Monday, 30 January 2012

Martina García & Clara Lago in "La Cara Oculta" [2011 Colombia, Spain]

Andrés Baiz (credited Andi Baiz) has used a minimal cast to create his fine thriller, "La Cara Oculta" [Eng. Title: The Hidden Face] in this Spanish-Colombian co-production.

Adrián and girlfriend Belén move to Colombia from Spain, so that he could pursue his career as conductor in the Colombian philharmonic orchestra - Belén works from home as a fashion designer. She soon suspects Adrián might be having an affair with one of the musicians in the orchestra, and after some thought, hatches a plan - she would leave him a message that she's leaving, and instead move into a secret bunker originally built by the house landlord to see his reaction. The bunker is soundproof, bullet proof, and is hidden right next to the master bedroom and bath, with a secret entrance through one of the mirrors which one can see through from the inside, but is just a plain mirror when viewed from outside. After recording her message she moves all her belongings into the bunker to give the impression that she'd indeed moved away and shuts herself in. The only problem is it could be opened only through a key to get out, the key which she'd forgetfully left on top of the bed before locking herself in. She realises her mistake only when she decides to end the act and come out to console Adrián who finds it hard to cope with her leaving. But one day Adrián meets and brings home waitress Fabiana, only to be watched helplessly by Belén from inside the bunker. The rest of the film is of her bearing witness to goings on in the bedroom while desperately trying to let herself out to freedom.

I wasn't expecting too much from the film when it started off predictably and full of clichés. But soon realised it to be one of those original films that get better as the plot thickens. The best part of the film for me though was creating situations where events are simultaneously viewed and experienced from two different viewpoints - the drama contained there in is very well executed. It is also constructed like an old fashioned thriller a la early Claude Chabrol. I'm glad films like these still do get made, and I find myself in renewed appreciation of Baiz's work. The cinematography and editing is top notch, as is the direction and performances by the three key characters. But the best of the three performances undoubtedly belongs to the beautiful, incredibly sexy and talented Spanish actress Clara Lago who plays Belén. This is a neat little film with some original ideas, and therefore, Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Martina García and Clara Lago
I mixed the sequence of some scenes and even omitted some additional nude footage so as to not give too much of the plot away. This film is definitely worth checking out if you like well built thrillers.

Martina Garcia and Clara Lago in La Cara Oculta

Scene Guide:
  • Adrián invites waitress Fabiana home after a bit of getting to know each other - he's desperate to move on after Belén had 'left' him - only Belén is an unintentional captive in a hidden bunker and forced to witness goings on she's unable to control. Sometimes being a voyeur can mean absolute torture. Fabiana is played by possibly one of the most ravishing Colombianas ever - Martina García.
  • While in the bath, Fabiana begins to wonder if the mansion Adrián lives in is haunted. Hmmm, perhaps...
  • Police suspect that Belén who disappeared off the face of the earth may even be murdered. When they discover a (not so) disfigured body, they ask Adrián to identify her. He categorically states that it is not Belén. The corpse is played by an uncredited actress, totally naked - come on guys, I'm only cataloguing the nude scenes here..! :)
  • We see snapshots of happier times between Adrián and Belén when they first moved into the house. Belén of course is played by the talented, guapa Clara Lago - it's only a matter of time before she's gonna bag a Goya.
  • Brief scene of Belén cleansing herself in the bunker.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

Marie Liljedahl & co in "Jag - en Oskuld" [1968 Sweden]

Let's digress a little bit here. "Jag - en Oskuld" [Eng. Title: Inga] is a kind of 'transitional' film from the late sixties - a metamorphosis of sorts in cinema that eventually evolved into a new genre called 'softcore'. While loops and stag films existed long before this one came, it was among of the first crop of films that tried to make those gentlemen's voyeuristic pass-times a bit more respectable - by inducing some cinematic value. American director (and later to become pornographer of repute) Joseph W. Sarno went all the way to Sweden to create his landmark film using talents from the land of Bergman. He was certainly inspired by Ingmar Bergman and used whatever he had at his disposal to create an erotica that Bergman-lovers might actually sit and watch. But of course Bergman is not just about make-up and lighting - its the composition, design, screenplay and the deep insight into his characters that makes it a unique experience. But leaving that aside, it succeeds as a coming-of-age drama, even if it may not compare to a Salvatore Samperi ("Malizia", which I may one day also get around to posting). Of course, we're comparing it with something made five years later, so I'll give this film a qualified thumbs up despite my awareness of what Sarno's future projects became. But for curiosity and academic interest, this film is Recommended Viewing..!

The Swedish title literally translates as "I, a virgin", so we can guess what this is about. After her divorced mother dies, young Inga is invited by widowed maternal aunt Greta to come and live with her. Seventeen, and a book worm brought up in a convent, she initially finds herself out of place in her aunt's hedonistic circle. But she's curious and adapts quite naturally to explore her budding sexuality. Greta has a twentyone year old toy-boy Karl, an unpublished writer, who's with her purely for some spending money. Einar, a friend of Greta's deceased husband is wealthy and married, but wants to also have Greta as a mistress so that he can stem his habit of running after teenage girls, and is willing to pay a monthly fee for her services. Greta agrees as she could actually use that money to fund her Karl. But once Inga comes to live, Greta notices Einar's fascination for Inga, and hatches a plan that'll allow herself more time with Karl...

The film is quite tame by today's standards when it comes to nudity, but then we're talking about the sixties, when despite the discovery of the morning-after pill, many still held traditional views when it came to sex before marriage - Sweden's was one of very few societies that tolerated sex and nudity in cinema, where despite the fact that the actress playing the titular role, Marie Liljedahl was barely seventeen, the film apparently did very well at the box office.

My NTSC DVD hasn't been remastered, but comes with two options - original Swedish with hard English subtitles, or the English dubbed version, and I chose the latter for this compilation. There's also a commentary in English from Sarno and his wife, but the comments are not specific to the scene we're watching and therefore a bit pointless. I couldn't locate any DVD in stock at the time of posting but will insert a link once I locate one. By the way, there's also a sequel to this which was shot in colour (The Seduction of Inga) and Marie Liljedahl, all of twenty one, struts around naked a lot including a lesbian scene - but the film is sleazy and plain softcore. I wouldn't be surprised if this was what drove Ms. Liljedahl to give up acting in films altogether.

