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Frivolous Lola


‘…hopeless, misogynist gibberish, objectifying women in a lazy, out-dated way that needs no revival today…’

The Venice film festival is a grand affair; accredited journalists have access to press conferences and pop-up cinemas in huge marquee tents, and there’s little villages of stalls that set up between the venues. Passing through one of these encampments in 2006, I saw a hand-written sheet of paper with the words, in English and Italian, saying; ‘Tomorrow, 4pm, Tinto Brass here’. No further clues were presented, and so the next day I wrangled my schedule to arrive bang on time, only to find a few scattered chairs and no legendary Italian film-maker. A tiny, dishevelled, crumpled post-it sticker on the ground read; ‘Tinto Brass is cancelled’

Has Tinto Brass been cancelled? For a film-maker who was practically a household name back in the 80’s, Brass’s reputation is certainly in decline. Still going at 90, Brass made a series of financially successful movies that were popular on VHS; his obsession with sex was legendary. But the internet has demoted sex from mainstream media to the danker recesses, and these days, no-one wants to watch a 90 minute movie in the forlorn hope of a flash of flesh. But was that all that Brass was, a pornographer who got lucky in the mainstream rather than a proper film-maker with a fearless addiction to portraying the beauty of the female body? When a Brass movie popped up on my ‘something you might enjoy’ timeline, I thought I’d take a look back in time to his 1988 film Frivolous Lola.

With a stream clocking in at 58 minutes, I was certainly aware that this wouldn’t be the full monty from Brass; as a teenager, I’d admired Brass’s restraint, only to discover when I saw the same uncut films on DVD years later that he wasn’t actually that restrained after all. So this version of Frivolous Lola is a good 20 minutes shorter than the full version, but would the maestros’ flair still show? Crope. Brass was, at least, an genuine auteur, and opens and closes his own movie with a close up of his own massive face, puffing a cigar; he’s the conductor of an orchestra playing in an Italian village square as Lola (Anna Amaratti) rides past. Her skirt flies up to reveal her bottom, and everyone gazes at it with awe and admiration. This scenario happens again and again over the first ten minutes, then we eventually settle down to a wisp of story involving Lola getting married, and the pervy interest of her step-father, played by Patrick Mower, one of several British actors Brass co-opted into his projects to add an air of undeserved respectability.

There are few things worse than watching a supposedly sexy movie with the sex removed; unless you’re excited by the idea of priest sniffing bicycle seats, or Lola blowing bubble-gum in her dresser’s face when she suggests that Lola is rather melancholy rather than frivolous. Brass’s photography was, and remains impressive; this does look way better than most 80’s movies do now. But Frivolous Lola is also, in this version at least, hopeless, misogynist gibberish, objectifying women in a lazy, out-dated way that really needs no revival today. That movies like this were international hits is genuinely surprising now; my academic excavations will continue, but based on this rather pitiful evidence, I’m afraid that, having searched methodically in my heart of hearts, there’s just no room for Tinto Brass these days.

NO video is included on this occassion to avoid upsetting sensitive viewers who do not like to see women engage in frivolity.


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  1. Always intereting to see what they edit these days on streaming/TV. Friend watched Fatal Attraction the other day on British channel and was horrified all the sex scenes were gone. Tinto Brass started out very arthouse and presumably went down the porn route to make money. I remember watching The Key in the cinema because of the main players and not having a clue who Brass was afterwards not caring much,

    • I think you can safely remove any thoughts of Tinto Brass from your mind. I wouldn’t be rushing to introduce the two of you.

  2. Shame you missed the master at Venice. If I remember correctly (and it’s hard) we were out partying quite a bit the night before. It was all very frivolous, I assure you.

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