Monthly Archives: July 2018

“BROTHERLY LOVE”— Making Choices

 

“Brotherly Love”

Making Choices

Amos Lassen

Anthony J. Caruso makes his feature film writing/directing debut with his adaptation of Salvatore Sapienza’s “Seventy Times Seventy” about  a gay Catholic priest who has to choose between his vocation and the love of his life.

Brother Vito Fortunato (Caruso) is a modern Seminarian as he is openly gay to all the other Brothers in the Order that he belongs too, and he hangs out in gay bars with his best friend from his previous secular life. The film begins with Brother Vito outside of a club one night being very  tempted to break his vow of chastity with a very handsome stranger.

When he confesses his feelings to his Spiritual Adviser Sister Peggy (June Griffin Garcia) and tells her that he is struggling with temptations, she suggests that he goes away to Austin for a working vacation at Catholic Aids Care Center. It would be a break and give him time to renew himself.

Once he gets to Austin, he meets handsome landscaper Gabe (Derek Babb), one of his new colleagues and soon to be best friend. Soon the two of them are having an innocent night out together in Gabe’s very compact trailer watching a Streisand film. Gabe seems to be really into brother Vito. Gabe feels Vito’s reluctance to let their relationship grow and he is determined to show Vito that two men can really love each other and live together happily as  a couple. He introduces him to his neighbors Randy (Ed Pope) and Winston (Steve Uzzell) who have been together for many years.  

Then an innocent sleepover that Gabe and Vito shared Gabe’s trailer is followed by another one where innocence, and everything else is shrugged off, and the two men finally embrace and accept their feelings for each other without hesitation.  When Vito’s time in Austin is up, he returns home and he and Gabe have to decide if they really have a future together,

Nothing warms the heart like a good romantic film with a happy ending. It also helps that it is well made. Vito is a charmer and he seems to be amid campy gay characters that are stereotypical at times. He fact that he looks at the Catholic church through modern eyes and for many this will seem to be quite strange. He also seemed to expose himself to temptations that he knew would be difficult to resist. Babb as Gabe brings a sense of realism to the film through his natural talent. I was totally entertained and really loved the film.

 

“PAPER BOYS”— Putting Lives on Track

“Paper Boys”

Putting Lives On Track

Amos Lassen

“Paper Boys” is a new web series from Dekkoo that has been getting great reviews and quite a nice following. We meet Cole (Kyle Cabral) who decides to secretly move to San Francisco. He has a great excuse (his best friend’s engagement party) and he uses it to run away from a dead-end job and the painful memories of a great summer with a guy in New York. However, when he gets there, he runs into the guy he has been crying over and how he felt again comes back. If that is not enough, his friend, Daren (Nathan Brown), reveals his engagement was an accident.

Cole also finds a sketchbook with mysterious powers to try to get their lives back regardless of the consequences. We meet real people who struggle with the same kinds of issues that we all face. They ask themselves the same questions we all ask ourselves, while trying to figure out where we fit in the world.

This is a show that has very diverse story line and a very diverse cast of characters. The main character is Asian and the sisters are Asian and white. It is a show about ordinary life for the average millennial, along with an element of magic mixed in. The sketchbook was appropriate because it gives Cole a degree of control over his life, something that many feel they do not have. While this is considered to be a gay web series, it is s much more. We have a gay character making the discovery that he has magical power.

The characters are involved in complicated relationships in terms of family, friends, and love and this is very relatable regardless of gender, race, age, or sexual orientation.

“Paper Boys” is s “a gay romantic fantasy dramedy about discovering who you are, and with a newly found magical power, becoming who you want to be.”

“THE YEAR I LOST MY MIND”— A Thriller from Tor Iben

“The Year I Lost My Mind” (“Jahr des Tigers”)

A Thriller from Tor Iben

Amos Lassen

I look forward to films by Tor Iben and think of him as a psychological director who dares to do where others do not. “The Passenger” (2012) and “Where Are You Going, Habibi?” (2015) show Iben to be a master of sexual tension and we certainly see here that trend again. This is a psycho thriller that both bewilders and arouses us.

