Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ana Belén in "La Pasión Turca" [1994 Spain]

Veteran Catalan director Vicente Aranda's passionate melodrama, "La Pasión Turca" [Eng. Title: Turkish Passion] is probably not the best way to start the filmography of Ana Belén, one of Spain's important singer-actresses, who was also one of the faces of her country's 'Destape' transition years, when censorship was first relaxed. I fear Sra. Belén may have been terribly miscast in this film. I haven't read the novel from which it was based, and judging solely by the script and screenplay - I presume the character played by Ana Belén must either be a dumb nymphomaniac or someone with an obsessive dependence on her lover. Against common sense, her character returns to an abusive and overbearing relationship with a lover who can do little else but take. The film also casts a clichéd and outdated view of Islamic society, with undertones that could be considered racist. But then again, this is a film from a different era, and what may be considered unacceptable now may have even been tolerated then.

Technically though, the film is masterfully put together, with some excellent camera work and editing, supported by some sumptuous locations and a fabulous soundtrack. There are some individual words of brilliance here and there (probably from the novel) but on the whole, the script appears to have been compiled in a hurry. The performances are also just about average - may be they didn't have much to work with. The film had all the ingredients for a passionate Spanish drama - perhaps the chemistry wasn't right. I'm a great fan of Sr. Aranda's early films, many of which were quirky and daring, but this is definitely not one of his better works - his best in my opinion was made some ten years earlier (Fanny Pelopaja) which I'll post in due course.

Newly wed Desideria and Romiro accompany other members of the family on a holiday to Istanbul - she'd been unhappy of late after being diagnosed 'frigid' by her gynaecologist. During their stay, she's drawn to their tourist guide Yaman and instantly embarks on an affair - getting away briefly from family for their quick but passionate sex sessions. People have affairs for various reasons, and it is these variations that make them such a popular film-theme, but what Desideria is seeking through her affair is left unexplained. Upon returning to Spain, she discovers she's pregnant (some diagnosis, huh!), just when husband Romiro is informed that he's sterile. Obviously there's no room to lie, and they decide to keep the child after she promises not to have relations with Yaman anymore.

But after the child dies (cot-death?) Desideria decides to leave her accommodating husband and head back to Turkey, only to discover Yaman's not only married, but also no longer a tourist guide but a drug trafficker. Just as she's getting used to the idea of having to be someone's mistress for the rest of her life, comes a nasty surprise - Yaman now demands she 'satisfy' some of his 'important' clients too. She runs away humiliated, but returns - enthusiastically having sex with whoever Yaman asks. But after she realises that Yaman too has sex with other clients, she feels betrayed. I really don't know what to make of this film having seen it thrice over the years, and each time while I tried to look for some subtle nuance I might have missed earlier, I didn't find any!

Compilation: Ana Belén and Laura Mañá
Made from several brief scenes, some of which don't contain nudity.

Ana Belén and Laura Mañá in La Pasión Turca

Scene Guide:
  • Desideria and Romiro on their wedding night - apparently they haven't made love before this. Desideria is played by Ana Belén, in her forties, but still quite attractive.
  • No nudity but kinky, as Desideria allows tour coach guide Yaman to grope her in a dark corner while her husband and family stand not too far away.
  • Desideria returns to the empty coach for a waiting Yaman after giving her family some excuse to leave them.
  • Just before leaving to Spain, Desideria visits Yaman at his uncle's carpet shop to have sex. They depart affirming their love for each other.
  • Desideria returns to Turkey to be with Yaman after her child dies. She tries to impress Yaman by dressing up as some belly dancer, much to his dislike. He also tells her off for behaving unnaturally while making love - she pleads him to return to bed.
  • No nudity - Desideria is shocked when a customer touches her in Yaman's presence.
  • She returns to Spain, and decides to spend the night with a stranger she'd just met at a park - so as to see "what it is like to make love to a man other than Yaman". Needless to say, she returns to Turkey soon afterwards..!
  • After punishing Desideria for running away from him earlier, Yaman shows her what she'd been missing.
  • Desideria spends the night with one of Yaman's clients.
  • When Desideria returns the following morning dressed in new clothes - a gift from the client - Yaman reminds her who's the better lover. Desideria gladly obliges - she's pleased to see his jealousy.
  • Next up, with a German customer who likes to do it all himself - Desideria only had to clean herself up afterwards..!
  • She returns home early to see Yaman busy with a French couple - Blanche is taking a break while he's busy with the guy(!), "Our reinforcement has arrived", exclaims Blanche mockingly. Slutty Blanche is played by none other than Laura Mañá, who plays the rather homely young mother in Bigas Luna's "La Teta y la Luna"..!


