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P.O. Box Tinto Brass

Italy's maestro of erotica elevates himself to all-round auteur status, becoming part of the title and of the action in his latest coital contemplation, "P.O. Box Tinto Brass." Supposedly based on the erotic fantasies of Italian women as revealed to Brass in letters, photographs and videos over the years, this flaccid corpus of commonplace sexploits implies a need for creative refueling of the national imagination. A major media splash should nonetheless ensure frisky biz locally, and other flesh-friendly territories should prove accommodating.

Italy’s maestro of erotica elevates himself to all-round auteur status, becoming part of the title and of the action in his latest coital contemplation, “P.O. Box Tinto Brass.” Supposedly based on the erotic fantasies of Italian women as revealed to Brass in letters, photographs and videos over the years, this flaccid corpus of commonplace sexploits implies a need for creative refueling of the national imagination. A major media splash should nonetheless ensure frisky biz locally, and other flesh-friendly territories should prove accommodating.

Amid the general repetitiveness and lack of invention on view, the only real novelty here is the amusing presence of Brass onscreen. Puffing on his ever-present cigar and lustily ogling his busty secretary (Cinzia Roccaforte), the director sorts the daily mail, giving rise to a series of episodes involving his tell-all correspondents. Their antics, however, are largely confined to tired college-boy fantasies.

First up, two couples share the thrill of exhibitionism. Next comes a “Belle de Jour” riff in which an idle housewife turns tricks for kicks, entertaining her husband as a client. Following that, a local girl gives a Japanese tourist food for his telescopic lens, then a bored couple put some fire back in their relationship with the aid of a camcorder.

The remaining episodes feature phone sex, a high-class partner-swapping club and a husband who loses his foxy wife in a poker game. Each segment is set in a different part of Italy, with the heavy-handed regional accents providing some occasional humor.

In the closing number, the director’s girl Friday reveals a dream in which she enters a shoe store run by Brass to purchase a pair of red boots. While “Papagena” plays on the soundtrack, the boss catches sight of her undraped nether regions, causing his own magic flute to rear up in the form of an elephant’s trunk.

Though it’s peppered with passing references to other entries from the Brass oeuvre, and half-jokey testaments to the lofty achievements of his art, the film is no less technically indifferent than any of the director’s recent outings. Appropriately, Riz Ortolani’s big-band swing tunes and come-hither melodies sound like elevator music from a by-the-hour motel. The scripting hand of writer-director Aurelio Grimaldi (“Acla,””The Whores”) is nowhere to be seen.

P.O. Box Tinto Brass

(ITALIAN)

Production: An Artisti Associati release (in Italy) of a Jacopo Capanna/Giuseppe Perugia presentation of a California Film/Produttori Associati production. (International sales: Sacis, Rome.) Produced by Giovanni Bertolucci. Directed by Tinto Brass. Screenplay, Brass, Aurelio Grimaldi, Claudio Lizza.

Crew: Camera (color), Dante Dalla Torre; editor, Brass; music, Riz Ortolani; art direction, Maria Luigia Battani; costume design, Ivan Crnojevic; sound, Roberto Alberghini; assistant director, Claudio Bernabei. Reviewed at Fono Roma screening room, Rome, Aug. 24, 1995. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: With: Tinto Brass, Cinzia Roccaforte, Jasmine, Laura Gualtieri, Erika Saffo Savastani, Paolo Lanza, Alessandra Antonelli, Gaia Zucchi, Ghibly Lombardi, Gabriella Barbuti, Carla Solaro, Pascal Persiano, Cristina Rinaldi, Luca Flauto.

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