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Archive for August 17th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(Italy/France 1960 174m) DVD1/2

Aka. The Sweet Life

This isn’t love, it’s brutalisation!

p  Giuseppe Arnato  d  Federico Fellini  w  Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi, Pier Paolo Pasolini  ph  Otello Martelli  ed  Leo Cattozzo  m  Nino Rota (including “Toccata and Fugue” by Johann S.Bach)  art/cos  Piero Gherardi

Marcello Mastroianni (Marcello Rubini), Anita Ekberg (Sylvia), Anouk Aimée (Maddalena), Alain Cuny (Steiner), Yvonne Furneaux (Emma), Magali Noel (Fanny), Nadia Gray (Nadia), Lex Barker, Jacques Sernas, Laura Betti,

No other film in the European cinema has had such a cultural impact as Fellini’s classic from the turn of the sixties, a film that represented the changing of the guard; both cinematically in terms of Fellini turning from his neo-realist roots, and in terms of a new direction for the cinema itself.  Without it, perhaps the later Italian masters Pasolini (who helped on the script here) and Bertolucci would not have been so welcomed.

The plot of Dolce is difficult to pin down, not least because it doesn’t follow the traditional narrative structure, rather showing us a disparate collection of sequences seen through the observant eyes of Mastroianni’s immoral paparazzi wastrel.  His Marcello truly is a womanising, untrustworthy hedonistic soul who represents his era in a nutshell, and we follow him through his early encounters with a Swedish film actress through the media circus of a potential religious miracle to a truly iconic final orgy in a seaside house where anything goes and nihilism reigns.  (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(UK 2004 235m) DVD1/2

It’s grim up north

p  Kate Bartlett  d  Brian Percival  w  Sandy Welch  novel  Elizabeth Gaskell  ph  Peter Greenhalgh  ed  Kristina Hetherington  m  Martin Phipps  art  Simon Elliott  cos  Mike O’Neill

Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret Hale), Richard Armitage (John Thornton), Tim Pigott-Smith (Richard Hale), Sinead Cusack (Hannah Thornton), Lesley Manville (Maria Hale), Pauline Quirke (Dixon), Brendan Coyle (Nicholas Higgins), Lucy Brown (Ann Latimer), Anna Maxwell Martin (Bessie Higgins), Jo Joyner (Fanny Thornton),

The title makes one recall with horror those God awful Civil War TV epics from the mid eighties with Patrick Swayze, and in doing so think of a clash of two nations to make one.  The North & South here is somewhat different in that there’s no war, but there’s a conflict all the same.  “It’s not another planet”, Margaret Hale tells her mother referring to the North in the opening sequences of this adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s greatest work, and yet it makes one smile, for those coming from “down South” have been known to think of any place north of Oxford as being full of people for whom “it’s all money and smoke, it’s all they live and breathe.”  It really was another planet.

There is conflict here, though, and on several levels.  It’s 1851 and former parson Richard Hale takes his fragile wife Maria and wilful daughter Margaret away from their idyllic Hampshire cottage to live in the grim northern city of Milton, where he intends to make a living giving reading lessons and lectures to men of means in the culture deprived North with an idea of bettering themselves.  The owner of the local cotton mill John Thornton meets and falls for Margaret, but they first meet in unfortunate circumstances and she rejects his suit.  And as his hopes are dashed, his mill begins to fail.  (more…)

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