Tinto Brass, whose very name is synonymous with erotica cinema, presents a tantalizing series of letters and videotapes, written and recorded for him by adoring women executing their most sensual fantasies, exploiting their carnal desires, and giving the director a peak into their wet dreams. Brass’s lovely young assistant retrieves numerous submissions from his P.O. Box and as Brass scours through the countless correspondences, attempting to penetrate through the mundane to find that special something from his female fans, the stories become animated from text to short film visuals that involve spread eagle voyeurism, reluctantly desiring wife swapping, and a little husband and wife role playing to spice up their drab marital sex life by incorporating home movies. Each woman is able to confide in the maestro who harbors a gift for delivering classy and joyous erotica to not only the cinema market, but also into his admirers’ private lives.
While America became gradually engrossed by the Showtime syndicated erotic drama series, “Red Shoe Diaries,” hosted by “X-Files” David Duchovny that showcased unconnected sensual stories from women who bared it all in heated encounters with male companions, the Italians’, who were experts in erotica cinema that this time, had their very own, slightly more explicit, version released in 1995 in full-length feature form, cleverly titled “P.O. Box Tinto Brass,” from director, and as titular presenter, the erotic master himself, Tinto Brass. Originally titled “Fermo posta Tinto Brass” in the native dialect,” “P.O. Box Tinto Brass” arrives on a new and restored 2-disc Blu-ray release from Cult Epics and acts as a celebration on not only the filmmakers’ immensely arousing body of work, but also a celebration on the director himself who has the uncanny ability to unearth the hidden away desires in all from his tongue-and-cheeky intimacy story arcs that relieve suppression for exploration of our natural sexual ambitions without the culpability instilled by taboo cultures. Granted, some of the material presented might feel dated and not as salacious as every John and Jane Smith can now utilize their God-given bodies to amass a modest fortune across the world wide web of sex, but to understand today’s culture, which still seems a fair share of sexually oppressive forces, we must look at Tinto Brass’s gift in normalizing what once was bedroom only material. Brass, who sport smoking a signature cigar throughout the film, uses his platform and becomes the vessel of expulsion to remove the privacy and shaming barriers that hinder healthy sexual appetites and, literally, creates a tactile representation of sexual jubilee with little-to-no seething judgement other than that of the character’s own restrictions. There are a ton of Brass trademarks shots that include, but not limited to, the hairy vulvas, a playfulness toward the vagina, exhibitionist flaunting, loads and loads of butt and breast angles in and out of clothes, elaborate location patterns on a grand, maybe art deco, scale, and, perhaps his most notable trademark, the expansive range of setting up elegant shots reflected off mirrors. As a whole, “P.O. Box Tinto Brass” brings a lighthearted and free atmosphere that’s uninhibited and sexy during and between each segment and while Brass is no doughy-eyed David Duchovny, I would be remiss in the lascivious eyes of Tinto Brass if I didn’t mention that after immersing ourselves in the “P.O. Box Tinto Brass” anecdotes, me and my wife had the most passionate, free verse sex we ever had since we’ve tied the knot 8 years ago, an experience that’s akin to an economically-friendly version of sex therapy. Thank you, Maestro!
