After volunteering to be part of a program designed to get people to stop smoking, K is given an Account -- an android designed to look like a woman but exists to help K quit smoking. Even with an Account following him around, K continues to search for Eszter -- his love and the person responsible for stealing his pack of HB cigarettes -- and in his search for her, he comes across The Surgeon. A madman who is butchering women under the comand of the Anti-Smoke Centre. This discovery causes K to uncover the truth of the company and their diabolical intentions.
Good news, everyone! After having my mind melted from the incredible experience that was watching "VigasioSexploitation Volume 2", I was finally released from the intensive care unit at the local hospital. Of course the first thing I did after being released was go and watch Sebastiano's follow up film, "K, smette di fumare" -- what can I say, I like to live dangerously. Sebastiano delivered two very different movies with the "VigasioSexploitation" series and because of that, I didn't know what to expect with "K, smette di fumare". With Sebastiano's style it is impossible to have expectations of any kind. Yet still he has managed to surprise me with another movie that walks a fine line between schlock and art. Trashy and philosophical.
After being called to The City and avoiding an assassination attempt from Gun, K starts investigating a local Anti-Smoke Centre to see what their ties are to Gun and K's missing pack of HB. To get close to the company K enrolls in their anti-smoking program where he is given an Account -- a female android designed specifically to fit K's personality in order to help him quit smoking. While on the trail of his missing pack of HB cigarettes, K comes across a lead to Eszter -- K's love interest -- it also leads him to the sadistic Surgeon: a man who's going around butchering women for the Anti-Smoke Centre. This discovery leads K to uncover the truth behind the Anti-Smoking Centre and the true purpose of the Accounts. To push their clients to do sexual and violent extremes in order for the Anti-Smoke Centre to sell the footage off to high paying clients.
Even though I didn't know what to expect from "K, smette di fumare" I was still surprised to see how more subdued this movie was in comparison to the second installment of "VigasioSexploitation". It was a return to the noir influence Sebastiano demonstrated in the first "VigasioSexploitation" movie. A more quiet and methodical movie. Of course, what would a Sebastiano Montresor movie be without his amazing ability to push the boundaries of absurdism?
"K, smette di fumare" is another multi-layered (sorry for using that phrase) experiment that is able to see just how many polarizing styles can incorporated into a film and have it still work. For starters, you have the general meat of the film: the noir-based story of a man named K investigating a anti-smoking company but uncovers the truth of a company that uses androids, called Accounts, that remove the inhibitions from their clients and push their desire for lust and blood. Then a stark, brooding style is added to the movie where the characters dispense a form of idealism that is able to connect existentialism to smoking -- and have it work, amazingly. Of course, there is always that secondary style that's more about comedy, shlock and absurdity. A style where it makes you question whether what you're watching is intended to be serious or a tongue-in-cheek movie that's taking the piss out of itself.
Sebastiano had similar elements to his previous movies, but he kicks things up another notch by including a comic book/animation style to "K, smette de fumare". A style that pushes the humor and absurdity even further but somehow, SOMEHOW, never feels out of place or that it's taking things too far. Even in scenes where The Surgeon is killing a woman and the screen is being hit with white splats along with call-outs of the action sound effects. Similar to what was done in the "Batman" TV series from the '60s.
Sitting here and contemplating the movie, I can't help but think, "How? How are such contradicting styles able to work together in a movie and not feel completely out of place?" Naturally, I just assumed Sebastiano was nothing more than an wizard with terrifying magical powers. Then logic came in and I realized that's not possible -- or is it? Stupid, terrible jokes aside; the unusual paring of styles is what I've come to really love about Sebastiano's work. He never allows his movies to have boundaries. He's not afraid to create a juxtaposition between the artistic and the ridiculous. It allows his work to have a much more organic atmosphere to them; the movies run their own course instead of being limited to the concept of what a movie should be. Not having those boundaries in place is what allows these differing styles and ideas to come together. It's why "K, smette di fumare" is able to have something as completely silly as having those "Batman" inspired sound-effects being spelled out on screen while also having characters discuss the significance of existence in relation to the cigarettes they are and are not smoking.
It is not surprising that "K, smette di fumare" was another fun and unusual movie from Sebastiano Montresor. While only being the third movie I've seen from him, I absolutely love what he does because he does whatever he wants in his movies and manages to make them work. Admittedly, I did find myself having a hard time keeping up with the story in "K, smette di fumare" but it didn't stop me from having fun with the ridiculous and over-the-top comic style.