Archive for March 20th, 2013


© 2013 by James Clark

This past year has brought a rich array of films that tackle from various angles the challenge of doing justice to one’s sensibility. In paying homage to these works, I would often recall that past master of presenting the transcendent glow of finite intent, namely, Michelangelo Antonioni. It’s time, I think, to reacquaint ourselves with this consummate, deluxe designer of haunting cinematic anticipation. With so many and varied practitioners in the field now, the brave and virtually solitary researches Antonioni dared to put into play can function as a welcome—even necessary—draft of extremely quiet, extremely direct traction for a métier surging into Surrealist extravaganza (often provoked by Antonioni’s contemporary, the sombre and formidably equipped Dadaist, Robert Bresson.)

I’ve become fascinated in gradually realizing that almost the full complement of this indie—yes—but also guerrilla art has, apparently, been produced by casts and crews expending a remarkable devotedness to the projects, matching that of the often troubled and troubling auteur. Antonioni’s accomplishment, for instance, is inconceivable without the presence of his muse, lover and heaven-sent physiognomy, Monica Vitti. So it was something of a jolt to learn that the film on tap here, La Notte (1961)—where she plays a somewhat minor role—hinged upon two great performers (and specialists, to boot, concerning problematic incident), namely, Marcelo Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau, who hated this assignment and did not take seriously the roles they were to sustain. Mastroianni, in particular, already a star due to his memorable work in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, spent quite a bit of time on the set quarrelling with one of the writers of the piece, Tonino Guerra. And that rancor, with its behind-the-scenes clutter, cues our special concern here, regarding the precise nature of Antonioni’s pristine disclosures within complex and even Byzantine involvement by associates, though contrarian with regard to conventional filmmaking, unlikely to have absorbed the unique physicality of his inspiration. (more…)

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