Friday, 28 December 2012

Mathilda May in "LIfeforce" [1985 United Kingdom]

Of course, this isn't news and it has nothing to do with the recently completed Mayan 'Baktun' - only MGM's 1980's attempt at adopting for film a sci-fi novel named The Space Vampires. While Tobe Hooper's offering, fresh from Poltergeist had to be taken with a large rock of salt, the film has nevertheless gained cult status and over the years inspired the likes of Species and others.

While it has some quaint touches and big names involved in its production, the film will most definitely be remembered for a nineteen year old French starlet making her film debut - the wholesome and breathtaking Mathilda May. At least they got that part of the casting right, although I'd have preferred to have seen Peter Cushing instead of Patrick Stewart as the director of the insane asylum. At least you get an idea of what we're talking about here - a sci-fi horror flick with vampires and zombies to boot.

A joint team of British and American astronauts aboard the space shuttle Churchill encounter an organic 150-mile long alien spacecraft as they approach to explore Haley's comet (their mission). Instead of minding their business, the crew venture into the craft and decide to kidnap three naked human-like aliens held in a state of suspended animation, one of which is the delectably well preserved Mathilda May. A burnt-out Churchill makes it back to earth's orbit sans the astronauts, but the three aliens still remain in rude albeit suspended health. They will be transported to earth, and eventually London thanks to the Americans' spare shuttle Columbia. It will eventually dawn on Whitehall that what they have in their hands is a full-blown alien invasion in the form of a naked woman spreading a contagion of vampiric tendencies among the populace of London by first converting them into zombies. Its up to a surviving American astronaut and a SAS officer to save London (and the world, naturally), which they do in true 1980's fashion.

Like I said, the film has to be taken with more than a pinch of salt, but if you get over the daftness of the plot and its dated special effects, there's some entertainment to be had, and of course, the well proportioned Mathilda May to feast your eyes on.


Amazon DVD Link
This is a bare-bones letterboxed DVD (PAL) with only the film's trailer counting among the extras. Heck - what more can you expect for the silly money it's selling for.


The Nudity: Mathilda May, and briefly Peter Firth
Most of the nudity happens at the beginning of the film, perhaps giving the impression that there is more nudity than there actually is. The film is also ridiculously coy with regard to male nudity even if there are twice the number of males among the invading aliens. And Mathilda May appears in full frontal glory for barely a few seconds. The rest is down to some clever editing that gives the impression that she's nude for the most part of the film.

Mathilda May in Lifeforce


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Scenes from "Viaje Redondo" [2009 Mexico]

Gerardo Tort's drama "Viaje Redondo" [Eng. Title: Round Trip] is another good looking 'road movie' from Mexico. I knew nothing about the film nor the director before I got to watch, and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Two young women set off on separate journeys - Lucía, travelling by bus wants to make a fresh start far away from her native town, while Fernanda is driving on her own - she's about to be married in a few days but is now not sure if her present fiancé is the right one. They bump into each other at a service station while queueing for the toilet, and they end up arguing when Fernanda believes her wallet had been stolen. Soon Lucía finds herself stranded when her bus leaves without her, and an apologetic Fernanda (after realising she'd left the wallet in the car) offers to give Lucía a lift, since the next bus is not due for a while. Little did they know that they'll end up together for days, in the middle of nowhere after Fernanda's car breaks down. The girls are from contrasting backgrounds - Fernanda is wealthy, independent, into new-age stuff, and has choices in her life, where as hairdresser Lucía comes from an impoverished background with limited options, in addition to being a single mum. But circumstances force them to get along with each another, and appreciate the other even if neither would want to swap places.

This is a simple film, well written, decently directed, and ably performed by the two main actresses. The key to the film clicking is the on-screen chemistry between Teresa Ruiz and Cassandra Ciangherotti who play Lucía and Fernanda respectively. The film's soundtrack is also quite pleasant with its choice of Cumbia tracks. It is altogether an enjoyable film, and therefore, Recommended Viewing!