Compilation: Marie Liljedahl, Monica Strömmerstedt, Anne-Lise Myhrvold, Lotta Persson, and others
A composite of several nude and partially nude scenes - I had to do a bit of digging to determine some of the names, but one still remains elusive.

Marie Liljedahl, Monica Strömmerstedt, Anne-Lise Myhrvold, Lotta Persson, in Inga aka Jag en osculd

Scene Guide:
  • At one of the parties where Greta and Karl congregate, one of the girls (name unknown) is 'sentenced' for still keeping her virginity intact, and the sentence is to be carried out then and there thanks to a helpful volunteer..! :)
  • Dagmar has her eyes set on Karl despite knowing that he's seeing Greta. One day, she 'takes advantage' of the situation. Dagmar is played by sultry blonde vixen Anne-Lise Myhrvold.
  • Inga and and aunt Greta in the sauna - the maid is chatting with Greta while giving her a massage, the dialogues are in English which doesn't require explaining. Inga is played by doe-eyed nymphette Marie Liljedahl, and Greta by Monica Strömmerstedt, Ms. Strömmerstedt would soon give up acting to pursue a career in law, eventually also becoming a judge.
  • Inga steps in and out of the shower and admires her nubile breasts - nice.
  • It appears Inga also has a bit of an exhibitionist in her when she changes into her négligée in full view of Karl, staring at her through the window. After he leaves frustrated - he's after all seeing her aunt, Inga pleasures herself on bed in an unconvincing but tastefully done masturbation scene.
  • Inga is invited to Einar's cabin for the weekend - here he's putting her to bed. She plays with her toy soldiers afterwards - while the scene may have been intended to show her innocent child-like instincts clashing with budding sexuality, the way in which it is filmed and the dreadful acting ends up making it look kinky..! :D
  • Inga is encouraged by Greta to socialise with her hedonistic gang, who later at a barn pair up and get into an impromptu orgy, but a petrified Inga runs away from a lad who shows some interest in her. One of the girls having fun regardless is Uta, played by brunette Lotta Persson.
  • Greta admonishes Inga for running away from her friends - she after all wants Inga to loose her virginity so that she would be ready to replace her as Einar's mistress - this is 'grooming' of a different kind. Greta persuades Inga to return to her friends, instead Inga goes looking for Karl to have her cherry picked. This is Puffy Galore..! :D




Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Florinda Bolkan in "Indagine su un Cittadino al di sopra di ogni Sospetto" [1970 Italy]

Elio Petri is one of those important auteurs who breathed politics into Italian cinema during its 2nd golden era and one who could broadly be compared in inclination to the likes of Antonioni, Scola, and Pasolini. His was also a productive life cut short prematurely due to cancer, who'd otherwise have gone on to make many more memorable films. An ardent left-winger, he was even a member of the communist party and participated in protests at an early age, once even getting dismissed from school for his activities. Even though he has worked across several genres, he has this propensity to portray some of his political convictions in typical ironic style, and with an air of urgency.

The 1970 crime drama, "Indagine su un Cittadino al di sopra di ogni Sospetto" [Eng. Title: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion] is one of his classics built in the style of a noire. It also deservedly won an Oscar for best foreign language film the following year, and a handful of David's to boot. The film casts an extremely cynical view on how people in authority can get away with murder. But it is beautifully done though, and every aspect of the film production is exemplary, be it the screenplay, direction, cinematography, performances from the main actors, the editing, or the brilliant score from the ever prolific Ennio Morricone, it is a wonderful gem that one can watch and admire for hours. Here's actually an interesting review of the film from British filmmaker Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Black Rainbow), who also throws in some interesting anecdotes for those interested. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link

The film starts with Panunzio (brilliantly played by Gian Maria Volenté) murdering his lover, the already married Augusta in the most cold-blooded manner. He is meticulous, precise, and purposeful, getting back into his designer suit after cleaning himself up. Before leaving, he removes some evidence of his presence, but purposefully plants some that could incriminate him - he is the outgoing chief of the Homicide division, soon to take up the post of Police Commissioner of the political division. The police arrive, gather their clues, but quite simply couldn't come to consider Panunzio as suspect - he is after all, a citizen totally above suspicion. So goes a brilliant piece of monologue from Panunzio, "...I have left clues everywhere... not to mislead the investigations... but to try to prove for myself... of my being above suspicion. But still, if this leads to an innocent being condemned, my being above suspicion will remain unproven..!" While this clearly smacks of cynicism for the way politics and sycophancy make men in power 'untouchable', there's also a parallel drama running between Panunzio and Augusta through various flashbacks, with their kinky sessions, her infidelity, her apparent fascination for people in power and rampant promiscuity, and his deep anxiety to be taken seriously by her - in one passage of play, Augusta deliberately taunts him by calling him and his lovemaking 'childish'. This leaves Panunzio in a predicament with a point or two to prove...

Compilation: Florinda Bolkan
This is also a great film to introduce the classy Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan to the blog. As beautiful as she is talented, this is also one of her more remarkable films where she plays the kinky housewife Augusta having an extramarital affair with police chief Panunzio. Her character also demands she wear no panties while at home. But there is only brief nudity shown even if Ms. Bolkan is practically naked under her flimsy but sexy garment, thanks to Petri's intention of not distracting the audience from what he's trying to say..! :)

Florinda Bolkan in Indagine su un Cittadino al di sopra di ogni Sospetto

Scene Guide:
  • Funny and sexy - Augusta calls Panunzio at work and acts out her 'damsel in distress' fetish, pokes fun at his dress sense and complains of him smelling of shoe polish, as all policemen apparently do. She tells him she'd do anything to be interrogated in police fashion, but hangs up rudely, possibly after hearing his suggestion. Augusta of course, is played by the ravishing Brazilian beauty Florinda Bolkan.
  • Play-acting continues when he enters her apartment, as an officer answering a call.
  • She chops off his 'unsightly' tie...
  • Further play-acting in the beach, as she runs away from an 'attacker'..! :)
  • Looking for Augusta in the changing rooms, he catches her in somebody's arms.


