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...