Amazon DVD Link


The Nudity: Cassandra Ciangherotti and Teresa Ruiz
There are two scenes of nudity; the second is the longest, involving Cassandra Ciangherotti and Teresa Ruiz - both cute actresses, playing Fernanda and Lucía respectively.

Cassandra Ciangherotti and Teresa Ruiz in Viaje Redondo

Scene Guide:
  • A flashback scene to highlight Fernanda's unsatisfactory sex life. Played by a cute Cassandra Ciangherotti who I'd seen only in her debut film until now.
  • This is a long scene of Fernanda and Lucía bonding while staying in a hotel room. Lucía is played by the talented and pretty Teresa Ruiz. Fernanda encourages Lucía to loosen up, but is also attracted to her. A reluctant Lucía initially fears Fernanda might be lesbian, but is told not to worry! Happy Christmas! :)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Eleonora Giorgi in "Disposta a Tutto" [1977 Italy]


It is that time of the year - to let your hair down and 'go with the flow' at office parties and so on. Of course, parties are not what they used to be like in the good ol' days; understandable, when people are weary and worried about being laid off come new year. To cheer ourselves up a bit, let's look back at the golden era of Italian beauties in cinema - the erotic 70's - one that has never been and will probably never be paralleled anywhere again. Seldom have so many stunning actresses worked in cinema at any given time, all of them ready and willing to drop their knickers for camera, on demand. Agostina Belli, Ornella Muti, Laura Antonelli, Leonora Fani, Eleonora Giorgi, Gloria Guida, Jenny Tamburi - I'm only beginning to scratch the surface here - the list goes on...

What's more - given a chance, these beauties could even act. Take Eleonora Giorgi for instance - it is plain to see that she thoroughly loves acting, even if her roles never quite got around to taxing the thespian in her apart from the cursory Dario Argento-scream or the drop-of-a-hat lip-pouting. She does pout her lips very well though! Shame this definitive feminine sexual signal can only be seen flashed by drag queens and burlesque artists these days. No wonder young men are one confused lot!

Eleonora Gorgeous nevertheless pouts her lips salubriously in Giorgio Stegani's "Disposta a Tutto" [Eng. Title: Ready for Anything], a film whose negatives should otherwise have been safely recycled, for the storyline itself is a hotchpotch of random films from the era - it's as if the film makers decided to insert whatever themes and motifs that caught their attention. I will not bother with a synopsis as that would mean giving the film more credit than it is due. However, Ms. Giorgi makes her lip-pouting presence keenly felt throughout the film, sometimes in various stages of undress, and it is only for her that this film is even worth a look-in. DVD Link
I've had this DVD in its shrink-wrap for several years, and in a way I'm kinda glad to have finally unwrapped it. The Nocturno DVD is a good quality remastered transfer, even if the colours are a bit inconsistent in some scenes - they were probably previously chopped-off bits that found their way into the DVD. There's however no English subtitles in it, so if you're after the story rather than Ms. Giorgi, you'd better brush up on your Italian first.


The Nudity: Eleonora Giorgi and others
Rest assured the film features Eleonora Giorgi's various charms in frequent full-frontal glory - she plays Anna, a teenage stenography-student having an affair with Marco (Bekim Fehmiu), a clueless married man with a vaguely misogynist attitude.

Eleonora Giorgi in Disposta a Tutto

Scene Guide:
  • Anna tries to prove that she's willing to do 'anything' for her beloved philandering Marco, including some crude breast augmentation, mercifully stopped midway.
  • Followed by some 'symbolic' rose bush embracing and mud smearing (the scene that prompted me into purchasing the DVD in the first place).
  • Anna and Marco making love
  • Marco asks Anna to prostitute herself to prove her love (for him), and in the scene she narrates an incident with a bloke in the car. When he demands to see how much she was paid, he discovers that she's made the story up after recognising the bill she shows - it was the one he gave her not too long ago, with his bank cashier's initials on it.
  • Anna hints on a commitment and perhaps a baby. Marco listens to her with disinterest, but keeps playing with her pubic hair (Oh I love the 70's)
  • Anna's nosy neighbour and cousin interrupts their argument by knocking on the door and asking to borrow some sugar.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Scenes from Ulrich Seidl's Paradies: Liebe 2012