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Maribel Verdú in "El Beso del Sueño" [1992 Spain]

I'm glad to have finally kick-started the nude filmography of one of the exceptionally talented (and unassumingly sexy) actresses from Spain, Maribel Verdú. I chose one of her early films, writer-director Rafael Moreno Alba's romantic thriller, "El Beso del Sueño" [Eng. Title: Dream Kiss, aka The Goodnight Kiss]. It is also an ideal film to see Sra. Verdú in the prime of her youth, despite there being more successful films of hers from around the period. Having said that, this is not a film easily available in Europe, mine is a NTSC edition too. Maribel Verdú is one of the finest actresses today, not that she wasn't talented back then - I may have seen only three of her films prior to this film, but her charisma in all of them is just as alluring as ever. Even back then, she could do comedy, melancholy, serious roles, and also play the seductress with equal panache. She remains one of my favourite Spanish actresses, and I hope to discuss more about her in future posts.

We follow Salvatierra and Margot's life independently until their paths cross during a train journey. Salvatierra is a alcoholic ex cop, now working at the other end of law with a banker named Delgado - helping launder money. Margot is a thief who plies her trade on luxury cabins of trains, in order to take care of her dad suffering from dementia. After Delgado falls out with one of his associates who is now travelling to Belgium with a horde of cash, Salvatierra is assigned to follow the guy and inform him to authorities just when crossing the border - he get's a cut from the reward that the Government gives out to informers. During the journey however, the associate's Rolex watch and smart suit catches the attention of Margot, who happens to be working the train that day. She drugs him during their 'train date' and runs off with all the money. When Salvatierra realises his target victim had been robbed, he knows who it is - he had been watching Margot all evening flirting with the man - and decides to follow her. He uses an excuse to get himself acquainted with Margot, and after deceiving her, even manages to retrieve the money. But he also gets more than he bargained for - when he falls head-over-heels in love...

Granted - this isn't the cleverest of thrillers - I wouldn't have otherwise thrown so many spoilers away - but this film has its other reasons for buying - I think the editing and sound is pretty good for what is an average thriller. But then there's one senorita sexy Maribel Verdú who plays Margot - she is definitely the main reason for owning the DVD, one that's therefore obviously Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Maribel Verdú
Made from several scenes - some have no nudity but are certainly worth watching, and as an added bonus we also have some unintended slips and upskirts.

Maribel Verdú in "El Beso del Sueño"

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but sexy - we see how Margot goes about her business in posh trains. Margot is played by the talented, young and sexy Maribel Verdú.
  • After a day's work, I'm sure Margot requires a long shower and a thorough scrub.
  • Margot with the banker's associate travelling in her train - and while it all seems demanding, she's such a trooper - even when she runs out of room to stash her loot she knows how to improvise. You'll just love this if pantyhose is your thing ..! ;-)
  • Margot concealing a secret in her bra, lest anyone notices.
  • Salvatierra plays the honourable gentleman and walks out of his bedroom after Margot had to crash in his room - her flat has just been trashed. This however doesn't stop him sneaking in after she'd fallen asleep in the nude, but seems far more interested in the bra than the glorious view in front of him.
  • No nudity but a nice upskirt when Margot discovers that someone had been fiddling with the aforementioned bra.
  • Salvatierra returns with flowers while Margot is in the bath - she asks him in.
  • This scene may only be a few seconds long, but for me at least, the highlight of the film, as we see Margot get off the bath and rush towards the door.
  • And straight into the groping hands of Salvatierra...
  • There's a post-coital scene after this which I left in - some may find it interesting (but I couldn't bother capping in the graphic).
  • Margot had been manhandled, drugged and left for dead by the banker's thugs (who else?). Salvatierra arrives on time but struggles to keep her awake until the doctor arrives. There's no overt nudity in the scene, but plenty unintended thanks to Margot's ridiculously sexy undergarment. :)


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Lumi Cavazos & Claudette Maillé in "Como Agua para Chocolate" [1992 Mexico]

Veteran actor and director Alfonso Arau bagged a bucket full of awards for his 1992 romantic drama, "Como Agua para Chocolate" [Eng. Title: Like Water for Chocolate]. Based on wife and writer Laura Esquivel's novel of the same name, this is a quintessentially Latin American saga spanning three generations of a wealthy family during the first half of the twentieth century. Borrowing elements from native American mysticism, never has gastronomy, sensuality, love, eroticism, and magical fantasy been as imaginatively and effectively combined together in film before.

We follow the life of Tita, the last of three born to a prosperous couple - and according to family custom, destined to stay unmarried to look after her mother at old age. The father dies of a heart attack celebrating Tita's birth after he learns he may not be the father to the second child Gertrudis. As the children grow up, we notice mother Elena's barely concealed hatred towards Tita - she treats her more or less like a servant. But young Pedro, the son of a family friend falls in love with Tita, one which she couldn't reciprocate due to her circumstances. While refusing a proposal for their marriage, mother Elena offers the eldest daughter's hand in return, and Pedro accepts the offer as an excuse to stay close to Tita, as he'll be living in the maternal home. But things don't go according to plan with the ever suspicious Elena keeping a watchful eye on Tita. But Tita has a gift, acquired from her native American nanny and cook who teaches her to capture and transmit passions and emotions through cookery. After the nanny's death, Tita becomes the chief cook for the family. Tragedy strikes, and Tita gets acquainted with John, an American doctor from Texas, who had loved her from the first time they met. But she couldn't love him as much as Pedro, and resigns to waiting for Pedro to become available again...

While the film is well made and put together, it is essentially a woman's story, aimed at women. But it is the screenplay that makes it special. Held as a landmark in Mexican cinema, it neatly coincides with the second wave of creative film making in Mexico, even if Arau belongs to an older generation. Watch the film, and even better, read the book as well - Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link
Amazon Book Link [Eng. Adaptation]

Compilation: Claudette Maillé, Lumi Cavazos, and Regina Torné
The compilation was made from a letterboxed NTSC DVD (same as the above Amazon-listed product), which unfortunately is designed for older television sets. But it has a rather special scene, which demands greater respect in this blog. I enhanced it using my existing tools, but admit the exercise was only partly successful. Judge for yourself - snapshots from the original DVD (left), and my enhanced version (right):

from the original dvd my enhanced version

I'm also beginning to lose interest in posting compilations after some recent discoveries, which will be explained later in a separate post.

