Wednesday, July 1, 2020

"365 Days" Or Love With The Proper Violent Stranger

It's easy to mark off "365 Days" if you have a calendar like this one.

Hey, kids! Have you heard about the super racy movie now playing on Netflix?!

It's called "365 Days" and it's a crazy quilt stitched together from scraps referencing "The Collector", "Beauty and the Beast", "Indecent Proposal", "The Conqueror", "9 1/2 Weeks", "Pretty Woman", "50 Shades of Grey", "The Adventurers", "The Godfather", "The Long Hot Summer", "Swept Away", "Tattoo", "The Taming of the Shrew" and "The Bold and the Beautiful".

With a pinch of Stockholm Syndrome thrown in. And a dollop of "Hot Felon" Jeremy Meeks. And really bad '80's-type music. 

And nudity. Lots of nudity.

 "365 Days" is about a ruthless yet smoldering Italian mafioso named Mossimo (Michele Morrone) who becomes obsessed with a Polish hotel executive named Laura (Anna Maria Sieklucka).

 Other stuff you can do in "365 Days"--besides falling for the gangster who kidnaps you.

How obsessed?

So obsessed, he kidnaps Laura when she's on vacation, locks her up in his splashy villa and announces she has one year--the 365 days of the title-- to fall in love with him, "Not because I made you do it, but because you want to."

That's how obsessed.

And what happens when the 365 days are up and boss lady Laura fails to fall for Mossimo?

He says he'll set her free.

"Will you trim my nose hair?": Laura (Anna Maria Sieklucka) and Mossimo (Michele Morrone) share a steamy encounter (they're in a shower)., when a smoldering Italian mafioso presents you with a deal like that, what's a girl to do? 

If she's a girl like Laura, she'll toss her head, narrow her eyes and defiantly declare, "I'm not a bag of potatoes you can transfer without my permission!"

True, true. So Mossimo launches into a spiel about how Laura's face was the last thing he saw before he was shot (don't ask) and how he spent five years searching for her and how "somewhere inside of me, I had this feeling of certainty that you would stand in front of me and be mine."

(Coincidentally, I felt exactly the same way about Shaun Cassidy, but unlike Mossimo, I grew out of it.)

"You must be kidding!" an irritated Laura snarls. "You can't have me just like that!"
"These new safety belts leave nothing to chance": Laura and Mossimo fly the unfriendly skies.

"I know," Mossimo replies. "That's why I'm giving you a chance to fall in love with me."

This causes Laura snaps back, "I don't need a chance to fall in with yooo!"

And what does the smitten kitten Italian mafioso do to earn Laura's love? Write her poetry? Share his feelings? Remember to put the toilet seat down? 

Uh, no.

Strangely, Mossimo doesn't do anything to prove he's worthy of Laura's love. Yes, he takes her shopping. His chef prepares her favorite meals. He takes her sight-seeing. He flies her on his fancy jet. However, Mossimo also surrounds her with tough-looking body guards and the local police don't mess with him. And did I forget to mention Mossimo had Laura carted on board the plane by one of his mafioso flunkies and then tied up in her seat?

A film critic being comforted after watching "365 Days"? No, it's just Mossimo...after watching "365 Days".

 In the absence of a more credible plot, "365 Days" forces the audience to endure a "battle of the sexes" between the principals, where Laura and Mossimo tease/provoke each other in hopes of getting their way...or driving the other person insane. Thus, Laura prances around in naughty underwear, dances like a hose monkey and licks ice cream cones. Mossimo, on the other hand, models his ripped physique and shows off his manly package, asking Laura, "You want to touch it?" When she declines, Mossimo trusses her up in his S&M playroom and growls "I'm going to show you what you're missing."

Sure enough, a leather-clad hooker (an employee on a 24-hour retainer?) appears and gives Mossimo the ne plus ultra of b@#$!&*s. When they're done, Mossimo crawls over to Laura like a stalking panther and announces, "Dress up! We need to be in one of my clubs in two hours!"

It's this "erotic tug of war" that has garnered "365 Days" its sky-high Netflix ratings and an avalanche of  publicity--it can't be for the acting (rim shot). Yet, all the posing and posturing and preening by the leads accomplishes nothing, because A) it fails to make Laura fall for Mossimo and B) it doesn't make Mossimo realize his "request" is unhealthy and illegal. Instead, Laura only changes her mind about her "host" after she falls off his yacht and he dives in to save her.

"You really do care!" Laura pants.


"Try a Little Tenderness": Laura and Mossimo reach a turning point in their "relationship."

Yes, I understand the poor dear has been under extreme stress and is likely experiencing elements of Stockholm Syndrome. However, this sudden switcheroo is too much--not as much as learning there was no monster at the end of  "Monster A-Go Go", but unsupportable none the less.

Yet, according to the filmmakers, this is an important emotional break through for Mossimo and Laura. Now that they've reached this "deeper understanding", their love can bloom.

