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May 15, 2015

Stay as You Are

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Cosi come sei
Alberto Lattuada - 1978
Cult Epics BD

I have the feeling that even with the small handful of movies now available on home video, Alberto Lattuada will still be stuck with being known as the guy sharing a directorial credit with Federico Fellini on Variety Lights. Even with his far greater number of films, Lattuada had never distinguished himself as a filmmaker in the way that Fellini had, more of a craftsman than artist. Stay as You Are never changed things for Lattuada even though it was probably the closest he came to an international success.

Stay as You Are is mostly famous for thrusting the then eighteen year old Nattassja Kinksi into the spotlight. As the obituary in The Guardian points out, Lattuada had an eye for young female talent. One of the best examples for me was his segment for the omnibus Love in the City, with men falling over each other as eighteen year old Giovanna Ralli walks around Rome. Almost twenty-five years later, Lattuada was able to show what in the past could only be imagined, with scenes of a nude Kinski during the final twenty minutes.

Some of Lattuada's films revolve around men who place themselves in situations that they can not control. The fortune of a poorly paid clerk to purchase an expensive overcoat in The Overcoat leads to his early death when the coat is stolen on a cold winter night. The middle aged office bureaucrat who wins the hearts of three homely, but wealthy, spinsters in Come Have Coffee with Us is reduced to an almost infantile state following an unexpected heart attack, presumably from to much sexual exertion. For Giulio, his dilemma is how to respond to the flirtatious Francesca, who may, or may not, be his daughter from an almost forgotten affair from twenty years ago.

That Giulio is portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni, it's almost a given that the guy is more adept at being a lover than somebody's father or husband. At one point, Giulio is seen reading the novel Homo Faber, about a similar situation with a tragic ending for most of the characters. Unlike author Max Frisch, Lattuada doesn't clarify the relationship, and ends his story on a bittersweet note.

The main selling point of the film is the very young and very naked Nastassja Kinski. Arguably, Lattuada teeters on a very thin line between the tasteful and the prurient. There is also a scene of Kinski stumbling in on a party hosted by her roommate, with all of the guests undressed and in active couplings. Lattuada was sixty-three at the time he made this film, and there is the sense that he was straining to be as contemporary as the newer generation of Italian filmmakers, particularly Bernardo Bertolucci. Not so coincidentally, Stay as You Are was produced by cousin, Giovanni Bertolucci.

The blu-ray has both English and Italian language tracks. I went for the Italian track because even though Ms. Kinski is dubbed in both versions, I like listening to Mastroianni in his own, familiar, voice. A supplemental bonus is the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.

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Posted by peter at May 15, 2015 08:17 AM