Saturday, February 13, 2010

i want more sand in the desert

That's what Vittorio De Sica screams at one point in After the Fox. One wonders if Nagesh Kukunoor was running this film in his head when he wrote Om Puri clamouring for more balls in Bollywood Calling. The line in the Italian/English film is loaded with more bite, however. You see, De Sica is playing a director named Vittorio De Sica directing what is evidently a peplum in the desert. De Sica also directed this farce that makes digs at directors like John Huston (the reference to him playing Moses being the most obvious one), Fellini (the brooding artist and his angst; the film's climax featuring an exhortation in the defence of art), Antonioni and De Sica himself. Victor Mature plays Tony Powell, an alter ego of himself -- at one point in the film we see an old film starring Tony Powell playing in a theatre: the film is really Easy Living, which starred Victor Mature himself. Tony Powell isn't even his real name -- it's Tony Ampulski (a dig, perhaps, at Italian actors who became famous with English names in the dubbed versions of their films -- Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, anyone?). The film, written by Neil Simon, mixes over-the-top characterisations with very funny lines (you're even more beautiful in real life than you are in person, great jokes (the Fox reading a book by Stanislavski, truck drivers reading Playboy, politically incorrect use of the veil) and also a film within a film. If you love movies and you know your movie trivia, you'll enjoy Peter Sellers hamming it away as Aldo Vanucci; you'll nod your head when Aldo Vanucci talks to Miss Okra through a girl in a bikini, because you saw the first sequel in the Austin Powers canon and that had a similar scene in it. [June 28, 2009]

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