A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Monday, October 5, 2015

Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)

Titta: Bruno Zanin
Gradisca: Magali Noël
Miranda: Pupella Maggio
Aurelio: Armando Brancia
Grandfather: Giuseppe Ianigro
Lallo: Nando Orfei
Teo: Ciccio Ingrassia
Oliva: Stefano Proietti

Director: Federico Fellini
Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tonino Guerra
Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno
Production design: Danilo Donati
Music: Nino Rota

Nostalgia, Fellini-style, with lots of bawdiness, plenty of grotesques, much comedy, and a little pathos. It was a huge hit, earning the foreign-language film Oscar and nominations for Fellini as director and as co-author (with Tonino Guerra) of the screenplay. It's certainly lively and colorful, thanks to the cinematography of Giuseppe Rotunno, the production and costume design of Danilo Donati, and of course the scoring by Nino Rota -- though it sounds like every other score he did for Fellini. What it lacks for me, though, is the grounding that a central figure like Marcello Mastroianni or Giulietta Masina typically gave Fellini's best films, among which I would name La Strada (1954), The Nights of Cabiria (1957), La Dolce Vita (1960), and 8 1/2 (1963). The presumed center of Amarcord is the adolescent Titta, whose experiences over the course of a year in a village on Italy's east coast serve to link the various episodes together. But Titta is too slight a character to serve that function the way, for example, Moraldo (Franco Interlenghi) did as the Fellini surrogate in I Vitelloni (1953). There are some marvelous moments such as the sailing of the ocean liner SS Rex past the village, which goes out to greet it in a variety of fishing and pleasure boats. But too much of the film is taken up with the noisy squabbling of Titta's family, who soon wear out their welcome -- or at least mine.