Showing posts with label Tinto Brass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tinto Brass. Show all posts

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blu-Ray Review--MONAMOUR (2006): or, Tinto Brass's World of Asses

Mention the name Tinto Brass to fan of exploitational cinema, and you're bound to see a little gleam appear in his or her eye. As the writer and director of Salon Kitty (simultaneously one of the most lushly artistic and one of the grime-encrusted sleaziest examples of the Nazisploitation subgenre) and one of the directors of the historical epic Caligula (probably the most expensive and star-studded exploitation movie ever made), Brass has already staked out his place in the pantheon of Exploitation Godhood. Even if none of his later movies could possibly harness the power of that one-two punch to the crotch he delivered in 1976 and 1979, Brass has laurels enough to rest his haunches upon well into retirement.

But like many a movie-making madman, for Brass, resting on a pile of shrubbery was never an option. Film is not a vocation for men like Brass, Franco, and others--it's sustenance. They have to make movies, or else wither and die from creative starvation. Sure, the public's tastes change, the budgets get smaller and smaller, and perhaps the edge is dulled as the visionaries get older and their eyes less sharp, but they're still out there, making movies on whatever scale they can--because they must.

All that's by way of introducing Brass's 2006 movie, Monamour, recently released on Blu-Ray by Cult Epics. The film shows that Brass still has an eye for magnificent composition, lush design, and gorgeous Euroflesh of the highest order. It also shows that age has softened none of Brass's perverse obsessions, which here are in full and varied display. As a result, Monamour plays as either the dirtiest mainstream movie you ever saw*, or else the most lavish porn ever made**, with only the actual penetration scenes cut.

This is, of course, a recommendation.

* Caligula excluded.
** Ditto.

The plot is basically Unfaithful (2002) all over again. Prominent literary editor Dario (Max Parodi) has come to Mantova for a literary festival, bringing along his beautiful, free-spirited, and extremely restless young wife Marta (Anna Jimskaia). Six months into their marriage she is feeling the wane of what was once a passionate affair--no longer do they make love in public while bemused duck hunters look on, and she hasn't climaxed since she said "I do." (Marta records all this late at night in her journal--sitting at her writing desk, pantsless, while Brass gives us an up close and detailed view of her open marrone degli occhi.)

While looking at some explicitly sexual murals at the famous Palazzo del Te (including one of Jupiter's Erect Cock), Marta meets and mysterious stranger, Leon (Riccardo Marino), who seems to have been built in the same Sexy Factory as a young Antonio Banderas or Unfaithful's Olivier Martinez. Like that latter Latin Lothario, this Roman rapscallion uses the silent, forward, borderline-rapey seduction method that always seems to work in stories like these. Before you know it Marta is blowing Leon at a literary fest dinner, having anal sex with him in cafe restrooms, and dancing drunk and nearly naked in public squares, stopping only to quaff more champagne and stick her tongue down the younger man's throat. Of course it's not long before Dario starts getting suspicious (Marta's sudden distaste for wearing panties in public is one clue; her ass-baring dirty dance with Leon at the Lit Fest Ball is another), which paradoxically inflames his dormant desire for his wife to new heights. Is Marta's affair a marital tragedy, or a new kind of happy ending?

It's probably just as well that I don't have Blu-Ray screengrabbing capabilities as yet, because I would be hard-pressed to find a single frame of this film that I could post here without the Blogger Police shutting me down. As I said earlier: this is a porn, only without the actual penetration. Everything up to the very border of that--and I mean EVERYTHING--is present and accounted for. If you don't like seeing puckered starfish, turgid tube-steaks, spot-lit lady-parts,and lots and lots of simulated sex (of just about every configuration), then you had best stay well away from this one. Tinto also tips his hand as to his own personal "special needs," as we get many lovingly filmed odes to asses of all kinds, not to mention several scenes of Marta and her brazen confidant Sylvia (Nela Lucic) chatting while on toilets or otherwise squatting down to urinate.Threesomes, lesbianism, anal, masturbation, simulated-or-possibly-not oral sex--whatever floats your boat, chances are Brass has it covered.

