Wipeout! (Il Boss)
The argument that Quentin Tarantino is little more than a frighteningly talented pasticheur gets a boost from the first 10 minutes of Fernando Di Leo's 1973 Mob thriller, which are also the last 10 minutes of Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino has hailed Di Leo as an influence, and the exactitude of that sway is obvious as soon as Wipeout! opens with a movie-theater massacre. A half-dozen Mafiosi settle in for a skin flick and are slaughtered by a projection-booth assassin wielding a grenade launcher, which blows the dons to ribbons and sets the screen and seats aflame. I loved Basterds, but after seeing its precedent, Tarantino's work needs reappraisal; his imagination seems diminished, but I felt a renewed admiration for what can only be termed his chutzpah (especially since the only 35 mm print of Wipeout! in American circulation is owned by…Quentin Tarantino). The rest of Di Leo's poliziottesco, which opens the Grindhouse Film Festival's '70s Italian Crime Series, is similarly brazen: After the cinema inferno, a corrupt cop dismisses the widows from the morgue with the command, "No more Jackie Kennedy Onassis!" The movie is anchored by Luis Enríquez Bacalov's somersaulting piano theme, a lot of callous butchery, and a simpering lead performance (as the guy with the grenade launcher) by Henry Silva, whose visage looks like Chevy Chase's face stretched over Jack Palance's skull. In the spirit of revisionism, it would be fun to say that Wipeout! is better, tougher and more insightful about the Mob than the previous year's The Godfather. But it isn't. AARON MESH.
screens at the Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Saturday, July 31.
Tony Arzenta (Mean Guns)
Anyone who knows his guns from his cannoli is aware that hitmen who want to leave the life are asking for a nap with the fishes. So it's no surprise, early in Tony Arzenta (a.k.a. Mean Guns), when the titular character (the great Alain Delon) seeks to retire, the Mafia plants a bomb in his ride. When it mistakenly takes out his wife and kid, the sneering Sicilian goes on a bloody vendetta that takes him across Europe, guns blazing. It's a standard story, but Duccio Tessari's extremely rare 1973 Italian exploitation flick—the second presented by the Grindhouse Film Festival—is still bloody entertaining. Typical of exploitation films, the production values are cut-rate. But the film plays out like Get Carter by way of Bullitt, with Arzenta blasting through a world of bordellos and skeezy discos with steely grit and screeching through white-knuckle car chases on a quest for ultraviolent closure. The film's grimy presentation perfectly matches its story of violent men doing violent things, and contrary to its genre, the action is top tier. It might hit with the subtlety of a dumdum to the cranium, but Tony Arzenta is A-class B-cinema. AP KRYZA.
Tony Arzenta screens at the Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, Aug. 3.