Sunday, 18 November 2007

The good and the ugly - this week's viewing

Sorry for the lack of updates and reviews recently – I have been very busy with work.

I’ve seen two interesting Italian films over the past week or so as part of the Italian film festival that’s doing the rounds in the UK at the moment, Antonio Pietrangeli’s Io la conoscevo bene / I Knew Her Well and Alessandro Blasetti’s 1860. Neither is a giallo, but that shouldn’t put anyone off them as they’re both very good films and, moreover, can always be connected to the filone cinema.

I Knew Her Well is like a cross between Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria and La Dolce Vita, following the last months in the life of a young woman from the provinces as she tries to make it in the big city. Featuring a brilliant performance from Stefania Sandrelli and ending with her characters’ suicide as she finally realises the bitter truth and experiences one humiliation too many, the camera does something of Bird with the Crystal Plumage style plummet as she leaps out her apartment window. It’s perhaps not as arbitrary a connection as it sounds seeing as Enrico Mario Salerno has a prominent role as a famous movie star, while Mario Adorf plays a boxer; elsewhere Robert Hoffmann and Claudio Volonte also make appearances.

1860, meanwhile, provides another link in the chain to Le Cinque Giornate, albeit in somewhat more patriotic and less cynical tone as a film made during the fascist era as a celebration of a particular version of Italian nationhood, while the fact that Blasetti later made Il Corona di ferro among others indicates the non neo-realist side of his influence in relation to Freda and, from there, the Italian fantasy cinema, not to mention the proto mondo Europa di notte

Hostel II was, not surprisingly, less satisfactory. Though I enjoyed the cameos from Luc Merenda, Edwidge Fenench and Ruggero Deodato and the various allusions to the likes of Torso and Late Night Trains, the presence of Deodato was for me also something which highlighted the fundamental redundancy of the film: I suspect most “normal” viewers will simply find Hostel II to be little more than an unpleasant exercise in sadism, while those who actually know who Deodato is will see a film necessarily constrained by the demands of securing a R-rating. I think there’s a bit more to it than that, however, in that as I find films like Cannibal Holocaust, Salo, Angst, Seul Contre Tous, Audition and The New York Ripper far more intellectually challenging as well, insofar as they make me have to try to work out why I’m watching them, what their attraction is beyond sadism.



The mention of Torso leads nicely on to the packaging for the new Shameless DVD: while I can appreciate that part of the thing about exploitation films is how you sell them, the tagline “where whores meet saws” seems decidedly tasteless...

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I found Hostel II to be little more than an unpleasant exercise in sadism and I am a fairly big giallo /exploitation fan.
The Torso tagline annoys me more than it should too- I still feel that Martino is a vastly underrated director (and arguably the first one with an almost postmodern sense of morality) and Torso really is a much better film than the tagline indicates.
Besides, this seems a fairly odd choice for a tagline anyway - this is certainly not a movie that tries the viewer to identify with the killer.

K H Brown said...

Good to know I'm not the only one who felt this about Hostel II and the Torso cover.

Aaron said...

The tagline is beyond offensive - depressing, really. But perhaps equally depressing is that tacky, awful art direction for such a stylish director!

Tiffany said...

I have not seen Hostel or Hostel @ because I am afraid it will be a bit too much for me.

What is really offensive about that tagline besides the obvious is that having watched the movie it is not even accurate.

Whiggles said...

I wouldn't consider myself a fan of Torso in any shape or form, but yeesh, that tagline!

Frazer said...

I, too, am appalled by this tagline. The box art in general is appalling - cheap and nasty in a bad way. I haven't seen Torso but have seen another two of Sergio Matino's gialli and can safely say he deserves better than this. I would be embarrassed having that DVD in my collection - if a friend was to come across it, I shudder to think what they would think...

Kim said...

I find the tagline to be hilairous!
Come on, no one can take it seriously!!!
At least I hope so...

As for HOSTEL PART II, the least said the better.
Much like his previous two films, this turned into a hugely disapointed film. Sorry but Eli Roth is not the saviour of the genre unlike some web sites have been claiming. Him and Rob Zombie should go back to film school!

Count Fosco said...

Hey Keith,

I'd echo the general evaluation that the TORSO tag line is ill advised. For me it doesn't even get my blood pumping as I see it as rather a tired and uninspired attempt at tongue in cheek humor (probably from someone who hasn't seen the film itself).

Moving on the Italian film festival doing the rounds in the UK sounds interesting. Is there a website?

Also could you elaborate on the film Angst you mentioned, who is director, country of origin?. I know several films exist with that title and I'm keen on watching any film refer to alongside Audition.

Cheers

K H Brown said...

Italian film festival website is here:

http://www.italianfilmfestival.org.uk/

Angst is an Austrian film by Gerald Kargl:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0165623/

Lefteris said...

HOSTEL 2 wasn't too bad in my opinion- I thought it was a well-written movie and had its moments of tension.

As for that tagline, I think it is shameful and misleading. The company is obviously trying to market it as a brainless misogynistic splatter film that will appeal to 12-year olds. That is sad. Its a shame that they have to use such methods in order to sell a few more copies.