Tom (Alexander Tsypilev) is a lonely young man. With his buddy Rachid (Patrick G. Boll), he breaks into the apartment of history professor Lars (Julient Likert) with whom he falls in love. Secretly Tom starts to observe and follow Lars without ever disclosing his existence or expressing his own feelings. At the same time, Tom develops an obsession with a biker whom he constantly runs into. More and more Tom becomes involved in a game of hide-and-see and, in a labyrinth of passions. But when Lars wises up to him, roles change and the stalker becomes the stalked, only for everything to change again in the next moment …

Looking at Tom psychologically we see that he is plenty creepy guy and preoccupied with breaking and entering into private property, and skulking around wooded gay cruising areas of Berlin. His own mother asks him why he feels that he has to has to scare everyone. Tom puts his energy on Lars, who teaches gay history. Soon Tom becomes a prisoner to his own dark obsessions. He tests how close can he can get to Lars without being caught and/or losing his mind. We see a lonely young man who becomes dangerously obsessed with a stranger that he encountered during a burglary, Tom begins stalking and antagonizing Lars. When Lars finds out about Tom’s intentions, he manages to turn the tables on him, leading to a shocking confrontation.

“LOVE, CECIL”— A Colorful and Controversial Man

 

“LOVE, CECIL”

A Colorful and Controversial Man

Amos Lassen

Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s “Love Cecil” gives us a wonderful profile of English photographer and designer Cecil Beaton.  Beaton won 3 Academy Awards and 4 Tony Awards and was knighted by the Queen after having been the Royal Family’s photographer for years. However, only the older movie going public know who he is and the gorgeous costumes he created for the Ascot scene in the movie version of ”My Fair Lady” are a tribute to him. Unfortunately he has been mostly forgotten by the general public. Perhaps seeing this film will make people want to know more about the man who did so much for film, stage, photography and fashion which  hopefully will be corrected now by this new documentary.

Beaton was born in 1904 in London into a wealthy middle-class family. He styled his two younger sisters and mother and made them pose for him for pictures he took with a Brownie camera he borrowed from his nanny.  He would send the photographs to the society page editors of newspapers and magazines often under a pseudonym.  Back then it was possible to buy a place at University, so Beaton went to Cambridge and brags he didn’t attend a single lecture. He also devoted himself to amateur dramatics where he could dress up in drag and indulge in his own outrageous highly stylized fashion sense. At Cambridge he had the first of a string of male lovers and ultimately left without a degree.

He was a gifted writer he wrote many diaries throughout his life that were published (in this film they are read by Rupert Everett).  He managed a photography job at Vogue where he really started to make a name for himself. He had quite a unique perspective on fashion. However, while working for Vogue in New York as one of their top photographers, his career came to a rapid halt when some anti-Semitic graffiti was included in one of his pieces and the entire edition had of the magazine had to be recalled and shredded,  and Beaton fired from his job had to return to London under a cloud.

His earlier work photographing London society got him a summons from Buckingham Palace to photograph the king’s wife who later became the Queen Mother).  She loved the results and Beaton became the photographer that the Royal Family called on for all their major occasions for the next few decades.  He also photographed the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who were persona non grata by the Queen and her family, but this it didn’t effect Beaton’s position at the Palace.

Beaton was a restless and frustrated person because he says that he was not able to do all that he wanted to. Vreeland was lucky enough to be able to include l archival footage of Beaton himself from several points throughout his life and we see this in the footage, which confirmed the great man’s restless and frustration with not being to do everything he wanted too.  He possessed wonderful wit that we see through the examples of his even though he has doubts about himself.

