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  • Writer's pictureTyler Foster

Frivolous Lola 4K UHD Review


Cult Epics

4K UHD Release: May 7th, 2024

Video: 1.85:1/2160p/Color

Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English

Run Time: 104:24

Director: Tinto Brass


Lola (Anna Ammirati) is about to be married to a baker named Tommaso (Max Parodi), but she's not ready. Not because she doesn't love him, but because she hasn't loved him yet -- that is, they haven't had sex yet, and she's still a virgin. Tommaso would prefer to save her for marriage, thanks to his misguided belief that somehow keeping her a virgin until they marry will prevent him from being cuckolded (all while he visits a local sex worker to get his own kicks). However, Lola hates this, and she's engaged in her own game with André (Patrick Mower), a local chef who is nicknamed "the Devil himself" by several of the women in town (including Tommaso's mother), and who may or may not be Lola's father. Whether she confirms her lineage, gets laid, or breaks down Tommaso's resolve, Lola tempts fate with a smile on her face.


Frivolous Lola makes for an interesting companion to All Ladies Do It, the previous Tinto Brass 4K UHD released by Cult Epics. It's more or less the same movie, in the sense that one can see what elements (and body parts, if one somehow couldn't guess from Ladies alone) Brass finds engaging, yet each element has been turned or altered just enough to make Lola feel like a much different movie. Again, he explores a woman's sexual desire clashing with a man's sexual prudishness, and again his camera loves his star. In this case, the story also seems designed for Ammirati to love the camera back, with her bratty sexual playfulness basically being aimed right at the viewer rather than the characters around her. However, the emphasis has changed: where Ladies' stuffy husband was worried about his wife's love, Lola's suitor has a less sympathetic hangup, and the movie's drama springs not from the threat of heartbreak, but whether or not Tommaso is going to clamp down on Lola's frivolous spirit.



The very first thing that stands out, watching Lola's opening credits, is that this time Brass worked with two women on the screenplay: Carla Cipriani and Barbara Alberti. Cipriani was Brass' wife from 1957 to her death in 2006, so perhaps she was writing with his interests at heart, but to my mind, Lola feels like it offers a slightly different perspective. Lola's sexuality is so playful, and the question of whether or not marriage will tame her certainly feels like something women could be more concerned about than men. A short incident with a grope-y cab driver finds him yelling the equivalent of "you were asking for it!", and there's even a moment where sex results in a bit of bleeding, which is surprisingly real-world for such a fun and flirty fantasy. In a way, these little touches make Frivolous Lola, silly as it is, feel less like a trashy romance novel or Penthouse letter and more like a sincere story. The film is also just a bit more romantic than Ladies; when Lola goes to pick up her wedding dress, she asks the dressmaker about her previous lover, and she wistfully comments, "I was a costume designer, he was a cameraman," which has a nice poetry to it.


That said, those who are watching the movie for Brass' traditional pleasures will find more than enough to satisfy them. Ammirati is luminous, with her large doe eyes and thousand-watt grin, throwing herself into the movie's nudity and escapades with enthusiasm. Lola focuses even more on butts than Ladies, something I would've said was hard to imagine after watching that film -- in one scene, Brass zooms in on Ammirati's ass out of the blue just to end a scene, and in another, she goes swimming nude and he watches her bottom slip into the water like a mountain going under in a tidal wave. In another scene, she plucks at her pubic hair to play a marriage variation on "he loves me, he loves me not." There's also a funny, winking gag when someone presents her with a bra, and she doesn't know what it is. Speaking of gags, one can also expect a few pot-shots at the clergy (a randy monk enjoys "rump" pieces from chopped sausage, and offers up a dirty poem), and some mildly horrifying cartoon humor (in this case, a Peeping Tom that everyone simply laughs at).



One area where Brass seems to be exploring new territory (although admittedly I am only a Brass novice) is the film's playful musicality. The movie has a theme song to go with its native title (apparently a dirty pun that would be more evident in French) that Ammirati performs herself, and as it plays over footage of Lola on her bicycle, flashing her ass at anyone she sees, you can see Ammirati almost lip syncing to the track. Later, there is a great and stylish-looking sequence in a bar when Lola and Tommaso are fighting, and she dances with some soldiers. The movie also pushes itself a bit sexually, with a woman's breast being painted in an elaborate fantasy sequence seemingly set on an old-fashioned ocean liner (or maybe it's real?), and there is a sequence where Lola squats down and takes a piss in the rain. This is also to say nothing of the bizarre side plot where Lola hopes to sleep with the guy she thinks might be her father, which I will leave to more qualified people to unpack.