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Alessandra Cantini in "La Prima Cosa Bella" [2010 Italy]

Paolo Virzì has made some interesting films over the years and one thing that stands out is his storytelling. His latest drama, "La Prima Cosa Bella" [Eng. Title: The First Beautiful Thing] is perhaps his finest achievement to date - he and his co-writers Francesco Piccolo and Francesco Bruni also rightly won the David last year. Virzì cast wife Michaela Ramazzotti in the lead role who also won a David for Best Actress, along with an excellent supporting cast including the magnificent Stefania Sandrelli, and Claudia Pandolfi (who should have also won the award for a fine supporting performance).

The film is a sentimental feel-good drama about a mother and her two children spanning three decades. Middle-aged literature professor Bruno recollects events from his childhood while visiting his terminally ill mother at a hospice - he had avoided her and his sister for several years, and the film pieces his reasons together during its course - the narrative is well thought out and laid out beautifully. The upheavals in his family apparently start after she wins a beauty pageant for Young Mothers in the early 70's. The father gets jealous when a judge kisses her for a photo, and after a nasty argument, she leaves with children in the middle of the night in pouring rain. It is his perception of how his mother made ends meet from then on that shapes his withdrawn personality. But the film also avoids branding its characters as good or bad, instead allowing us to make our own judgements. Some of the scenes are positively touching, like when the ailing mother reaches out to Bruno, and later when he reconciles with his loving sister in a proper one-to-one chat. There's also great humour in the film to balance things as they become heavy - altogether a well written and performed film for a mainstream audience. Recommended Viewing..!

DVD Order Link

Scene: Alessandra Cantini
There is very brief nudity in this sexy but otherwise unimportant scene - I'm actually only using this as an excuse to write something about the film. Bruno recollects an incident from his teens with school hottie Elena - she has a popular boyfriend, but ends up losing her virginity to Bruno, also his first time. They're paired up for a joint class project and sit in her room to do some work, but naughty Elena has sex in mind. She complains about wasting the effort putting on her transparent panties to impress Andrea, her boyfriend, only to find he's playing tennis tonight. She even shows Bruno the panties, reminding him not to tell Andrea, and extols her kissing technique - is that an invitation or what! A frustrated Bruno admonishes her for distracting him. When the angry Elena tries to leave, he grabs her and it's game on. There's a brief flash from Elena as she removes her panties. Elena is played by cute newcomer Alessandra Cantini. Michaela Ramazzotti doesn't get nude here, but I'll post one later, also a Paolo Virzì film, with a classic scene in it.

Alessabdra Cantini in La Prima Cosa Bella


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Antje Nikola Mönning & co in "Engel mit Schmutzigen Flügeln" [2009 Germany]

Apologies for the slow updates as I've been struggling to find time again, but this is a big one, and I hope, worth the wait. With WTP's latest film about to premiere shortly, perhaps it is timely to catch up with the inimitable Roland Reber's filmography.

His 2009 film, "Engel mit Schmutzigen Flügeln" [Eng. Title: Angels with Dirty Wings] is probably among his lighter works, it being more of a satirical comedy. Having said that, X-Factor contestants should perhaps be asked to watch this film - but then again, they might not 'get it'.

Three biker-friends - Michaela, Gabriella, and Lucy appear to like putting each other through ordeals for the right to stay in the group, and this time it is Lucy's turn. Michaela and Gabriella accuse Lucy of being vain, conceited and ignorant, but behaving outwardly as goody-two-shoes. They want her to 'be herself' - live the horny slut she's always been deep-down. This takes Lucy on a lurid journey of 'self-discovery', from an attention-seeking coquette to an amoral slut, which she becomes in the true sense after joining a stripclub/brothel - and enjoying every moment of it too, until she begins to question what she's doing.

The film is an examination of present day morals - masked in the quest for individual happiness are apparently selfish motives, narcissism, and an elastic sense of morality. But the film doesn't seem to delve deep enough to start a serious discussion on the big subject, even if Lucy's superficiality is displayed glaringly - in your face almost. The film does try to establish, with reasonable success the fact that Lucy would easily be considered 'normal' by present day society, based on her outlook and charm. Not so if she lives to her true nature. But then again, by doing so, she could at least live with a clear conscience.

The Production:
Co-produced by Roland Reber, Marina Anna Eich, Patricia Koch, and Antje Nikola Mönning - also the star of the film, the production has the usual WTP ingredients of team members doubling up as technical staff where necessary - Mira Gittner handles the cinematography and editing, and others also take up some walk-in roles. For me though, I was more impressed with Wolfgang Edelmayer's soundtrack - apart from the main reason for watching the film of course - for the sultry redhead Antje Nikola Mönning. She casts herself well in the role of the angel, with very dirty wings indeed - some of her scenes have to be seen to be believed. Roland Reber and his team have as usual tread a thin line between art and pornography, and managed to stay on the 'right' side... I think. Needless to stay it is a provocative film, demanding to be heard, and therefore, Recommended Viewing..!