Claudette Maillé, Lumi Cavazos, and Regina Torné from Como agua para Chocolate

Scene Guide:
  • Sauce made from the petals of roses that Pedro had presented Tita, mixed with drops of blood caused by the thorns after it inadvertently scratches her chest, combined with Tita's unbridled sexual desire, and of course the succulent quails apparently amount to igniting latent horniness in people who partake in the meal - Tita is communicating with her lover in a language without using words. And Tita's sister Gertrudis is so ignited by the dish that she even sets the shower cabin alight trying to quell her own passion. She runs from the burning cabin in the nude, into the waiting arms of a revolutionary she had fallen in love with, and they ride off into the sunset in one of the most romantic and sensual scenes in cinema. Gertrudis is played by the voluptuous and sexy Claudette Maillé.
  • Tita, the little saucy witch gives Pedro, now her brother-in-law, an eyeful of her virginal 'tetas' as she prepares mole. She compares her breasts to fresh dough - in the oven of his gaze. :-)
  • In effect, Tita becomes a wet nurse to Pedro's child, offering the baby her breasts as a pacifier. Tita by the way, is played by Lumi Cavazos.
  • Tita bathing mother Elena, a character as cold as Ingrid Thullin's Karin in Viskningar och Rop. Elena is played by veteran actress Regina Torné.
  • Upon hearing of the death of Pedro's child, Tita disobeys her mum for the first time, and locks herself up in the loft. John rescues and takes her away.
  • Tita gets together with Pedro after twenty two tears, after his daughter gets married...


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Cristina Fassio & co in "Autodafé" [2010 Italy]

Up and coming director Emilano Cribari also wrote and produced his film "Autodafé" [Auto-da-fé], a drama that also aims to be a thriller. It is an interesting film, but perhaps could have been better with a more well-rounded characterisation, particularly that of the protagonist. But I hasten to add that I simply love these neat little independent films however imperfect they may be, as they're pure and devoid of glossy trappings. Most of the actors are fairly unknown as they come from a theatrical background, but it is cinema made in a sincere manner, and therefore Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link

Carlo's father had just died, and he's struggles to cope with the loss. At around the same time, he observes a few things like a framed photo keep getting dislodged in his household. Initially he fears it could be some poltergeist activity, but it becomes worrying when anonymous emails and phone calls start arriving to disrupt his balance. And he also keeps getting a recurring dream involving his father and the women he knew, along with a mysterious nude woman who doesn't show her face at first. He tries to discuss his dreams with childhood friend and colleague at work, the already married Silvia, but she presumes he's just feeling lonely and tries to cheer him up by talking about her fetishes and encouraging him to watch her sexual shenanigans through video chat. The anonymous emails relate to a specific date from his childhood, and he struggles to remember its significance - he suspects everyone around him of trying to blackmail him for some reason. As he strikes off each name from his list of suspects, the face of the mysterious woman in his dream begins to take shape. But who is she, and what did he do on the aforementioned day from his childhood..?

Compilation: Susi Amerio, Barbara Esposito, Cristina Fassio and Patrizia Camatel

Susi Amerio, Barbara Esposito, Cristina Fassio and Patrizia Camatel in Autodafe

Scene Guide:
  • Carlo having a weird dream about his father, his nurse - played by Chiara Pavoni, the cleaning lady, Carlo's friend Silvia, and a mysterious naked woman he doesn't remember seeing before. The woman is played Susi Amerio.
  • After Katia the cleaning lady accepts his invitation to stay for dinner, Carlo admits to feeling lonely after his father's death and grabs hold of her hand, and things happen. Katia is played by Barbara Esposito.
  • Silvia trying to cheer Carlo up through video chat - she had brought along her friend and fellow colleague Lucia too. When he enquires if her husband was around, Silvia tells him it shouldn't matter, claiming that even when found out, a man wouldn't mind sleeping with two women. Silvia and Lucia proceed to give Carlo a nice little lesbian show. He keeps thinking about what he saw last night even at work. Silvia is played by Cristina Fassio, also the film's assistant director, and Lucia is played by Patrizia Camatel - both of them sexy and refreshingly wholesome ladies.
  • The following Wednesday, another session with Katia beckons...
  • And another - and naughty Katia is supposedly married..! :)
  • This time Silvia gives Carlo a show with her husband.
  • After returning from hospital following an accident, Carlo lets Silvia know that he wants to get away for a while.
  • And confronts a ghost from the past as he pieces together his memory - the mysterious woman again, now he sees her. A mini montage of scenes.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Michele Valley & Meredyth Herold in "Singapore Sling" [1990 Greece]

Nikos Nikolaidis is a very interesting director indeed - I've seen only two films of his to date, and if these are anything to go by, one's in for a treat going through his filmography.

When I first saw his drama "Singapore Sling - O Anthropos pou agapise ena Ptoma" [Eng. title: Singapore Sling] it was one of the most grossest films I'd ever seen. That was four years ago, but how wrong I was! I'm so glad to have drawn the courage to watch it again having bought the DVD - this is actually an important film, a cinematic classic even, very stylishly done. But let's make one thing clear - this is not a great film that a normal couple could sit together and enjoy, but a great film that a cinephile can delight in after his/her better half had gone to bed.

The film starts with the protagonist's voice-over as we watch two women digging a grave in their garden, in pouring rain and in the middle of the night. They address themselves as mother and daughter, and are burying their latest victim - their new chauffeur. Still alive - kind off, and his entrails dropping off his shirt, his hand desperately grasps one of the woman's Wellington's - a desperate cry for mercy, until the other woman puts him off his misery with a final blow from her spade. We see the protagonist now - a detective definitely past his prime, already wasted with a gun-shot wound to his shoulder. Where was he coming from? One thing we do know, he's looking for a Laura, the woman he's in love with, and after three years of search, this is where his trail had led him.

He soon finds himself captive, and is informed that Laura is dead, killed by the mother-daughter, his captors. But in his state of mind, he sees Laura's resemblance in the daughter, and tries to get her out of the house. Is she really Laura, and are the psychopathic duo really mother and daughter..?