So why does Brass tease the line of pornography without actually barreling over? Perhaps he thinks it's ugly, and Brass's work is about nothing if not the beauty of desire. The movie is sumptuously filmed, the compositions are striking and often gorgeous, and the sex scenes orchestrated for maximum artistic erotic impact. Whether the manner of sexual congress is to your taste or not, you still have to appreciate the artist's eye he brings to even the sleaziest material. It's a beautiful film to look at, and there's always something eye-pleasing on screen. With Monamour, Brass shows once again that he doesn't so much tread the line between sleaze and art, as he denies the existence of any such line.

Also included in this 2-disc set is a short film by Brass, Kick the Cock, which explores the ins and outs of special needs culinary study. Special features include making-of featurettes for both films, director's commentary, and trailers.

Monamour is a slight but sexy film, worth looking at for fans of Brass and Eurosleaze enthusiasts. Cult Epics has once again delivered an excellent Blu-Ray package for material other distributors might not touch with a ten-foot salami. 2 Thumbs. Stay sleazy, Tinto. Stay classy, Signor Brass.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Salon Kitty (1973): Roundtable with Tenebrous Kate and the Vicar

As difficult as it may be for my parishoners to believe, I am not in fact well-versed in EVERY manner of cinematic perversion under the sun. I mean, have you SEEN the 70s? I'm only one man, after all.

Luckily I have a crew that watches my back and keeps me informed. Chief among them is the Duke, of course, but I haven't heard from him since a hastily-scribbled note on the back of a nearly-translucent palimpsest scrap of vellum informed me of his intention to desecrate the Tomb of Malefithorn the God-Killer in hopes of finding a rare print of Jose Mojica Marins' A Quinta Dimensão do Sexo. I have no doubt he will return soon, clutching his ill-gotten booty.

Things are always a bit boring when the Duke is out of town, but luckily a few days ago I received a messenger from the Grand Court of the Tenebrous Empire, requesting my presence for a special screening of one of the Empress's especial favorites, Tinto Brass's 1973 Nazisploitation mind-bender Salon Kitty.. Never one to miss a grand ball, I donned my robes of office and ordered my coachman Gotho to deliver me hence at once. Little did I know the perversities that lay in wait...

Read on, ye strong of heart, for a transcript of Tenebrous Kate and the Vicar discussing Salon Kitty. Parental discretion advised. I'd turn back if I were you...

VV: You know, Empress, of all the various and sundry ‘sploitations, I have to say that Nazisploitation is the one I have the least experience with. In fact, you’re initiating me into the genre with this entry, so please be gentle.

I couldn’t help thinking Brass and Co. might have been playing fast and loose with certain historical facts. For one thing, I’m not sure that the S.S. offered team-sport synchronized sex as part of their basic training.

TK: Also, I understand fencing is usually done with pants.

VV: That’s the tradition. But by the point that they got to the naked-fencing—which was, what, about 3 minutes in?—I was already shopping for a new sleaze-meter, as the one I had was obviously not up to the task.



Sabre, or epee?
TK: Yes, this film has a way of recalibrating one's taste for smut. There’s something about the whole “Nazi brothel and political espionage” thing that sets the mind reeling. I mean, I know it sounds like the set-up for one of the great love stories of our time, but director Tinto Brass makes it so much more. Also, he gives us pantsless Helmut Berger as well as leather-pantsed Helmut Berger. Check and double-check, Mr. Brass. It’s wall-to-wall weird sex with a huge budget and a capable cast—it’s the “Cleopatra” of Nazi exploitation films!

Naturally, the part of the film that gets a lot of attention is the infamous Training Sequence, where Berger’s S.S. Officer Wallenberg puts the potential spy-hookers he plans on staffing his brothel with through a series of tests to prove their capacity for kink. They begin with The Most German Sex Ever..."Ladies, you must fuck with TEUTONIC EFFICIENCY."
Floor exercise: 10.

