Giulia non esce la sera

[Screenshot]I’m not entirely certain how this ended up in my queue. I have a lot of films like that. But I did my best to get into it, and partially succeeded. This is rather a film that keeps the viewer at arm’s length: Guido’s motivation and character are rather opaque, in spite of the glimpses of his psyche we get through his story-writing. On account of his somewhat inscrutable character, it’s hard to get much of a read on his wife either: it’s clear there’s no chemistry any more, but I never got a feel for the cause and effect between Guido’s infidelity and the cooling of his marriage (or, indeed, whether I was supposed to view his infidelity as particularly a character flaw). Some of this may be cultural: Eurpoeans have historically, and to a certain extent still do, take a different attitude towards the nature of a household which makes something like, say, Guido refusing to move at the same time as the rest of his family, seem a bit less bizarre.

There are definitely some tender moments in the story, particularly involving Guido’s attitudes towards his daughter and her boyfriend, which I found appealing. I liked the interplay between Guido’s creative endeavors and his real-world interactions, and the satirical look at the literary world as a whole was a nice sidelight. Unfortunately in the end almost all these interesting elements are dwarfed by Giulia’s drama, and the last half of the story, in spite of its dramatic tension, never quite felt as engaging as the earlier section where Guido felt more human and more involved with his world as a whole (on the other hand, maybe his withdrawal from his former interests was the whole point, and I missed it completely.

Technically the film was competent, making use of cinematically motivated shot framing and lighting; it’s a bit too fond of blue-tones but is clearly trying to keep the camerawork and lighting fundamentally aesthetic. I always have trouble assessing the expressiveness of actors not speaking English, so I’m not too clear on the acting potential.

See also: IMDB.

La Masseria delle Allodole

[Screenshot]The Armenian genocide is one of thise things which people never actually think about when thy remember the atrocities of the twentieth century. I’d only really encountered it incidentally, and it’s one of those things which it probably is worth knowing more about, so I took a look at this film. It is a good historical primer but at best a mediocre movie. It’s good at calling attention to the roles and relationships Armenians had to the extoeric culture, both in Turkey and abroad. But the progression of the plot and the character development was a bit flat: the film comes to life only through horror, and neither the unfortunate Armenian family central to the plot nor their Turkish tormenters feel like distinct individuals at any time. It’s not a bad film, and it is generally competent on technical points, but it fails to really make its quite tragic historical source authentically affecting.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

Vizi privati, pubbliche virtù

[Screenshot]I like Miklós Jancsó. His films are not always good, but they’re usually visually and stylistically arresting, with extraordinary landscape visuals and stylized action. I was willing to forgive Decameron ’69 because that was a flawed project and he was the best thing about it. I’m not sure I can defend this one, though. I get the impression there’s part of Jancsó’s usual political point buried in this one: Prince Rudolf was apparently a supporter of Hungarian rights, and fashionable Hungarian conspiracy theories hold that he was assassinated for his views. That particular conspiracy theory is a tiny part of this incredibly tedious piece of ostensible erotica. Yes, “erotica”. Jancsó’s films typically involve a fair bit of incidental nudity, but it’s usually artistic; here it comes across as merely hedonistic, with orgy on orgy broken up by tedious monologuing. The artistic eye, I’m afraid, is all but absent from this one, and there’s very little to recommend it. Er, unless you like excruciatingly long orgy scenes (no, seriously, they’re not actually all that stimulating. I’m not being a prude or a wet blanket. These scenes just are not very good, artistically speaking).

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

La tigre e la neve

[Screenshot]Benigni can’t win them all, I guess. I rented this mostly on a shared recommendation with La vita é bella, but ended up getting a lot less out of it. Some of it may have been the surrealism: Benigni’s dreams with a kangaroo and Tom Waits don’t do much to make the real scenes seem real. Some may have been the setting shift: at this point in time, anything set in Iraq seems all-too-suffused with the political. And some may have just been the changes in characters: a clownish hero trying to preserve a child’s innocence is a just plain more meaty dynamic than a clowing hero assuring an adult woman in a coma that everything’s going to be alright. Not that The Tiger and the Snow is a bad movie, but, y’know, it wasn’t up to the level of dazzling brilliance I expected.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

La Notte di San Lorenzo/The Night of the Shooting Stars

[Screenshot]This one was tricky for me. It seemed to have all the right bits, but managed to lose my engagement early and never really get it back. Perhaps it was the comparatively large cast of characters, none of whome were quite well-defined enough for me to really become invested in their individual struggles and dramas. There’s a lot going on with frictions among various villagers against the backdrop of their flight nad desperation, but for soem reason I didn’t follow it all (there were a few scenes where I wasn’t clear whose lines were subtitled with what, which might have added to my confusion. There were moments which shone through as indicative of a greater theme, as, for instance, the massacre in the fields, driving home the absurdity of civil war, as partisans and fascists greet each other as brothers and are shot, then swap shirts and deceptively shoot their own ostensible comrades. It’s a bit of a farce, but like any good farce has an edge.

Anyways, it was a cinematographically solid work, and I can even grant the power of the source material. I’d imagine the problem in this case was me, so anyone with an interest in a pastoral story from wartime Italy might well like it. I thoguht I would too, but tastes are sometimes mysterious and weird.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.