His choice of lovers all left him in the end quite unfulfilled romantically.  Beaton emphatically states he never ever wanted to be just an ordinary, anonymous person, and looking at his life, no one could ever accuse him of being anything like that.  He was outrageous and the quintessential English snob that was always the center of attention wherever he went. He will always be linked to Hollywood musicals “Gigi” and “My Fair Lady” for which he designed magnificent costumes. His was a life well lived and this film shows us the full range of Beaton’s talents as” author, designer, dandy, painter and photographer.”

Vreeland digs deep into Beaton’s diaries that are supported by many interviews from later in life. Most younger audience members probably won’t have any idea who Cecil Beaton is and that is their loss.  

“Love Cecil” opens at the Nuart in Los Angeles on July 20, 2018.

“Right Behind you” by Lisa Gardner— A Thriller

Gardner, Lisa. “Right Behind You”, (An FBI Profiler Novel) Dutton, 2018.

A Thriller

Amos Lassen

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. She is about to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner. Sharlah really loves that her new family members are all experts on monsters

Suddenly a call comes in about a double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence and that is that the shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly and it seems that his killing spree has only just begun.

As the clock winds down on a the manhunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie need answer two critical questions: Why has Telly started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once he saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

This is a thriller in which we also learn about the emotional problems of children who had rough early childhoods. Special skills needed by foster and adoptive parents to deal with the emotional issues of these difficult children are also discussed here. As we read, we think we know what happened…and we are just wondering why it happened again after all these years.

The characters are well drawn and the story pulls the reader in immediately especially when we realize that not everything adds up. This novel is dark and not so much mystery or thriller but a drama. It surely will keep you reading and thinking.

“Citadel” by Jack Remick— A Lot to Think About

Remick, Jack. “Citadel”, Quartet Global, 2017.

A Lot to Think About

Amos Lassen

Jack Remick describes his new novel as “a post-lesbian, meta-fictional, apocalyptic story braided into a contemporary novel.” That’s quite a mouthful but it also perfectly describes “Citadel”. It is a complex and mind-bending coming together of genetic science and a Citadel of women. We are living in a time when often taking risks is a necessity and Remick does just that by giving “a story within a story within a story” that challenges literary genre and writing style and makes us think about important questions, especially what does being a woman mean. We look at the relationships between men and women and how the world would be if women were in control. We look at important issues— domestic violence, crimes against women, misogyny, and rape. We meet the women of the Citadel and among them are scientists, writers, editors, publishers, and the warrior women, protectors of the women of the Citadel called daughters. What I find so interesting is that the stories are not new to us but we have pushed them to the backs of our minds and Reimer pulls them out. At first, I found it somewhat uncomfortable to read about Trisha and Daiva but then I realized that if we had paid more attention the first time we read their stories, the world might be very different today.

This is a difficult book to review because it is so easy to write spoilers but I will try to describe the book and its central character, The Citadel, to you. It is a world without men and therefore there is no rape and all pregnancies are planned. Birth is an altruistic ideal and each daughter chooses the kind of fetus she will carry and decides why she will carry it. Her choice makes her one who perpetuates the race.

Trisha de Tours, an editor at Pinnacle Books has been directed by her boss to find a bestseller. She learns that the new resident in her condos, Daiva Izokaitis, has a manuscript called “Citadel” and Trisha she agrees to read it. It did not take long before she realized that Daiva is a literary rebel. She does not go along with the basics of writing and refuses to be part of the editing process. Daiva’s book is revolutionary and after reading it, Trisha becomes a different woman.

The Trisha that we meet in the beginning is a woman who loves good literature, fine wine and sexy men. For her, men are objects and she is free with her sexual favors to them. She is not looking for anything more than instant sexual gratification; sex is casual but she does harbor a fear that one of her sexual tricks could become violent and even take her life. In this we see the uneasiness of all women even though this is not an overt trait. Women tend to behave in ways that men will not hurt them yet they know that this is not true.