VV: That was hilarious, the way the S.S. all came marching in, naked, single file. I kept thinking about Madeleine Kahn in History of the World. Nobody was smiling, either—just facing a similar line of naked lady Germans across the gymnastic mats.

TK: It was so easy for them to pair up. Put me in that situation and it'd be like a salad bar. One of each pleeeeease.

VV: He did run down the daily specials, as I remember: vaginal, anal, oral, groups...

TK: Although it mainly seemed to be pairs there. * pout *

VV: Well, it was their first day.

TK: Question is--would I take the hott S.S. sex if I knew it would inevitably lead to cripple sex?

VV: It’s a package deal. After the "Triumph of the Will: Hot Cock version" in the gym, they went to the VIP rooms for the real action.

TK: I am still baffled that THE most horrified woman was the one who just had to sit and get eaten out by the cute blonde lesbian. OH NO PLEASE! Don't throw me in the Briar Patch...! She was, indeed, REJECTED. The Tenebrous Empire would have no part of her either.

VV: I knew when the one girl sank cheerfully into a reverse cowgirl on the double-amputee that we were in for something special.

TK: Wallenberg was totally right with that one.

VV: Agreed. And speaking of Helmut, because I know you want to...I had no idea that "S.S." stood for "Sexy Silks."

TK: Oh I KNOW! His outfits were fan-frikkin-tastic throughout. I don't understand what Teresa Ann Savoy's problem was. "OK, so I'm totally irresistible to Helmut Berger, he wants me to partner up with him in a life of pure sexy evil..." Where is the CATCH, woman?

VV: Yeah, her motivation was nebulous.

TK: Her acting was nebulous.

VV: Although in their brief encounters, it seemed that Helmut was a bit quick to turn on the showers IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

TK: AND I THINK I DO. His leather cleaning bill must've been astronomical. Not that I know anything about this.

VV: Seriously. Break out the "Son of a Gun" spray.
Is it weird that I totally wanted to know more about Helmut's wife?

TK: No, I'm there with you. I got that she was "dutiful and discreet," but I wasn't aware that was a euphemism for "dyke." Maybe in the Third Reich that's how they rolled *shrug*

VV: Now there's a title I'm amazed we haven't seen: DYKE OF THE REICH.

TK: * runs off to Google that shit *
Much like "vampire bulge," initial search results are disappointingly tame.

VV: So as a red-blooded supporter of democracy, I was wondering whether I should be finding all this Aryan efficiency sex hot, or whether I was somehow betraying the Greatest Generation in that.

TK: I have no such troubles with doublethink.

VV: I haven't been that ashamed of an erection since my aunt's funeral.

TK: But the shame made it BETTER, right?

VV: In this case.

TK: You'll get used to it. Just keep ogling, the shame will abate. Or so I hear. I… read that in an article.

VV: I also noticed a recurring motif of disfigurement throughout. Seems like everybody had a birthmark, or cleft palate, or dwarfism, etc.

TK: ...except the hookers.

VV: Yes, German hookers are perfect. Dr. Mengele proved it scientifically.

TK: Hey, if the Nazis can give us the Volkswagen and perfect hookers...

VV: Who could ask for anything more?

TK: I'll take a little Ethnic Cleansing if it means a sweet ride. IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

VV: AND I THINK I DO.

Loved the informative science as well: "Even this nasty-ass dissected hooker with her spleen hanging out is more perfect than this black dude with a ginormous WANG."

TK: Everything I needed to know about history, I learned from Tinto Brass movies.

Also, the Bread Penis scene...?

VV: Glad you brought it up... * ruffles notes * Let's see, what did I write down here...Ah yes, here we go:

W. T. F.?

TK: But... you'd get some serious street cred for driving a hooker at a Nazi brothel out of her mind. Who knew all it would take was a bread penis?

VV: It's so simple, I'm amazed it hadn't been tried before.

TK: So, when was the last time you drove a hooker mad?

VV: What day is it today?

TK: But... I mean, how did you go about doing it? Because I'm working on my technique.