The (optional) English subtitled DVD also comes with a load of extras, including a fascinating 'Making of' and a rather 'exposed' photoshoot of Antje Nikola Mönning and Marina Anna Eich for Penthouse Magazine. It is also the only proper instance of Marina Anna Eich appearing in the nude, but enjoyable nevertheless.
Official site and Trailer
Amazon DVD Link


Compilation 1: Antje Nikola Mönning, Mira Gittner, and Marina Anna Eich

Angel with Dirty Wings

Scene Guide:
  • Michaela and Gabriella tell Lucy what's wrong with her - as biker-chicks do I suppose - during a 'pit-stop'. Lucy accepts their opinion almost passively, as if to underscore her desire to 'belong'. Michaela, Gabriella, and Lucy are played by Mira Gittner (Reber was charged with the camera in her scenes), Marina Anna Eich, and Antje Nikola Mönning respectively.
  • "I know everything to the dot, except one thing, that's me, me, me..!" Well, our heroine is presented a Viking hat to do exactly that - explore herself. First up, a poor-old sod doesn't know what to make of Lucy stripping and bending over in his direction before she goes skinny-dipping in the lake.
  • Lucy decides to prepare a 'seductive' portfolio, courtesy of lovely Patricia Koch, who plays the photographer (I for one wouldn't mind seeing her as the photo-subject for a change - if only - she never stays still..!).
  • But Michaela and Gabriella ridicule Lucy's eye for pornography - so she had to get them redone. Sunlit nether regions anyone..?
  • This time Lucy finds a more appealing victim in Martin - himself sunbathing in the nude. Thankfully, no dialogues here, Ms. Mönning gives us enough visuals to keep us occupied anyway..!
  • What ensues is a full-on sex session out in the open, and the scene depicts everything except actual penetration - thin line, mind you. Whatever the case, they both seem to be having a good time..!
  • Michaela and Gabriella mock Lucy's 'boring show' at the lake - she asks them if she needs to fuck giving 'ballet' poses to make them interesting.
  • Brief montage of some naked bike-riding (by Lucy, of course), followed by another session with her friends, who ask her to look into the mirror to see the 'slut' in her. Next stop - Crazy Horse (not the pub, but stripclub cum brothel).
  • Lucy finds it difficult to please her demanding female friends - she even allows the patrons to grope her. She had to carry out their order to masturbate in front of everyone. Assorted nudes appear at the beginning.
  • By the time she's done, her friends are fast asleep - cue to open up to patrons even more, at least in terms of groping.

Compilation 2: Antje Nikola Mönning and Maren Schloz

Angel with Dirty Wings

Scene Guide:
  • Funny scene as Michaela and Gabriella overhear Lucy talking 'sweet nonsense' to love-victim Martin. She compliments him on his cock, and even tells him that she's never had an orgasm until their time at the lake.
  • A conversation between strippers - Lucy tells her employer and fellow prostitute, played by Maren Scholz, how much she enjoys being a prostitute. The employer's character isn't given a name in the film, so I'll address her henceforth as Maren.
  • This scene probably captures the gist of the film. The women invite a group of bikers to their place. While Gabriella and Michaela are having normal albeit mundane conversation with the guys, Lucy is communicating with them in the only way she knows best - sex. She repeats the same words she'd said to Martin, and the guy too falls for it. This is also the most erotic scene in the film. Ms. Mönning gets liberally groped by the object of her interest.
  • More groping and leg-spreading back at the Crazy Horse in a threesome scene.
  • Cleaning up afterwards - I've wondered if the pole where strippers perform ever get cleaned properly - I'm so glad to see they do. Lucy and Maren again have a conversation about the joys and trials of being a prostitute.
  • Lucy's 'signature' show gives punters yet another intimate experience - this time it is also interactive as she invites one of the guys to join her.
  • Michaela and Gabriella show Martin the kind of girl Lucy really is. He watches with dismay as his 'love' gets down and dirty with her customers.
  • Martin is glad (more like relieved) to hear what a woman truly feels after talking to Maren - she tells him that she doesn't find him remotely interesting, and that she'd forget about him the very next day. He is thankful, and finds solace in her arms. So - is this prostitute the true angel? Depends on your viewpoint, I suppose..!

