Jan 2, 2015
Aside from the fact that they are both aberrosexuals, one would assume that there were no real connections between Italian poet/auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini (Accattone, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom) and mainstream Hollywood Academy Award winning actress Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs, Panic Room), yet they have one notably secondary link in the form of the fairly underrated and unique Italian (anti)sex comedy Casotto (1977) aka Beach House aka The Beach Hut aka In the Beach House. Indeed, the film stars an almost amorous, teenage pre-dyke Foster and on top of being directed by Pasolini’s only true cinematic protégé and heir Sergio Citti (Il minestrone, Happy Hobos aka Due pezzi di pane) and starring his brother Franco Citti (who regularly appeared in Pasolini's films), the film was made at the very same beach, Ostia, where the Salò director was mysteriously brutally murdered and run over with his own car multiple times five years before in late 1975. Notably, Citti’s directorial debut, Ostia (1970), which was co-penned and was originally supposed to be directed by Pasolini, ends in an exceedingly eerily prophetic manner with one of the protagonists being brutally murdered on the beaches of Ostia in a fashion not unlike how the great Italian Renaissance man would perish five years later. Of course, although compulsively crude and even grotesque in parts, Casotto is fairly lighthearted in comparison to the beauteous brutality of Ostia, which is steeped in allegorical religious imagery and is quite dark despite its fleeting moments of classically Citti-esque comic relief. Sergio Citti and his brother Franco were members of Rome’s sub-proletariat and grew up in a slimy Roman slum where they were discovered during the 1950s by Pasolini, who called the former brother the “lexicon of the Roman dialect,” as he helped him write the dialogue for his first two films Accattone (1961) and Mamma Roma (1962) and eventually became his assistant director on important works like Porcile (1969) aka Pigsty, Medea (1969), The Decameron (1971), The Canterbury Tales (1972), and Salò (which was apparently originally Citti's idea). As Sergio would later remark regarding Pasolini’s imperative influence on his life, “If I hadn't met Pier Paolo I'd have probably ended up as a delinquent.” Instead of becoming a small-time con, Citti transferred his subversive vulgarian tendencies to the screen by directing what one might describe as ‘proletarian arthouse’ works that feature pathologically perverse and oftentimes tragicomedic themes, albeit in a sort of Pasolinian style. For example, after his debut Ostia, Citti directed the four-story ‘castration comedy’ Storie scellerate (1973) aka Bawdy Tales characteristically starring the director’s brother Sergio in one of the lead roles. Casotto was Citti’s third and arguably most ‘idiosyncratic’ and internationally successful work, as a film featuring not only a rather young and nubile Jodie Foster, but also French diva Catherine Deneuve. Featuring a wealth of cock jokes and about 100 minutes of people in the most unflattering and compromised positions while getting undressed, among other things, in a public beach changing room, Citti’s frolicsome flick is surely the best fun you will ever have at the beach without actually going into the water.
Early in the morning the beaches of Ostia just outside of Rome seem like a quiet and serene place located on the furthermost tip of the world, but as soon as the armies of exceedingly extroverted squawking Guidos arrive, the place turns into a virtual improvised comedy show of the superlatively sleazy and fetish-fueled sort. After Pasolini’s man muse Ninetto Davoli uses the beach changing room door to spark a match to light his cigarette, people begin storming into the yellow and blue shack to change into their bathing suits and do much less savory things. After a morbidly obese authoritarian gym coach that resembles an elderly pug dog marches his team of nubile teen beauties into the beach hut like they are soldiers in boot camp, a goofy looking dude with red muttonchops knocks on the door and informs him that they are using the wrong room. After the coach and his teenage concubines exit the building, muttonchops man drops his shorts while changing into his swimming trunks and reveals that he has two cocks (!) and a virtual jungle of pubic hair. After mutton mensch leaves the building so that he can read in peace and quiet on the beach, two goofy pussy-starved pals that work at a gas station together, Gigi (Gigi Proietti) and Nando (Franco Citti), enter the building with two borderline homely guidettes who are literally trying to use the two dimwitted dudes to get a free lunch. Indeed, redhead Gloria (Julia Sebastyan) and dark-haired Jole (Clara Algranti) are two unscrupulous skanks scheming for free food but they are not willing to give up any poontang to get it and one of the girls even goes so far as to insult Gigi’s dead mother after he asks to see them undress in a semi-joking fashion. Since the two less than ladylike ladies have no bathing suits and are apparently wearing transparent underwear, Gigi and Nando are forced to buy them bathing suits, but the two girls are soon stolen by two arrogant and seemingly ambiguously gay blonde Nordic-like Milanese military men. One of the them has a borderline micro-penis (which, like the double dick, is clearly fake and made out of cheap prosthetic material), so he stuffs his speedo with tissues to make his bulge seem bigger. The same Milanese micro-penis fellow also absurdly carries around a white Chihuahua named ‘Zaza’ like he is some old queen. Needless to say, the Chihuahua eventually defecates in the beach house and a couple of the beach patrons, including the man with two penises, have the hilarious misfortune of stepping in it.
