Ettore Scola, who died earlier this year, was a director (42 films) and screenwriter (87 credits) who is probably best-known critically in this country for his unusual 1981 film, Passion of Love (upon which Stephen Sondheim based one of his lesser works, Passion) and popularly for his Mastroianni/Loren collaboration, the Oscar-nominated A Special Day. With his 1976 would-be comedy/satire/ neo-realist endeavor, UGLY, DIRTY & BAD, this filmmaker broke surprising new ground.
Yet whether we are in the land of utter realism or pushed-to-the-brink satire (maybe a very ripe contraction of the the two) remains to be seen. Though made in 1976, the movie never reached the USA until 1979 (where it was rather lukewarmly received). Now, for some reason, it is being given a slight theatrical release once again, spruced up in digital format.
Nino Manfredi, shown at left, who looks about as fake as can be throughout the movie. Worse, the filmmaker seems to have little understanding of how comedic satire works and so instead piles on the nastiness and shocks, each of which grows less and less funny and envelope-pushing as it appears. Along the way we get transvestism, inter-family sex (both pictured below), religion, money, hypocrisy, robbery, attempted murder and even a fantasy/dream sequence. Nothing manages to raise a genuine laugh -- and that dream fantasy is particularly lead-footed.
FSLC's annual festival of new Italian films, Open Roads, was shown a remarkable movie that accomplished everything that this one probably hoped to -- and about ten times better. That film, It Was the Son (È stato il figlio) by Daniele Cipri, is an amazing piece of work on every level from style and content to performances, writing and direction. Further, it takes place in the same decade as does Ugly, Dirty & Bad. So far as TrustMovies knows, that one never got a theatrical release here. Maybe, in another 40 years, as with Scola's film, those of you still alive will finally get the chance to view it.
Film Movement this Tuesday, November 1. Eventually it may grace digital venues, too.