Posts Tagged With: Rape / Revenge

High Carati… ESCAPE FROM WOMEN’S PRISON Reviewed.

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BD. Severin. Region Free. Unrated.

Piling on its preposterous pretensions to penal reform / socio-political significance, one-shot director “Conrad Brueghel” (Giovanni Brusadori)’s Escape From Women’s Prison (“A Tale Of Sex And Violence”, 1978) is nothing more nor less than another blast of bad taste Italian (s)exploitation from the seemingly inexhaustible Severin vaults, in “a new 4k scan of a dupe negative seized from notorious NYC distributor 21st Century Film Corp”. Just the way we like it… a Tagliatelle Trash fan’s wet-dream collision of the W.I.P., home invasion and rape / revenge filoni.

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The sleazy action kicks off with four female convicts escaping over a prison wall. The film’s budget doesn’t extend to any depiction of the jail itself, but what the hey? Diana (Marina D’Aunia), Erica (Ada Ometti) and Betty (Artemia Terenziani) are ten-a-penny prostitutes, drug dealers and killers but Monica (Lilli Carati at her beautiful peak as Italy’s answer to Isabelle Adjani) is a Marxist terrorist so naturally she becomes top dog.

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These desperate individuals hijack a team bus full of female college tennis players (usual suspects Zora Kerova, Ines Pellegrini, Dirce Funari and Angela Doria) and drive it to (where else?) the country pile of the judge (Filippo Degara) who put them all away in the first place. The girls seem mostly miffed about the fact that they’re going to miss their tennis tournament and when one of them complains about this, she’s slapped down with the witty retort: “Shut your hole, cunt!” Looks like it’s going to be a long night…

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As armed police lay siege to the house, earnest discussions of dialectical materialism give way to a drunken lesbian grope fest (during which there are as many blatant plugs for Jagermeister as for J&B) and – obviously figuring “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – the judge rapes Monica (!?!) After this questionable judicial intervention, she saves the hostages (by shooting her fellow cons) and attempts to abscond with Pellegrini’s character (who seems to have undergone some kind of radical political conversion) only for a “hail of bullets” sound effect to suggest that they didn’t get very far.

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So, what moral can we possibly deduce from this tawdry tale? That stroppy female Lefties respond well after having some sense shagged into them by male authority figures? Nope, I don’t think that one’s gonna fly in 2019. Brussadori also seems to be suggesting that no prisons are more constricting than the ones which we construct for ourselves. Carati’s prison was heroin, a confinement she finally escaped for good on 20/10/14. She was all of 58 years old.

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Extras include a particularly ripe trailer which plays out under a ludicrous police radio bulletin clearly fashioned on the one in Last House Of The Left, plus an interview with Brusadori, who seems like a nice guy and is never going to get lost in a crowd wearing that cardigan. You also get the longer Italian cut entitled Le Evase, in which certain scenes are allowed to ramble on a bit longer. Perusal of this reveals no significant new sleaze, but it’s not as though you’ve been short-changed in that regard by the main feature.

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… And God Created Isabelle Adjani! ONE DEADLY SUMMER Reviewed.

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BD / DVD. CultFilms. Regions B/2. 18.

An amiable country bumpkin narrates the story of how he lost his heart, amid the sultry sizzle of le sud de la France (37 ° 2 in the morning, indeed), to an enigmatic sex bomb who’s slowly losing her mind, her hidden dark side plunging his life and those of his nearest and dearest into turbulence and ultimately calamity…

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Sounds familiar to anybody? Cineastes and / or lechers of a certain age will always recall the erotic impact of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Betty Blue (1986) but those of a slightly more leathery and lecherous vintage might well recognise that the above synopsis could be applied, equally appropriately, to Jean Becker’s L’été Meurtrier / One Deadly Summer, released three years earlier.

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Becker’s film is the more substantial effort. Beneix’s was equal parts melancholy and whimsy, as Beatrice Dalle’s Betty spiralled towards a decline that was never actually explained, if not necessarily inexplicable. The motivation of Isabelle Adjani’s tormented tormentor “Elle” (an interesting designation for this character, duly noted and subsequently transposed to French cinema’s other great Isabelle by Paul Verhoeven) is revealed early and pursued relentlessly. This is a thriller, indeed a rape / revenge saga, though not the kind you’re ever going to find on any “nasties” list.

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Alain Souchon is engaging as the besotted Pin-Pon (he’s got a brother named Boubou so maybe he’s smarter than the average bear), in fact the entire ensemble (including a brief appearance by the much missed Edith Scob from Eyes Without A Face) perform admirably… Becker compellingly directs a clever screenplay adapted by “Sébastien Japrisot” from his own novel… the film is beautifully shot by the director’s brother Étienne (and CultFilms’ sumptuous BD transfer finally does it justice, after the unsatisfactory DVD released by their predecessors Nouveaux)…

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… for all this, the overwhelming impression left by L’été Meurtrier is that of Adjani’s superhuman physical beauty. More Botticelli’s Venus meets Betty Boop-made-flesh than Beatrice Dalle’s buxom, buck-toothed Betty Blue (and those are only the ‘B’ words!), the vision of her Elle (a role that nearly went to Valérie Kaprisky, when Adjani briefly got cold feet about all those nude scenes) is devastating, ineradicable.

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Is it somehow improper to talk in such terms of a character seeking redress for crimes of toxic masculinity? Elle is willing (I wouldn’t say she’s ever exactly happy) to deploy all the tools in her physical armoury to achieve her aim, casually remarking to a check out girl that “this arse” and her Rain Man skills of calculation are the only things that God gifted her. Of course (and here comes the semi-spoiler) her calculations re the identity of her quarry are flawed and as well as enhancing the film’s generic credentials as a thriller / whodunnit, it’s these mutual misunderstandings on each side in the battle of the sexes that lead to the ultimate calamity in this story and more generally. As such, L’été Meurtrier testifes to an analysis infinitely more subtle than that which currently passes for debate in the forums of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

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As previously mentioned, CultFilms’ transfer looks just ravishing, banishing the memory of previous clumsy framings. Extras comprise a half-hour interview with director Becker and a three quarter-hour featurette including reminiscences from literary associates of the elusive “Sebastien Japrisot” (= Jean-Baptiste Rossi)… “the Graham Greene of France”.

Hard to see why anybody wouldn’t want a copy of this modern classic on their shelf.

Categories: Blu-ray / DVD Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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