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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Tropical Ecstasy

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"Tropical Ecstasy" stars the one, only and insatiable Isabel Sarli. I haven't been reviewing a lot of skin flicks recently: they don't seem adaptable to the critic's craft. If their sole purpose is to turn you on, who am I to say what turns you on?

But Miss Sarli - ah! Her lower lip is the most exquisite in all of X-rated movies, as you'll recall from "Heat" (1972) and "Fuego" (1969). And now it's back, and all the rest of her. The plot is the same as always. It was written by Armando Bo, her husband, who also directs, produces and co-stars. It involve's Miss Sarli as a creature of passion, in love with an older man (Armando) but driven by unquenchable fires into the arms of all other men or as many as find themselves within reach.

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The movie is acted with such seriousness and naive intensity that it's sort of touching, when it's not funny. But what makes it go is Miss Sarli. Her lower lip apart, what I like about her is her narcissism. Most actresses in skin flicks appear frigid and disdainful of sex. Not Miss Sarli, who clearly believes she is beautiful and irresistibly voluptuous. When she plays a scene with a man, she doesn't stand there reciting her lines. She undulates and blinks her eyes at him and pouts and puts her hands on her hips, and it's corny but it's sincere. I like Isabel Sarli, I guess, because she likes herself.

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