Philip Concannon reports back from this year’s Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna.
No two experiences of Il Cinema Ritrovato will be the same. The festival’s vast and eclectic programme offers so many options for the curious film fan, there’s really no right way to navigate it. Some will choose to revisit old favourites screened from original prints or restored copies, while others will focus on rare titles and unknown quantities. Treats are to be found in every corner of the festival, along with a number of very difficult choices. On a single evening in Bologna, you could see one of the following: D.A. Pennebaker introducing Monterey Pop on Piazza Maggiore’s huge screen; the Austrian silent film Die kleine Veronika presented on a carbon projector; or a new restoration of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, with Dario Argento himself in attendance. It’s not always easy being a cinephile.
Part of an occasional series in which Spank The Monkey travels to foreign countries, watches films in unfamiliar languages, and then complains about not understanding them. This episode: Germany and Italy, March 2016.
Part of an occasional series in which Spank The Monkeytravels to foreign countries, watches films in unfamiliar languages, and then complains about not understanding them. Episode 20: Italy, June 2015.
Federico Fellini’s Satyricon gets a rare public screening in London next week.Niall Anderson welcomes it back.
Little dates faster than cinematic representations of the future; except perhaps cinematic representations of the past. Federico Fellini’s Satyricon (or, to use its pettifogging official title, Fellini-Satyricon) is ostensibly set in and around Nero’s Rome, but it couldn’t be more 1969 if it quoted Shelley while opening a big hamper of dying butterflies in Hyde Park.
A rarefied episodic adventure involving witches, cannibalism, mutilation and at least one character becoming a god, Satyricon is so committed to modish 60s estrangement techniques that the viewer is sometimes distracted from what’s really strange about it. Not the nudity, the gore, the jump-cuts, the spikily intrusive score, or the scenes that end mid-sentence; rather the bizarre calmness of the cinematography and a casual scenic beauty that constantly upstages the actual drama. Satyricon doesn’t play these aspects off against each other so much as it keeps piling them on, layer after layer. For all the deliberate dreamlike elaboration of its technique, Satyricon comes across as a very different dream to what Fellini may have intended. Continue reading A Science Fiction of the Past→
There is a scene in Vittorio De Sica’s Il Boom where a number of well-to-do Italians dance to a band who are performing the tackier sort of early 60s pop song. The lyrics are sung in English. That same quality of a cheap import is imbued in the title of the film. Whereas most European countries created a label in their own language to denote their rapid, post-war economic growth (it is hard to think of a word less German than Wirtschaftswunder), the Italian media co-opted their term from English. ‘Il Boom’ has connotations of something messy and uncontrollable, while at the same time seeming voguish and silly, perhaps even meaningless. Such associations suit De Sica’s satire – which is interested in showing us the empty spaces that might be concealed by the ostentatious sixties prosperity.
It’s not hard to see Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1964 film, Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew), as a deliberate shift away from, perhaps even rebuke to, the style of religious filmmaking that had poured out of Hollywood in the 1950s and early 1960s. These were gaudy, technicolor affairs, stuffed with earnest matinee idols, hammy character actors and hundreds of extras. Starlets draped in wisps of chiffon would flash kohl-rimmed eyes at pained looking holy men. And just in case we were in danger of forgetting, a stentorian voiceover would remind us that This Is The Word Of The Lord.
In contrast, Pasolini’s film is simple and spare. Shot in stark black and white with a cast of non-professionals, it follows the linear narrative of Matthew’s gospel. We move through the familiar beats of Christ’s life: the visit of the three wise men and flight into Egypt; the baptism in the river Jordan and temptation in the wilderness; the calling of the apostles; the preaching and miracles; culminating in Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem, his betrayal by Judas Iscariot, arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. Continue reading The Gospel According to Pasolini→
Concetta Sidoti rounds up our LFF11 coverage with a special report on the Italian films that played at the festival
For a couple of years, the most interesting Italian films in the London film festival have been about outsiders moving in – often ex-communitari (non-EU migrants) and clandestini (illegal migrants) – and the uneasy welcome they receive from a country more used to emigration than immigration. This year’s festival tackles the subject in films as different as Emanuele Crialese’s Terraferma, the De Serio brothers’ Seven Acts of Mercy (Sette opere di misericordia) and Andrea Segre’s Li and the Poet (Io sono Li).