Voiceover on opening titles tells us it’s a city film and has no story, good to get that out of the way. Italian folklore involves praising the ducks for helping the army? (google says it was geese). As expected, everyone is crazy for the pope. Memories of filmgoing with obstructed-view seats. The rainy highway sequence is a highlight. I know my standards have been lowered by a recent Argento, but sometimes the dubbing is almost good, like somebody gave a shit. Cheerfully profane once it gets to the theater for a variety show. Ancient artworks are discovered beneath the city, then minutes later the air exposure destroys them. Significant time spent with prostitutes, of course. Corny holy fashion show, and an outstanding Anna Magnani cameo. Bikers ride through the city at night, and okay so it’s not a narrative movie, but it really lacks an ending.
Bruce is a foreigner in an English-speaking airport, and between the camera focus and sense of humor, movie gets off to a very shaky start, and never quite gets going. Okay yes, he fights Chuck Norris at the Colosseum, and at least Chuck is fast, unlike every other unworthy opponent here. And a pretty cool villain in Uncle Wang, who Bruce is supposed to be helping out before he goes insane and knifes his own men.
American Sam witnesses a woman get attacked in an art gallery after hours, then gets stalked by the killer and suspected by the asshole cops, but seems fine just hanging around Italy and playing detective. He replays what he saw at the scene (nicely done, with freeze frames and zooms) and the Honeywell-brand police computer equipment prints statistics and an outline of the attacker. Sam follows some unusual leads, of course paintings are involved, while his friend gets killed and his girlfriend Giulia kidnapped. Turns out the killer is Monica, the apparent victim of the gallery incident, and we get neat psychological explanations of everything over the ending.
The bird > the poster > the movie. This was Dario’s debut feature. Sam is Tony Musante, who really is American despite the dubbing, has been in a couple James Gray movies. Giulia is British, a screamer in Berberian Sound Studio. The Inspector is from Hercules and the Captive Women, and murderess Eva Renzi from The Prodigal Daughter. DP Vittorio Storaro shot The Spider’s Stratagem and The Conformist, also in 1970, a productive year.
Sam, his girl Giulia, and their Black Power poster:
Victim Killer Monica:
This is the 500th horror movie in the blog, holy shit. We’ve been running for over 15 years, so that’s around 2.7 horror movies per month. We can do better, I know we can.
A fantastic follow-up to Pig – in fact, I should’ve watched them in reverse order. The men are famed truffle hunters caught up in a lucrative industry (I think the reseller is quadrupling the price he pays the hunters when selling to restaurants) which has become barbaric (at least one dog gets poisoned), while they just want to spend time in the woods with their beloved dogs. Alternates between careful right-angle framing, and other sorts of things (dog-mounted camera!).
After Cars 3 and Onward, we nearly skipped another Pixar movie, but Luca was rescued by our needing to find something light to watch with family after Eurovision. Sea monsters can appear/act convincingly human when dry, and while their adults warn of brutal fishermen above the waves the kids dream of earthly wonders (book-learnin’, Vespas). The Call Me By Your Name joke similarities fell away pretty quickly, and it eventually becomes an uplifting story of universal acceptance without any of the hard parts in between, when local kids are exposed as sea monsters in the middle of a town with a generations-old fear of sea monsters, and everyone shrugs and celebrates a minute later. Sponsored by Vespa. Casarosa was last seen on the short before Brave with another story of sailors doing magical things.
Rare is the movie that makes me daydream about making my own movies. I have no particular vision or story, no equipment or skill, no network of collaborators, no funds, no interest. But all during this movie I was imagining making my own little home movies, alone, with my phone camera. I don’t expect they’d be an improvement on this movie, they’re almost guaranteed to be worse, which is depressing, since this movie was barely watchable, with its flailing sub-Ruizian visuals – I think you have to be on this guy’s particular wavelength of religion and art and history to understand what he’s on about. He does some surreptitiously-filmed drunken performance art in a public square. Searching the Vogel for fitting keywords: “exasperating… grotesque… constant aural bombardment.”
Opens with a lot of text about a lot of people in 1980 that I’m not gonna remember, but fortunately the rest is easy to follow. After an absolute slaughter of various gang members, including Tommaso’s two sons, Tommaso does the unthinkable and testifies. He’s tortured in prison, hides in witness protection in the USA, testifies in two major trials, sending friends and enemies to prison. The action spans from 1980 to 2000, and with nonstop event and dialogue for two and a half hours, it’d take me longer to unwind and recount it than it took to watch it. It’s no American Made, but it passed the time on a weekend afternoon.
Such a talky movie, it’s hard to find screenshots without subtitles:
Best period detail: in New Hampshire the grocery store sells AR-15 rifles. Our (anti)hero is Pierfrancesco Favino, star of a movie called ACAB. His enemy/friend Judge Falcone is Bellocchio regular Fausto Russo Alesi, and his wife is TV star Maria Fernanda Cândido. This played the stacked competition at Cannes along with Portrait, Parasite, Bacurau, Atlantics, Hidden, Joe, and Hollywood.
Not sure if this guy was real or just a story, but it’s a good story:
Marcello’s Martin Eden is getting Cinema Scope cover-story attention, so I’m catching up with his previous feature. “Dreams and fables, although imaginary, should tell the truth.” There’s something here, history and metaphor, with documentary footage of protests edited in – it was sometimes beautiful, but the meaning was lost on me.
Tommaso is a volunteer caretaker at an abandoned palace. He dies unexpectedly, so party-masked afterlife character Pulcinella takes on Tommaso’s rescued baby buffalo and searches for its home, the movie narrated at times by the buffalo and using a cow’s-eye lens.
Tommaso did die, at Christmas a year and a half before this movie came out. Marcello had filmed him for an episode of a doc journeying through parts of Italy, and after Tommaso passed, he transformed the film by summoning Pulcinella to continue the journey.
Blake Williams in Cinema Scope:
Both of them, the immortal and the livestock, traverse the bucolic Roman region on a odyssey comprising assorted side narratives, dispirited souls, and scraps of historical detritus they encounter along the way, absorbing them into the film’s whimsical and sombre exquisite corpus … [the buffalo] meanwhile, rambles about his quest to live on a distant star, recounts dreams of humans sprouting wings and flying out to celestial lands of immortality, and preaches about how “being a buffalo is an art,” living as he must in a world that denies animals have souls. To Marcello’s credit, he’s able to keep the barminess of these proceedings in check, balancing the film’s didactic “points” and fantastic flourishes into its network of ideas without lessening the sincerity of its depressive tone.
Having a rough week, I considered pulling out the emergency relief film, Paddington 2, but Brian Dennehy had just died, and I’d long wanted to see it, so chose to watch the movie about a man in constant pain whose professional and personal life falls apart until he commits suicide – great fuckin’ idea.
Composer Wim Mertens does a serviceable Michael Nyman impression – or maybe that was Glenn Branca, one of his few film credits. Architect Dennehy is in Rome with wife Louisa (Chloe Webb, just off starring in Sid & Nancy) outlining the exhibition he’s preparing on an obscure French architect. Webb is pregnant, and having a blatant affair with Lambert Wilson, who is also stealing money and discrediting Dennehy so he can take over the exhibition, and whose photographer sister Stefania Casini (Jessica Harper’s murdered friend in Suspiria) is trying to seduce Dennehy. I like how Dennehy finds her room full of photographs of previous scenes, as if whenever Casini is offscreen, she’s filming the movie we’re watching.