Giallo Movie Posters: Estremi Italiani

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

Either you like extremes in your art and pop culture, or you don’t. I suspect most fans of the giallo are in the former camp.

The giallo was a peculiarly Italian brand of thriller-cum-horror film that flourished in the later ’60s and ’70s. It heavily influenced the American slasher genre and came to inspire A-list directors like Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino. The genre had its roots in pulp crime stories (usually published with yellow covers — “giallo” is Italian for “yellow”), though it’s hard to imagine its development absent the example of Hitchcock. The narrative loop-the-loops and pseudo-psychological motivations of “Psycho” are all over the giallo; sometimes they seem thrown in just to tick a box.

But giallos (I’m going to avoid calling them “gialli,” because I’m not Italian) were more overtly crass and grossly unsubtle than anything Hitchcock ever had a hand in. In fact, if you had to whittle a description of the genre down to just two words, you would almost surely end up with “sex” and “violence.” You go into these films wanting to experience these two things in their purest and most extravagant forms, for the giallo is not a forum for hinting or half-measures. In some ways it’s helpful to view these movies through an art-historical lens: If Lang and Hitchcock are the classicists of the movie thriller, a giallo filmmaker like Argento speaks to us from the decadent throes of its rococco phase. He’s there to test the limits.

The posters used to advertise the giallo in Italy are about as extreme and as to-the-point as the movies they represent. Most feature women being slain or brutalized. And if you didn’t get that sex might be a factor in these acts, the artists often take care to delineate a male presence — typically wielding a knife that’s long, steeled, and ready for the plunge.

The posters, like the movies, are designed to titillate and disturb. And I don’t think I’m wrong in believing they’d provoke an outcry if released today. No doubt an argument could be made that the images exploit women or encourage violence. But is this sort of thing really that different from “sweat” publications of the ’50s, with their covers featuring men being torn apart by animals or skewered by hulking, darker-than-night aboriginals? There’s a frankness in the giallo posters — and in the sweat mags — that I find refreshing, even invigorating. Outré fantasies and unfiltered id, baby! The glee of giving the finger to morals and appropriateness! After all, what’s the point of an exploitation movie if it doesn’t provide a release from decorum? If it’s comfort and tastefulness you’re after, head on over to Etsy and buy some doilies.

Or maybe this sort of thing should be suppressed, and its absence from the contemporary movie scene is a positive? Well, don’t look at me like I have the answer. What’s your take?

PS — I realize that some of the movies represented here are not, strictly speaking, giallos. But more horror-themed films like “Black Sunday” and “Suspiria” share so much in common with their thriller brethren that I don’t see much reason to separate them. Let’s agree not to be pedantic, shall we?

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Linkage: Whiteness is the Worst Edition

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

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  • Yesterday The Independent published an anonymous article entitled “White Men Should Never Hold Elected Positions In British Universities Again.” It appears they have taken it down, but someone at reddit helpfully preserved this charming bit lefty self-flagellation:

    University is supposed to be amazing, a transformative experience which is informed by student unions across the country. Yet people don’t give a toss about their student unions, no one cares about the NUS, and activism is dying at all but a few hardcore universities. This generation of students has been pissed on by the government and fees, and privatisation, and all anyone seems to want to do is roll over and let it happen.

    Do you know why this is? It’s because our universities and student unions are too similar to our government; they are too stunted by white men. White men might want to appropriate injustice as theirs, desperate for something to struggle against, but it’s a hobby they’ll pick up and drop as soon as the first comfortable finance job beckons them over.

    We need to ban white men and their activism dilettantism from student unions. We need powerful women and minority ethnic people to bring their passion back to the heart of student politics. Being a student union president should no longer be a place for privileged whiteboys to swing their dicks around before graduating into a world that is in no way affected by what they claim to fight for.

    More importantly, we obviously live in a world that looks favourably on white men. In order to bring about change in our racist and sexist society, it must start in our universities. If women and minority ethnic people were in positions of leadership across all universities in the country, we would have a diverse graduating class of future leaders in every industry.

    “Oh but, it’s racist to ban someone on the basis of their skin colour, and sexist to ban them on their gender,” cry the assembly chorus of confused souls trying to turn the language of progress into a weapon to further entrench the establishment. It’s not. You’re at university, go and ask a humanities professor. Learn something.

    White men have had the last several millennia in charge, and it’s been a s***show from start to finish. A new generation of powerful women and minority ethnic people is ready to lead and change. It is time for you to bow down.

  • More hilarity out of the Emerald Isle. The UK National Union of Students has banned gay white men from “appropriating black female culture.” I’m sure black women have never appropriated any other culture.
  • Finally, this fucking genius over at Pitchfork comments on “The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie” rock. This moron is upset that GOD SAVE THE GIRL, the directorial debut of Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, is “steeped in Whiteness”:

The film itself is an egregious mess that romanticizes a woman’s struggles with an eating disorder for the sake of Murdoch’s self-promotion. The optimistic, happy-go-lucky and painstakingly adorable aesthetic evidenced in every character he created is founded in Whiteness. Whiteness is beauty; Whiteness is what gives the character the ability to dream of fostering a career in music; Whiteness is what enables the audience to empathize with Eve’s character. A recurring filler in the film was a fictitious radio show where two men try to decipher what “real” indie is and every band mentioned is white, enforcing the film’s aspirational Whiteness. While Belle and Sebastian aren’t the only examples of perpetuating Whiteness through indie rock, this movie serves as a microcosmic view of what is wrought by racial exclusivity that is omnipresent in indie rock.

