Thursday, December 07, 2006

Criticism, all naked and warm

Reading some of the insightful entries in The Film Criticism Blog-a-Thon, I am reminded that I do very little actual criticism on this little blog of mine. Mind you, I attempt very little actual criticism here, so it's not as humbling as it might be.

I write generally brief, although occasionally rambling, reviews of my recent viewings. Occasionally, I merely write an anecdote, the center of which is that I watched a movie and had some opinion of it, and occasionally I do attempt a longer, more in-depth criticism of things I have more extensive thoughts about.

Usually, I'm quite pleased if I can come up with a turn-of-phrase that I like or an observation regarding a movie that I haven't seen elsewhere. Even those are moderately rare.

Honestly, I pass writing about movies that I feel I should write extensively about, but don't have the time or patience at the moment, on a fairly regular basis. For instance, I've seen Clerks II twice now and keep intending to write up something about it, but haven't gotten around to it.

It occurs to me, from time to time, that I would like to be writing more of the kinds of criticisms that I would feel greatly proud of having put out there, the kinds of things I'd be willing to submit for publication. In the end, though, I already don't spend enough time writing the screenplays I ought to be writing and want to be writing, trying to commit myself to more writing here is impractical and not entirely desireable.

I've come today to an even more rare challenge.

Ubalda, All Naked and Warm has a three minute scene of Edwige Fenech running topless in slow-motion.

Now, I would watch 9-hours of C-SPAN coverage of grain tariffs if there were going to be three minutes of Edwige Fenech running topless in slow-motion in it, and I'd publically recommend the 4-hour coverage here. As such, I'm not sure my review is particularly useful past that.

I will make the attempt hereafter to review the movie as I would have reviewed it were that scene not in the movie.

Ubalda, All Naked and Warm is a cuckolding comedy (arriving via Netflix on the same day as Dan Savage's column on cuckolding made press, interestingly enough).

Cuckolding comedies essentially do not exist in the U.S. Any example I'm failing to think of or have not heard of would, to my mind, be the exception that proves the rule. They are, or were for a time, a reasonably common form of farce in European movies. I recall having seen a couple on late night cable viewing in my younger days, back when strange foreign, independent and otherwise unknown material hid on late night cable in come abundance.

This should serve as some kind of reminder when considering the notion that Europe is definitively more high-brow than North America.

I can't say I'm terribly different than my brethren on this one. Cuckolding does not seem to me to be inherently funny, as it seems to many on the Continent.

That said, Ubalda, All Naked and Warm is pretty funny. It took me a bit to warm up to it. The style is awfully broad and I'm quite sure that many of the jokes are cultural and passed me by. In fact, many times the rhythm stops and the line delivery is given in a directly punchline tone and I did not recognize what was said to be a joke.

The performers are funny and game in their performances and the story is ridiculous enough and the absurdities brought on are built up well enough that I found myself caught up in the story, smiling quite a bit and even laughing out loud at the story.

I somehow doubt that most Americans would say the same, although this is definitely not a case where that speaks poorly of them. This is a broad slapstick sex farce. The only User Comment on IMDb at the time of this writing (the one by goblinhairedguy) is titled "if Benny Hill were Italian", which could help some of you.

The extras are skimpy, but good.

The interview with Edwige Fenech centers around her losing the role of Gradisca in Amacord and her dealings with Fellini and touch only tangentially on this film. It's clearly taken from the same interview as the bonuses on earlier No Shame Films releases, and I assume they had not, at that time expected to be releasing this film. She is, however, incredibly charming, personable and beautiful, so it's worth watching.

There is also a three-minute clip called "Edwige Fenech's Groovy Sexadelic Reel", which focuses a substantial portion of it running time to the aforementioned slow-motion footage.

There is also a series of trailers for The School Teacher Trilogy, made in the mid-'70s with Edwige Fenech as a "sexy school teacher", the first, at least, seeming to be in the same genre as My Tutor and Private Lessons.

These trailers each made me laugh, so I may have to pick them up some time at Scarecrow Video next time I'm out that way. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a comedy didn't live up to the comedy level of the trailer, but it's still a chance to see Edwige Fenech, even if the latter two movies have her with that awful shorter hairstyle she had in the late '70s.

For those interested, Giovannona Long-Thigh is on its way to me, although it was not first in my queue, and I'll probably have thoughts about that, too.

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