There's something about Austrian directors and their fetishistic delight in dissecting human nature - to tear open layers of our civilised behaviour and scoop out the primeval muck. I'm clearly referring to Ulrich Seidl and his more celebrated compatriot Michael Haneke here. Both are renowned for their uncompromising observations, but unlike Haneke who uses nuanced language, Seidl can be quite in-your-face, unflinchingly gazing at his characters' (and our) every discomfort, twitch, and grimace. "Paradies: Liebe" [Eng. Title: Paradise: Love] is the first in Ulrich Seidl's ambitious trilogy focusing on the concept of paradise; the others being Paradise: Faith (out this Christmas), and Paradise: Hope (2013).

Teresa, a single Austrian mother approaching fifty, arrives in Kenya on vacation. We are soon privy to the fact that one of the main attractions there for overweight middle-aged ladies like Teresa are the young native men loitering near the resort, at first trying to sell them needless trinkets, but something altogether more tempting should the tourists wish, all for a price that isn't as straightforward as back home. Egged-on by her Austrian friends, Teresa embarks on her own quest for 'paradise', which for her is 'unconditional love' - something that she couldn't find in her own country. But while we may be forgiven for thinking that she's exploiting the natives, the men who court her have different ideas - and there will be a symbiosis of sorts in their mutual exploitation.

Provocative as ever, Seidl challenges his viewers with various motifs that not only confound stereotypes, but also explores the dynamics of trade-offs in our quest for happiness. The idea that people who don't conform to archetypal standards of beauty are still sexual beings and will go to great lengths for find fulfilment is illustrated frankly, albeit with a thick air of poignancy. He forces the viewer to accept their imperfections in the same way the protagonist has, and tellingly, starts the film with a long scene where Teresa is enthusiastically supervising a group of adults with downs syndrome at a play area in Vienna. Teresa on more than once occasion admits as such that she is way past her prime, but that doesn't stop her from seeking whatever is missing in her life.

Technically, the film is as accomplished as his previous films like Hundstage and Import/Export. The cinematography is distinctly shot in the style of a documentary - chronicling events rather than intruding. The film also features prolonged scenes of explicit nudity, both male and female, and they're not of the titillating kind - more of the embarrassingly frank. Margarete Tiesel gives it her all with total conviction playing the lead character of Teresa. Most of the scenes in the film were shot without a script, and hence the dialogues are candid, helped by the fact that Ms. Tiesel's male co-stars are locals who're non-actors. This is another gem of a film from Ulrich Seidl, and I can't wait to see the remaining part of his trilogy. Highly Recommended Viewing..!


The Nudity: Margarete Tiesel, Inge Maux, Peter Kazungu, and others
As noted above, the film features several frank and explicit scenes of nudity and sex from both female and male actors, even more so the latter.

Margarete Tiesel and others in Paradies: Liebe

Monday, 17 December 2012

Miriam Kantorková in "Romance pro Kridlovku" [1966 Czechoslovakia]

Otakar Vávra is widely considered the father of Czech cinema, with a career spanning the best part of the twentieth century and a bit, including some of the most turbulent years in the country's history. But his most famous work is his 1966 drama "Romance pro kridlovku" [Eng. Title: Romance for Bugle], a  liberal period in Czechoslovakia that also led to the Prague Spring. The film is based on an epic poem by Frantisek Hrubin, who also worked on the screenplay.

Most of the film is told through flashback as Vojta, a middle aged teacher back in his village after many years, recognises a bugler at the bar. They get talking until he enquires about Terina, a fairground girl with whom he'd fallen deeply in love as a youth during school holidays many decades ago. The film takes us back to that summer, their romance in between his duties tending to an ailing grandfather, and his persistent rivalry with the bugler for Terina's affections.


