Outside of a committed cult following, Italian director Fernando Di Leo remains largely unknown in the United States despite his obvious influence on contemporary crime thrillers. (Much of Quentin Tarantino's earlier work, in particular, plays direct homage to Di Leo.) By filtering noir conventions through New Wave aesthetics and uniquely Italian sensibilities (honed as a screenwriter for Spaghetti Westerns), Di Leo crafted elaborately twisted tales in which nefarious characters pursued an assortment of murderous misdeeds against a seedy backdrop of go-go clubs and gambling dens, each environ teeming with corrupt cops, wanton women, and vicious criminals. Such elements practically define Di Leo: Spaghetti Noir, a four-film series hosted by Take-Up Productions at Trylon Microcinema. Caliber 9 (1972) offers an unexpectedly sociological meditation on a paroled mobster's thwarted efforts to escape a life of bullets and bloodshed. The Italian Connection (1972) puts redemption up against even bleaker odds as a framed pimp struggles to dodge two relentless American assassins. Taking lurid thrills to graphic new heights, The Boss (1973) centers on a remorseless antihero eager to employ any means necessary to avenge the kidnapping of a mafia princess. Even more mob vendettas are served—albeit with a dose of slapstick comedy and a scenery-chewing turn from Jack Palance—in Rulers of the City (1976). By uncovering these rarely screened gems, Take-Up has launched the new year with a knockout score.
Fridays, Saturdays, 9 p.m.; Fridays-Sundays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Starts: Jan. 6. Continues through Jan. 29, 2012