just turned fifteen, and gives Albeiro what she had promised earlier, even pretending to him that she's still a virgin. And the hapless Hilda could do nothing about her lover having sex with her daughter.
  • Catalina getting ready for her operation, after which they show Isabel Cristina Cadavidad actually getting the surgery done, but I haven't included it here.
  • Catalina showing off her newly acquired breasts to a guy who spurned her earlier, he's eager now but is interrupted by his girlfriend.
  • Catalina visits Albeiro to show them off too, and they make love.
  • A heartbroken Catalina feeling suicidal - with some flashbacks.


Friday, 8 April 2011

Carmen Montes in Jesus Franco's "Paula-Paula" [2010 Spain]

Let's be naughty for a change - this is not exactly mainstream, what the heck, it is not even cinema, it is Jesus Franco's (oh, don't we all remember him!) latest video film, "Paula-Paula - An audiovisual experience".

An audiovisual experience - hmmm - it's an experience alright, and an endurance too if I might add. This must definitely be Franco's lowest-budgeted film - it helps I suppose if you're the writer, director and the editor as well. But even then, this is a poorly finished film by his standards. The film's run-time is 66 minutes, but I bet the actual footage used could be less than half that. The film is prolonged using slow-motion, that too applied during post-production, and using the laziest methods. I think he just desperately needed to get a film out. More than the 'film', I found the DVD extras more interesting which included a candid interview with Franco where he talks about cinema in general and his personal experiences as the maker of 200-odd films.

As far I can see, the only merit in the film is its old-school piano jazz composition which he mixes up with some modern flamenco, funk and some classical western. The reason for my post however, is Carmen Montes, a natural beauty with a typical Spanish figure, save the needlessly shaved nether regions. I'm sure she'd look guapa even when fully clothed, and I dearly wish someone uses her for other than these kind of flicks - she's capable of more.

Okay, the story - Paula is interrogated by detectives after the murder of her friend, an other Paula. That's it!

Scene 1:
Paula is questioned by a couple of detectives - the older lady is none other than the legendary Lina Romay - doesn't time fly, plus you get to see a lot of the voluptuous curves of Carmen Montes - the best of the two scenes posted here, and in DVD quality too.

Carmen Montes from Paula-Paula

Scene 2:
Paula and Paula together, and a recollection of what happened by the evil namesake, Carmen Montes. The other Paula is played by Paula Davis. I've done you guys a favour by speeding up this scene by 300% - and having viewed the result a few times, I still think this is better than the original. And I removed some of the ridiculous special effects appearing in between their sapphic play - leaving just one instance to let you guys judge for yourself. But even then, this is one tedious scene. I wonder if Franco was trying to re-enact a famous lesbian scene shot in slowmotion from an earlier era, the Italian film, "Alla Ricerca del Piacere", where Rosalba Neri and Barbara Bouchet give an awesome show, helped by Teo Usuelli's groovy soundtrack. This one has good music too, but it doesn't work for me.

Carmen Montes and Paula Davis in Paula-Paula


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hanna Schygulla in "Die Ehe der Maria Braun" [1979 W.Germany]

Continuing the filmography of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, his 1979 film, "Die Ehe der Maria Braun" [Eng. Title: The Marriage of Maria Braun] is the last in his BRD Trilogy, all relating to women and marriage during post-war Germany.

The film starts with Maria getting married to soldier Hermann right on the street - the registrar's office had just been blown up by advancing Allies. It's the last few days of the war in Europe, and Hermann is asked to report back to duty after half a day and one night's marital bliss. When he's reported as missing in action, Maria refuses to believe he's dead, and decides to live in hope. But for that she needs to survive among the debris of war. She works at a bar frequented by American soldiers, and befriends a black sergeant who showers her with gifts and falls in love, but she refuses his marriage proposal, saying, "I'm fond of you, but I'm in love with my husband".

The husband returns unexpectedly, but ends up in prison under dramatic circumstances. Maria visits Hermann in prison regularly and assures him she will become successful and rich by the time he is released. She now befriends a French industrialist and ends up working as his private secretary, later to have an affair with him, even becoming heiress to his fortune. Maria is determined to succeed and live for her husband, even if that requires having affairs with other men, and foreigners too. In fact, Maria the character is a parable for post war Germany itself, and the enforced break-up of the country into East and West.

