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This arthouse trilogy will try the consistutions of even the most hardened cinephiles....
Kino / 345 Minutes / 1972-1974 / Unrated / Street Date: October 9, 2012
Lina Wertmuller is a curious cinematic specimen. Arguably the most prominent female film director of her age, she made headlines when she was nominated for Best Director with her Seven Beauties, a solid decade or three before Kathryn Bigelow would come along and finally snag the trophy. I don't mean to marginalize Wertmuller as just a woman artist, but in experiencing The Lina Wertmuller Collection, it becomes clear that her prominence as a female voice in what has been known for a century as a boys club is her most valuable asset.
Because unfortunately, the three films included here - Love and Anarchy (1973), The Seduction of Mimi (1972), and All Screwed Up (1974) - are bloated, ranting misfires, movies that tread upon issues of love, lust, and obligation, but don't offer any clear commentary on any of those topics. Whether it's the assassination plot against Mussolini that a brothel full of women are privy to in Love and Anarchy or the romantic trysts and fish-out-of-water missteps in All Screwed Up, Wertmuller doesn't seem to provide any kind of basis as to what kind of point she's trying to make.
Communism lies around every corner of these tales, so perhaps in the 1970s, the movies in The Lina Wertmuller Collection packed more of a punch than they do now, but it will take a serious retro-arthouse devotee to get through this collection without itching toward the fast-forward button. Wertmuller is an indelible figure in 1970s/1980s filmmaking, but these aren't her most accomplished works. If you're interested, give Swept Away... a look - it's a far more seasoned effort.