And in "365 Days", love and sex are the same thing, so our cuddlemates have sex. But not just any sex. No Way! After all that pent up passion/frustration, our cuddlemates launch into a marathon of sheet-twisting, back-arching, eyeballs roll to the back of your head, pillow-biting sex. Laura and Mossimo go at it so fiercely, in fact, it's amazing they don't spontaneously combust. Or give each other a heart attack. Or burn a hole in the mattress.

As every bad movie fan knows, the course of true lust never runs smooth. After Mossimo and Laura fornicate until the cows come home, they still have a few details to attend to. Like, Anna (Nataza Urbanska), Mossimo's sultry ex-girlfriend who doesn't take kindly to being replaced. After watching our cuddlemates dance a torrid tango at a costume ball (again, don't ask) Anna strolls over and purrs,"Beautiful dance." She then introduces herself to Laura as "the first and only real love of Mossimo". Turning to the mafioso, Anna asks in Italian, "Shall I kill her?" before announcing, "I'll take the most precious thing you you did me."

Hmmm...not good.

The Love Boat?: Laura picks some sea lice out of Mossimo's chin stubble.

Other complications include Laura's parents back home in Warsaw; Mossimo doesn't want them to know he's a gangster or to attend the wedding. However, he lets Laura have one bridesmaid. There is also some mysterious mafia business (including a lost shipment of coke), Laura's "bad heart" condition, Mossimo ordering Laura back to Poland without explanation, Laura hooking up with her wacky friend Olga, Laura running into her ex Martin at a dance club where he begs her forgiveness and Laura deciding to go blonde. Oh, yes, and Laura is starting to feel sick, especially in the mornings. Did you get all that?

Strangely, none of these plot points are developed to any depth; that's especially true regarding Laura's "bad heart". I hate to be nitpick-y, but while Mossimo admits "I didn't know about your bad heart", Laura's heart condition doesn't worry her a bit. In fact, she never mentions needing her heart medications, seeing her cardiologist or worrying if the stress and/or marathon sex sessions she's experiencing could be placing an undue burden on her ticker. And what about that bun in her oven? Heart conditions can complicate pregnancy, yet "365 Days" never explores any of that, either. Instead, these sub-plots are just put out there and then quickly forgotten. 

This is the point where fans of the flick will say, "It's the hot co-stars and the hotter sex that people want to see! Nobody cares about that other stuff!"   

However, even the much discussed sex scenes in "365 Days" don't quite live up to the hype. Why? Putting our cuddlemates' athletic prowess aside for a moment, the sex scenes are mechanical, highly choreographed and lack an obvious emotional connection between the people involved. Think of Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger in "LA Confidential", Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin in "The Big Easy" or Debra Winger and Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman": Mossimo and Laura never develop those kind of sparks; indeed, they're more like crash test dummies getting it on by remote control. As the late, great Roger Ebert would say, there is plenty of biology, but no chemistry-- and without that chemistry, their coupling falls flat.

Let's now turn our attention to leading man Michele Morrone. I'm the first to admit that Mr. Morrone is perfectly cast as a sultry, smoldering guy (he's a former model, naturally, and played a merman in an Italian TV series). No doubt he'll rank high in People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" issue and certainly deserves a close look as a possible contender for the title. However, the character he portrays in "365 Days" is a real monster: threatening, controlling, dominating, violent. It's clear he views women as objects meant to serve and then discard. When he talks about why he kidnapped Laura, it was all about what she would provide for him--he never considered her feelings for a second. And although he says repeatedly that he won't touch Laura without her permission, he grabs her throat a lot and says stuff like, "I'm NOT use to DISOBEDIENCE!" It's clear Mossimo is a violent person with a spring-coil temper--and that's not sexy, that's physically dangerous.

Michele Morrone: This beauty is a real nasty beast.

Of course, the flick tries to paint Mossimo as a "sensitive" mobster because he won't involve his "family" in human trafficking. However, kidnapping and emotional abuse are serious crimes, too. Just because the guy doing them is extremely good looking doesn't make them any less awful.

Despite "365 Days" commercial success, the reviews have been universally bad--and are far more entertaining than the flick. Some of my favorite user reviews on the IMDd are headlined as follows: "Toxic", "Horrible", "Stupid", "It Sucks", "WTH was This?", "I Wish There was a Zero Star" and (my favorite) "If You're into Porn and Don't Read Novels, You'll Like It." To paraphrase John Barbor, if this movie were any more of a dog, it would shed.

So why is "365 Days" so popular? 

I honestly don't know. Some pundits have blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced people to shelter in place and some folks are getting, well, frustrated because they can't meet and mingle--if you catch my drift. After all, you can't watch cat videos on YouTube everyday! With bars, restaurants, movie theaters, concerts and all other social activities cancelled for the time being, tuning into a nutty Polish quasi-porn movie starring an incredibly handsome Italian leading man is the perfect distraction for these truly surreal times.

So movie lovers, please always remember, and never forget, being trussed up in a S&M "playroom" screams "unhealthy relationship". And if a stranger comes up to you and asks, "Are you lost, baby girl?", run, run, RUN.


"I'm just as confused as you are": One of Mossimo's flunkies doubts our cuddlemates will live happily ever after.


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