The film is very well written, and the sharp-witted dialogues makes it a very fine satire. Even though I'm just scratching at the surface, I'm beginning to throroughly enjoy Fassbinder. It is also amazing to see how much he puts into each of his films, considering he was a prolific filmmaker churning out films in quick succession, and with swift production schedules too. The film also features his regular muse and long-term friend Hanna Schygulla in the title role of Maria. This superb actress with oodles of class gives a sterling performance here.

The compilation below was cut from my DVD and includes some of the best scenes of Hanna Schygulla. The DVD also came with some surprising extras, including an very interesting retrospective of women in Fassbinder's films. Highly Recommended Viewing!

Hanna Schygulla in Die Ehe der Maria Braun

Scene Guide:
  • Maria with her doctor - she needs a medical certificate before she can take up a job as a waitress.
  • Nice scene of Maria with her American lover.
  • The doctor confirms Maria's pregnancy and she shocks him by informing who the child's father is.
  • Two successive scenes of Maria with her rich employer.
  • Hermann finally returns home, and Maria caught by surprise, is afraid of the thought of having to live with someone she had loved all along, but has only lived with for half a day and a night as a wife.
  • This is a totally unexpected scene in a restaurant, of a waitress (actress uncredited) being liberally groped by a waiter while Maria is throwing up in the background.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Maria Grazia Cucinotta & Simona Borioni in "La Bella Società" [2010 Italy]

Gian Paolo Cugno's film, "La Bella Società" [Eng. The Good Society] is a family drama spanning forty years of the lives of two Sicilian brothers. The film covers various sociological/historical events during the period that challenged deep rooted values within traditional Sicilian society.

Young Giuseppe and Giorgio are protective of their mother Maria - after their father had been taken away by gangsters several years ago. Even if Maria is resigned to the fact that he is no longer alive, the boys are in denial, and when she meets and falls in love with a casting director from Rome, they go to extraordinary lengths to discourage her lover. This leads to an unfortunate accident in which the casting director gets killed and Giorgio, blinded. When Maria discovers he truth, the shock causes a miscarriage, and she too dies, leaving Giuseppe to take care of his brother from a very young age. He becomes protective of his brother too, and when they grow up, a time will come when they will need to go their separate ways.

The film has some decent production values, and the cinematography offers some great views of both Sicily and Turin, where bulk of the events take place. On the whole, the film is well made and worth watching. The compilation includes some non-nude scenes too, but they are blog-related, and cut from my DVD.

Maria Grazia Cucinotta & Simona Borioni in La Bella Società

Scene Guide:
  1. No nudity but some sexy cleavage. Maria gets discovered by a casting director and is put into a sexy role in his film, but she's not too happy at being touched by her co-star, and needs a lot of persuading. Maria is played by the Maria Grazia Cucinotta.
  2. Maria soon falls in love with the casting director, and one day, the boys discover them making love.
  3. A short scene where Giorgio plays with his girlfriend Caterina. They fell in love after he rescues her from some left wing terrorists while staying in Turin. Caterina is played by Simona Borioni.
  4. Giorgio is in Turin for an operation to restore his sight, which he does momentarily, and he and Caterina make love. But when the strain on his eyes lead to him losing sight again, he is panic struck.


Monday, 4 April 2011

Clara Choveaux in "Tiresia" [2003 France]

Bertrand Bonello's 2003 film, "Tiresia" is a strange drama relating to obsession and possession. The title and main character's name apparently allude to Greek mythology where a blind prophet transforms into a woman for a number of years.

Terranova is obsessed with Tiresia, a Brazilian transsexual. He first notices her waiting for custom at a kerb-crawl-junction. One night, he brings her to his house, and promptly locks her in. He doesn't appear to be sexually attracted to her - in fact he barely touches her, merely watching her with some kind of morbid fascination. But deprived of her regular harmonal injections, Tiresia gradually turns back into a man, and Terranova looses interest in her after her metamorphosis or rather, return to normal state. He wanted to let her go but is afraid of future retribution from her friends, and so crudely blinds her and dumps her by the woods, leaving her for dead. After being rescued by a young village girl, Tiresia had developed a sense of clairvoyance, and predicts the future for those who are willing to listen. Word spreads, and the local priest, strangely resembling Terranova arrives to find out more. The end is the most baffling of all when Tiresia is killed after being mowed down by a car.