A clue to understanding the film lies in the Greek title, which roughly means "The man who loved a Corpse". "You better watch out McPherson, or you'll end up in a psychiatric ward. I don't think they've ever had a patient who fell in love with a corpse", says Waldo Lydecker to the detective from Otto Preminger's 1944 film-noire, "Laura". It's a Laura there that the protagonist - a detective as well, searches for in that film. Additional clues point to the portrait hanging on the wall in both that and this film. This film could be a homage of sorts not just to the aforementioned Hollywood classic, but to film-noire itself - the stunning black and white cinematography from Aris Stavrou and the exquisite lighting are there to hammer home the point. But then again Mr. Nikolaidis may also be parodying popular American culture. There's an instance in the film where "two servant rules' are reiterated by the mother-daughter duo, which strangely echoes a dialogue from a recent American film sci-fi film, "I, Robot" about the laws among robots. I discovered later that it is attributed to science fiction guru Isaac Asimov, upon whose book the film (I, Robot) was partly based. Another feature of the film is that the 'fourth wall' is frequently broken through when characters pause to speak to the camera. It's incredibly difficult to classify this film as a black comedy, horror, or erotic thriller - it probably is all..!

Whatever the case - parody, homage, or downright nastiness, there's no denying the fact that this is a beautifully executed piece of cinema that is both repulsive and fascinating at the same time - the gorgeous costumes and art direction would have done a Marco Ferreri proud, the cinematography is sumptuous, editing and direction sublime, the soundtrack exceptional, and the performances by the two female leads - absolutely riveting - it would have won many an accolade if only the subject wasn't as shocking. Needless to say, dear cinephiles - Highly Recommended Viewing..!

I'm glad that the DVD included the original trailer, which I think is very well done, and was surprised to see that it included some awesome shots strangely not included in the main feature.

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Meredyth Herold and Michele Valley
This is only a sampling of the nude scenes from the film - several more scenes not included.

Meredyth Herold and Michele Valley in Singapore Sling: O Anthropos pou agapise ena Ptoma

Scene Guide:
  • Mother and daughter busy doing graveyard duties - the mother is played by a fine actress and Nikolaidis regular, the stunning Michele Valley, and the daughter by the exceptionally daring Meredyth Herold.
  • Incestuous overtones - mother and daughter playing their favourite game, Laura's first visit to their house looking to be employed as their secretary (housekeeper).
  • Daughter remembering her dead father..! :)
  • Now here's a revelation - in more ways than one - is that really the mother..?
  • The detective trying to buy time after he barges in uninvited into the home. It doesn't work - the daughter had to drag him in. Meredyth sure isn't shy of giving us some generous upskirts.
  • But she couldn't contain her excitement of having someone new in the house - the impetuous girl takes advantage of the guy when her mother attends a phone.
  • Mother soon tells her off, but they make up in the only way they know.
  • At night, the daughter slips out of the bed to rendezvous with the captive stranger. She shows him her assets and gets down to business - she just couldn't help regurgitating while reaching climax..!
  • Mother and daughter questioning the detective - he's henceforth called 'Singapore Sling', after the cocktail recipe he'd written down in his note pad.
  • The 'questioning' becomes intense with electric shocks, culminating in the mother's bodily release of fluids - you'll know what I mean when you see it..!
  • The feast - this is a long scene cut short - because to watch it you should've first digested "La Grande Bouffe" and "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and her Lover"..! :)
  • Followed by some hysteric call-for-attention from a jealous daughter - awesome composition and cinematography - a classic..!
  • There's only brief nudity here with the mother wearing a transparent black top, but it is incredibly sexy as she teaches a hapless Singapore Sling the vowels and some nursery rhymes - this is some classy kink..!
  • The mother had become quite friendly with Singapore Sling much to the daughter's chagrin.
  • She vents her frustrations on an unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on your view point) kiwi fruit in the most explicit manner possible - as far as I can see - there ain't no body double involved, Meredith or the kiwi..! :D
  • Singapore Sling is now digging a grave - whose will it be - intercut with the daughter being tortured by him - it soon turns out to be a full-on threesome among mother, daughter, and the lucky b*stard - thoroughly kinky, and if you're into BDSM or bondage, you'll simply love this long scene.
  • Later that night, Singapore Sling decides to leave...


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Arielle Dombasle & co in "Pauline à la Plage" [1983 France]

The great Eric Rohmer took a while getting into directing films, and has since been a bit of an enigma. He finds himself in the pantheon of the Nouvelle Vague, but is quite unlike his peers in terms of defining for himself a trademark style - even the very approachable François Truffaut has a distinct style. In contrast Rohmer's films are unassumingly straightforward, charming and witty even, without any distinct embellishment save his innate sense of morality, but there's no mistaking his great eye for cinema and an incredibly deep insight into human nature if you care to peel back a few layers. This becomes evident through the viewing experience - and I shall use the film of another equally enigmatic director to illustrate - Jacques Rivette's "La Belle Noiseuse" - what we experience watching Rohmer's films can be roughly equated to what the artist Frenhofer goes through while working on his painting - as it becomes evident, what he ends up creating is not as important (or relevant even) as his experience in the process. The fact that Rohmer can neither be pigeon-holed nor defined in material terms despite having won worldwide acclaim and produced several timeless classics speak volumes of his artistry. For those interested in a more informed reading on Éric Rohmer however, check out this interesting website dedicated to New Wave Cinema.

I shall start with a delightful little comedy from around the middle of his career, "Pauline à la Plage" [Eng. Title: Pauline at the Beach], a film whose idea originated way back in the 1950's in a heavily thumbed notebook that Rohmer enthusiastically waves to the camera in the DVD interview. It is also one of Rohmer's personal favourites (and mine too), and therefore a fitting start to his filmography in the blog.

Set in a sunny northern coastal town, the film observes the coming of age of adolescent Pauline amidst the antics of her much older cousin Marión and the other adult men they encounter. They're on holiday and a recently separated Marión had been asked to be the minder of precocious, intelligent, and inquisitive Pauline. We see them drawing attention from prospective suitors, falling in love, being betrayed, getting confused, and moving on in this comedy of errors. Towards the end, it is Pauline, belying her tender years that comes through as the most mature of the lot.