Bonus Compilation: Photoshoot of Antje Nikola Mönning and Marina Anna Eich
Excerpts from the photoshoot for Penthouse magazine of Antje Nikola Mönning and Marina Anna Eich displaying some of their charms. Taken from the DVD extras, with permission from WTP International.

Angel with Dirty WIngs

Download Links:
FileServe | FileFactory


Saturday, 22 October 2011

German premiere dates for Roland Reber's "Die Wahrheit der Lüge" [2011, Germany]

Die Wahrheit der Lüge



Here's the premiere dates for Roland Reber's "Die Wahrheit der Lüge" [Eng. Title: the Truth of Lie] at the 45th Hof International Film Festival, Hof, Germany.

Thursday 27th Oct 2011 at 24:00
Saturday 29th Oct 2011 at 21:30
Sunday 30th Oct 2011 at 13:30

Those who could attend, come back and let us know your thoughts on what seems to be another envelope-pushing film from WTP International..! :)

Some photo-stills from the film:

More stills, and interviews with Marina Anna Eich, Christoph Baumann, Antje Nikola Mönning, Julia Jaschke, and Roland Reber himself can be found in their film's website. The interviews are in German, but their English site will be updated shortly.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Malgorzata Braunek & co in Andrej Zulawski's "Diabel" [1972, Poland]

I'll start Andrzej Zulawski's filmography with one of his early (and rare) films, "Diabel" [Eng. title: Devil]. This is not my favourite Zulawski film - his next feature, "L'important c'est d'aimer" certainly is. But there's a surreal quality to this otherwise shocking film - Andrzej Zulawski is no stranger to controversy, but even by his standards it is shocking. It was promptly banned in Poland and remained so until the fall of communism - even if the film is set in the 18th century, its message is allegorical and could relate to any corrupt and cruel regime.

Cruel too is the film - depicting mindless acts of violence, debauchery, and pain. It is also highly stylised, reminiscent of Alejandro Jodorowsky's "El Topo", and the costumes and make-up as outlandish as Federico Fellini's "Satyricon". Some of the dialogues come out absolute bonkers through the subtitles - I'm not sure if they'd have been any more intelligible for a Polish audience. The film nevertheless is a fascinating piece of cinema - the images are vivid and some of the scenes will stick with you long after you've put the DVD away. But I don't think I'll be watching this again any time soon - life's depressing as it is! The compilation below is from the DVD in my Zulawski Box-set - it is not remastered - and the quality is only so so. However, if you're looking for something challenging, confrontational, and outrageous, "Diabel" is definitely Recommended Viewing.

DVD Order Link [PAL]

A man clad in black (the Devil?) makes use of the chaos when Poland is invaded by Prussia, to free political prisoner Jakub, a young nobleman and dissident of the monarchy. The man seems to know everything about Jakub, his family and friends, and persuades him to return home. He also kidnaps one of the prison nuns and forces her to accompany Jakub, who returns home only to discover his father'd just killed himself, his fiancée is now married to his best friend - she's also pregnant by God-knows-who, his mother had been a whore since running away from home when he was little, and his sister is a nymphomaniac, 'engaged' to a half-brother none of them knew they had. We see Jakub growing insane as he watches his life crumble - who wouldn't, and it is the sinister man in black who seems to appear out of nowhere to show Jakub these awful truths. He definitely seems to have a hidden agenda...

Compilation: Malgorzata Braunek, Hanna Parzonka, Iga Mayr, and Bozena Miefiodow
Some of the nude scenes are not particularly pleasant - view at your own discretion.

Malgorzata Braunek, Hanna Parzonka, Iga Mayr, and Bo?ena Miefiodow in Zulawski's "Diabel".

Scene Guide:
  • Brief nudity - Jakub is shown his newly wed fiancée's bedroom, while she's with her husband - his hitherto best friend. We soon realise that she isn't interested at all in having sex with her husband. The fiancée is played by Malgorzata Braunek.
  • Jakub's sister is pleased to see him, but she's also changed, and is being abused by her half-brother, no one knew of his existence until he showed up with their mother recently - the mother had fled home when Jakub was young. The sister is played by Hanna Parzonka.
  • Jakub visits her mother in the brothel. When he asks for her, she doesn't recognise him and presumes he's one of those young clients who fancy older women - he finally manages to stop her. The mother is boldly played by Igar Mayr.
  • A Turkish performer at a travelling circus entices Jakub, and just when they get going, they're are interrupted by her boyfriend (also from the circus) - but Jakub has by now started to perceive things differently, and kills them both. The Turkish woman is played by Bozena Miefiodow.
  • Unidentified nudes - it's the mother's turn to get her throat slashed this time, while this bizarre family are spectators at an orgy of sorts.
  • Another brief scene of the sister (with more signs of abuse), and Jakub has now had enough...


