When considering the Italian sex film, Tinto Brass' name is one of the biggest. Best known for the Nazi brothel film Salon Kitty and part of Caligula, the epic adult film produced by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, Brass continues to work to this day, with a new production titled Who Killed Caligula? currently in production. In 2003, he made this film, Fallo!, which has the on-screen title of Do It! but goes by Private on the packaging, an anthology of short films all about sex.
Comprised of six segments, Private delves into the lives of several men and women on a number of erotic adventures. "Alibi" follows a couple (Sara Cosmi and Massimiliano Caroletti), who enlist the help of a handsome bellhop (William De Vito) in spicing up their seventh anniversary. Double Trouble jumps up to two unfaithful couples who happen to be cheating with the other partner. "Two Hearts and a Hut" moves to a cartoonish German countryside, where a female hostess (Raffaella Ponzo) earns increasingly large tips for "entertaining" a pair of oddball guests. "Jolly Bangs" kicks back at the beach with a man (Federico Cesareo) trying to determine whether or not the exciting stories his girlfriend (Daniele Ferrari) is telling him constitute cheating. "Evil to Him Who Thinks Evil" covers jealousy when a photographer (Riccardo Marino) and his model girlfriend (Maruska Albertazzi) are invited to stay with a couple who likes their photos. Finally, "Call Me Pig...'Cause I Like It!" is sort of all over the map, mostly touching on voyeurism, with a lesbian scene thrown in for good measure.
Anthologies are historically tricky ground for movies. Even the best ones usually contain a dud or two, and the shorter they are, the less likely the film is to delve into anything interesting. Private isn't interested in anything other than titillation, which is fine, but most of these can't even offer up a simple story tied together with a joke or punchline. All these need to do is offer little self-contained gag narratives that function like a bubbly version of the reader letters in a men's magazine, but most of these are all set-up and no payoff. "Two Hearts and a Hut", for instance, sets up a jealous boyfriend for the hostess who keeps forgiving her as the tips get bigger. It would be easy to end with a little gag about him joining in the sexcapades for the right price, but the piece just stops without an actual ending.
Directorially, it's pretty clear what's on Tinto's mind. Viewers will definitely see more of each actress's crotch, from all angles, than you'll see of any of their faces. Much like the simplistic plots, to an extent, this is forgivable, but there's just so much of it that it can feel like overkill, not to mention, Tinto spends so much time shooting asses that he runs out of ways to frame them very quickly, making the film feel repetitive. Tinto also operates in a strange netherlands between "adult" filmmaking and softcore. Fingers can penetrate, but penises are almost always of the huge, fake, rubber variety, and he frequently allows the viewer to see non-sex pantomime for no apparent reason (lots of men's faces rubbing their cheek against women's pubic areas, with dialogue indicating oral sex that is visibly not happening). It's an odd choice.
If you're in the mood for a film like Private, this is bright, fast-paced material that is charming in a sleazy kind of way. Some outdated sexual politics aside, it's more goofy than sleazy, which is endearing in a way. However, I can't imagine people will be engaged for more than one segment at a time -- Private is hard to watch as a full 90-minute movie, because each of these vignettes basically offers the exact same experience. Charm may lift this above many of the other softcore movies I've sat through for DVDTalk, but a complete cinematic experience this is not.
Private gets some vintage-looking artwork, with many of the film's leading ladies lying underneath a phallic-looking bit of graphic design in the center. The disc comes in a boxy Blu-Ray case, and there is no insert.
The Video and Audio
This 1.78:1 AVC 1080p presentation looks good for a film shot in the late '70s. Unfortunately, Private was made in 2003, which makes the soft, low-detail, grainy, washed-out appearance of this transfer completely baffling. Compression artifacts roll across the screen during the black-on-white opening credits, but thankfully recede to an extent once the film starts. Banding is occasionally visible. Some sequences are so pale as to obscure broad details, namely brightly-lit sequences. Some of the English captions and titles (obviously added later) show aliasing. On one hand, the way the flaws of this transfer (and limitations with the original photography) combine to make the film seem vintage probably work in its favor, giving it personality, but on the other hand, this is not a good-looking disc, for a movie that's only 10 years old. Audio is a standard-def Italian 2.0 track that captures what little there is to capture (dialogue, basically) with reasonable success, although there is a fuzziness that, again, is unreasonable for a film this recent. An English 2.0 dub and English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing are also provided.
Only a couple of minor extras are included here. "The Making of Private" (17:29) is a VHS-quality behind-the-scenes piece comprised of on-set interviews, fly-on-the-wall making-of footage, and other odds and ends. A video photo gallery (1:18) and an original theatrical trailer close out the disc.
If you're a huge Tinto Brass fan, or if you're okay with a film that's better viewed as six individual segments, Private might be worth a rental. For a film of its type, it's a playful example, if not compelling beyond that.
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