Despite the fact that the actress playing Pauline was barely sixteen when the film was made, I've chosen to post the compilation because the film is such a beautiful piece of cinema, one that all members of my family, young and old have watched and enjoyed. Beautiful French icon Arielle Dombasle who plays Marión was in her stunning prime, and Amanda Langlet is adorable and incredibly cute as the young Pauline in the verge of becoming an adult. The screenplay and characterisation is flawless, as is the visually arresting cinematography and the charming direction. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

I've cut my compilation from my Eric Rohmer Collection box set, which includes a must-see interview with the great man, and also a radio interview with English subtitles. But for those who want to purchase the film separately, I'm not sure if there are any extras, but here's a link anyway.

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Arielle Dombasle, Amanda Langlet, and Rosette

Arielle Dombasle, Amanda Langlet, and Rosette in Pauline à la Plage

Scene Guide:
  • Marión meets up with an old friend Pierre, and introduces him to cousin Pauline. Marión is played by the sexy Arielle Dombasle, and Pauline by the adorable Amanda Langlet.
  • But soon they befriend Henri, a serial womaniser unbeknown to them, and Marión ends up inviting him to bed.
  • Local lad Sylvain sets his sights on Pauline, and Henri more or less encourages their contact as he feels it's about time she had her cherry picked. Marión sees them in the act and leaves shocked.
  • Henri with Marión.
  • Pierre notices local loose girl and peanut vendor Louisette frolicking naked in Henri's bathroom and assumes the obvious. Louisette is played by foxy Rosette.
  • When Marión drops by Henri's house unexpectedly, Sylvain sounds off the alarm and is pushed into the bedroom along with Louisette.
  • Pauline comes looking for Marión at Henri's house when she learns Sylvain had been fooling around with Louisette.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Penélope Cruz & co in "Jamón Jamón" [1992 Spain]

It is the 100th Spanish language film to be reviewed in the blog - about time I introduced one major actress named Penélope Cruz here...

It's a special film too, for many reasons. Perhaps Bigas Luna's most widely known film outside Spain, "Jamón Jamón" [Eng. Title: Jamon Jamon] was also the cinema debut for Penélope Cruz, one which also saw her nominated for a Goya, and one which also introduced her to future husband Javier Bardem. Of course she'd go on to win many more awards including Oscar, but this is where it all began for an eighteen year old starlet.

And what a film too - completely twisted in Luna's inimitable style! Right from the first shot of the film - panning from behind a huge cut-out of a Spanish bull to reveal its cracked balls, this is a film teeming with machismo and testosterone, only to be mocked at the same time. He transgresses ingrained traditional values and customs by questioning their purpose, be it the courting ritual, their sense of honour, pride, and vengeance. The point the film tries to make is that we humans think we know what we want, but then again, we might not know for sure. This is told through a bizarre merry-go-around of coupling and sexual antics.

Silvia works at an underwear factory and is in love with José Luis, the owner's son, and he loves her back, also wanting to marry her. But this is vehemently opposed by his mum Concha, because Silvia's mother Carmen is a prostitute. Carmen and José Luis' father have a history too - they were once in love long ago - she turned to prostitution after they went their separate ways and her husband abandoned her and the child. Add to this, José Luis also visits Carmen to use her services from time to time. Concha plots to break the young couple apart, and hires Raúl, local hunk and ham delivery boy who also models for her male underwear. She instructs him to seduce Silvia. The plan works, initially, but when Concha starts having an affair with Raúl and wants him to end his relationship with Silvia, things become murky as they're both already in love. To complicate things further, Silvia is already pregnant through José Luis, whose father also wants to climb onto the merry-go-around now..!

One of Luna's trademarks is the manner in which he peruses food and sex to draw parallels with our desires - it is the humble ham this time, and is used in different ways, from an aphrodisiac to a weapon (strange scene that, where two men clobber each other with legs of ham to win the right to be with Silvia). Animals are used as a metaphor too - the obvious bull apart, you have a foul-mouthed parrot, a highly 'distressed' pig, and a persistent 'fly'! But as is with many of his films, the characterisation is incomplete, and it remains my main complaint with this director. But this is a remarkable and memorable film nevertheless, for both the strange scenes and dialogue. Another pleasant fact is the inclusion of Italian actresses Stefania Sandrelli and Anna Galiena among the main cast, both of whom have had the distinction of every nook and cranny of their respective bodies 'examined' in a Tinto Brass film. They're much more modest here, but nevertheless a welcome addition to the cast and therefore, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

I'm not terribly pleased with the quality of my bare-bones DVD as it hasn't been letter-boxed properly - forcing me to leave black borders in some scenes in the compilation. But at least it's not particularly expensive in Amazon for the moment.

Amazon DVD Link

Compilation: Penélope Cruz, Anna Galiena, and Stefania Sandrelli

Penélope Cruz, Anna Galiena, and Stefania Sandrelli in Jamon Jamon

Scene Guide:
  • José Luis opines Silvia's breasts are just as delicious as her omelettes. He should know. Silvia is played by a young, enchanting, 'guapa' Penélope Cruz.
  • No nudity - Silvia complaining to her mum Carmen that José Luis hasn't yet told his parents that he wants to marry her. Carmen is played by a favourite among French art-house directors, the very dishy Anna Galiena.
  • Brief nudity, twisted scene - definitely worth checking. José Luis begs Carmen, his soon-to-be mother-in-law for sex one last time. She obliges. "Wacaaa..!" :D
  • Silvia having a bizarre dream, with stray dogs, bulls, and you guessed, ham..!
  • Concha with the hired local stud Raúl. She likes his package so much that she now wants him all for herself. Luna makes it a point to show Raúl struggling to get going at first. Concha is played by legendary Italian actress Stefania Sandrelli.
  • But Silvia had already fallen in love with Raúl, and makes known her displeasure when José Luis tries to have sex with her under the bull. He leaves Silvia in the rain.
  • Continued from above - Silvia walks dripping wet into the bar where Raúl is counting his good fortune with the fruit machine - and with Silvia, now the jackpot too. They're totally unmindful of other people at the bar.
  • It's now Raúl's turn to judge Silvia's breasts - apparently they taste of both omelette and ham - he tucks in as if he was starving for days. Watched by the José Luis and mum Concha, each frustrated for different reasons.
  • Concha manages to wrest Raúl back after promising him a Mercedes. José Luis barges into Raúl's warehouse to find his mother in bed with his enemy. If you watch carefully in a few frames only, Bardem must have been 'quite close' to Sandrelli at some point during the shoot. You'll know what I mean when you get to 13:25 mts. :)