This leads us into the second disc of this Cult Epics epic release with a 2013 documentary, entitled “IsTintoBrass,” from a longtime Tinto Brass colleague and good friend, Massimiliano Zanin, who delves more into Brass’s political, experimental, and monumental work compositions that shaped the director into who is now the renowned eroticism auteur with a belief and a slogan that the ass is the window into the soul. Thought being born, bred, and flourish as an Italian filmmaker, “IsTintoBrass” speaks volumes about his French influences and his life guiding time at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris where he met Henri Langlois and Lotte H Eisner who exposed Brass to rare, unseen films His time Cinémathèque Française afforded him praise on his first films, such as “Who Works Is Lost” and “Attraction,” that were to the likes of French directors like Jean-Luc Godard and were labeled as a blend of part French New Wave movement and pop cinema. Zanin guides us through Brass’s continuous battles with censorship boards whose biggest problem with his filmic formations was not the nudity, but the supposed transgressions against conventional cinematic norms, especially with “Salon Kitty” that was an atypical example against the latter half of his career and used sex as a means of power of another person. His entrenched struggles didn’t end there as the documentary also shed lights on filmmaker’s most controversial work, “Caligula,” which became not his work due to a an underhanded producer who decidedly desired more sex than story and fought Brass, in more than one court of law, for the rights. Notable friends, colleagues, and film critics go through the eclectic Tinto Brass timeline, recalling and reexamining his decisions and aspirations into a multinational praise of his work. Some of these speakers included Franco Nero (“Dropout”), Helen Mirran (“Caligula”), and Sir Ken Adams (“Salon Kitty”). Plus, there is plenty of T and A to go around,
If Tinto Brass didn’t have a stroke in 2010, Zanin’s documentary wouldn’t have been made three years later as it’s a highlighted tribute of one remarkable Italian filmmaker’s life achievements stemmed from something as terrible as a life threatening ailment; yet, that’s how these things usually go, right? A retrospective acknowledgement, usually overwhelming positive in general, of a great artist whose work is greatly admired, frequently in a posthumous manner. In this case, Zanin saw fit to encase a historical record on Tinto Brass before meeting his maker, beginning with a really vigorous look into his inspirations at the Cinémathèque Française, chalking up much of his earlier work to his time spent looking through reels upon reels of avant garde films, but then Zanin quietly fades out of the path that elevated Brass as the cherished erotic connoisseur. Zanin’s story takes this awkward tangent to only skim the surface of Brass’s erotic films, which is strange since Zanin’s known and collaborated with Brass the last 20 years, about 13 years when this documentary was released, and penned a pair of his Brass’s saucy scripts, “Cheeky” and “Monamour.” Yet, the last 20, if not 30, years is surprisingly fleeting in Zanin’s capsulated effort to immortalize Tinto Brass. Still, the overall film is perhaps more endearing than Tinto Brass would have ever imagined, especially as brash and as perverse as his image portrays him outside the parameters of the filmic dome. Inside that dome, Brass has obtained throughout the decades a following of professional admirers and adoring fans who see him for what he truly is, himself. “IsTintoBrass” isn’t a gratuitous or perverted exhibition of an old man’s horniness; it’s an intoxication of what it means to actually be free from the repressive nature of censorship, the rapturous high of being an unchained artist, and being an obsequious master craftsman of cinema.
Cult Epics delivers a 2-disc limited edition Blu-ray of Tinto Brass’s “P.O. Box Tinto Brass” and Massimiliano Zanin’s “IsTintoBrass.” “P.O. Box Tinto Brass” has been newly restored and re-mastered in 4K high definition from the original 35mm negative and presented is a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The picture is absolutely stunning that revels in the burst of primary colors Brass was keen to implement. The details and the tones on the naked skin flesh out every beauty mark, fiber of hair, and every pore. Typically, Tinto Brass films run purposely a little soft to create a dreamlike, if not fantasy-like, setting to obtain a jovial mood setting for the uninhibited moments, but the details are still strong throughout. “IsTintoBrass” is presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, from a 2K transfer scan of digital video, aside from the snippets of Brass’s work. Video presentation is like crystal that obviously wouldn’t distinguish any kind of transfer anomalies because there wouldn’t be any. The Italian language 2.0 Mono LCPM/DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (“P.O. Box Tinto Brass”) and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround (“IsTintoBrass”) are clearly discernible in all regards, especially in the Tinto Brass directed feature form ’95 with a clarity in the speech, a softer ambience that supports the dialogue rather than be level with it or overwhelm it, a range that mingles to support the dialogue as well. English subtitles are available on both discs. To smooth off any rough edges is a score by Riz Ortolani (“Cannibal Holocaust”) with a vibrant, cheeky score that fits perfectly into Brass’s wheelhouse of curvy, adventurous women. Bonus features on the first disc includes a 2003 interview with Tinto Brass who gives a brief background on his cinematic start, poster and photo gallery, and the trailer. Disc 2’s bonus material includes an interview with writer-director Massimiliano Zanin providing his reasoning for this documentary, a Tinto Brass achieve photo gallery, a couple of short interviews praising Brass’s passion, and trailers The package is also a work of art sheathed inside a cardboard, black and blood red slipcover and inside the casing is a 48-page booklet of Gianfranco Salis stills from the Tinto Brass achieve which are beautiful and almost Playboy-esque. To experience Tinto Brass is invaluable enough, but to experience his films in high definition is without a doubt worth it’s weight in gold with the powerhouse release of “P.O. Box Tinto Brass” and a retrospective documentary “IsTintoBrass” from Cult Epics!