• Attraction (Cult Epics) DVD Review

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: September 29th, 2009.
    Director: Tinto Brass
    Cast: Anita Sanders, Terry Carter, Nino Segurini, Umberto Di Grazia, Tinto Brass, Freedom
    Year: 1969
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    Attraction – Movie Review:

    Originally distributed in North America by Radley Metzger’s Audubon Films under the more provocative title of The Artful Penetration Of Barbara, Tinto Brass’ 1969 surrealist psychedelic sex film is an interesting experiment in sound and vision.

    The film follows a pretty young woman named Barbara (Anita Sanders) whose stuffy husband, Paolo (Nino Segurini) decides to leave her in a park near London’s shopping district for the afternoon while he heads off to take care of whatever business it is that he needs to take care of. You can’t really blame her for looking to other men for excitement in her life, so it’s not surprising that when she starts flirting with a random black guy (Terry Carter of Battlestar Galactica!) who gives her a comely glance on the street.

    As the two essentially engage in an odd and extremely trippy mating ritual, a rock band called Freedom seems to appear seemingly everywhere they go providing an appropriately fuzzed out soundtrack for this all to play off of.

    Closer to the similarly bizarre Deadly Sweet and the even more unusual L’Howl than anything he’s done since, Brass’ film really benefits from the odd soundtrack. Freedom, comprised of formal Procol Harum members Ray Royer and Bobby Harrison with Steve Shirley and Mike Lease, provide a great aural background for the film, their music complimenting the visuals perfectly in what is essentially a feature length proto-rock video. Freedom didn’t stick around too long, breaking up in 1972 after enjoying some modest success and opening for Jethro Tull and the might Black Sabbath and kicking out five albums in between tours, but their work here is pretty solid stuff and quite a bit heavier than Procol Harum’s material.

    There isn’t much of a narrative here, rather, the film is basically a series of sexualized and voyeuristic set pieces strung together by the musical bits and the central character but Brass keeps the film interesting. Using the same sort of cut and paste style that he employed on Deadly Sweet, by pilfering bits of stock footage and other strange inserts her manages to create a rather fascinating pastiche. Along the way, Brass makes some rather obvious antisocial jabs by showing the female patrons of a beauty salon as cows, recycling the infamous eye slicing scene from Bunuel and Dali’s Un Chien Andelou, making a dig at socialist politics, and using war and protest footage to provide contrast to the sexualized central story.

    In terms of the cast members’ efforts, this is a film that relies more on visuals than on acting ability. That said, Anita Sanders, who pops up in Passolini’s Canterbury Tales, is pretty easy on the eyes and makes for a fine lead actress here. Nino Segurini’s Paulo is just as wooden and stoic as he needs to be while Terry Carter does a pretty decent job of playing it cool when the picture calls for it. This is really Brass’ show all the way, however. He not only directed the picture but edited it and co-wrote it as well so it’s got his stamp all over it.

    Attraction – DVD Review:

    Cult Epics’ anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer, taken from Radley Metzger’s own 16mm print, is a big improvement over their recent releases of Deadly Sweet and L’Howl. There aren’t any PAL conversion issues here so the image is cleaner, free of the blurring that plagued those discs. Colors look quite natural and while a transfer from the negative probably would have been ideal (detail is a bit soft at times, likely from the source available), they’ve done a decent job here, and this time around the image is also properly flagged for progressive scan playback, though the cropping of the end credits on the left and right side of the frame might indicate that the framing is slightly off here.

    The sole audio track on this disc is an English language Dolby Digital Mono mix that comes with optional English subtitles. As far as older mono mixes go, there's nothing to complain about here. The dialogue is clean and clear and the subtitles are easy enough to read. There aren't any noticeable hiss or distortion issues to complain about and the levels we properly balanced.

    Extras on this release are pretty limited, meaning we don’t get a commentary from Mr. Brass as we did with Deadly Sweet and L’Howl, but we do get a trailer for the feature under the alternate title of The Artful Penetration Of Barbara, a still gallery, and a bonus trailer for Deadly Sweet alongside some nifty menus and of course chapter stops.

    Attraction – The Final Word:

    While the absence of a Brass commentary is a disappointment, it’s nice to see one of the director’s more bizarre films given a decent transfer on this release. Leaning more towards the surrealism of some of his earlier pictures, Attraction may not appeal to the masses but fans of Brass’ style will find much to love about this oddity, one of the more interesting films in his cannon.