The film is a charming, bitter-sweet romance told with an air of nostalgia while also reminding us of their reality, including class divisions. Beautifully shot with some amazing visuals, it is one of those films that stick with you long after you've put the DVD away. Needless to say, this black and white gem is Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link


The Nudity: Miriam Kantorková
There is a special scene where Tonka, a slightly older local lass, beckons Vojta to the spot in the river where she's bathing. After trying not to notice her at first, the boy gives in, and leaves his grandfather to join Tonka for some fun and frolic. The woman is played by a voluptuous Miriam Kantorková.

Miriam Kantorková and Vera Crháková in Romance pro Kridlovku


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta in "Tabu" [2012 Portugal]

Rest assured, a lot of us will get to hear about one Miguel Gomes in coming years - an impressive and insightful young director from Portugal. I say so, despite having seen only the latest of his three features to date, "Tabu".

Distinctly separated into two parts, the first part "Paradise Lost" relates to Pilar, a middle aged woman in contemporary Lisbon (played by Teresa Madruga) worrying about failing mental health of her eccentric neighbour, the elderly Aurora (Laura Soveral). Aurora is already cared for by Santa (Isabel Cardoso), a black woman who she despicably keeps addressing as a witch. When Aurora's health deteriorates further and is admitted to hospital, she requests Pilar to find a person she had never heard mentioned before, a certain Gian Luca Ventura. But Pilar could locate and bring him along only to Aurora's funeral, after which Ventura (played by Henrique Espirito Santo) opens up to his story from fifty-odd years ago in colonial Africa, voiced over by the director sans dialogues in the second part, titled "Paradise".
We witness Ventura's (Carloto Cotta) passionate affair with a young but already married Aurora (Ana Moreira) in the foothills of Mount Tabu, Mozambique. To complicate matters, Aurora is already pregnant through her husband. But not only do they throw caution to the wind in pursuit of their affair, they also fall in love, and even attempt to elope. But the affair had to end abruptly, despite their mutual love. They will neither see nor hear from each other after that day...

That's the outward love story. Hidden within this pure and simple screenplay are nevertheless allegorical layers that are political, social, and philosophical, which intimately relates to Portugal and its colonial history itself. You may want to catch some of this in Gomes' own words from an interview HERE. The cinematography by Rui Poças is magnificent, and what's more, it is gloriously captured in good-ol' black and white film (how wonderful to watch the Kodak MPF logo roll past in a new film's credits), and in full frame too. Both the parts are yet distinctive in their various moods and I suspect, even film stock used; while the first part adds an air of melancholy with its dark grey tones, the second is markedly overexposed to recreate a youthful, 'sunnier' part of the protagonists' lives. The screenplay is very effective, and the script for the African segment was written directly while editing the shot footage. The film has virtues I haven't even touched upon, like the main cast's totally brilliant performances, perhaps the aforementioned interview with the director is worth checking out. Needless to say, this superb little gem is definitely Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link



The Nudity: Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta
There's just a single instance of nudity from Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta during a sex scene, playing the characters of young Aurora and Ventura respectively.

Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta are impressive as forbidden lovers in Tabu


Monday, 10 December 2012

Marina de Van & others in "Sitcom" [1998 France]

François Ozon is no stranger when it comes to pushing the envelope, and watching his comedy "Sitcom" on TV for the very first time had me cringing in my seat. This is black comedy of the darkest kind where nothing is taboo - the shock is in the way in which it is depicted with utter glee.

François Ozon:
He belongs to an exclusive group of equally talented and successful directors working in French cinema today. His films have a definitive style and are generally known for their satirical wit, sexual themes, and grotesque characterisations. Despite their art cinema credentials, his films do well commercially. I hope to write more about him as I review some of his other films here, including some shorts made early in his career.

A model upper-crust family in suburban Paris - father, mother, a grown up daughter, and son. It all starts when dad brings home a pet rat as present for the family. Mum hates it straightaway, but the kids don't mind. Things however begin to change for everyone who comes in close contact with the rat. The son announces that he's now a homosexual, and starts inviting strangers into his room for God knows what. He also begins an affair with the maid's husband who had also been bitten by the rat. The daughter decides to throw herself out of the window; she survives but is now paralysed waist-down. She also appears to have acquired a taste for sadomasochism, and the poor boyfriend will now be her frequent slave. The mother, distraught at her son's change of sexual preference decides to 'cure' his homosexuality by showing him what he's missing, and the siblings talk about trying it out with their father next. At a retreat, it dawns on the mother that the root cause of all the problems in the family is the rat, and instructs the dad to get rid of it. Well, he does, but with unforeseen consequences...