Monday, 17 October 2011

Salma Hayek and Ofelia Medina, as Frida Kahlo [2002, 1984]

Frida Kahlo is perhaps the most famous female painter from Latin America, not only for her extraordinary body of work, but also for the manner in which she overcame insurmountable odds and handicaps since childhood to live a life as colourful as her work itself. She is also associated with some historic men of her era, but she was almost forgotten outside Mexico until two remarkable films, significantly the later one that introduced her to the wider world, me included.

I've since learned more about Frida Kahlo and her work, and even recently through an interesting novel by Meaghan Delahunt called "In The Blue House", which charts Leon Trotsky's exile in Mexico, where he was a guest of Frida and Diego Rivera, her famous muralist husband.

Frida Kahlo in brief:
Born to a German Jewish father and Spanish-Amerindian mother, she was struck by polio as a child, which nevertheless didn't stop her from participating in sporting activities. But fate deals a serious blow when she has a horrendous accident while travelling in a bus, which renders her cripple for the rest of her life - this was even before she had decided to become a painter. But not only did she recover, she went on to become an accomplished painter, to the extent that even her husband, the famous Rivera opined she was more talented than him. Politically active, she was an ardent advocate of socialism and belonged to an elite circle of artists and thinkers, some of whom, apart from her husband included muralist Siqueiros, and Lenin's former colleague and founder of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky. She was also sexually independent, taking several men and women as lovers (including Trotsky) - both she and her husband led a rather bohemian lifestyle. But Mexico was at the heart of whatever she did - she had a strong connection with American Indian culture, which was reflected in her art and work. For more informed reading, I suggest along with the above novel, "The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait", and also this Wikipedia Link.

Frida [2002, Mexico, USA]
I will start with this film, which was my introduction to Frida Kahlo - the Academy award nominated 2002 film by Julie Taymour, "Frida", starring Salma Hayek in the titular role. And in a way it is also the best vehicle for discovering Frida Kahlo.

It focuses on her life in brief, her relationship with husband Diego, her travails and triumphs. This is a suitable introduction to those who don't know anything about Frida Kahlo - some details are skimmed past, but there's only so much you can fit into a film. The costumes, art direction and soundtrack is particularly superb in this production - they even won a couple of Oscars - even if I felt the soundtrack could have been more generous with the mariachi than tango. Nevertheless, Highly Recommended Viewing.
DVD Order Link

Compilation 1: from Julie Taymour's "Frida", 2002, Mexico, USA
Lucia Bravo, Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Ivana Sejenovich, Saffron Burrows, Mía Maestro, and Karine Plantadit-Bageot

Salma Hayek, Mía Maestro and others in Frida

Scene Guide:
  • Young Frida and and her boyfriend sneak in to watch their idol Diego Rivera painting a nude with his model. Diego's wife Lupe (exquisitely played by the beautiful and sexy as ever Valeria Golino) drops by with lunch and asks why he's still with 'the whore' and throws the lunch at him. Diego is still hungry and now ready to eat 'female flesh wrapped in tortilla'..! The model is played by Lucia Bravo.
  • Frida and her boyfriend get all worked up, the result is sixteen year old Frida losing her virginity - Frida of course, is played by Latin American icon Salma Hayek.
  • After a horrible accident - I won't go into details - the plaster cast is removed from Frida - she is consoled by her sister Cristina.
  • No nudity but sexy - Tina the hostess at a party offers to dance with the person who takes the biggest swig from the bottle. Frida upstages the men and demands Tina the dance. Tina is played by the very recognisable Ashley Judd.
  • Frida with Diego for the first time - she displays her scars - he thinks they're perfect!
  • Frida and Diego are now married - she's the one bringing him lunch these days - here she gives Diego a lesson in physics. The model is played by Ivana Sejenovich.
  • No nudity but sexy - In New York, Frida has lunch with Gracie, who had become Diego's favourite during their stay. Frida shows that despite her husband's philandering, she gets along 'just fine'. Gracie is played by the even more recognisable Saffron Burrows.
  • Caught in the act - Frida takes umbrage to Diego sleeping with her own sister Cristina - she had been posing as a model for him recently. Cristina is played by Argentinian born actress Mía Maestro.
  • Frida is drawn to an exotic singer during her stay in Paris, and they end up in bed together in this sexy scene. The singer is played by the rather athletic Karine Plantadit-Bageot.
  • A brief montage of Frida morphing into one of her artworks.