VV: Sadly, bread penis didn't enter into it.
(IYKWIM)

TK: (AITID)

VV: Basically I bent her over a sawhorse, shackled her wrists to her ankles, and then made her watch THE SINFUL DWARF three times in a row.

TK: You mean--that movie * I * currently have sitting on the Tenebrous Teevee Stand?
I should be worried.

VV: I think you have built up an immunity to such poison. But to the uninitiated, it's no wonder they go cuckoo.

TK: Running screaming into the night, or more like "carted away"?

VV: Well, they can't run, cuz of the shackles.

TK: Ahhh... I'll watch it sans-shackles, then!

VV: Speaking of which, I should go change her water...

TK: You're entirely too kind.

VV: ANYWAY, back to Deustchland Deustchland Uber Anal…I can’t get over the training sequence and subsequent “limits-testing” in the VIP room. Brass must have had a great time coming up with things an S.S. guy would make a woman do to prove her belief in National Socialism. I was impressed that he gave us everything from retarded gypsy to lesbian German to the ever-popular hunchback dwarf.

Excuse me, NAKED hunchback dwarf.
Some things you can't un-see.
TK: Uhmmm... "I would not hit it."

VV: "YOU ARE REJECTED."

TK: Damn damn DAMN!

This is why I need to be Empress. No problem with REJECTION, no dwarf-fucking. I want to run the brothel. It's a better fantasy.

VV: You in the Kitty role works out much better.

TK: Also, I would get to be played by Ingrid Thulin, who is fucking fabulous. I could perform cabaret, smoke expensive cigarettes, wear amazing outfits...
Lois Leine und Super-Nazi
VV: I admit that I kinda wanted to try on some of Helmut's SuperNazi outfits.

TK: I'm saving up to find just the right tailor. Everything can be improved with embellishment and leather. Believe it.

VV: He should totally be the villain in the Captain America movie, fuck the Red Skull.

TK: He could just swan around bitchslapping people and throwing hissy fits. I'd totally watch that movie.

VV: He's awesome at that.

TK: He's the best there is, mein freund.

VV: There were some great minor characters here too we haven't mentioned, too. Like Wallenberg’s assistant, Lieutenant Half-Nose Who Shouts Every Line.
How does he smell?
TK: Oh GOD I love the half-nose guy! Step one would be to tell him to dial it back to, say, six from the ten he was occupying.

VV: I totally believed his character.
You WILL believe a man can shout!
You WILL believe a Nazi in a merry widow!

TK: SEE the majestic parade of penises!

VV: GASP IN ASTONISHMENT at the Cock-Cock Can-Can!

TK: REVEL in pubic hair of every color!

VV: Then of course the “hero-defector” character, the one who wanted to assassinate Hitler. He was the moral center of the work. But dumb. I mean how stupid do you have to be to think that everything you say in a brothel, TO A HOOKER, is going to be sacrosanct and never get out? "They won't tell. It's the hooker code."

For the only heroic character in the piece, dude was startlingly ineffective. All he did was fuck Teresa Ann Savoy a lot and then get hanged.

TK: And waste champagne by upending a bottle over his head. I would have hung him for that. There is no wasting of champagne in the Tenebrous Empire.

VV: Agreed. If you're going to pour it on someone, pour it on the Emotionless Whore of the Third Reich. See if you can get her to change her expression.

TK: Yes, she was a little monotone.

VV: A little? She was like a sexier Robbie the Robot. "Danger Will Robinson! My tits are out!"

I have a “Lost in Space” fetish. So sue.

TK: "Lost in Space" fetish--they would've accommodated that at Salon Kitty. That was in the training room they DIDN'T show.

"She vill not fuck zee robot--REJECTED."

VV: BZZZZZZZAT!

TK: Moving on…in addition to its mélange of cripple-fucking and ass shots, this movie was an ode to the garter belt, was it not?

VV: I am a big fan of the garter belt. Therefore this movie's constant bombardment of garters and stockings made view Fascism just a leetle more kindly.

