Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 16th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1988
Director: Tinto Brass
Writer: Tinto Brass
Novel Written By: Silvia Bre, Marco Lodoli
Cast: Giancarlo Giannini, Philippe Léotard, François Négret, Raffaella Baracchi, Sylvie Orcier, Giorgio Tirabassi, Katalin Murany, Giuditta Del Vecchio, Valentine Demy, Malisa Longo
DVD released: September 27th, 2011
Approximate running time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.56:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Italian
DVD Release: Mya Communication
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Snack Bar Budapest was written and directed by Tinto Brass, an Italian filmmaker known for being one of the foremost purveyors in smut and a great admirer of women’s rear ends. And while most fans of Tinto Brass are familiar with his post Salon Kitty erotica infused cinematic concoctions. He films pre Salon Kitty go in a completely different direction. Content wise, Snack Bar Budapest is the one film in his filmography that best represents these two distinctively different era’s of his career.
Another area in which Snack Bar Budapest differs from Tinto Brass’s other film’s from this era was that it does not feature his longtime cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti. Instead the film’s stark Noir visuals were photographed by Alessio Gelsini Torresi (Cuore cattivo, La scorta). And while many of cinematic visual flourishes that are synonymous with Tinto Brass pop up throughout Snack Bar Budapest, it is not hard to see how this change of bringing in a new cinematography greatly adds to the overall look of this film. With this film’s standout moment visually is a scene in the disbarred lawyer and his friend, who are inside of the snack bar Budapest and they are surrounded by the gangster boss and his army of lingerie wearing, gun toting femme fatales. Unfortunately this would mark their one and only collaboration.
Content wise, this film is rather bleak and there are not many characters in this film that exude any kind of sympathy. Even the couple the runs the snack bar Budapest have a questionable past, which makes caring for their current plight all the more difficult. If anything, it is their daughter that comes off as the most sympathetic character, because of the way in which she is portrayed as a victim due to the sins of her parents and not of her own undoing. The film’s protagonist a disbarred lawyer named Avvocato is easily the most charismatic character, thus making his flaws as a human being all the more easier to digest.
Without a doubt this film greatest asset is its leading man Giancarlo Giannini (Black Belly of the Tarantula) in the role of Avvocato. Everything in this film rest on the shoulders of his performance, since the entire narrative is told via his point of view. He gives an utterly convincing performance of a man, who’s need to provide for the woman that he loves, pushes him to over the edge and then some. And while watching his disintegration is what keeps this film’s narrative from going completely off the tracks. It is the film’s ending, in which this character’s journey has come to end and his fate has been revealed, that this film resonates the most.
Snack Bar Budapest is presented in a letter boxed widescreen. Framing wise the image never looks cramped, this appears to be the films original aspect ratio. The source uses for this transfer is in very good shape, with only a few very minor moments of print damage. Quality wise this transfer is comparable to Arrow’s transfer for their 2006 DVD release (that release was also non anamorphic). Though Mya Communication marks the North American DVD debut of Snack Bar Budapest, the title was briefly on the radar in 2006 as one of the now defunct No Shame’s planned future releases. So this release should not come as a surprise since Mya Communication is an offshoot company that arose out of the demise of the aforementioned No Shame.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital Stereo Italian and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. There are no problems with distortion or background noise.
It should be noted that even though the back cover art lists one extra, a photo gallery, it is nowhere to be found on this release. Overall Snack Bar Budapest gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Mya Communication, that leaves plenty of room for improvement.