I have made it a routine, which I follow quite well actually, to see every movie a selected group of actors make each year. So, when I found out that Miki Manojlovic (Cabaret Balkan) teamed up with sex diva Alba Parietti I could not wait to get my hands on Il Macellaio better known in the English speaking world as The Butcher. I looked around hoping that I could spot an Italian DVD of the film, even if it happened to be a non-English friendly release, and to my surprise The Butcher was nowhere to be found. Until about a year ago when I discovered that an Asian company has acquired the rights from Italian-based Medusa Films and were preparing to release a DVD which was likely to be English friendly. I could not wait to see this film.
So, here it is in my hands, a tiny erotic film based on the bestseller Le Boucher by Alina Reyes retelling the story of an upper class housewife (Alba Parietti) which falls victim of her darkest sexual desires. Strangely enough her sexual appetite is awaken by a middle-aged butcher (Miki Manojlovic) who chops his meat with such precision that his customers are often fascinated, even secretly aroused, by his butchering skills. The problem is that he is barely a good looking man which a sophisticated bella as Alina, the focus of our attention, would hardly fall for in real life. With other words not only is the butcher lacking the mandatory for these sort of pictures sex appeal he is quite frankly rather interesting looking.
Indeed the entire story of The Butcher is based around Alina's inexorable desire to have sex with the man of her, newly-found, sexual dreams. We follow her mundane activities…going to meetings at the company she is in charge with, strolling down the streets attempting to clear her head from the unusual dreams she has late at night, having a cup of espresso with her best friend, and waiting for the boring faxes her husband sends her every night while on tour with his orchestra in Kazakhstan. Really, from the opening scenes of this story the viewer is slowly introduced to what is supposed to be a remarkable sexual encounter between Alina and her local butcher.
And then it finally happens. Alina makes the right move and invites the butcher for a visit a few days before her husband is due back home in Italy. What follows up is a series of orgasmic scenes where I assume the couple finally succumbs to their sexual desires. I said I assume because from what we are offered on the screen the sex was neither exciting nor it was convincing. And I don't mean that it had to be more explicit…it was simply devoid of any passion, that is the closest I could describe it as.
I have a couple of problems with films such as Aurelio Grimaldi's The Butcher. First of all anyone assuming that making a good erotic film is an easy task is absolutely wrong. The easiest thing that would happen in a badly scripted, badly acted, and badly directed erotic film…just as any other badly put together film, is that it will degrade the value of the actors involved with it times faster than a badly scripted action production, regardless of how beautiful the main actress is (or actor for that matter). These are the types of films that will haunt you forever igniting all sorts of unfortunate comments.
Second of all, good erotic films often do not need to show off too much skin, with other words they do not need to be too explicit. I suppose the old maxima about erotica-the less you show the better-still holds true at least as far as I am concerned. If you want to be as revealing and as explicit as you can…there is a completely different industry that feeds off these niche aspects of the erotic genre.
Third of all, it really speaks loud and clear to me when Italians, the undisputed masters of the erotic genre, are incapable of delivering a convincing storyline. And believe me Cinemax has produced some much better home-grown genre features than The Butcher. I am not familiar with the book by Alina Reyes this film was based upon but the bold statement greeting my eyes from the cover of this DVD announcing that the story is "recognized as the bible of female erotic literature" somehow does not bode well with me. If this is what female fantasies look like I guess that not only we are in big trouble but there is plenty of credibility in John Gray's claim that "men are from Mars, women are from Venus". I rest my case!!
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's this is a print that has been ported from the existing Medusa Italian master and as it often happens with Asian releases of European films it is a PAL sourced one. There is some very heavy "ghosting" noticeable in just about any major scene where there is substantial movement. Aside from that everything indicates that what Medusa have provided to the Asian distributors must have been a fairly clean master-there are hardly any major flaws with the picture quality. Then again…considering the transfer issues described above it is a moot point to rave how this could have been a stellar release.
I am also going to point out a few issues with this DVD that I am rather unimpressed with. Though I don't have a direct source to compare this DVD with I am most certain that The Butcher has been heavily cut. Even without the original Italian print in front of me there are some very unusual cuts in this release at some very "crucial" moments such as the final act where the butcher takes his pants off and…we are sent to the next scene. All in all some very, very amateurish editing by the Asian distribs.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Offered with its original Italian soundtrack and Dolby Surround EX and DTS Matrix Surround tracks The Butcher sounds relatively fine. To be honest I did not recognize a major difference in sound quality.
The only extra material provided with this release is the original theatrical trailer.
I don't know why…perhaps because I had such high expectations about this film but I am fairly disappointed with The Butcher. Miki Manojlovic is an actor with an enormous potential and Emir Kusturica knew why he had him in Black Cat White Cat…he is funny, original, and above all a very charming actor. Erotic films however are not his forte. The Butcher is not only a dull and disappointing attempt in erotic filmmaking it is simply an unfortunate attempt to capitalize on the names of its main actors. Though, if you have not seen Alba Parietti before sacrifice ninety minutes of your precious time, you will be inspired to seek her other more convincing projects. RENT IT.