Of course, love is also in the air at the beach house, as especially personified by a candy ass cherub-like middle-aged mamma's boy with a chode (which, unlike the other two abnormal cocks, is real) named Carlo (Carlo Croccolo) and his secret young and rather petite redhead girlfriend who he has been hiding from his parents for over a year and cannot wait to screw seeing as he seems like a virgin. Carlo and his girlfriend plan to commence coitus in the beach house, but people keep interrupting them every time they strip their bathing suits off and go to seal the sensual deal. Two prostitutes also attempt to hustle money out of a pudgy would-be-suave insurance agent named Alfredo Cerquetti (Ugo Tognazzi of Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe (1973) and Édouard Molinaro’s La Cage aux Folles (1978)) by offering him their reasonably enticing bodies, but they eventually learn that he is wearing a locked chastity belt, as he has been cuckolded by Catholicism and believes that his abstinence is part of god’s plan because, as he self-righteously proclaims, “Paradise exists, and it will be my reward.” Luckily, the two career whores manage to get Cerquetti’s chastity built off, as well as some of his money. When Jodie Foster finally appears in the film, the viewer soon discovers she is a newly pregnant teenager whose grandparents want to pawn her off to her half-retarded cousin Vincenzino (Michele Placido) so that her unborn child is not born a complete bastard. Aside from being a mentally challenged fellow who never seems to realize that his testicles are hanging out of his bathing suit, Vincenzino is a sexual invalid who describes to his cutesy blonde cousin Teresina Fedeli (Foster) how he has failed to ever be aroused by a woman. Luckily, moronic pervert Gigi will eventually take Teresina out of Vincenzino’s impotent hands.
When Gigi bangs his head on a small boat that a couple people are carrying after running full speed out of the beach house like a spastic dunce, he eventually begins having fantasy dreams involving nine unclad Nordic babes, as well as his face becoming the image of the million aka ‘miglione’ lire bill. After becoming the miglione man, Gigi is greeted in his dream by a blonde bombshell named ‘Naivety’ (Catherine Deneuve), who proclaims her love to him but he initially rejects her since he thinks she is lying to him since a pulchritudinous babe like her could never be interested in an ugly swarthy moron like him. In revenge for Gigi rebuffing her love, Ms. Naivety absurdly attempts to commit suicide by holding her breathe, which inspires the gregarious Guido to come to the aid of the dream damsel in distress. When Gigi eventually awakes from his strange slumber, his oneiric rendezvous with Naivety will eventually come in handy for Teresina’s grandparents, who pawn their granddaughter off to the unwitting gas station attendant. Indeed, Gigi almost immediately falls for Teresina, especially after she lies to him and tells him that she has never kissed a boy before, thus making him think that the knocked up teen is a virgin who only he will have the distinguished honor of deflowering. Gigi’s giant black dog ‘Rocco’ also gets lucky at the beach house, as he finds dinner in the form of the white Chihuahua Zaza whose defecating bothered the cannibalistic canine. Naturally, when it begins raining and pouring outside, everyone at the beach immediately heads inside the beach house and begins getting dressed. During all the commotion, it is revealed that the man with two pricks and muttonchops is actually a priest, thus making his duo of dicks a total waste. After crying about losing his ticket to paradise after being defiled by two abnormally aggressive money-grubbing whores, Alfredo Cerquetti finally gives into sin, cheers up, and decides to leave with the two lovely little lecherous ladies. Of course, the last person to leave is Ninetto Davoli who, overall, seemed to have a fun day in the sun because he drilled holes in the beach house walls and spent most of his time playing peeping tom and watching the girls in the teenage swim team getting undressed and ritualistically combing their pubes.
Admittedly, as someone that lives at the beach and fell in love with my greatest love largely around my oceanside town, I could not help but rather enjoy Casotto, even if we do not having those huts like the ones in Citti’s film where I live. Unquestionably, there is a certain singular ‘humanity’ to Citti’s raunchy and ribald humor that the sort of scatological comedies starring the likes of unsufferable Zionist jackasses like Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill that Hebraic Hollywood regularly plops out certainly lack. While Casotto is very Guido-ish in terms of its comedy, the film also has a pure and unadulterated ‘proletarian’ essence about it that would make the film palatable to even the lowest of perennial lumpenproles, namely Americans, though I suspect that they might find some things lost in translation. Indeed, Citti’s work is probably the only feature-length celluloid quasi-chamber piece I can think of that mostly relies on crude cock jokes and absurdist nudity scenarios, as a 100-minute film that almost entirely takes place in one single room. Of course, Citti does not deserve all the credit for the film's overload of merry degeneracy, as the work was primarily written by Vincenzo Cerami, who would go on to script hit Roberto Benigni flicks like Life Is Beautiful (1997) and The Tiger and the Snow (2005). In fact, Benigni played the protagonist in Citti’s underrated dago ‘trash classic’ Il minestrone (1981), which was also co-penned by Cerami. Casotto is also notable for featuring Jodie Foster at her least frigid and most seemingly sensual, as surely no one that saw Citti's charmingly tasteless and bawdy celluloid beach party when it was originally released would have suspected that she would grow up to become an alpha-carpet-muncher. The film also reveals Citti's fetish for tall statuesque Nordic blondes, as reflected in the fact that most of the unclad ladies in the film are of such a pedigree (notably, both the director and his brother Franco were married to Swedish women with the name Anita). Undoubtedly, one of the aspects of Casotto that I found most intriguing is its anti-Milanese sentiments, which reflect the age old racial/cultural tensions between the more Germanic northern Italians and Romans (and especially southern Italians, like Sicilians). Of course, Lina Wertmüller's Swept Away (1973) aka Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto tackled similar themes, albeit in a more banal intellectual sort of way. Indeed, when comparing the films of a Northern Italian auteur like Michelangelo Antonioni to that of the works of Citti and a film like Ettore Scola's Brutti, sporchi e cattivi (1976) aka Ugly, Dirty and Bad, it is almost like comparing Leni Riefenstahl to some third world filmmaker like Ousmane Sembène. Ultimately, Casotto is the arthouse equivalent of junk food, as a film that certainly tastes good and is easy to devour but is probably not all that good for you, though at least, unlike the beach, the film won't give you skin cancer or a sunburn.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 3:25 AM
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