I find this film either incomplete, or, assuming the film is truthful to its original source, Bonello expects us to be well versed in the myth before visiting his film. Whatever the case, I found the film as it stands pointless. The eponymous character is subject to inhuman treatment throughout the film, but it fails to justify its purpose. At least in Pascal Laugier's "Martyrs" there is justification for the cruelty (that film by the way, is by far the most disturbing I've seen), but there really is none here. There are also some gaps in the plot which have either been brushed past or ended on the cutting floor. For e.g., why does Terranova scout the district looking for transsexuals if he hasn't shown the remotest interest in them, whether for sexual or moral reasons? Why should the same actor playing Terranova appear as the priest later in the film? And the actors playing Tiresia before and after rescue are as different as day and night. Tiresia at the beginning is played by Clara Choveaux, an actress, and later by actor Thiago Telès. Perhaps this could have been a good film if it were put together differently during post production, but not as it stands. The scenes below were cut from my DVD, and the quality is pretty good.

Clara Choveaux in Tiresia


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Alba Rohrwacher in "La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi" BR720 [2010 Italy]

Very occasionally, a film affects you so deeply that it leaves you speechless and numb. After watching Saverio Castanzo's poignant film, "La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi" [Eng. Title: the Solitude of Prim Numbers], I pretty much didn't feel like doing anything - everything else appeared less important after what I saw. The haunting story, imagery and sounds are going to stay with me for a while. And that in any language, is a "memorable experience" indeed!

Mattia and Alice are friends, each scarred by a horrific event during childhood that prevent them from having normal relationships. Based on a novel by the same name, the title alludes to the loneliness of prime numbers - divisible only by themselves or the number 1. Just as these numbers can't fit anywhere else apart from the group of 'misfits' called Prime Numbers, Alice and Mattia are also destined to lead lonely existences. While Alice is left with a permanent handicap after a skiing accident, Mattia is ridden with guilt for abandoning his autistic twin sister, when specifically instructed by his mum to keep her with him at all times during a classmate's birthday party. Unable to reach out to anyone else, they meet as teenagers at school, and connect. When they grow into adulthood, Mattia accepts a scholarship to study abroad, and they go their separate ways. But destiny had bound them forever, which plays a role in bringing them back together after seven long years. Mattia is now overweight, and a prominent scientist in Germany, and Alice is suffering from eating disorders following a failed marriage. The film doesn't furnish too much details during this period, or predict what happens to them next, but merely poses the question whether these two prime numbers will ever find it within them to live together.

About the film:
The actors portraying the protagonists as adults, Alba Rohrwacher as Alice, and Luca Marinelli as Mattia, had to literally undergo physical transformation - Ms. Rohrwacher lost 10 kilos, and Marinelli gained 15 kilos for the seminal scenes that happen after their seven year separation. The director felt it was important to show the passage of time in a believable manner, and also that these major transformations will help his actors to relate intimately with what is happening to the characters they are playing. That's some sacrifice from both the main actors, and hats off to their artistic commitment. Both their performances are exceptional, and Alba Rohrwacher is especially sensational. She is now definitely up there along with Giovanna Mezzogiorno as among the finest actresses in Italy today.

The film is excellently directed - the screenplay weaves a delicate story by shredding and repositioning various events tactfully in a non-linear fashion, like an exquisitely made piece of tapestry. The soundtrack is thoughtfully chosen to resonate with the mood of the characters and the period in which they are playing. The cinematography and lighting beautifully captures the mood and circumstances of every single event in the film. I'd indeed be angry if this film doesn't go on to win several more awards.

This film isn't actually a tragedy, it isn't a 'conventional' love story either, but portrays some painfully tragic moments and its aftermath in the protagonists' lives. The director has termed it "a romantic horror story", but whatever it is, it is certainly one of the best new films I've seen this year. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Scene Guide:
  • Not much nudity in the first part - it is mainly to show Alba Rohrwacher performing her own stunts as she stumbles and falls while rushing to the toilet.
  • This is how we are introduced to Alice after many years.
  • Alice is meeting Mattia for the first time in seven years. This is a beautifully made scene with restrained performances from both the lead characters.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Amanda Donohoe & Sammi Davis in "The Rainbow" [1989 UK]

Ken Russell was one of the more quirky directors in British Cinema - while his recent works have been ordinary, there was a time when he was making rather interesting films. I'm therefore moving backwards with his filmography, starting with his 1989 drama "The Rainbow", which I consider to be his last significant film.

