Perhaps more than any of his films, Cheeky is entirely composed, shot-for-shot, to capture the reactions of the actors through their cheeks and furry crotches rather than the actual faces that crown the actors torsos, but perhaps it's for the better since the threadbare story isn't enough to really maintain the film's full running time.
Essenstially a story about jealousy, Brass' narrative is really just a series of montages where London-based Carla (Yuliya Mararchuk) permits her realtor Moira (Francesca Nunzi) to tease and eventually pleasure her in showers, parties, and share a swanky new flat while jealous boyfriend Matteo stews back at home in Venice, convincing himself she's up to no good, and deserves to be left to the vengeance of karma.
The moral of Brass' little drama is it's better to be told lies than to dwell on the possible or actual truth + sometimes it's better to let women go a little wild and transgress because their happiness ensures men's happiness. Cheeky is presented purely for the benefit of men - Moira being a lesbian is just a smokescreen to maintain the illusion of an egalitarian camaera - but nudity is pretty much shared between men and women, especially in Cult Epics' uncut edition.
Fake and real pickles abound, as do multiple types of bums and deltas, but amid all the groping that goes on in Brass' little world (even the behaviour of Peeping Toms is encouraged), the director's sense of humour is always in plain view. It's perhaps the lone element that ensures he can't be classified as an outright misogynist; a sexist, dirty, vulgar man, yes, but his adoration for women's physicality and playfulness through impressionistic montages remains unchallenged.
The monotony of the incessant posteriors does gets rich by the midpoint, though, especially when Brass himself appears in a cameo as a finger-licking aficionado / photoshop proprietor. Visuals tend to overpower even the scant lines of genuinely amusing dialogue ( "You are humid like [Venice]"). At least fans can amuse themselves with the various ways Brass manages to establish his mis-en-scene with as many priapic references as possible (even the flat waterways of Venice's marshland have the odd phallic mooring pole jutting into frame), and there's his editing which manages to be fluid and kinetic in spite of untraditionally connected shots - perhaps the most important vestige from his brief experimental period during the sixties in films like Attraction (1969), and especially The Howl (1970).
Cult Epics' Blu-ray features a nice HD transfer with only slight signs of compression (visible in some of the beach photography & seduction foootage). The colours are strong and details flatter the compositions and selective focus in key shots, and although the prior DVD was framed at a somewhat awkward 1.66:1 - supposedly the films official ratio, if the reference in the end credits is accurate - the new 1.78:1 ratio feels more natural.
The sound mix, while essentially the same minimal Dolby 2.0 mix on the prior DVD, sounds cleaner and slightly more dynamic, and Pino Donaggio's score is bouncy in minimal stereo, especially the catchy main title music which Brass uses as Carla's 'free-spirit' theme.
In place of the prior DVD's trailer gallery is an HD trailer for Cheeky! but still retained are a stills gallery and a making-of featurette, "Backstage with Tinto Brass." The director describes Cheeky! (the original Transgressions title is still present in the opening credit sequence) as a film about the treachery of women's lies. "It's an old habit," he recounts, "a fixation of mine, a belief, that in order to discover women's lies, all you have to do is look at their ass. Because, as opposed to their face, which is a hypocrite mask capable of faking and lies, the ass doesn't lie. Each woman is the ass that she has."
And if one cheek is disproportionate, is there a possibility she may be a Conservative or a Marxist?
Brass also describes his casting choices (Yuliya Mayarchuk was reportedly a former pizza maker), and the featurette comes with a number of behind-the-scenes shots with an underscore sourced from vintage lounge instrumentals.
Other Tinto Brass releases from Cult Epics include Deadly Sweet / Col cuore in gola (1967), Attraction / The Artful Penetration of Barbara / Nerosubianco (1969), Howl, The / L’hurlo (1970), The Key / La Chiave (1983), Miranda (1985), All Ladies Do It / Così fan tutte (1992), Voyeur, The / L'Uomo che guarda (1994), Frivolous Lola (1998), Cheeky / Trasgredire (2000), and Private / Fallo! (2003).
© 2006; revised 2012 Mark R. Hasan