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Alberto Cavallone was a scatter-brained filmmaker, latterly of interest merely because of the shock effects he employed (which naive film buffs associate with the avant-garde). In his heyday his work was not innovative nor well-crafted to the level of interesting film festival programmers, nor was it stimulating enough to make hay on the porn circuit, where its content was headed.
MAN, WOMAN AND BEAST is more professional a movie than his later work, especially the idiotic genre stuff he made in the '80s or his bottom-of-the barrel porn signed "Baron Corvo" such as PAT UNA DONNA PARTICOLARE. But it is still slapped together drivel, a melange of half-baked ideas.
He covers the required basis of Italian cinema: the Church, politics and sex. His protagonist is a collage artist (appropriately) who's a communist, but other than showing the red flag, photos of Lenin and a brief comment or two the political content is virtually nil here. A young priest is another key character, involved in religious processions, but his role is merely functional. Sex ranges from incest and masturbation to an odd touch of heroine Clara placing a cow's eye in her vagina. It is studiously anti-erotic, apart from a softcore interlude involving French kissing.
Cavallone's musical score is banal, ranging from a dull rock concert to repeated use of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and even "Inner Sanctum" style library music for suspense.
What matters to Cavallone is tossing in as many elements as time will permit into the stew and then dumping it on the viewer, symbolized by the inevitable scatological scene involving defecation (it established an entire career for John Waters, so why not?). I found his positing the bizarre behavior of his characters against a realistic backdrop of small-scale village life boring rather than the intended "exposé" approach some fans seem to love.
Recurring image is a tight closeup of a chicken's eye, signaling the usual animal abuse that marks a "no holds barred" director in some folk's eyes.
When he was active there were many provocateurs on the scene, notably Thierry Zeno with WEDDING TROUGH and Jens Jorgen Thorsen with QUIET DAYS IN CLICHY. Today we have Gaspar Noe filling this niche. They are mere poseurs, whose films appeal to a generation that confuses the notion of being open-minded to that of being empty-headed, the latter a leftover from the "everything is everything" philosophy that reared its ugly head during the Flower Power period of the '60s.
Yes, it is quite possible to go with the flow and fill one's mind with Cavallone's brutal images, in vague hopes of them coalescing into something meaningful. Like so many nihilistic artists, his rough-cut film artifacts play more like homework assignments than finished features.
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