In “Citadel”, Daiva calls this kind of behavior “the Niche” and it is the place where western women exist. Trisha understands that she is lucky to live when she does but she is also aware of the Niche being quite fragile and this sends her thinking. She soon acts s if she is a character in Daiva’s novel “Citadel” and becomes afraid to submit the book for publication because if enough women read it, it could bring an end to all she knows. It becomes even more interesting when Daiva shares with her that in modern science, the Y chromosome is dying and men are not necessary for the continuation of society.

Daiva shares Residual Evolutionary Response that explains that behaviors that have become part of our instinct, even though they are no longer needed or necessary. This is what has happened to the Y chromosome. The traits of strength, mass, and violence which have always been part of the world of men are no longer necessary or even advantageous like men themselves. However, men refuse to change because they believe they have power and women must say no in order to change everything.

Women have become more competent at doing what man alone was supposed to do. As soon as a field opened up to woman, it ceased to be of interest to man. Men then all except for being able to kill, to copulate, and to make war. Once a woman can do the same, it becomes feminine and weak. As a result men have little to do other than create war and trouble.

Women, therefore, have the capability to eliminate men entirely yet they worry if they will still be human if they eliminate men. So you see from what is written here how difficult it is to write about this book. Looking at this book philosophically, we get another level of interpretation but I will only mention comparing an author to God with the ability to create. I have often compared writing a book to pregnancy but Remick takes it even a step farther.

Remick has not only written “Citadel” the book but he has also written about the book but within it. We become very aware of how the book influences those who wrote it and how the characters affect the readers and how the book as a whole has an effect on the world. Not only am I still unsure that I understood the book, I am unsure that I understand what I have written here. “Citadel” has the effect on one and it left me thinking. That is the sign of good literature— it makes us think and it stays with us.

“If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi: Stories” by Neel Patel— The Complexities of Modern Life

Patel, Neel. “If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi: Stories”, Flatiron Books, 2018.

The Complexities of Modern Life

Amos Lassen

We live in a world where stereotypes have taken on lives of their own or so it seems even though we know that stereotypes are commonly held lies. Neel Patel looks at stereotypes and undermines them in eleven very sharp stories. Almost all of his characters are first-generation Indian Americans that face the coming together of the old world and the new world, the differences of small town and big city, the collisions of traditional beliefs and modern rituals.

Patel looks at Indian-Americans and dares to write about subjects that are often overlooked or laughed at such as “helicopter parents, conflicts between spouses, sibling rivalry, racism, sexual orientation, and identity.”

We feel his deep empathy even when his characters infuriate us. He explores universal themes in unexpected ways and excels at portraying nuanced characters. We see the gap between how characters experience their lives and how they are expected to be seen—and how those gaps can become life-changing fissures.

Neel Patel writes with wisdom and compassion and is fun to read because his characters are human and their stories are simply told. Most important is that he writes about the freedom to be flawed.

We meet “terrible spouses, warring siblings, unapologetic liars, and naive kids, searching for happiness, love, or maybe just sex”? The stories are moving, thoughtful, entertaining, and discomfiting and we get a different look at Indians in America. The characters are both sympathetic and deeply flawed. We have two brothers mixed up in an elaborate web of envy and loathing; a young gay man who becomes involved with an older man whose secret he could never guess; three women who almost throw off what society asks of them and a young couple dealing with community gossip.

All of the characters have to deal with moments of truth and have to make a decision that will have serious ramifications.

It is important to state here that while a majority of the characters are of Indian descent, any reader of any background will be able to identify with these characters and their experiences. When reviewing a collection, I do not usually summarize each story but here I want mention a few of them.

“Just a Friend,” is about a young gay man wants to know the secrets his older, married boyfriend has been hiding—but doesn’t quite expect what he finds out;

“God of Destruction,” which tells of a woman enchanted by the wi-fi repairman.

“Hare Rama, Hare Krishna,” juxtaposes a teenager’s navigating his parents’ marital troubles with his acknowledgment of his own sexuality, and all of the good and bad that comes with that.