The farcical comedy is only François Ozon's second feature film, but his genius for naughtiness clearly shows through with the outrageous satire of familial values that he manages to create - the rat is merely thrown in as a red herring. But this film is above all, a comedy, a twisted and at times kinky one at that. It has none of the seriousness that Pier Paolo Pasolini attached to an earlier classic Teorama - both these films have themes in common. The bright interiors and shiny people poke fun at American-style TV sitcom culture, the dialogues are replete with base humour delivered in the most straight-faced manner, and the performance by all the main cast is truly impressive, particularly Évelyne Dandry who plays the mother, and a young Marina de Van who plays the daughter. Rest assured, we'll see a lot more from this talented director and actress in the blog. Needless to say, this hysterical black comedy is Highly Recommended 'Adult' Viewing..! DVD Link


The Nudity: Marina de Van, Lucia Sanchez, and Adrien de Van
There is only brief nudity shown in passing scenes, but it is more than made up for in the jaw-dropping events they actually depict.

Marina de Van, Lucia Sanchez, Évelyne Dandry, and Adrien de Van in Sitcom

Scene Guide:
  • The daughter and boyfriend do not seem to care that the mother is present. The daughter is played by a young and dishy Marina de Van, and her hunk of a boyfriend by Stéphane Rideau.
  • Borderline scene of the pet rat getting to know the daughter a bit too intimately. :)
  • The maid seems to want the daughter's boyfriend too, and offers to give him a 'Spanish' treat, which is promptly captured on Polaroid by the angry daughter. That's a prosthetic penis, if you're in doubt. The saucy maid is played by Lucia Sanchez.
  • Mummy wants to 'cure' the son of homosexuality through a bit of 'love'. The son is shocked but doesn't seem to mind. The mother is played by Évelyne Dandry.
  • Siblings in the bath together- she enquires how it felt with mum, he seemed to think it wasn't too bad. She then suggests if she should try the same with their dad as well. The son is played by Marina's real-life brother, Adrien de Van.
  • Trust me, this scene is not a spoiler - the dad fondles an apparently inanimate maid.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Nutsa Kukhianidze and Amaliya Mordvinova in "27 Missing Kisses" [2000 Georgia, UK, Germany, France]

Who wouldn't feel nostalgic watching films about adolescent romances! Director Nana Givievna Dzhordzhadze (credited as Nana Djordjadze) obliges with a drama about a coming-of-age summertime romance set in Soviet-era Georgia, "27 Dakarguli Kotsna" [Eng. Title: 27 Missing Kisses]. The film is also poetic, in a Shakespearian way.

Mickey reminisces his summer of '73 when a girl his own age, fourteen, arrives at his home-town after traversing a live artillery range and ducking close-landing shells. Sibylla had come to spend summer with her aunt, and Mickey instantly falls in love with her. But he's up against a formidable love-rival in the form of his dad, forty one, widower, astronomer, ladies-man, and local heartthrob - Sibylla has had a crush on his father Alexander the moment she set eyes on him. She'd also stepped into a town that's already a cauldron of passion, with every other married man and woman having running affairs of some kind. And there's particular competition among womenfolk for Alexander's affections, one that he's only too willing to share, except for Sibylla whom he diligently sets aside for son Mickey. Nevertheless, rough winds do shake the young ones, and Mickey's allowance of hundred kisses over the summer with Sibylla will fall twenty seven short...

