Archive for January 20th, 2016


 © 2016 by James Clark

      There are many breathtaking turns in the film, Youth (2015). The one which I can’t forget transpires during the protagonist’s conducting one of his musical compositions in a concert by request of Queen Elizabeth. A beautiful young soprano is singing and body and soul, wrapped up in a scarlet gown, are somehow so right. The conductor regards her excellence and there flashes before him a moment we saw sometime before, his wife’s corpse propped upon the window of her hospital room as he was heedlessly regaling her with their superior depths and heroic sacrifices as compared with the actions of young people in general and their daughter in particular. The lovely mouth of the both sexy and angelic professional singer becomes briefly superimposed (by means of the quick cut) upon the loyal retainer’s grotesque maw.

Its palpable harshness and incisiveness are all the more stunning in view of the film’s wanton discharge of the composer/ conductor’s paltry range of perception in all the actions which preceded that shock, actions taking place at an exclusive Swiss spa. Paolo Sorrentino, the body and soul bringing to us this puzzling treasure had, in his previous coup, The Great Beauty (2013), dished out (among other virtues) a pleasing reprise of Federico Fellini’s spotlighting Italian-Miracle oligarchs at self-indulgent play. Especially impressive in that venerable motif was the unfailing well-rounded inclusion of self-injury and confrontation of an elusive verve amidst expensive and pretentious diversions. This time, however, we are notably in the domain of clockwork mechanisms, ticking along without serious need to question the exercise. Verve’s elusiveness is indeed salient in the presumably bracing mountain air being breathed by the guests. But unlike the films based in Italy, a Vichy-like denial of outrage has come to stay. (more…)

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