TK: It's tricky that way, right? It's like, on one hand--Nazis. On the other hand--GREAT hooker makeovers.

VV: It's a side of history you don't often get to see.

TK: I'm planning on keeping the hooker makeovers and ditching the genocide in the Tenebrous Empire.

VV: No one credits the Nazis for their fabulous dance numbers.

TK: Also—the garter belts *stay*.

VV: Agreed. And a bread-cock in every pot!

TK: I'm... dubious about the bread-cock, though as my Grand Vizier, you do have something of a say in this matter.

VV: "As God is my witness, I will never not have a phallus-shaped loaf of bread again!"

TK: You just want a new way to drive hookers MAD.

VV: You'd have preferred a vagina-pita?

TK: Isn't there something more sinister and fabulous we could come up with? Meh--who am I kidding. I just want to REJECT people while staffing the Love Train.
REJECTED

VV:So, what leads to immediate REJECTION in the Tenebrous training rooms, one wonders?

TK: Insufficiently fabulous panties--REJECTED
Unpainted toenails--REJECTED
Bad shoes—REJECTED

VV: You are indeed a harsh mistress.

TK: I think the refusal of lesbianism is really the only thing I can take directly from the movie that would be of great import to the Empire, in terms of REJECTION. I would just make them fuck cripples for LOLs.

"Naaaah, you were totally hired anyway--I just wanted to see if you’d do that."

Kitty's Biggest Fan
VV: I think I told you earlier that I loved Kitty's last gown there--the one with the insane fan sleeve.

I was thinking, "Why would you wear something like that?" And then the window blew open and she was completely safe from flying glass. Form + Function = Fabulousness.

TK: It's really a very sound concept indeed. That, I respect. Besides, she was totally dragtastic. I’d love to see this movie re-made with an all-drag cast.

VV: So would the guys be played by women?

TK: YES! Precisely.

VV: Where are you going to find a hunchbacked female dwarf at this hour?

TK: Ohhhh... you raise a valid point. They're just not producing hunchback dwarves at the rate they used to.

VV: * would hit that *

TK: I'll send you one as a bachelor party gift upon the eve of our evil nuptials.

VV: APPROVED.

TK: What does the Vicar REJECT?

VV: Let's see...
Birthmark in the shape of Pennsylvania---REJECTED.
Tattoo of Willie Nelson – REJECTED.
Circus-style Lady Beard--TAKEN UNDER ADVISEMENT.
Lemmy-style warts -- LEAVE YOUR NUMBER AND WE'LL LET YOU KNOW.

TK: Maybe I should lead this part of the enterprise? You clearly can't be trusted with this.

VV: You’re much better at it than I am, I admit. You must be REJECTING, like, twenty people EVERY SINGLE DAY.

TK: Just while riding the subway in the morning.

So... maybe you can be in charge of interior design of the evil brothel? You seem to be really good at evil interior design.

VV: Well, you know, I do what I can. A few chains here, a couple of torches there. I find a Wheel of Anguish can really tie a room together.

TK: You also have a keen appreciation for cabaret acts.

VV: It's true. I appreciate showmanship.

TK: And boobs.

VV: Well, the boobs go without saying, now, don't they?

TK: See, that's the kind of insight I'm talking about. You're a natural.

VV: I do think that I saw more penises in this movie than I've seen in one place my entire life.

TK: I definitely saw more penises than I have ever seen in the sum total of my entire life. I felt so virginal.

VV: *raises eyebrows*

TK: Quiet, you.

So, thanks...I think...to Tenebrous Kate for her exposure. For setting its goal and achieving it beyond any reasonable or tasteful expectation, and for battering the viewer with strangeness and perversity rarely if ever surpassed in a big-screen musical, I rate Salon Kitty 3+ thumbs.
And may the Lord have mercy on all of us...

Bask in the 'sploitationey glow of the "Salon Kitty" film still and costume design gallery on Tenebrous Kate's Flickr account, IF YOU DARE.

MORE MADNESS...

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