“If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi” is about the relationship of two brothers from the teenage years through adulthood.

“World Famous” and “Radha, Krishna,” are connected. They follow a young man and a young woman who were thrown together as children but went their separate ways, and then reconnected in adulthood, only to find that their lives had been deeply scarred.

The character development in all the stories is amazing and the stories were very so different than what I usually expect in short stories. Patel gives us humor, emotion, sexuality, empathy and even surprise at times. We care about and feel for, the characters even those we do not like or understand.

The stories reflect the complexities of modern life and Patel wonderfully captures everyday emotions and there is something to be taken from each of the stories.

“MEMOIR OF WAR”— Love, Loss, Perseverance and War

“MEMOIR OF WAR”

Love, Loss, Perseverance and War

Amos Lassen

Marguerite Duras was a key figure on the French twentieth-century literary scene. She was born in French Indochina in 1914, then studied and worked in France and lived in Paris during the Nazi occupation, playing an active role in the Résistance. Decades later, with many published literary works to her name and after working a bit in film, Duras decided to re-examine her experiences of the Second World War and record them for posterity. Her book, published in 1985, is the source of “Memoir of Pain”, the new film from Duras’ compatriot Emmanuel Finkiel.

It is an emotionally complex story of love, loss, and perseverance against the backdrop of war. It’s 1944, Duras is an active Resistance member along with her husband, writer Robert Antelme, and a band of fellow subversives in Nazi-occupied Paris. When Antelme is deported to Dachau by the Gestapo, she becomes friendly with French collaborator Rabier (Benoît Magimel) to gain information at considerable risk to her underground cell. As months wear on without news of her husband, Duras must begin the process of confronting the truth and the unimaginable. Through subtly expressionistic images and voiceover passages of Duras’ writing, director Finkiel evokes the inner world of one of the 20th century’s most revolutionary writers.

We are told that “Words don’t describe what eyes have seen,” an unexpected line to hear in a literary adaptation that remains close to its source text throughout. (This does not mean that the camera doesn’t try some tricky visual articulation of its own.) Several impressionistic passages of reverie emphasize the more straightforward storytelling. This is the account of a young French Resistance writer’s agonizing wait for her husband to return from Nazi capture. The film is an interior evocation of a preemptively grieving state of mind that certainly understands the taxing nature of sorrow.

 

Marguerite Duras’ memoir is an obsessive and poetic look at the trauma of her Resistance husband’s arrest during the last years of the War. Emmanuel Finkiel has made an elegant, simple, yet stylized film version probably to introduce a younger generation to the book to Duras. There are moments when the haunting, repetitive style comes out like when Marguerite (Mélanie Thierry) reappears twice in the same room, and the camera shifts to the second figure of her. This is perhaps a visual objective correlative for the repeated refrains.

The film is simple, elegant, and harrowing through its two-hour length. It is shot in extreme close-ups, Finkiel’s film is a formally very stylized one. We are constantly aware of its visual gestures, its consistent look.

This are only three characters: Marguerite; Pierre Rabier (Benoît Magimel), the collaborator obsessed with her; and Dionys Mascolo (Benjamin Biolay), her husband’s best friend. The two men are torments and foils for Marguerite. The process of obsessively pursuing news of her missing husband is saved from pure insanity by Marguerite’s playing off the two men. Rabier’s face sensuous and dull, a façade we can’t see past, and this is perfect because he is not quite real. This is a monodrama, and much of the action is going on purely in Marguerite’s head, and, of course, the film is dominated by her. She is torn by the anguish of not having news of him and her secret affair with her comrade Dionys. She meets a French agent working at the Gestapo, Pierre Rabier, and, ready to do anything to find her husband, puts himself to the test of an ambiguous relationship with this troubled man, only to be able to help him. The end of the war and the return of the camps announce to Marguerite Duras the beginning of an unbearable wait, a slow and silent agony in the midst of the chaos of the Liberation of Paris. The ending is not so happy.

