Tag Archives: Italian cinema

RIP Gianni Cavina (1940 – 2022)

Two actors died. Both played a role in paracinema.

Exploding head scene in Scanners

The first is the Canadian actor Lawrence Dane (1937-2022) who is best-known for his part in Scanners (1981), the Cronenberg film forever famous for its exploding head scene.

The House with Laughing Windows

The second is the Italian actor Gianni Cavina best-known for his parts in The House with Laughing Windows (1976) and Traffic Jam (1979).

Traffic Jam

Traffic Jam is reminiscent of the eight minute traffic jam scene in Weekend by Truffaut which is based on the infinitely more interesting short story “La autopista del sur” by Julio Cortázar.

RIP Mariano Laurenti (1929 – 2022)

Mariano Laurenti was an Italian film director known for his work in the commedia sexy all’italiana genre.

Ubalda, All Naked and Warm (1972)

In that genre he directed several films in the ‘decamerotico’ subgenre, like the one above.

Ubalda, All Naked and Warm (1972) is nothing more than one big excuse to show the naked breasts of Edwige Fenech and Karin Schubert.

RIP Lina Wertmüller (1928 – 2021)

Lina Wertmüller was an Italian film director best known as the auteur of The Seduction of Mimi (1972), Love and Anarchy (1973), Swept Away (1974), and Seven Beauties (1975).

Street flirting scene in The Seduction of Mimi, like a ballet actually.

Since I had not seen any of Lina Wertmüller’s movies yet, I watched all four of these over the weekend. One dubbed in English with Spanish subtitles, two in Italian with Portuguese subtitles, one in Italian with no subtitles.

A Belgian film critic

There was a Belgian film critic on Facebook who said that he’d never liked Wertmüller’s films, Patrick Duynslaegher is his name. He called the performances in her films exaggerated and he wondered how she could have merited the success she had once had.

One person commented on the good man’s post that his disapproval probably meant that these films  were good films. Ever since the days, she said, when he still wrote for Knack, when he panned a film, she had gathered it was probably a masterpiece, and it usually was. He replied graciously to her comment that he was glad that he had been able to guide her through the film landscape in this special way.

Four of her films

I watched the four films and as could be expected I felt different about these films than Duynslaegher. I was amused, I laughed, I thought they were very witty films, I didn’t find them pretentious anywhere.

The scene in Seven Beauties where the picaro in a concentration camp seduces the ugly, obese camp commander is masterful.

The flirtation scene in The Seduction of Mim‘ is, if anything, even more masterful.

The f***ing scene in Mimi with the obese ‘mama’ is hilarious.

Giancarlo Giannini is excellent in each of those films, he reminds me very much of Patrick Dewaere.

I don’t really understand your problem with her films, I said to Patrick. Surely Fellini is just as grotesque and unrealistic?


I found the rape scene in Swept Away hot and it reminded me of the extended scene in Irréversible, which was repulsive.

The sadomasochism in the seduction of the female prison guard in Seven Beauties is not the only bout of sadomasochism, because before the rape scene he had forced her to kiss his hand and after the rape scene the woman becomes as docile as ever and even kisses his feet.

Opening montage of Seven Beauties

And then there is the opening montage of Seven Beauties, where we see historical footage from WWII, with a song by Enzo Jannacci superimposed. In that song, titled “Quelli che” (English “those who”), Enzo sings cynical commentary phrases in parlando style. And after every sentence he says “oh yeah”, in a crooner-like way.

RIP Gianfranco D’Angelo (1936 – 2021)

Gianfranco D’Angelo was an Italian actor and comedian. In Italy known for television variety and comedy shows; outside of Italy for commedia sexy all’italiana such as Biancaneve & Co. (1982) and B-movies such as Mondo candido (1975) in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Mondo candido (1975)

Mondo candido (1975) is an interesting product.

It is an Italian film in the acclaimed mondo genre directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi. The film is a liberal adaptation of Voltaire’s 1759 novel Candide.

It was partly shot on location at Château de Pierrefonds.

Researching Mondo candido, I find out that there is actually a book on shockumentaries: Sweet & Savage (2006) by Mark Goodall.

From that book on Mondo candido:

“He skips off back to the castle and we are back where we started on his metaphysical journey, older if not wiser. Although considered a failure, artistically and conceptually, Mondo Candido still enjoys a strange allure. There are still glimpses of the Jacopetti and Prosperi spirit in this unforgettable overblown, Technicolor indulgence.”

Check out the bibliography of Sweet & Savage. I’ve taken the liberty to put on my pages.

RIP Piera Degli Esposti (1938 – 2021)

Piera Degli Esposti was an Italian actress known for performances in films such as Il Divo (2008).

The film The Story of Piera (1983), directed by Marco Ferreri, was based on a book of hers, but she did not star in that film.

Scene from The Story of Piera (1983)

RIP Antonio Salines (1936 – 2021)

Antonio Salines was an Italian actor known for his parts in MonellaThe Gamecock, and Senso ’45.

He is also the devil in Liebeskonzil (1982) which is available now in a German-only bad quality YouTube version.

Liebeskonzil (1982)

Liebeskonzil (1982) is a film by Werner Schroeter, based on the scandal play The Love Council (1894) by Oskar Panizza.

The play [and the film] are set in 1495, during the first historically documented outbreak of syphilis.

It portrays the dreaded venereal disease as God’s vengeance on his sexually hyperactive human creatures, especially those surrounding Pope Alexander VI.

Panizza was charged with 93 counts of blasphemy and served his full 12-month sentence in prison.

RIP Giuseppe Rotunno (1923 – 2021)

The Stendhal Syndrome 

Giuseppe Rotunno was an Italian cinematographer with a long career, working with many great directors, check your regular sources.

One of these films is The Stendhal Syndrome , the last feature film he worked on.

There is a full version of The Stendhal Syndrome on YouTube, a film I had not seen before which turned out to be very enjoyable.

I especially liked the opening scene at the Uffizi in Florence with The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, Caravaggio’s MedusaLandscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Paolo Uccello’s The Battle of San Romano and The Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca.

When Asia is walking towards the Uffizi, you can already see the distinctive style of Rotunno’s cinematography, already invoking the fainting of Asia once she stands before the Bruegel painting.

After that, when she falls into the Icarus painting, she kisses a grouper fish. Beautiful!

The film is full of these little details, in her hotel room hangs a copy of The Night Watch by Rembrandt. She walks into this and finds herself on the streets, blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

RIP Alberto Grimaldi (1925 – 2021)

Alberto Grimaldi was an Italian film producer known for producing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Last Tango in Paris, but more importantly for us, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom by Pasolini.

That Sodom film you don’t need to see to form an opinion about. It’s better just to read about it and let it lead you to the manuscript by Sade on which it was based.

That book has the lines:

“How many times, damn it, have I not desired that one could attack the sun, deprive the universe of it, or use it to set fire to the world”.

But I digress.