Based on a DH Lawrence novel, "The Rainbow" follows the trials and tribulations of a young lady in early twentieth century England. Even as a precocious child, Ursula had always wanted what isn't possible, like asking her dad for the rainbow one day - and the rainbow remains the constant metaphor through the film. As an adolescent, she catches the attention of her gym teacher Winifred, who becomes Ursula's first love. She does fall in love with a soldier however, and they even get engaged, but soon decides against marriage. Deep down, she hates the idea of leading a conventional life like her mother - instead, she finds contentment by chasing her own rainbow.

Ken Russell's made a fine film from a fine novel. The cinematography is excellent, beautifully capturing the picture-postcard English countryside, and the art direction is superb. You also have Russell's trademark edits and surreal moments - one of which is included in my compilation. The other surreal scene is of Ursula being chased by horses through the countryside. For an introduction to Ken Russell, this is definitely Recommended Viewing.

The compilations below was cut from my decent quality DVD, and I'm thankful they authored it in full frame.

Compilation 1 - Amanda Donohoe and Sammi Davis
  1. Ursula is invited by Winifred to her cottage for a swim. And we see she's utterly receptive to Winifred's overtures. Nice piece of lesbianism from a male perspective.
  2. Winifred tries to comfort a confused Ursula - her uncle had been making advances on Winifred, and quite successfully too.
  3. A surreal scene where Ursula follows Winifred, both naked, through a meadow. She follows her fiancé at first, but changes her mind. Ursula is played by Sammi Davis, and Winifred, by the magnetic Amanda Donohoe.
Amanda Donohoe and Sammi Davis in The Rainbow

Compilation 2: Sammi Davis
  1. Ursula poses for an artist, who just turns out to be a dirty old man.
  2. With Anton, her boyfriend, who proposes to her
  3. Ursula is woken up by Winifred and her uncle who had planned a day out.
Sammi Davis in The Rainbow


Friday, 1 April 2011

Petra Morzé in "Antares" [2004 Austria]

Götz Spielmann wrote and directed "Antares" in 2004, and while it has received notoriety in some circles, it has been universally applauded as a fine piece of cinema. The film is a result of profound insight into human behaviour coupled with brilliant storytelling and execution. Spielmann uses the mundane cityscape of a Viennese apartment block, picks three couples residing in it, and engages them masterfully as part of his narrative in this gem of a film.

First we are shown Eva's story - she's a nurse, mother, and housewife, who has a totally guiltless affair with a travelling businessman following an earlier one-night stand. Then we follow supermarket assistant Sonja, possessive of her lover, and who feels the need to lie in order to keep him, even if she may have a reason to feel suspicious due to his occasional rendezvous with Nicole, a married woman going through separation. These characters - they all have their flaws and some of them do despicable things, but Spielmann bestows great sympathy towards them and tells their story from their perspective. There are no larger than life characters here - they're ordinary people behaving how ordinary people do, given the circumstances. Yet the film as a whole is extremely absorbing, endearing, and entertaining. Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Unfortunately the DVD by filmmovement from which these compilations were made, is not quite the best transfer - may be there is an original PAL version out there that may do justice to this film. But I've cleaned it the best I could for the sake of this post.

Compilation 1:
Made of two scenes. Eva accompanies the visiting Tomasz - someone she had a one-night stand with in the past, to his hotel room. The sex they engage in is almost mechanical - they get down to business without any niceties or sweet nothings - as if it was just a biological necessity. Eva is played quite naturally and convincingly by Petra Morzé. The second scene is of young Sonja desperately trying to get pregnant with her boyfriend - she had already lied to him that she was one, and needs to start showing some signs. The funny thing is, her boyfriend's enthusiasm about becoming a father only ends up making her more nervous..! Sonja is played by Susanne Wuest.

Petra Morzé and Susanne Wuest in Antares

Compilation 2:
I needn't have to do much editing here as these episodes happen in succession. Eva excuses herself from her husband citing night shift duties to spend more time with Tomasz. They experiment and play out their fantasies without any inhibition. While Tomasz establishes himself as a voyeur, Eva brings out her latent exhibitionist earning into the open. What's so refreshing in these scenes is not so much their shenanigans, but how each of them have become open minded and 'accept' the other without passing any judgement - which would be the case in a formal relationship. Their episodes are organic and so fluid that they seem only natural.

Petra Morzé in Antares