Saturday, August 20, 2011

Amore sporco (1989)

Valentine Demy ("l'italianissima Marisa Parra") is Terry Jones, a young woman who wants to turn her passion for dancing into a career. She leaves her family and treks to Richmond, Virginia to enroll in a dancing school to learn the needed skills. Once in the big city, Terry realizes that the path towards her dream is littered with some shitty people, some decent people, quite a few erotic adventures, and tough decisions. Did I mention dancing? Lots of dancing, too. Joe D'Amato's Amore sporco (1989) seems borne from Adrian Lyne's Flashdance and the sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977), Staying Alive, both from 1983. The script of Amore sporco is a mishmash of the narratives of the two dancing films with the softcore spice that only D'Amato could deliver. Ultimately, then, would Demy and D'Amato be able to transcend this film's Skinimax-cal roots and deliver memorable erotic sequences; or would Amore sporco languish in its dated 80s-ness, dance scene and light narrative? In other words, is Amore sporco sexy and is it worth sitting through? Let me openly be an asshole, today, and employ a risk versus benefit analysis towards Amore sporco.

There is no doubt that Ms. Demy is sexy, and D'Amato doesn't hide it. The opening sequence of Amore sporco is Terry being driven to the train station by her boyfriend. In a montage credit sequence, one can easily tell that he loves his girlfriend and wants to encourage her hopes and dreams. He is so full of happiness towards Terry's bold move towards her dancing dream that he is going to take the opportunity during the car ride to fondle her breasts and caress her inner thighs. "Don't betray me, Terry," he says as he drops her at the train station. Terry won't betray her boyfriend but she will forget that he exists (which is understandable). Terry misses her train, and the next two assholes that pick her up while she is hitchhiking also take to caressing her inner thighs. This is how D'Amato sets his exposition for his heroine: this is how the world sees her and this is her obstacle to overcome. In the hypocritical exploitative sense, this how D'Amato wants you, the viewer, to see his heroine yet he also wants you to sympathize with her, too. During her first evening in the big city and after dancing class, Terry is walking through a dark alleyway where two assholes, donning some serious heavy-metal attire, attempt to assault her. She is rescued by yuppie, Robert (Cully Holland), who takes her to his townhouse. He tends to her wounds, and despite taking a peek or two at Terry's crotch, Robert in gentlemanly fashion takes her home. After a series of assholes are introduced into Terry's life, is this yuppie going to be a saint? Probably not. Terry becomes taken with Robert and near the end of the first act, Terry and Robert consummate their attraction in the elevator in quite an erotic sequence. D'Amato employs some bold compositions in Demy-centric fashion. The actress with whom D'Amato is quite taken, especially Ms. Demy's legs and derriere, become even more focal in the subsequent two acts of Amore sporco. In two sequences where Terry is exercising and dancing alone in the studio, the compositions of the actress become the height of inappropriate. Well, inappropriate compositions in another film. These two sequences are unabashedly ogling time for the viewer, and Demy's irresistible. Interestingly, Amore sporco introduces a series of male assholes who take advantage of Terry. However, when dancing colleague, Michael (Jeff Stryker), recommends that Terry get a massage with his friend, Terry is cool when the masseuse becomes inappropriate. Why? The masseuse is portrayed by Laura Gemser, of course. I have never witnessed a massage where there is so much fondling of the buttocks. The sequence goes beyond unbelievable when Gemser's character introduces a foreign object into the proceedings. I was offended, but in hypocritical, exploitation-film-fashion, I was also amazed by this sequence. Unsurprisingly, Amore sporco does become overtly offensive with a political/sexual scenario, ending in scandal. By this point, the film could continue to unfold in this manner, but the narrative is intended to be inspiring: Terry's a dancer with hopes and dreams after all. As with most D'Amato narratives, Amore sporco suffers from a lack of focus. A couple of hallway dance sequences become tired very quickly. Way too much time is devoted a Chippendale-like dance club scene which ends, unintentionally, very funny at its attempts to be tragic. As an overall narrative, Amore sporco wants to celebrate dancing culture, in general, instead of chronicling Terry's dancing career. Then again, Terry's dancing sequences are sequences objectifying her body, so really the narrative is a vehicle for more sexy sequences. Valentine Demy is pretty hot in a leotard. Amore sporco has enough filler for the fast forward button and enough to deter most casual fans. As a Joe D'Amato experience, Amore sporco is kind of fascinating. I've always wondered what he values. A commercial impetus for most films, like Amore sporco, is certain, but there is always an overwhelming sense that there is someone with an intense love for the craft of cinema is behind the camera. With quite a bit of talent to boot. However, certain sequences, again as in Amore sporco, are sweet and then, within a moment's notice, the film takes a turn into holy-shit territory. Often I'm offended by exploitation cinema, but I'm never ready for when D'Amato pulls his shocking twists. This is an indefinable, amazing quality, and perhaps unique to D'Amato and a few choice filmmakers of his class. Joe D'Amato really excelled at softcore, erotic cinema, so see Amore sporco if a fan of the genre or a fan of D'Amato.

1 comment:

Dr.LargePackage said...

Great review, Hans. I wish I had something witty to say, but your review says it all. Soft-core erotic cinema from the 80's is large and in charge.