Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Cheeky (4 Stars)

It's been a long time since I've watched any films directed by Tinto Brass. I'm not sure how long, but it's definitely been more than five years, because that's when I started writing this blog. I really ought to return to his films and watch them again, but at the moment my pile of DVDs and Blu-rays that I want to watch again is getting bigger and bigger. I'll see what I can do.

Tinto Brass is an Italian film director who has been making films for over 50 years, but his recent films are the most famous. That's because the films he has made in the second half of his career have been mostly erotic films. These are the only films of his that I know. Cinematically, they are masterpieces. Every frame of every minute of every film is a work of art. When women appear in his films the camera lingers on their bodies like the eyes of a voyeur, closely examining every curve. When we see scenery it is bright and glorious, never ugly. When we see buildings, outside or inside, every detail is positioned perfectly and the colours are coordinated in a surreal splendour.

As for the messages of his films, they are of dubious moral nature. A recurring motif of his films is that all women are promiscuous. Let's take "Cheeky" as an example. Carla is a young woman who has just moved from Venice to London. Her boyfriend Mateo is still at college and plans to join her later. Early in the film Mateo's best friend Marion tells Mateo that Carla probably has a new lover in London, and it must be exciting for Mateo to think about them having sex. Mateo says that he trusts her, but the seed of doubt has been planted in his mind. He remembers their previous conversations. He once said to her, "I don't know what I would do if you were ever unfaithful to me", and her reply was, "If I were unfaithful to you you would never know, you bad boy". That's a remarkable answer which should have made him suspicious straight away. Why did Carla call him a bad boy? Is it because she denies his right to expect fidelity from her?

In London we see that Carla really can't remain faithful. She has sexual encounters with men and women. Mateo, riddled with doubt, searches Carla's room in Venice in her parents' house. He finds love letters from a man that were written after he was already dating her. He travels to London to confront her. She admits that she was unfaithful, and he breaks up with her. But then the story turns. Mateo walks through the park and sees a couple having sex on a bench. He stands under a tree watching. Then a man approaches him and says that it's his wife. The man enjoys watching her have sex with other men, and he likes it when other men watch as well. Mateo has a moment of clarity. He realises it's a good thing that Carla has sex with other men. He goes back to her and tells her that he forgives her and she can have sex with as many men as she wants.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Fascinating. Is this the new morality according to Tinto Brass? There's a similarity to the films of Russ Meyer, although it's a different message. In Russ Meyer's films the women are sexually insatiable and one man is never enough, so they need other men when their husbands are worn out. In Tinto Brass's films the men are sexually powerful and able to satisfy their partners, but the women want other men just for the sake of it. Women have the right to sleep with whoever they want whenever they want. Do men have the same right, in Tinto Brass's eyes? He doesn't deny it, but he doesn't proclaim it either. Not in this film, at least. I need to compare it with his other films.

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