• P.O. Box Tinto Brass (Cult Epics) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: July 7th, 2020.
    Director: Tinto Brass
    Cast: Tinto Brass, Laura Gualtieri, Erika Savastani, Paolo Lanza, Sara Cosmi, Alessandra Antonelli, Cinzia Roccaforte, Cristina Rinaldi
    Year: 1995
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    P.O. Box Tinto Brass – Movie Review:

    Written and directed by Tinto Brass (with some help from Aurelio Grimaldi and Claudio Lizza) and released in 1995, P.O. Box Tinto Brass (Fermo posta Tinto Brass in its native Italy) is an anthology of sorts, purported to be based on actual erotic letters and photos that Italy’s maestro of erotic cinema has received over the years from his many female fans. As such, it isn’t particularly plot intensive and is made up not of one, lengthy narrative but a series of vignettes connected by scenes in which Brass, playing the host, reads these letters to the camera.

    The first story follows two couples who become engaged in a voyeuristic game. The second story tells the story of a housewife, bored with her day to day existence, who takes to prostitution and eventually takes on her husband as a client. In the third story, we once again return to the world of voyeurism when a lovely young lady becomes the willing subject of a Japanese tourist’s leering camera. After that, we see a couple that may have lost the spark in their relationship get fired back up once they start playing around with a newly acquired camcorder.

    After that we get a quick story about the joys of phone sex, we visit a posh wife swapping club and then see what happens when a man bets his wife in a high-stakes poker game. Lastly, Brass' curvaceous assistant (Cristina Rinaldi) lives out a fantasy wherein she plays a customer at Brass' shoe store where he helps her try on a pair of red leather boots.

    The film recycles some of Riz Ortolani’s musical score from Brass’ earlier The Voyeur but is, as is typical with Brass’ movies, beautifully shot. The storied director’s seemingly magical ability to frame the female figure at its most alluring is clearly a huge part of the draw here, and on that level the film doesn’t disappoint. The shorter running time of the different stories that make up the bulk of the running time here means that we don’t get much in the way of character development or depth or any kind, but each of the stories proves to be sexy enough to work, and frequently the vignettes are quite humorous. Brass’ erotic work post-Caligula has almost always taken on a celebratory form and that’s certainly the case here. The stories don’t bother to moralize or cast judgement on their subjects, but rather they present these characters and their exploits ‘as is,’ focusing more on the fun that everyone is having and the literal joy of sex.

    The acting won’t blow you away but all involved here are good enough to pull this off. The film has a very cheeky, playful vibe to it, almost all of the admittedly gorgeous actresses hired to flaunt it for the camera performing with a bit of a wink and a nod. Everyone here knows exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and there’s a good sense of fun to all of this. It’s unlikely that anyone would argue that this is Brass’ best film, but it is, like all of his sex films, very nicely made and a nice balance of genuine eroticism and bawdy entertainment.

    P.O. Box Tinto Brass – Blu-ray Review:

    Cult Epics brings P.O. Box Tinto Brass to Blu-ray in a ‘newly restored and remastered 4K HD transfer’ with the feature taking up 20GBs of space on the 25GBS disc. Framed at 1.85.1 and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, the image does show some minor compression artifacts but was clearly taken from elements that were in excellent shape as there isn’t even a hint of print damage here to complain about. Colors are reproduced very nicely and black levels look very good. This is shot in Brass’ typically stylish manner and that manner does involve some softness a times, but keeping that in mind detail generally looks pretty solid here as well.

    The main audio option on the disc is an Italian 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 track. And optional Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and an optional English Dolby Digital 2.0 track are both supplied, with removable English subtitles included. The lossless Italian option is the way to go here, it sounds cleaner and stronger than the other two tracks. It’s nice to have the English dub included here for posterity’s sake but the film definitely sounds better and plays better in Italian than it does in English.

