Archive for August 17th, 2009

Among other things,  Rocco & His Brothers is the story of a face. Not the face you see above, which a woman’s decorated hand is reaching to caress. That face belongs to Spiro Focas, cast as Vincenzo Parondi. Vincenzo’s visage, along with the rest of him, has already settled into lifelong complacency when the rest of the Parondis show up in Milan to pester their urban relation for support. (Incidentally, the owner of those feminine fingers – Nadia, played by Annie Girardot, will see her own expression shift from hearty cynicism to fragile vulnerability through passionate romanticism, ragged humiliation, coarse self-hatred, and back to the beginning again). Nor is it the face of Alain Delon (playing Rocco himself), which usually broadcasts arrogant assurance but here displays a touching and sweet naivitee, broken up by intense disappointment and flickers of hatred (though traces of compassion never leave his brooding eyes or bashful smile). And it isn’t even the memorable face of Katina Paxinou, the Greek actress who portrays Rosaria, the fiery Sicilian mama of the titular brood, I have in mind. (more…)

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interrogation 1

by Allan Fish

(Poland 1982 118m) DVD2

Aka. Przesluchanie

Guess, my sweetie, what there is inside my soul…

p  Tadeusz Drewno  d/w  Ryszard Bugajski  ph  Jacek Petrycki  ed  Katarzyna Maciejko  art  Janusz Sosnowski

Krystyna Janda (Antonina ‘Tonia’ Dziwisz), Adam Ferency (Lt.Morawski), Janusz Gajos (Maj.Zawada Kapielowy), Agnieszka Holland (Witkowska), Anna Romantowska (Mira Szajnert), Bozena Dykiel (peasant woman), Olgierda Lukaszewicz (Konstanty Dziwisz),

The response to that would be rather different at the beginning of the film than at the end.  As we set out, the response might be lust, fun and the pursuit of happiness.  At the end, the response would simply be nothing.  For never in movie history has a character gone on such a truly harrowing, dehumanising, not to mention purposeless, series of tortures, humiliations and trauma as our heroine here.  It combines the power and guaranteed horror of a Holocaust drama with the sincerity of the best documentaries in relating a story so fantastic, it just has to be real, even if it isn’t true. 

            In 1950s Poland, Tonia Dziwisz is a sexy cabaret singer in a sleazy dive who one night gets into a row with her husband and goes off with two admirers.  There, in a drunken stupor, she is stripped and examined, before being dragged off to an unknown location.  When she wakes up it’s on the floor of a prison.  She has been taken there by the authorities who, upon fabricating charges against a political undesirable – who just happens to be an ex-lover of hers – want her to sign a confession implicating him.  When she refuses, originally barely believing herself to be in this nightmarish predicament, they keep her incarcerated for days, weeks, even months, and in doing so subject her to all forms of torture, interrogation, cruelty and abuse.  When finally the officer in charge is reprieved, his junior takes over, but he is torn between duty to the state and his growing love for the prisoner. (more…)

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