Frida, Naturaleza Viva [1984, Mexico]
Actress and activist Ofelia Medina commissioned Paul Leduc to make a feature on Frida Kahlo long before many people even knew about the painter. The film however is for those who already know a little bit about Frida Kahlo, because it is more of a montage of her life rather than a conventional biography. Most of the events are recollections of Frida as she lay in death bed, and are in a way more personal. But the casting of the main characters is simply superb - Ofelia Medina who plays the eponymous role, is Frida personified in both body and spirit.

I simply loved the way the film was made - exquisite soundtrack bursts into life in an otherwise silent film - there's barely any dialogue, and includes long takes, allowing us to reflect on the characters, European style. The film is very non-commercial - a huge risk in those days, but it paid off with some well deserved Ariel awards, setting up several careers in the right trajectory. Unfortunately the DVD I have is not a remastered version - I doubt if it had ever been, and therefore couldn't comment on the cinematography, but the direction and performances by the main cast is flawless. That's why, despite the average DVD quality, this film is Recommended Viewing.
DVD Order Link.

Compilation 2: from Paul Leduc's "Frida, Naturaleza Viva" [Eng. Title: Frida, Still Life], 1984, Mexico.
The scenes are essentially silent reflections from Frida's life and doesn't require a scene guide. Ofelia Medina plays Frida, and the popular singer-composer from 80's Cecilia Toussaint plays Frida's sister, Cristina.

Ofelia Medina and Cecilia Toussaint from the film, "Frida, Naturaleza Viva"


Friday, 14 October 2011

Irene Grazioli & Vanna Barba in "Mediterraneo" [1991, Italy]

Gabriele Salvatores' "Mediterraneo" won the Oscar for best foreign language film, along with a few David's too. While it is a charming feel-good comedy, I could think of at least five worthy ones from the year that were not even nominated.

The story centres around a platoon of incompetent Italian soldiers who get themselves marooned in a remote Aegean island off Greece during World War II, with no contact with outside world for over three years - a period that also foresaw, unbeknown to them the fall of Mussolini and Italy's switching of sides to the Allies. During the time, they settle among the Greek residents, some falling in love with local women, while some like the lieutenant take up their pre-war hobbies - he repaints damaged murals in the island's only church. They finally get rescued one day - but not all of them are willing to leave. The lieutenant returns to the island after several years to discover the former comrades who'd stayed behind have lived full lives there all along.

The film is beautifully made with some stunning locations and great music. It is also mildly witty but you won't find anything deep here. It also appears to be too sanitised a vision of those horrible times, and the soldiers hardly look like they've seen any action in battle. Recommended for those wanting some easy viewing. There's also a nice deal going on Amazon now for those interested.

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Irene Grazioli and Vanna Barba
The film also features some brief scenes of nudity - one of them in particular stands out.

Irene Grazioli and Vanna Barba in Mediterraneo

Scene Guide:
  • A local shepherd girl is drawn to Libero and Felice - brothers from the Italian platoon - and it appears they like to do things together, as we'll soon see. The girl is played by ragazza dolce Irene Grazioli. The brothers are supposed to be manning a watch post on the other side of the island and report back every few days. Meanwhile the sergeant draws up a rota for taking turns with local prostitute Vassilissa. He tells the others that they must also take shifts with the brothers who're holed up all alone on the other side. But the brothers are of course anything but lonely!
  • Irene and the brothers go skinny dipping together - nice..!
  • When it is Antonio's turn with Vassilissa, he notices her fast asleep and lets her be. He had also hopelessly fallen in love with the prostitute at first sight. Vassilissa is played by the nicely proportioned Greek actress Vanna Barba.
  • He finally makes love to her after she asks him to - before that she talks about not remembering faces of any of the men who'd slept with her. Antonio and Vassilissa fall in love and even get married.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Scenes from "Little Deaths" [2011 UK]

I'm not generally a great fan of gore/horror even if I do sit through the odd one just to discover its notoriety, and I admit not having too many expectations either when I opened the DVD of the British film "Little Deaths", a collection of three short films written and directed by different young directors. And boy was I pleasantly surprised - all three were of a particularly high standard for this genre, both in terms of performances and technical merits. All three pertain to sex and death. They manage to be shocking, and at the same time disturbingly sensual without going overboard with the blood and sex - a lot of it is implied, allowing us to construct the horror for ourselves - and the disturbing fact is we can't take our eyes off the screen. But the films are anything but sleazy - these guys' talents truly require some unearthing. I've not heard of any the directors or the cast, but they've done a commendable job with their apparently minimal budget.

