Sunday, November 05, 2006

Napoli Vice

Fulci again. Luca il contrabbandiere (Contraband), a smugglers' story taking place in Naples, and released in 1980.
Often underrated, this movie is nonetheless a testimony of its time: a time of change. For Italian genre cinema - the beginning of its decline, for Lucio Fulci - from gialli to zombies , and for Italian crime - from cigarettes smuggling to drug traffic. The end of an era, the end of a troubled decade for the country.

Beyond the director's trademark (gore effects, the obsession for body mutilation), there's often a social subtext in Fulci's cinema, as previously demonstrated in "A lizard in a woman's skin" with a point of view on psychedelic culture and drugs in the Swingin' London, and even more brilliantly exposed in "Don't torture a duckling", an impressive allegory on rural Italy's conservatism.

In "Contraband", change is stylistically visible. Photography, just like clothes, have an early 80s touch, disco has definitely invaded the glossy night-clubs' dancefloors, gangsters don't drive Alfa Romeos anymore, but impressive Mercedes, and powerful speedboats allow them to escape coastguards.
We're in Naples, but somehow the whole aesthetics of the film - even though less sophisticated - feels quite close to Michael Mann's TV show "Miami Vice", that would start only four years later.

In "Contraband", ageing gangsters are still watching vintage spaghetti westerns on TV.
Berlusconi's shows will soon take over.

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