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Scenes from "Querida voy a Comprar Cigarrillos y Vuelvo" [2011 Argentina]

The Argentinian comedy by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, "Querida voy a Comprar Cigarrillos y Vuelvo" [Eng. Title: Darling, I'm going out for Cigarettes and I'll be Right Back] is based on an engaging story by Alberto Laiseca - who himself presents the film using 'guinea pig' Ernesto, a drab character in his sixties living in a sleepy little town in provincial Argentina.

It is a fantasy in the lines of the American comedy "Bedazzled", only with a twist. Here the 'devil', brilliantly played by Eusebio Poncela, isn't particularly interested in Ernesto's soul at all - he merely takes pity on Ernesto and wants to give him a second chance of reliving ten years of his life to perhaps try and make up for "missed opportunities", as Ernesto puts it. He could spend the period from any time in his past, and even while looking younger Ernesto will retain the wisdom and knowledge of a sixty three year old. The ten years by the way, will only be five minutes for the rest of the people around him - the time he would need to leave his wife waiting at the cafe to go and buy a pack of cigarettes from a nearby shop (hence the quirky title). And for agreeing to relive his youth, Ernesto will also be compensated handsomely at the end of it. Sounds like a nice deal isn't it - only, trying to influence events by going back in time is one thing, but to change one's own character is altogether another...

This is a nifty little film executed without too much fuss, or by distracting attention away through unnecessary detail. Whether we agree with Laiseca's views or not, his is an interesting insight into human nature, and the directors ensure it is conveyed loud and clear. While the film is intelligent and philosophical, it is also entertaining and hilariously funny in places, and therefore, Recommended Viewing..!

Compilation: Mariana Madera, Mariela Gelman, and Paula Mariash

Mariana Madera, Mariela Gelman, and Paula Mariash in Querida voy a Comprar Cigarrillos y Vuelvo

Scene Guide:
  • No nudity but quite funny - Ernesto goes back to the early nineteen nineties and tries to pioneer 'Reality TV' in Argentina. Here he's casting a contestant for his 'Big Brother' type of TV show. The girl is played by Mariana Madera. One can see how un-cool and out of place Ernesto is, even with all his gathered knowledge - he can't even do sleaze properly, even making the girl he's exploiting to break out laughing when he asks her to rub her "cachufleta"..! :)
  • Ernesto has now gone back farther in time and also records a 'hit' single with a plagiarised song of the Beatles. He's marginally successful as well in bedding 'groupies' - only he doesn't seem to make the most of it even then. The women are played by Mariela Gelman and Paula Mariash.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Hanna Schygulla & co in "Warnung vor einer Heiligen Nutte" [1971 W.Germany]

1971 was one of the most productive years for the incomparable Rainer Werner Fassbinder, finishing no less than three feature films and a clutch of TV films during the period. "Warnung vor einer Heiligen Nutte" [Eng. Title: Beware of the Holy Whore] takes a wry look at issues among his film crew from earlier productions, of course, using a lot of artistic license. Talk about washing dirty linen in public..!

What's interesting about the film is that he uses the very same crew he's talking about, only making many of them play a different crew/cast member. Same events are recreated, but not exactly in relation to a particular character - for e.g., something that happened to a particular crew member is attributed to someone else's character. There is no story to tell in this film - it is just an observation, shot in the style of a 'Behind the Scenes' featurette, only this one is in full length, and without those ubiquitous camera interviews. Positively hilarious in places, it also gives us a vivid peek into their 'communal' and mixed-up lifestyles. There's plenty of self-deprecating humour going on - Fassbinder himself is recreated as the volatile producer-director 'Jeff', performed by a young Lou Castel. Fassbinder acts in the film too, appearing as the production manager.

One thing we can't grudge the Fassbinder Foundation is the loving manner in which they've restored his films to their original glory. This DVD is a superb remastering exercise that brings out all the efforts put in by the cast and crew in the finest detail commercially possible, and therefore definitely worth adding to your collection. This little gem is also a major departure from the Fassbinder films I've reviewed so far (mind you, I'm still working through his filmography). The best way to purchase it however is through the Rainer Werner Fassbinder commemorative collection box-set that feature no less than 9 of his earliest classics - much cheaper than having to buy them individually. Reason enough to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Box-set Link

Compilation: Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, and Margarethe von Trotta
There may only be brief nudity in these scenes, but definitely worth checking out.

Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, and Margarethe von Trotta in Warnung vor einer Heiligen Nutte

Scene Guide:
  • While something serious is happening in the busy hotel lobby which the film crew are using as the location, script girl Katrin Schaake is in a threesome with two crew members among all the commotion.
  • No nudity but sexy as the beautiful Hanna Schygulla, playing her own character, warms up to a senior cast member.
  • And they end up in bed. Nice little view of Ms. Schygulla here.
  • Funny and kinky scene of production assistant Babs having a post-coital chat with the director, about a male actor who the director fancies. When her husband and production manager Sascha calls, she matter-of-factly tells him she's in bed with the director, and that she'll be coming down shortly. Babs is played by saucy Margarethe von Trotta. :)


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Maja Ostaszewska in "Uwiklanie" [2011 Poland]

Jacek Bromski's crime drama, "Uwik?anie" [Eng. Trans: Entanglement] happens to be one of those old fashioned detective films albeit with a modern touch - no raincoats here.

Set in modern day Poland, the film starts off with the death of a patient undergoing psychotherapy at an exclusive resort. A good part of the film is spent determining whether it was a suicide or murder. Agata, the newly assigned prosecutor arrives at the scene and bumps into an old boyfriend from college, Smolar who's the investigating police officer. Agata is now happily married with a child, and tries to stay focused on the case at hand. The investigation links the dead man to his past as a secret agent in communist Poland, and an unsolved murder from the time. The plot goes through several twists and turns to try and keep the audience guessing. The film is decently made, even if it has neither the cleverest of plots nor the most inspired of soundtracks - but at least it attempts to offset its shortcomings through some added drama - that between Agata and Smolar. Easy but Recommended Viewing.