“The War: A Memoir” is a form-blurring work that addressed Duras’s emotionally exhausting World War II experience through the thinnest of fictional filters. Robert Antelme was detained and sent to Dachau concentration camp during the Nazi occupation of France for his involvement in the Resistance. Finkiel has primarily built his film from two of “The War: A Memoir’s” six parts. In the first, set in the final weeks of the German occupation, Marguerite begins a flirtatious relationship with Nazi collaborator Rabier agreeing to a series of covert meetings in exchange for information about her deported husband’s whereabouts. In the second, set immediately after the Liberation of Paris, the increasingly withdrawn Marguerite waits for her efforts to bring forth something. Antelme’s survival seems a remote possibility as scores of the formerly imprisoned return to Paris without him.

Finkiel subtly blurs the timeline between these two stages, underscoring the alienating effects of loneliness and mourning on the young writer, though they’re otherwise distinct in tone and focus. The pre-Liberation story centers on the righteous group dynamic of the Resistance, as Marguerite’s risky association with Rabier is debated, aided and closely monitored by her fellow fighters who are led by smoldering firebrand Dionys who would later be the father Duras’s child. There’s a knowing hint of futility to the film’s genre machinations. When the Occupation ends, the comforting distractions of conspiracy and plot drain away, leaving Marguerite largely alone with her thoughts and feelings as if this purgatorial period of unconfirmed loss that proves challenging Marguerite’s inner torment. The  film that is told with a narration of literature. It is slow but effective and will keep you thinking for a very long time.

 

“Memoir of War” opens in New York on Friday, August 17 and in Los Angeles on Friday, August 24

“HOT TO TROT”— Inside the World of Same-Sex Ballroom Dance

“HOT TO TROT”

Inside the World of Same-Sex Ballroom Dance

Amos Lassen

“Hot to Trot” is a new documentary directed by Gail Freedman that is an immersive character study  and an idiosyncratic attack on bigotry.  We are taken behind the scenes to discover the captivating but little known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance. This a world where expressions of personal passion become a political statement, and where one false step can destroy hopes and aspirations.

The characters’ back stories frame their struggles and conflicts in life. The film follows charismatic Ernesto Palma who is a former meth addict from Costa Rica and who strives for success and love. Ernesto is now a Manhattan resident and completely obsessed with dancing with the same veracity that once was when he was  addicted to crystal meth.  After just a few months training, his new partner Robbie suddenly got seriously ill and immediately went back to his native Hungary for treatment.  It then took Ernesto some considerable time to persuade Nikolai, a very successful, Russian ballroom dancer to become his new partner as he had only danced with women to date.  

There is gritty and determined Emily Coles, a diabetic who wears an insulin pump 24/7 even while performing. We meet handsome Nikolai Shpakov, a dazzling dance champion, who came out only a few years ago and still yearns for his family back in Moscow to accept him. Finally is introspective Kieren Jameson, whose came out of the strict, conservative environment of a New Zealand military household. “Hot to Trot” follows the dancers over a four-year period and we not only see them dance but we also see their relationships with family, dance partners, life partners  and with themselves.

For these four, dance is a form of personal power and political engagement that shapes their identities while at the same time helps them overcome uniquely personal challenges. They are emblems of LGBTQ politics and being such is who they are.   This is an entertaining film to watch because of the spectacle and grace of competition and it is also an inspiring character study of these competitors, and how they gracefully maneuver through both worlds.

Gail Freedman, the director and producer of “Hot To Trot” gives us an enchanting look at the world of competitive same-sex ballroom dancing.  The four individuals she picked to focus on are not just champions when dancing, they are charming individuals. Emily’s successful dancing partnership with Kieren had resulted in many trophies and awards, but there are problems too. Emily has type I diabetes and has to wear an insulin pump 24/7, and her vital blood sugar levels are all over the place the day of any dance competition.  New Zealand born Kieran was focusing on building her own career which meant that half way through the documentary, she decides to cut back on her dancing, leaving Emily’s rather conservative Russian girlfriend Katerina to step in.

