February 28th, 2008

EMANUELLE AND THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE (1978) ***

Laura Gemser returns as Emanuelle in the fifth and final installment of the series from Italian sleaze guru Joe D’Amato.  This time out, Emanuelle takes on the white slave trade but BEFORE she does that, she masturbates while she watches her friend fuck a black mechanic, goes on an African safari, has a lesbian tryst in the shower, balls a wealthy prince, smokes a hookah in India, has a threeway, watches a nude photo shoot in New York and makes love in a darkroom.  THEN she decides to do an expose about white slavers.

 

When she tries to escape (with the help of a friendly transvestite) she gets captured and nearly gets lobotomized by the evil doctors at “The Clinic”.  Fortunately she escapes in a laundry basket, hops aboard a ship home and balls the crew to pay for her voyage. 

 

With Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade, D’Amato delivers a rather tame entry in the durable series.  I’ll admit that watching Emanuelle in America probably jaded me (Who could forget the immortal horse masturbation scene?), but EATWST has a feeling of been-there-done-that (D’Amato even takes to recycling whole scenes from Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals) that knocks things down a notch or two.  Having said that, D’Amato does film THE definite tranny kung fu fight in a bowling alley scene in the history of the cinema, so that’s worth something at least.

 

Although it takes Emanuelle FOREVER to get to the damn slavers, once she does things start to perk up considerably.  (Like my penis.)  Despite the relatively low sleaze quotient in this one, Gemser looks amazing as always and there is plenty of female flesh on display to make any fan of the series happy.  Gemser’s husband and frequent co-star in these movies, Gabriele Tinti has a small role as a slaver.  There’s also a great stream of consciousness theme song called “Run Cheetah Run” that has to be heard to be believed.  Here’s just a sample: 

 

Run cheetah run on the prairie, Shamu rapid cheetah is here.  

 

You feel his breath on your back; your heart is breaking, his clothes lapse.

 

His clothes LAPSE?!?  I’m sure something got lost in the translation there, but “Run Cheetah Run” is a hilarious oddity that will probably stay in your head longer than anything else in the movie. 

 

AKA:  Emanuelle and the Girls of Madame Claude. 

ONCE (2007) * ½

 

An ex-vacuum cleaner repairman turned street musician (Glen Hansard) tries to record some songs with the help of a Czechoslovakian piano player (Marketa Irglova).  They form a friendship and he falls hopelessly in love with her, despite the fact that she’s married and has a rugrat.  She’s poor so she doesn’t have a piano of her own… so he buys her one.  The End. 

 

Everybody fell over themselves to praise this “modern day musical”, but it’s cloying, predictable and ultimately pointless.  I get what director John Carney was trying to do (make a musical about musicians using real musicians instead of actors), but it’s little more than your average run-of-the-mill chick flick with lots of irritating whining filled folksy college radio singer/songwriter crap than honest to goodness music.  There is one death metal song Hansard sings off the cuff about a painful break-up (“FUCK HER!  FUCK HER!”) that’s pretty funny, but other than that the music flat out sucks.  

Another key problem with the movie is that it was largely improvised using non-professional actors, and boy does it ever show.  Again, I realize Carney was going for a more “natural” approach to the movie, but it doesn’t really help when your lead actors have zero screen presence and speak in accents thicker than Chunky soup.  At least it’s better than Across the Universe though.