Video

Although the packaging doesn't describe it in the same way as All Ladies Do It, as far as I can tell, this is the same situation as that film -- a North American Blu-ray debut and global 4K UHD premiere for Frivolous Lola. At times, the transfer, created using a new scan of the original camera negative, is as striking as the one for All Ladies Do It. However, there are a fair number of scenes here that look a little grayish and washed out compared to other parts of the movie. One notable example occurs around the middle of the movie, when Lola and Tommaso visit a bar, and Lola dances with some soldiers, and the set's blue walls and red checkered floor don't have the bold primary vibrancy that one might expect. The look frequently varies between shots in the same scene, so maybe this is is an effect created by light, or smoke in the set, or inherent to the original photography in some other way, but in any case, viewers will likely notice. Aside from this quirk, the disc offers phenomenal amounts of fine textural detail in faces (and other skin), and often features a clarity that creates great depth and dimension in the picture. It is also significantly less grainy than All Ladies Do It, although the film retains a pleasing sheen of very fine grain. Note that in the Blu-ray screencaps on this page, the transfer has a noticeable teal tint to it, but I did not feel that this was nearly as pronounced on the 4K as it appears to be in the pictures, and this is mostly in the shadows (which could be a natural effect of the blue walls).



Audio

Also like its predecessor, Frivolous Lola comes with four audio options across two languages, although this time they're both one level higher: where that release had 2.0 and Mono, this offers 5.1 and 2.0 tracks in English and Italian. Again, separation of music and dialogue is more pronounced on the more advanced track, and there is no "original" language as both tracks feature dubbing. Personally, I preferred the Italian 5.1 track simply because the voices sound comparatively more natural -- although both are dubbed, the Italian still has a certain organic quality to it. English subtitles are also provided.


Extras

  • Commentary by authors and critics Eugenio Ercolani and Nathaniel Thompson - Those who enjoyed the Ercolani and Troy Howarth track on All Ladies Do It should find this one equally agreeable, with both speakers again delving into Brass' ouevre and recurring interests (which, shockingly, include beautiful Italian actresses and playful sexuality). The discussion also covers whether or not Brass' formula was beginning to wear thin for Brass or his audience at this point, as well as Ammirati's career and how she fit into Brass's world.

  • Archival interview with director Tinto Brass (25:51) - This interview, again ported from an older Cult Epics DVD, finds Brass largely focused on the protagonist and the actress that played her, including an incident when they first met, inspirations for the character and how Ammirati was different from some of his other leading ladies.

  • Photo Gallery

  • Theatrical Trailer - In addition to a trailer for Frivolous Lola, trailers for All Ladies Do It, Paprika (1991), P.O. Box Tinto Brass, and Istintobrass have been included.


Just like their earlier release of All Ladies Do It, Frivolous Lola is available in a couple of variations. Genre Grinder was sent the standard edition for review, which includes a booklet with writing by Ercolani and Domenico Monetti, and there are also four Italian lobby card reprints tucked in the case. The cover is also reversible, and there is a glossy slipcover. Those who order via Cult Epics can also choose a site-exclusive edition with an alternate slipcover, which as of this writing is still available.



Conclusion

Although I'm relatively new to Brass' work, it's clear even watching this, my second recent Brass 4K UHD, that the guy had a formula, and Frivolous Lola doesn't stray far from it. Aside from various sequences allowing the viewer to study his luminous and extremely charismatic leading lady Anna Ammirati in various states of undress, this entry into Brass' catalog trades Ladies' thin veneer of substance that can be extracted from its exploration of open marriages for a more fun and flirtatious hang-out vibe (with some hints of psychosexual drama thrown in for flavor). The disc doesn't always pop like the one for All Ladies Do It, but the overall quality of the transfer is still exemplary, and the package is satisfying as a whole.



The images on this page are taken from the Blu-ray, NOT the 4K UHD, and sized for the page. Larger versions can be viewed by clicking the images.

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