Part III: The Decameron
File this Pasolini film under “Things I Never Thought I’d Find At Salvation Army.” As an avid consumer of medieval literature and Italian cinema, this tape might be my all-time favorite thrift store find. The box says “Only Pasolini could bring Boccaccio’s classic tales of passion to the screen with all their lusty fervor intact,” and I think that’s right. Only that particular auteur could translate these singleminded tales of sexual misadventure into something both bawdy (heaving fleshy nun buttocks!) and beautiful (THE COSTUMES, the lighting, the framing, everything – I pointed out that every frame could be a painting of the period, and then someone made that same remark when we were watching American Psycho a few nights later, which? Yeah.) This sits right on the spectrum betweenAccatone! and La Ricotta, and if you haven’t seen those, go check your local thrift store or get a minor in Film & Media Studies, at which point you too could be exposed to these and many more treasures of artsy-fartsy cinema.
And yeah, the tales are singleminded. They flow into each other without division in a nonstop parade of carnal desire, pausing only for interludes of an artist working on church frescoes. There’s jealousy, lust, trickery, and tragedy, and then you realize that people are abandoning themselves to this frenzy because the Black Death is raging through Italy.
Next week: MC Casual Filmstyles A.K.A. No Money reviews a truly horrible movie, perhaps the worst ever besides Rollerball!