The film strives to be light-hearted and it succeeds most of the time, but there are elements, typical of Eastern European cinema, that constantly threaten to veer this towards darker territory - one of them being Sibylla's exceptional maturity for her age, yet earning for her dead father, and her fascination for someone much older than her. One is also not sure if the rampant promiscuity among the townsfolk (and even among their dead grandparents) is meant as a critique or merely a comedic device. It has several off-beat characterisations too, like the sailor towing his tugboat through town looking for a new sea in which to sail - his sea had apparently disappeared. The film as a whole is richly sensual, poetic, and charming. A sixteen year old Nutsa Kukhianidze (credited as Nuza Kukhianidze) plays Sibylla, her character's disarming candour coupled with her cute looks steal our heart from the outset. Other likeable characters such as Shalva Iashvili who plays young Mickey, and Amaliya Mordvinova who plays the promiscuous Veronica keep us engaged and entertained. Recommended Viewing.

Amazon DVD Link

The Nudity: Nutsa Kukhianidze and Amaliya Mordvinova
As can be expected from such a storyline, the film features several noteworthy scenes of nudity from Nutsa Kukhianidze who plays Sibylla and Amaliya Mordvinova who plays Veronica, a woman having flings with practically every man in town right under the nose of her jealous but inept husband.

Nutsa Kukhianidze and Amaliya Mordvinova in 27 Stolen Kisses

Scene Guide:
  • A newly arrived Sibylla bathing at her aunt's - she permits young Mickey the pleasure of looking at princess Sibylla from behind the curtain, while being washed by aunt. Sibylla is played by the incredibly cute and pretty Nutsa Kukhianidze.
  • No nudity - a sleepless Sibylla goes into the night looking for Mickey's dad Alexander, wearing a barely concealing nightdress.
  • No nudity - Veronica rehearses for a ballet performance - played by sultry redhead Amaliya Mordvinova.
  • Sibylla confesses her love to Alexander, upon which a jealous Mickey chases her into the bathroom demanding an explanation, and in the process causing her white top to get all wet. She unbuttons her shirt to dry them faster, and duly catches the eye of Alexander and one of the women.
  • As one can see, everyone wants to get their hands on Veronica, even when she's with her husband and mother at a cinema. They'd all gathered to watch the current erotic sensation "Emmanuelle".
  • Sibylla gives a show of her own from behind the screen after the audience leave. :-)
  • Veronica with one of her exceptionally endowed admirers. Later she gets punished by her mum while the drunk husband sits and watches.
  • No nudity - Mickey adding to his tally of kisses while Sibylla plucks away leeches he'd stuck on himself. She admits she should be the one that requires leeching.
  • Veronica entices Alexander into a corner of the woods during a picnic...
  • No nudity - Sibylla wants Alexander only for herself - she gets told off after interrupting one of his sexual encounters.
  • More tedious Tom and Jerry-like antics as Veronica's husband catches her with another man (again), and tries vainly to blow them apart.
  • Sibylla sneaks into Alexander's bed, hoping to win him over by sacrificing her virginity, and she gets told off yet again. Mickey catches her on her way out of his dad's room.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Dolores Fonzi in "El Campo" [2011 Argentina]

Hernán Belón makes his feature film debut through "El Campo" [Eng. Title: In the Open], an understated drama concerning a couples' commitment to their marriage in contemporary Argentina.

City couple Santiago and Elisa move to the countryside with their toddler Mathilda - the move was Santiago's cherished dream. They are in love, and Elisa readily agrees to Santiago's proposal of relocation. But while Santiago is enjoying the transition and enthusiastically adapting to life in the country, the change in environment takes Elisa out of her comfort zone, which will challenge their hitherto solid relationship...

The austere, simple but elegant film is largely a character study of two individuals, their marriage, and family. It is also about communication and adaptation for the sake of a larger good. I'm not sure to what extent director Belón's efforts in creating a seemingly spooky or alien atmosphere really helps the narrative, but Dolores Fonzi and Leonardo Sbaraglia look good together in the film, and it is their chemistry and refined performance as Elisa and Santiago respectively that propels the drama. It is for that reason that this is Recommended Viewing.


The Nudity: Dolores Fonzi and Leonardo Sbaraglia
They're brief scenes that happen during some sex scenes - nothing explicit, but passionate all the same.

Dolores Fonzi and Leonardo Sbaraglia in El Campo