In indie rock, white is the norm. While indie rock and the DIY underground, historically, have been proud to disassociate themselves from popular culture, there is no divorcing a predominantly white scene from systemic ideals ingrained in white Western culture. That status quo creates a barrier in terms of both the sanctioned participation of artists of color and the amount of respect afforded them, all of which sets people of color up to forever be seen as interlopers and outsiders. Whiteness is the very ideal for which art is made in Western culture, be it the cinema of Wes Anderson or, say, the artists on Merge Records.

After complaining about microaggressions and the lack of female Indians in pop music, she concludes by saying:

It’s difficult not to be deterred and alienated by the overwhelming Whiteness of it all, especially when as a person of color, Western society flat out resists the witness of your life. However, it’s important to seize and act on precedents being set by the likes of Heems and M.I.A., paving a way that makes it easier for new artists of color to follow suit and make their mark. Whiteness is a mark of exclusivity that must be broken; to have masses of talent ignored in favor of a select few is not acceptable. Visibility of people of color in independent music is absolutely paramount for the genre to evolve and truly represent those cast away from the scene for too long.

Hmmm, yes, indubitably. Please tell me more about how Western society flat out resists the witness of POC.

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Quote Du Jour

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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I never liked Stalin, I didn’t do sit-ins. No marches against Israel, hunger strikes, or petitions for peace. No shouting ‘Long live Mao,’ or reading dazibao. I never took pleasure cruises, never sacrificed my art to hock my wares — and by that I mean I never took part in panel discussions chaired by ugly blonde women.

— Dino Risi

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Naked Lady of the Week: Ossana

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Every straight guy has an opinion on redheads. And more often than not it’s a strong one.

Here’s mine: I love them.

As you’ll notice while browsing through the below photos, Ossana here is a certified all-natural, 100% authentic redhead. In fact, her bush is so ostentatiously rubicund it rivals the one Julianne Moore so graciously displayed in “Shortcuts.” It’s an ebullient, photogenic bush too, and Ossana seems to enjoy displaying it like a treasure.

According to the ever-helpful TheNudeEU, Ossana, who also goes by Brisa and Oxavia, is Russian. She appears to be a popular cam girl. I’m not going to link to her cam site, because the last time I did something like that WordPress shut down our entire operation for a few hours. But you can find it by Googling “SquirtFoxy.”

I love the last couple of sentences of the bio the popular nude sites append to her photos: “I believe that the world was created for love and pleasure, one of those pleasures is me. I hope you have the same opinion.”

I believe these scaled-down photos derive from Femjoy and DOMAI.

Have a great weekend. Nudity below the fold.

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A Night on the Town in Manhattan: November 1963

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

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Quite a list of choices. Although, as someone pointed out, this occurred the week after Kennedy’s assassination, so I’m sure some of these events were cancelled.

Posted in Art, Movies, Music | 4 Comments

Quote Du Jour

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

gunsights

In Benson, Ruben Vega had to find the right church first, St. John the Apostle, then had to lie to the priest to get him to come from the priest house to the church to hear his confession.

Kneeling at the small window in the darkness of the confessional, Ruben Vega said, “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been…thirty-seven years since my last confession.”

The old priest groaned, head lowered, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed.

“Since they I have fornicated with many women…maybe eight hundred. No, not that many, considering my work. Maybe six hundred only.”

“Do you mean bad women or good women?” the priest asked.

“They are all good, Father,” Ruben Vega said. “Let me think, I stole about…I don’t know, twenty-thousand head of beeves, but only in that time maybe fifty horses.” He paused for perhaps a full minute.

“Go on.”

“I’m thinking.”

“Have you committed murder?”

“No.”

“All the stealing you’ve done — you’ve never killed anyone?”

“Yes, of course, but it was not to commit murder. You understand the distinction? Not to kill someone, to take a life; but only to save my own.”

The priest was silent, perhaps deciding if he should go further into this question of murder. Finally he said, “Have you made restitution?”

“For what?”

“For all you’ve stolen. I can’t give you absolution unless you make an attempt to repay those you’ve harmed or injured.”

Jesus, Ruben Vega thought. He had forgotten how difficult they could make it when you wanted to unburden yourself.

Gunsights by Elmore Leonard

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Couldn’t Do It Today

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

Doesn’t matter that it’s ultimately complimentary and sympathetic to Ms. Davis, the lyrics and Jagger’s black accent would render it verboten.

Got a sweet black angel,
Got a pin up girl.
Got a sweet black angel,
Up upon my wall.
Well, she ain’t no singer,
And she ain’t no star,
But she sure talk good,
And she move so fast.
But the gal in danger,
Yeah, de gal in chains,
But she keep on pushin’,
Would ya take her place?
She countin’ up de minutes,
She countin’ up de days,
She’s a sweet black angel, woh,
Not a sweet black slave.
Ten little niggers
Sittin’ on de wall,
Her brothers been a-fallin’,
Fallin’ one by one.
For a judge’s murder,
In a judge’s court,
Now de judge he gonna judge her,
For all dat he’s worth.
Well de gal in danger,
De gal in chains,
But she keep on pushin’
Would you do the same?
She countin’ up de minutes,
She countin’ up de days,
She’s a sweet black angel,
Not a gun-toting teacher,
Not a Red-lovin’ school mom,
Ain’t someone gonna free her?
Free de sweet black slave.
Free de sweet black slave.
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