Our Backstreets #19: From Russia with (Too Much) Love

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By Marilyn Ferdinand

Every blogger knows the thrill when one of our posts—hopefully, our whole blog—receives a lot of hits. It’s validation that we wrote something good, something people are interested in, something that will last in the vast ephemera that is cyberspace.

Well, I have such a post about a rather obscure movie that is fully deserving of the widest exposure possible. And that’s the problem. The fact that it exposes widely has made it the most popular of my posts, thanks to a certain group of Russians who are exceedingly fond of kiddie porn.

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How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman is a marvelous film that represents the best of Brazil’s Cinema Novo movement of the 1960s and early 70s. It tells the tale of a Portuguese soldier who is being held prisoner by a Brazilian tribe, which intends to eat him in the fullness of time because they mistakenly believe he is French and therefore their enemy. Photos from the film were hard to find when I first posted this review, but I managed one. It shows an elaborately wardrobed European lying in a hammock with a nearly naked native woman in the background. In fact, this entire film is loaded with bodies naked save for a few baubles because that’s how this tribe chose to garb itself. The photo above is representative of a lot of the frames of this film.

A link to my review was posted on a discussion board by someone whose moniker appears as agepi using the Roman alphabet; if you view this person’s moving icon, I think you can imagine a better transliteration from Cyrillic than “agepi.” This link was posted September 28, 2007, and within the first couple of weeks, I had nearly 1,000 hits to my review. Unfortunately, I don’t read or write Russian, so I could not thank this sudden influx of film enthusiasts for their interest in this film and my work. Nor did I know what they were saying about it. You have to understand that when I visited the site, there were moving icons of pretty women here and there, but also one of Stalin. I didn’t suspect the nature of their interest until I started poking around the whole site a little.

My growing suspicion that the films this crowd liked were not likely to be reviewed at Ferdy on Films was confirmed by the housekeeper of one of the elderly residents of my building, who could read some Russian. Then I started getting a little wigged. I live in a town that has a large number of Russian residents. I go to the same produce markets, liquor stores, and pharmacy as they do. I’d go to the market, see a Russian sizing up some tomatoes, and wonder what he planned to do with them. I’d see a Russian at the Walgreen’s picking up a prescription and wonder whether he was getting some Viagra to use with his underage girlfriend—after he plied her with liquor from the Russian deli I’d seen him exit 10 minutes before. My life was truly a nightmare for a short time until I put the incident into perspective.

Let’s face it, fellow film bloggers, porn sites are the most popular web sites on the planet. I stumbled into this world by accident, and am regularly reminded of my dubious popularity by the hits to this review that come at a slower, but still steady pace.

Be careful what you wish for… l

  • Daniel spoke:
    5th/06/2008 to 2:56 pm

    Very interesting story, Marilyn. It speaks to both the quality of your posts and, most definitely, the spotlight you put on films that a lot of people have never heard of. This is a good thing, I think, even if it rarely gets mixed up with the wrong crowd.
    The Russians aside, this sounds like a really interesting movie.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    5th/06/2008 to 5:36 pm

    Thanks, Daniel. That’s what my mission with this site was (not the porn link, the exposure of little-known films).
    I took a class in Brazilian cinema from Gabe Klinger, who you might have read here and there in the blogosphere. He exposed me and the hubby to some great Brazilian films and talked about Cinema Novo. We hunted up How Tasty… on our own, and loved every minute of it. I highly recommend it.
    PS – This is not an erotic movie in any way, proving that nudity does not equal sexuality.

  • Ed Howard spoke:
    6th/06/2008 to 7:34 am

    That’s pretty funny — we can’t really control who finds our sites and why they read. I’m honestly a bit put off by the Russian stereotyping and the suggestion that porn=kiddie porn, though. You’re usually such an insightful, analytical reviewer, it’s disconcerting to see these kinds of uncontested assertions here just because what’s involved is an easy target like porn fans.
    On a more positive note, the film in question sounds fascinating — I’d heard the title before but never knew more about it. I’ll definitely be seeking it out.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/06/2008 to 1:27 pm

    It’s not stereotyping. It’s what I found on the site that specifically referenced my link. In fact, the board is part of a much larger site that caters to every taste.
    I was trying to be a bit lighthearted about the episode with my imagination running wild; I’m sorry you took it the wrong way. Nor do I think Russians are the only people interested in porn. It’s universal.

  • Jonathan Lapper spoke:
    9th/06/2008 to 7:05 am

    Marilyn – Getting hits from a site you don’t like is disconcerting. Just looking at how some people find my site fascinates me. The things they search for, and how, somehow, it brings them to me. I’ve been doing Cinema Styles for almost a year now and I’ve posted a lot of pictures so google images sends a lot of hits my way. There have been some odd things typed into google that has led people to me. One common one I get, often, is “Veronica Lake nude.” I have pics of plenty of stars on my site but Lake for some reason is the one they want to see nude.
    I’ve had some unsettling film board discussions about posts I’ve done as well, one of which I intervened on. I registered as a user, went to the thread, addressed everyone’s arguments as the author of the post and thankfully, it brought everything to a close.
    What a strange new world this is we’re living in.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    9th/06/2008 to 8:14 am

    Jonathan, I’m also interested in how people find me, and, like you, I get a lot of google image hits. I like those because I know which films are on people’s minds lately. Besides the Russians, the most interesting one was from a fan board for a Swedish goth band called Death Stars. I wrote an ultimately unfavorable review of You, The Living, in which one of the Death Stars appears, and a fan posted the link for his hero to crap all over. Fortunately for me, the Death Star said it’s a matter of opinion, and I’m entitled to mine. I had a brief e-mail conversation with him to try to understand what he thought of the film. It was very pleasant. I still get an occasional hit from that site, which is fine.

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