The primal thrill of filmmaking saturates every shot, cut and sound cue in Andrea Tonacci’s Bang Bang (1971). This set of surreal vignettes basks in the glory of pasting images together beneath music, and the result is something like early Godard crossed with Man with a Movie Camera. Tonacci halfheartedly offers a nonsense plot concerning a chase over a briefcase, but the Promethean urge to animate ideas with filmstock is the star of the show. Throughout, actors sing directly to the camera, cars race along boulevards and country roads and a crossdresser eats an unhealthy amount of bananas. Tonacci isn’t building tension or telling stories, he’s providing spectacle untainted by cynicism or sentimentality. It’s unsurprising that such a film would end in a bathroom with the off-camera crew audibly laughing at the film’s lead.
Tonacci lets every one of his jokes ride right up to the point where the last bit of fun has been wrung out. He lets several mesmerizing dance sequences against a sliver of São Paulo’s skyline unfold without interruption. Similarly, two variations of the same angry cab ride proceed in their entirety. Without any telegraphed agenda, the film nevertheless feels politically charged in its assault on narrative film technique and insistence on unleashing its weirdness in the streets. Indisputably reminiscent of Breathless, Tonacci seems less devout in his worship of genre films than Godard. Instead, he’s more eager to overturn the apple cart and laugh the whole thing off.