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FERMATE IL MONDO... VOGLIO SCENDERE! [a.k.a. Stop the World... I Want to Get Off!] (1970; Video Screams).

Bursting with dizzying visuals and random absurdity, this counterculture Italian comedy from first-time director Giancarlo Cobelli (based on his own play, co-written with Giancarlo Badessi) tackles youthful rebellion, manipulative media, out-of-control consumerism, and selling out. It's exhaustingly inventive, cartoonishly subversive and doesn't make a lot of sense (even with English subtitles), but even though a good deal of its half-baked subtext probably flew over my head, I loved this explosion of colorful cinematic anarchy... Comic actor Lando Buzzanca (DRACULA IN THE PROVINCES, THE EROTICIST) stars as womanizing hedonist Ricky Ceciarelli, who shares a crowded, high-rise, communal flat with an offbeat assortment of artists and pseudo-intellectuals. These brazen non-conformists believe in sex, happiness and kvetching about The System, though cute yet combative Scilla (Paola Pitagora, FISTS IN THE POCKET) is also continually pissed that her lover ran off to Australia. Complicating matters, Ricky's high-strung, ultra-possessive lover Danielle (Barbara Steele) repeatedly attempts suicide in order to get his attention, first by drinking detergent (hence the stream of bubbles coming out of her mouth) and later by hanging herself with a fluffy boa. The script's only vaguely-cohesive thread involves Ricky's dream of being a ventriloquist. One successful screen test later, the guy is an overnight TV celebrity by playing a costumed superhero with a talking "impish robot" hand-puppet. Soon Ricky is going to posh parties, slapping his name on horrible-tasting children's snacks and attracting corporate parasites, but when a world-wide live broadcast visits his home while half of his roommates are having an orgy and the others are on LSD, this scandal (not to mention, accidentally knocking up unwed Danielle) jeopardizes Ricky's career... Edited for maximum delirium by Franco Arcalli (ZABRISKIE POINT, LAST TANGO IN PARIS) and with vibrant cinematography by Dario Di Palma (DEATH LAID AN EGG), it leaps from one blisteringly bizarre, disjointed idea to the next, amidst eccentric sets, props, costumes, and surreal throwaways. Pregnant Danielle ends up strapped into a high-tech maternity machine; ruined Ricky gets career advice by his handlers (who, at one point, hand him a gun after deciding that suicide is the most "convenient solution"); Cobelli pours on the tripped-out imagery for his hilariously warped acid sequence (Is that a baby angel in the refrigerator? Or a raw chicken? Either way, it's going into the oven!); and by the final half-hour, this household is in total disarray, complete with a frantic conclusion that's equal parts Fellini and Benny Hill. This is wacky, untethered, arthouse-wannabe cinema at its very best.

© 2015 by Steven Puchalski.