1: House and Home
Written and directed by Sean Hogan. This is by far the more traditional 'slasher' of the three, using vampirism and forced bondage as its running theme. A well-to-do married couple keep their relationship going by indulging in dangerously deviant behaviour, by kidnapping homeless persons and having their way with them, and if they survive the ordeal, pay them off for their involuntary services. Richard brings home Sorrow, and drugs her so that he and wife Victoria could have some fun at her expense. Turns out it was a mistake, as Sorrow and her friends hadn't eaten for several days, and they too have been waiting for such an opportunity.

2. Mutant
Written and directed by Andrew Parkinson. A doctor prepares his own unique medication for drug addicts using sperm farmed from a caged mutant. Turns out that the medication has some undesirable side effects - apart from some psychic abilities, patients such as Jen become sex addicts, and also feel the mutant's thoughts. Add to this, not only does the mutant require a very special diet, if and when it dies (they usually do), it's productive organs can also be transplanted into human beings, to create a new mutant.

3. Bitch
In my view the best of the three, very well written and directed by Simon Rumley. Pete loves Claire very much, but the woman uses him as little more than a doormat, as a dog in fact, complete with his own kennel. She refuses to treat him as a normal boyfriend, having flings with anyone she fancies, but expecting him to be there when needed. An upset Pete on one occasion behaves like an 'untrained' dog, and is promptly admonished. Strangely, Claire also has a phobia of real dogs, and can't stand them in her vicinity (the film's title couldn't have been more loaded). But when Claire invites Pete's best friend and even has sex with him in Pete's presence, he considers it a step too far.

While all three films are shocking, they are also disturbingly kinky - in a manner all three dabble with BDSM themes, but the final film mixes it with horror intelligently and takes it to a different level. Even though this isn't my area of interest, this collection is Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Siubhan Harrison, Holly Lucas, Jodie Jameson, and Kate Braithwaite
As it's a horror film, expect some unpleasantness in some of the scenes.

Siubhan Harrison, Holly Lucas, Jodie Jameson, and Kate Braithwaite from the film, "Little Deaths".

Scene Guide:
  • From 'House and Home' - no nudity - Victoria refuses to entertain husband Richard - she wants something more interesting. Vic is played by sexy Siubhan Harrison.
  • Poor Sorrow is drugged and tied up to the bed for Richard, and later Victoria to have their fun. Things don't go according to plan though. Sorrow is played by the enigmatic Holly Lucas.
  • From 'Mutant' - Jen is trying to kick her drug habit, with some new medication and the support of her former pimp turned boyfriend, but the medication has also turned her into a sex addict, and accepts a customer from her new 'agency' without her boyfriend's knowledge. She later tells her doctor that she desperately wants a 'change' in her life - she sure gets it..! Jen is well played by Jodie Jameson.
  • From 'Bitch' - a very well shot, directed, edited, and performed segment, where naughty Claire has her comeuppance in the most macabre way possible. By the way, the heated broth poured on her naked body by Pete is dog food. Claire is played by an otherwise cute and sexy Kate Braithwaite.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Y Sa Lo in Fassbinder's "Die Dritte Generation" [1979 W.Germany]

When he made "Die Dritte Generation" [Eng. Title: The Third Generation], Rainer Werner Fassbinder was disillusioned with far-left politics - he was thought to have been marginally sympathetic towards organisations like the R.A.F at the beginning, but here he was, two years after their crackdown, taking a harsh and cynical look at misguided and vague ideologies of such revolutionaries.

Die Dritte Generation is an unusual Fassbinder in that it is shot in a style very different to his earlier films, highly original nevertheless. Many of the dialogues and scenes are intentionally overlapped with sound from radio/TV, or text quoted from press editorials and public urinals, some of which is to make a historical reference point, but some are merely used to mock and talk over the characters, who are not only incompetent, but also don't seem to have any firm convictions left. The film starts with a statement, "Dedicated to a true lover like no other - perhaps?", which while sounding innocuous, is provocative coming from Fassbinder (he's convinced there aren't any left, and doesn't spare innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire either). This lesser known but meticulously crafted gem of a dark comedy from Fassbinder is definitely one of his great films. The production values are excellent as usual, and includes one of his regulars, the beautiful Hanna Schygulla in the role of Susanne, one of the gang members and daughter in law of a police superintendent, and Fassbinder, apart from writing and directing, also handles the camera work. Needless to say, "Highly Recommended Viewing".

Here's a great value box-set, which includes this classic, along with some of his other films featured in the blog:
Amazon DVD Link.

"Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung" ("The World as Will and Representation", attributed to philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer) is the ironic codeword issued to activate a Berlin cell of a revolutionary wing - all the members had by then settled into benign middle-class existence. The film pokes fun at them as they ineptly seek targets and purpose. The father of one of the members also happens to be the police superintendent. But unbeknown to some of the members themselves, they are being funded by a multinational hi-tech company selling computers, as part of its marketing strategy. After a fall in terrorism levels, few companies wanted to invest in computer systems any more, and the company cynically uses the gang to engineer hi-profile hits to renew interest in its products. Add to this the ineptness of the gang and some misfits tagging along with them, a bundle of gags unfold in this unusual comedy about terrorism.

Compilation: Y Sa Lo and Bulle Ogier
The film also features some brief frontal nudity, thanks to one of its fringe characters - Ilse, a junkie who's taken refuge in one of the member's homes.

Y Sa Lo and Bulle Ogier in Die Dritte Generation

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but ironic scene where feminist gang member Hilde succumbs to the charms of newly arrived Paul. Hilde is played by cute French fräulein Bulle Ogier.
  • Franz, recently released from the navy, comes looking for his girlfriend Ilse, a junkie who'd been given a room to stay in the rather benevolent gang member Rudolf's flat. Other members warn him that she'll only bring trouble, but he'd ignored them. Ilse is played by Y Sa Lo.
  • Franz had brought along his friend Bernhard too, and Ilse asks Rudolf if they too could stay at the flat for a few days until they get themselves sorted. She asks this while buck naked in front of everyone, and Rudolf agrees.
  • No nudity but funny scene as the Paul plays with his member watching TV while his host Hilde is busy consoling her friend Petra, who'd come crying after one of her fights with her husband. When Petra tells him all men are the same, he retorts, "of course, men will always be men, what do you expect!".
  • Franz 'curing' Ilse from her addiction in the only way he knows..! But once he falls asleep she rummages through his things looking for cash to buy drugs. She finds some in Bernhard's bag, who gets upset and tells her that she only needed to ask. She runs around the house totally starkies in his funny scene.

Note: Of late I've been struggling to find time to keep the blog updated, not due to lack of new material (I've barely touched a third of my DVD collection to date) but work commitment.



Saturday, 1 October 2011

Fernanda Reto & Xochitl Marbach in "Crímenes de Pasión" [1995, Mexico]

OK the title says it all - "Crímenes de Pasión" [Eng. Title: Passionate Crimes] mustn't have required too much brainstorming from the film's production and marketing team - the film most probably was either a vehicle for someone's career/vanity, or simply an excuse to burn money - both probably. Suffice to say I'm actually embarrassed to admit that I even own this DVD. Mexicans live life to the extreme, and likewise their films also swing from the most profound to the mediocre (I'm struggling to find the right word).

Anyway, the film does include nude scenes from a couple of actresses, and I'm recording them here to save others the endurance of having to watch this excuse of a film.

Story in a nutshell - Gabriel, a mentally unstable actor, upon release from asylum falls for aspiring actress Julieta, and tries to help her win film roles - only, she doesn't fancy him one bit, and merely uses his connections for bettering her career. Her best friend Letícia, also an aspiring actress, uses a friend's uncle - a senator, to further her ambition. Both their interests clash at some point - crime ensues.

Compilation: Fernanda Reto and Xochitl Marbach
My apologies - I realised the quality of my deinterlacing was not up to scratch only upon finishing the compilation, but I really couldn't be bothered to redo the damn thing - watching the film once was tedious enough..!

Fernanda Reto and Xochitl Marbach in Crímenes de Pasión

Scene Guide:
  • Letícia is determined to become famous - even if it requires sleeping with a politician, the uncle of her class mate and friend Mário. Letícia is played by the very watchable Fernanda Reto who later made a name for herself on TV and other B-movies.
  • Julieta is the love-interest of our protagonist - he brings her home from a party drunk, and she 'falls asleep' before he could manage to 'seduce' her. Julieta is played by the exotically named Xochitl Marbach - never heard of her before, even if she does look tad familiar.
  • Julieta prefers the young director of the ad film she worked on. What's it with aspiring actresses in the 90's - did they wear panties only occasionally - both these girls seem only too eager to please!
  • Letícia's parents are worried she could be exploited, but she's a big girl now, and apparently knows what she's doing..!
  • But Letícia soon gets fed-up of the old man and fools around with young Mário - the nephew, inviting trouble.
  • No nudity but pubic hair peeking through white panties - Letícia had stolen her best friend Julieta's role in a film, thanks to her political connections. But Julieta had also seen her fooling around with Mário. He asks her to give up the competition to be on the safe side, but she tells him all's fair in show business.
  • The director felt it necessary to show Julieta, upset at having lost her role in the film, crying in the nude.
  • Uncle gets wind of Letíta's shenanigans with his nephew, and teaches her a lesson.
  • Letícia later, ashamed, in the shower.