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Archive for October 24th, 2010

by Joel Bocko

This series will continue exploring European classics from the 60s, with three in turn from a given country – Italy, Britain, Czechoslovakia, perhaps France. After Fists in the Pocket last week, the Italian theme continues with…

Il Posto, Italy, 1961, dir. Ermanno Olmi
Starring Sandro Panseri, Loredana Detto

Story: A quietly observant young man gets an office job in the city, where he takes his first tentative steps into the adult world, and falls in love with a pretty co-applicant.

I once read a cartoon featuring an old man lying in bed, covers pulled up to his nostrils. Next to him, an obnoxiously cheerful wife hovered, chirping, “Wake up, honey! Today’s the first day of the rest of your life!” The next panel switched to a courtroom, with the sleeping man standing in the docket and a judge slamming down his gavel. A speech balloon conveyed the verdict – “Justifiable homicide, case dismissed.” A curious anecdote with which to introduce Il Posto, because the cartoon’s arch cynicism could hardly be more out of tune with Ermanno Olmi’s warm, open humanism. Yet it serves to set the film in stark relief, because Il Posto also opens with a character in bed, his eyes wide open, a mother rather than a wife calling out to him. There are times in one’s life when clichés shake off the accoutrements of familiarity and take on a fresh, glowing meaning – “oh, that’s what they meant,” we think to ourselves. If someone told Domenico Cantoni “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” he would know exactly what they meant, and it would not be cause for a bitter, murderous outburst but rather excitement, anticipation, worry, and a bit of fear.

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(Ingmar Bergman, 1968)

(essay by Kevin)

“The Hour of the Wolf” is the hour between night and dawn. It is the hour when most people die. It is the hour when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fear, when ghosts and demons are most powerful.

Imagine if I told you that the tagline above is for a movie called The Cannibals – sounds like an ordinary horror film, doesn’t it? Now, imagine I tell you that the above tagline is for a movie directed by Ingmar Bergman – you would probably think it was an art-house film about the dark night of the soul. Okay, so now I will tell you that Ingmar Bergman – after having a nervous breakdown – decided to make two of his darkest and most personal films in the form of Persona (a wildly popular and revered film art-house film) and Hour of the Wolf (originally entitled The Cannibals).  As odd as it may seem to see an Ingmar Bergman on a list for the best horror films I’ve always felt that it was around this time of the 60’s and 70’s that Bergman was not only making the best movies of his career, but he was also doing it in the form of deeply introspective and contemplative films that came from the darkest depths of the man’s artistry and philosophies. (more…)

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