Wednesday, 1 October 2008

COMISSARIO SHAFT

The KIM bar (Brunnenstrasse 10, Berlin Mitte) has a regular film night showing Italian crime films from the 60s and 70s. I checked it out this week with my friend Michaela because I’ve rediscovered my passion for Blaxploitation films from the same era. The movie poster promised just as many cringe-worthy stunts and jaw-dropping fashions as anything starring Robert Roundtree.

I was not disappointed. ROMA VIOLENTA (1975) is like CLEOPATRA JONES for the first 50 minutes, and SHAFT for the last 40. Comissario Betti, a much respected cop on the beat during a rampant crime spree, gets sick of and tired of seeing the bad guy get away and joins a group of well-dressed voluntary thugs who do the police’s job for them.

He even starts to look like detective John Shaft after he makes the switch from agent on the inside to detective on the outside: his trench coats get longer and his bell bottoms wider. He even sports the monochromatic suit and tighter-than-skin turtleneck combo.

Despite the good guys looking so good, I couldn’t keep my eyes of the adorable touques the robbers were wearing. Imagine a knitted ski mask with a brim and a pom-pom on top. They all had them, in different colours, worn with the face-mask part pushed down to the neck like a cowl when they were going about their civilian business, and pulled up so that only the eyes and top of the handlebar moustache peeked out when they were raising a ruckus.

I couldn’t help but picture southern Italian grandmas feverishly knitting these as parting gifts for their sons before they headed up North in search of „employment“. I am now officially on the lookout for a similar crochet pattern.

I’ll need to watch more Italian crime films to back this up (Bennett, the guy who runs the film night at KIM says he has enough films to keep the night going until next year), another major difference between the two genres is the type of crime. The most popular blaxploitation films are almost always about drug crime, where in ROMA VIOLENTA people were getting shot over a whole lotta furs and pearls. Also, be it for the tiny cars, the winding roads or the lack of traffic information in northern Italy in general, nobody does a car chase like the Italians.

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