Why does this open with an Ethan Hawke personal intro, between the production logos and the title? The movie’s broad motivations are obscure, and I don’t buy many of its details. The music has Dead Man guitar improv vibes, and if it’d cut out those military marching band beats it might be truly great (the music, not the movie). Some kind of a cyber military thriller, mainly shot in ugly nighttime handheld digital. Pandemic-era: kissing through masks, smartphone in a freezer, disinfectant sprayed on $100 bills, a computer gets shot during a skype call. One Hawke zooms around Rome holding out his camera like it’s a gun (“shoot it so they believe it”), his revolutionary imprisoned Hawke Brother seems Nick Nolte-inspired.
Trauma drama in which a high schooler dies in a diving accident. I’d always been curious about this one for winning the Palme d’Or over Mulholland Drive, The Piano Teacher, Va Savoir, et al. Quality movie, mostly about the performances and the coping. Dad is a psychiatrist, catches abuse from his patients then abruptly quits the business. Eventually the family latches onto a girl who knew their son briefly, tries to befriend her and help her out, go on a spontaneous road trip together. It’s unusual to hear an Eno/Roedelius/Moebius song in a movie. Mia Madre feels like a superior remake, but this was good.
After watching the Bresson with no context, I read the Dostoevsky story it adapted, then sought out more films of the same story. Marcello is introduced socializing in this one – that doesn’t seem right. Of course, being Marcello, he can’t help but be more suave than the repressed protagonist of the story, but he’s been thoroughly movie-starred here, dancing and fighting. At least the sudden mood swings from laughter to tears are accurate to the novel. It’d make an interesting screenwriting workshop – sometimes it uses the same language as the novel to describe the same events and sometimes it does the opposite.
Great atmosphere, unbelievable set of a wintry outdoor canal city. The central bridge is only 15′ long, far from the Pont-Neuf, but the Criterion essay points out how it functions symbolically. I understand lighting is important, but shouldn’t the Italians have invented location shooting instead of making hugely complex soundstage sets if they weren’t even gonna record sound? The city of Venice didn’t hold it against him – the movie won a silver lion, second place to Aparajito (no love for Throne of Blood). Marcello is second billed, the year before Big Deal on Madonna Street, to Maria Schell, who’d just won best actress at Venice for a René Clément picture. Judging from Senso and The Leopard, I prefer modern Visconti over his period pieces.
Flashback of Schell with lodger/lover Jean Marais:
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.”