Color, 1998, 104 mins. 24 secs.
Directed by Tinto Brass
Starring Anna Ammirati, Patrick Mower, Mario Parodi, Susanna Martinkova, Serena Grandi
Cult Epics (UHD, Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 4K/HD/NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Arrow Video (Blu-Ray & DVD) (UK RB/R2 HD/PAL), Indies (Holland R2 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

With Frivolous Lola (Monella), booty-fixated director Tinto Brass Frivolous Lolaclosed out the 1990s (and the millennium that made Frivolous Lolahim famous) with familiar territory by funneling the memories of his youth into what amounts to a sillier '50s spin on his earlier Miranda. Again pushing the limits of what was acceptable in erotic films, Brass creates another heroine here who joyfully defies the conventions of virginity and marriage with a gusto that still feels refreshingly brash.

Cute and spirited young Lola (Anna Ammirati) speeds around the Italian countryside on her bicycle, often flashing her fanny for the passing clergy and attracting the attention of virtually everyone along the way. She's engaged to dim-witted baker hunk Masetto (latter day Brass mascot Parodi), who wants them to stay chaste until marriage; on top of that her notorious mother, Zaira (Miranda's Grandi), is married to Andre (The Devil Rides Out's Mower), who may or may not be Lola's biological father. Lola's attempts to provoke her fiancee into jumping the gun already lead to a number of misadventures including a wild jukebox dance with a bunch of soldiers and a dangerous car ride in the rain.

Brass Frivolous Lolareels back here a little bit from the increasingly explicit direction of his past few Frivolous Lolafilms like P.O. Box Tinto Brass and All Ladies Do It, though it's still pretty potent depicting our heroine's public provocations and the sexual playfulness of the various characters. The provincial Italian setting is vividly rendered, with the community frequently gathering to celebrate life, love, and food, a spectacle that will leave viewers feeling more than a tad bloated. Adding to the fun is a lively Pino Donaggio score (his second of three for Brass) heavily inspired by doo-wop 1950s pop music, and Ammirati proves to be another worthy discovery who's game for whatever it takes to make Lola a winning and boundary-testing protagonist.

The first English-friendly DVD of this film came along from Holland, featuring the English dub in a decent stereo track. Unfortunately as with All Ladies Do It, the English export version was toned down considerably including the removal of the highly memorable scene with Lola reliving herself in the rain as well as excising a scene of full frontal Parodi. The Cult Epics DVD from 2004 offered the uncut Italian version with English subtitles and looked decent, with the extras including a trailer and an English-language Frivolous LolaBrass interview (25m51s) about the making of the film. The same year Arrow Video released the Frivolous Lolafilm on DVD and later premiered it on Blu-ray in 2014, uncut and with Italian and English-language stereo options plus English subtitles and the trailer. Though not as disastrous as their release of All Ladies Do It, the transfer left a lot to be desired with a heavy blue tint and very weak black levels. In 2024, Cult Epics made this one of its inaugural Brass upgrades to 4K UHD with a remastered Blu-ray as well, here with DTS-HD MA 5.1 or 2.0 stereo Italian and English audio options with English translated subtitles. The Italian stereo is the best of all the options, but try them all and see what you think. Framed more spaciously at 1.85:1 than the earlier 1.78:1 releases, this transfer has more image info on the bottom and sides as well as more balanced colors (especially reds and flesh tones). The HDR on the UHD is likely as good as the film is going to look, especially given how many tricky scenes take place in very low lighting. An audio commentary with this writer and Eugenio Ercolani can't be assessed here but will hopefully prove interesting, while the 2004 Brass interview is ported over here. You also get a 1m40s photo gallery and trailers for this film, All Ladies Do It, Paprika, P.O. Box Tinto Brass, and Istitnobrass, while an insert booklet features liner notes by Eugenio Ercolani and Domenico Monetti including an in-depth look at Ammirati's career after breaking through with this film.

Cult Epics (UHD)

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Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

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Reviewed on June 2, 2024