    Extras on disc one start off with Interview Brass, a sixteen-minute piece that sees the storied director talking about his passion for cinema and how it tied into brothels and sexual experience, making contacts early on at film festivals, working with Langlois in France, working as an editor for Rossalini, his experiences around the time that the French New Wave was taking shape, his thoughts on his own obsessions with the female aesthetic, the success of PO Box Tinto Brass and how he really did get pictures and letters from women who appreciated his work and finally his thoughts on eroticism and pornography.

    A photo and poster gallery, a trailer, menus and chapter selection round out the extras on the first disc.

    The second disc in this limited edition set (there are only 2000 copies being made) includes the feature length documentary Istintobrass. Comprised of interviews with actors like Gigi Proietti, Serena Grandi, Helen Mirren, Franco Nero, Adriana Asti, Franco Branciaroli, Yuliya Myarchuk, film programmers like Olivier Père, Jean-François Rauger and Marco Mueller as well as film critics Gianni Canova and Marco Giusti, production designer Sir Ken Adam, Tinto’s son Bonifacio Brass and, of course, with Tinto himself, this documentary does an excellent job of tracing Brass’ roots from his days working at the Cinématèque Française in Paris, his early experimental and arthouse films, the very obvious shift in his work that happened when he made Salon Kitty, the trials and tribulations of his work on Caligula and this his later, and more popular, sex films. This is pretty revealing at times, with Brass being upfront about his politics and his thoughts on sexuality and the way that he portrays it in his films. We don’t get a lot of information about his personal life, but we do learn a bit about his late wife Tinta and get a few snippets of input from his son Bonifacio, who seems to have a rather distant relationship with his father, noting that he’s never once asked him how he’s doing. Mirren speaks quite bluntly about Tinto’s treatment of women but how she, as a feminist, never finds it disrespectful, in fact, she seems more than enamored with him, as do most of the other actresses that appear throughout and speak of their time on set with him.

    There’s a lot of interesting archival material in here as well, from Sir Ken Adam’s design work to clips from much harder to see Brass films like Dropout (starring Franco Nero and Vanessa Redgrave) to plenty of interesting interview clips from various TV appearances that Brass has made over the years. There are a lot of genuinely amusing stories told in this piece, and it’s nicely put together on a technical level as well.

    The documentary is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. It takes up just under 19GBs of space on the 25GB disc and features Italian language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio with forced English subtitles.

    There are some decent extras on the second disc as well, starting with an eighteen-minute interview with director Massimiliano Zanin that was conducted in 2013. Here he speaks about why he decide to make a documentary about Brass, what makes his films unique, his thoughts on his career and his personal life and wanting to get all of this down while they could, given that Brass had been having some health problems. He talks about getting the different collaborators together, how they started working together in the first place on some of Brass' directorial projects as well as the Tinto Brass Presents short films. He talks about how much he has enjoyed working with Brass over the years, some of the great actors he's been able to collaborate with, what makes Brass' style unique, how the man 'does everything with joy,' the whole Caligula debacle and what makes Brass a genuinely great director.

    Finishing up the extras on disc two are still gallery, a three-minute 'Praise' section (where a handful of people who have worked with Brass praise his work), a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    As to the packaging, Cult Epics has done a nice job here, providing a limited edition collectible slipcase on the outside and some nice reversible cover sleeve art underneath. Both discs are packaged in a standard sized clear Blu-ray case which also contains a forty-eight-page full color book that contains a two-page text piece on Brass by Ranjit Sandhu, who is working on a biography of the man, as well as a great selection of behind the scenes and promotional photographs from throughout Brass’ lengthy career.

    P.O. Box Tinto Brass – The Final Word Review:

    P.O. Box Tinto Brass is an entertaining and genuinely sexy anthology that never quite hits the highs of the director’s best films but which nevertheless offers up plenty of erotic fun. Cult Epics has done a really nice job bringing the film to Blu-ray and the inclusion of the IsTintoBrass documentary and a host of extra supplements rounds out the package very nicely. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized P.O. Box Tinto Brass Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      More Tinto Brass is always welcome, and yes it's a pretty great release. Not quite up there with the best but I much prefer this to the likes of Cheeky, Fallo and Monamour.