Today there are many same-sex ballroom dancing events held all over the world, but America’s most elite is April Follies held in Oakland, California every spring for the past 16 years.  Over a few very packed days the competition is tough and the atmosphere between all the dancers is very warm and welcoming and filled with genuine friendship and respect. Then there is the competition at the International Gay Games that are held every four years and are the Holy Grail for LGBT dancers (and athletes too).   Freedman’s camera follows her four dancers as they train every minute of the night and day right up to their appearance at the Games.   Ernesto and Nikolai who have such very different backgrounds and temperaments have settled into a comfortable working relationship almost like newly-weds trying to impose their own will on their new partners. They make a very cute couple but never on a romantic level.

The dancing is electrifying and stunning. As LGBT people we are watching something that we can really relate too.

“WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?”— Dark Giallo

“What Have They Done to Your Daughters?”

Dark Giallo

Amos Lassen

In 1972, director Massimo Dallamano broke new ground in the giallo genre with “What Have You Done to Solange?” Two years later, he followed up with an even darker semi-sequel, “What Have They Done to Your Daughters?”

It begins with a pregnant teenage girl is found hanging from the rafters of a privately rented attic. Inspector Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli) and rookie Assistant District Attorney Vittoria Stori (Giovanna Ralli) are assigned to the case that begins to grow when it is discovered that the dead girl was part of a ring of underage positions in of Italian society. At the same time, a cleaver-wielding, motorcycle-riding killer roars through the streets of Brescia, making sure that those involved take their secret to the grave.

The film brings together giallo elements with action and a high-intensity police procedural. Inspector Valentini (Mario Adorf), a cop based out of Rome, gets a phone call from an unnamed informant and based on the information he receives, heads out to investigate. This leads him to an old abandoned attic where he finds the naked corpse of a teenaged girl named Silvia Polvesi (Sherry Buchanan) hung from the rafters. At first, Valentini and the rest of the cops see this as a clear case of suicide (even though it was tipped off to the cops by an anonymous caller). Before long, Vittoria, starts to suspect foul play and looking into Silvia’s past, she finds that there are a few reasons to be suspicious. The case is handed over to Inspector Silvestri (Claudio Cassinelli) who starts snooping around and connecting the dots surrounding Silvia’s death. He discovers an underground teenage prostitution operation. As the bodies pile up, the cops quickly realize that they’re running out of time.

“What Have They Done To Your Daughters?” is a slick thriller, the kind that easily holds your attention because of the right mix of style and substance. The story does deal in some pretty dark subject matter but we do not get the impression that director Dallamano is going for titillation. Rather, it seems to me, that he is attempting to show complete disdain that these criminals. The girls were once innocent but that innocence was taken from them.

We see a lot of finger pointing— at the government and its corrupt officials, at an Italian society willing to turn a blind eye to certain disreputable acts and at the police themselves. There is a lot of social commentary here that is thinly veiled. The film is structured in a very specific manner so that it appeals to two very different groups of viewers. The bulk of the material is used to replicate the classic giallo atmosphere and there are some pretty obvious socio-political overtones in the story that suggest that Dallamano was also looking to engage a different group of viewers. To be perfectly clear, this isn’t a political film, but it isn’t a straightforward giallo either — it is sort of a hybrid project that essentially attempts to expose a troubling reality and make a point that Italians should be aware of it.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Original lossless Italian and English mono soundtracks

English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films

Masters and Slaves: Power, Corruption & Decadence in the Cinema of Massimo Dallamano, a new video essay by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine

Eternal Melody, an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani

Dallamano s Touch, an interview with editor Antonio Siciliano

Unused hardcore footage shot for the film by Massimo Dallamano

Italian theatrical trailer

Image gallery

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Mackenzie