Tinto Brass' "Senso 45"  is notable largely for not being nearly as cool as his previous foray into the sex lives of the Third Reich, "Salon Kitty." Much as that other film is a paragon of high-budget smut, "Senso 45" boils down to a Harlequin romance between a middle-aged woman and a low-level drug dealer all gussied up in fancy historical outfits. Make no mistake--the trappings of this film were lush and extremely well-realized. If I was in the mood to watch a fashion show set in fascist Venice, I'd have been in the right place! However, the human population of the film was more problematic. The Isabella Rossellini-esque female lead (Anna Galiena as bourgeois wife Livia Mazzoni) was lovely and put in an engaging performance, but the male lead was a disaster. Dear Tinto: a peroxided, overly-manscaped Billy Zane impersonator is no substitute for Helmut Berger. Really. The character of SS Officer Helmut Schultz (played by Gabriel Garko) is instantly unlikeable and--worse yet--slimily unsexy, thus making Livia's obsession with him incredibly difficult to understand. The plot seems to hinge on the fact that Livia is forty-one years old but... dude--she's hott. Also, every man in the film is in some fashion sexually interested in her, so I'm just not understanding her need to pay to keep a sleazy, disinterested, Metrosexual Nazi as a side piece. Sweeping romance, this ain't, and by the time Livia's sexual house of cards comes crashing down on her, I was exhausted from imploring her to USE HER BRAIN.
"Amazons and Supermen" is another movie that should have been quarter-past-fantastic but just fizzled for me. I mean--I like Amazons, and I like the idea of a magician, a strongman and a martial arts expert working as a team together but the comedy was just way too broad for this Ice Person's brain to handle. I'd caught the trailer on a Something Weird compilation several moons ago, and when I saw a DVD of this film I couldn't NOT pick it up. I really should've known better--the slide-whistle and El Kabong sound effects present in the trailer are sprinkled--nay, splattered all over the film. It's not so much a kung-fu peplum (as I'd kinda hoped-against-hope for, what with the Shaw Brothers involvement) as it is a zany, lowbrow comedy with copious empty-coconut headbutting and pidgin English. Why is it that I love dark lowbrow entertainment, and yet I get the douche-chills when I'm exposed to lowbrow comedy? It seems unfair. And likely indicative of some pathologically dangerous streak in my personality... Yet I digress. Why don't you just enjoy the trailer for "Amazons vs. Supermen" and skip the other eighty-eight minutes of film?
I found "Deathwatch" to be a grim and ultimately confusing foray into the trenches of WWI. I appreciate the fact that the sets and costuming were painstakingly crafted, but astonishingly accurate mud is still mud. Maybe I'm a sensitive soul, but I also find it really, really easy to believe that War Is In Fact Hell, and don't need to have my face ground into this theory for ninety minutes. Watching the deteriorating relationship between the group of soldiers that is trapped in a trench with an unseen, probably-supernatural enemy was unrelentingly depressing. I appreciate the actors' performances (all of which were very fine!) and the skill with which the story was directed and filmed, but there was no sense of fun or wonder to be found. Essentially, this was a war film with supernatural elements, exploring man's inhumanity to man by employing a supernatural metaphor.