Compilation: Maja Ostaszewska
The film has a couple of brief nude scenes involving Maja Ostaszewska, who plays Agata. In the first, she's in bed with her husband, wondering about the dead man's choice of lottery numbers. In the second, Agata returns to Smolar's flat after first rejecting his advances. It was just curiosity rather than any feelings of love for an old flame that brought her there, she tells Smolar after they make love. She returns late and joins her husband in bed. When he wakes up wondering what happened, she tells him to go back to sleep. :)

Maja Ostaszewska in Uwiklanie


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Miou-Miou in "Marcia Trionfale" [1976 Italy, France]

Marco Bellocchio's "Marcia Trionfale" [Eng. Trans: March of Triumph] is a scathing attack on the state of affairs of the Italian army, and the dehumanising effects of institutionalised indoctrination on its cadets from the moment they join the force - this he has 'stridently' achieved. But he also uses this pretext to explore through drama its knock-on effects on the very people who've become part of the system, with only moderate success. It is not a pleasant film to watch - not only is the language quite explicit, some of the visuals are also vicious and repulsive. But as always, Bellocchio uses these to further his goal, which is to enable us to reflect on their humanity - there is a method to his savagery. This could have so easily been a very different film under the hands of a lesser director.

Young Paolo Passeri, a hitherto academic, had recently enrolled at the Army academy to train as an officer. It is hell for him from day one, caught between proving himself a model cadet to his officers and displaying camaraderie among fellow cadets - they never seem to go together. He also has to unlearn a few things along the way. His commander, the sadistic Capt. Asciutto takes him under his wing and moulds Passeri into his 'model' soldier. This he could achieve, but fails dismally in trying to mould his wife Rosanna too in a similar fashion. It's a marriage made in hell, with either of them abusing the other at any given time. As much as Ascuitto humiliates his wife, she gives it back in full through insults, which leads to him venting his frustrations on the cadets at the academy. Unbeknown to him, Rosanna had also been having an affair with fellow officer Lt. Baio. Ascuitto suspects she could be fooling around and assigns his protégé Passeri to snoop on her activities, but Rosanna trumps him by also taking on Passeri as a lover. When Ascuitto discovers her affair with the Lieutenant through other means, it sets off a chain of events...

This is a well designed film, the only drawback being the cast. Apart from a young Michele Placido who gives a fine account of himself as cadet Paolo Passeri - he also won a David, the rest of the main cast, Franco Nero who plays Capt. Asciutto, Patrick Dewaere who plays Lt. Baio, and Miou-Miou who plays Rosanna don't speak Italian - the post-dubbing doesn't quite work in their favour, and their characters suffer. However, while this may not be Marco Bellocchio's finest work, it is still a film very relevant to its times, done with great purpose and conviction. It will nevertheless be remembered widely for Placido's performance, and also for some explicit nude scenes featuring Miou-Miou, a great actress who's equally renowned for her boldness when it comes to nudity (and for being many a teenager's wet dream). Needless to say, Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link

Compilation: Miou-Miou
These scenes could have made it into the cinematic 'Nude Hall of Fame', if only they weren't as disturbing - one can say that at the very least, they weren't meant to titillate.

Miou-Miou in Marcia Trionfale

Scene Guide:
  • When Rosanna spurns husband Asciutto's advances - she tells him she's not just a 'hole'. He takes her by force, only to be taunted for his impotence - even claiming she could 'barely feel' him inside her. Rosanna of course, is played by legendary French actress, douce petite Miou-Miou (real name: Sylvette Héry). She sure has this something that brings out the animal in you - I guess you could call it 'sexual charisma'.
  • A jealous Asciutto asks Rosanna who she is tarting herself for and they exchange words. But when she calls him an impotent animal - again, he threatens to throw her out. She dares him to - and he obliges in the most humiliating manner possible in this unforgettable nude scene.
  • Lt. Baio purveys some porn before joining Rosanna in bed - she'd been kept waiting in his quarters for three hours - oh how romantic! He's also desperate to prove his sexual prowess among his coterie of friends waiting outside. Calling her his sweet whore, he asks her to proclaim that she loves him, aloud. After sex, she asks him to stay a while longer, but he replies, "What for, I made you come, didn't I?" I think Patrick Dewaere and Miou-Miou were still a real-life couple when the film was made (she even bore a child through him). If only I were a fly on the wall during the film shoot..! :)
  • When Asciutto finds out his wife had been shagging someone behind his back, he confronts Rosanna. The situation predictably turns ugly, and he starts throwing her around like a rag doll, but he suddenly retreats, muttering to himself that he needs to have her cunt sewn - the  bast*rd loves her in his own twisted way. Nevertheless, the cool manner in which Rosanna walks off speak volumes...


Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Tribute to Marina Anna Eich

Wishing all you guys a Very Happy New Year..! :)

And why not we start the year with a celebration, to one of the most beautiful and multi-faceted actresses from Germany, Marina Anna Eich.

Apart from being a talented actress, she's a film producer, spokesperson and PR Manager, and had been a member of the Jury at several film festivals. Through my interactions with her, apart from coming across as a knowledgeable and diligent professional, she strikes me as a genuinely kind and warm-hearted person. A beauty both on the outside and from within had to be celebrated, and even though this tribute may focus overtly on the physical in keeping with the blog's theme, I had to say it had been a pleasure to get to know a person more than her characters reveal on screen.

The Tribute:
The compilation covers most of her films with WTP International:
- Dann nenn es halt Liebe
- The Dark Side of Our Inner Space
- 24/7 The Passion of Life
- Mein Traum oder Die Einsamkeit ist nie allein

The soundtrack is from Wolfgang Edelmayer's awesome title, "Du fehlst mir sehr", taken from his album "22/6". I had run this tribute past Ms. Eich before posting it and her feedback has been quite positive, but let us know what you guys think as well... :)

Download Links:
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