Thursday, April 27, 2017
Giuletta Masina acquits herself quite nicely as an outstanding actress in "Nights of Cabiria." Of course, it helps getting direction from your husband, Federico Fellini, perhaps the greatest Italian director of all time. And borrowing physically expressive elements from Charles Chaplin's Little Tramp character doesn't hurt either, especially when playing a spirited young lady of the night with a diminutive stature but a large heart. Masina certainly does much of the heavy lifting in "Cabiria," but the film excels across many levels besides acting. CineVerse tapped into what makes this movie tick last evening and deduced the following:
WHAT IS INTERESTING AND OFFBEAT ABOUT NIGHTS OF CABIRIA?
A FEW NOTES ON FELLINI AND HIS STYLE:
OTHER FILMS DIRECTED BY FEDERICO FELLINI
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Our May/June schedule listing what's on tap for CineVerse and Cineversary is now ready for viewing. To access the new calendar, visit tinyurl.com/cineversemj17.
If you enjoy films that function as interesting character studies of individuals living realistically in their natural environment, you'd be hard pressed to find a truer example of this form than Vittorio De Sica's 1952 neorealism masterwork "Umberto D." Warning: the plot is thin, the tone is grim, and the pace is slow. But it's about as honest and authentic a movie of its period can be, and that's refreshing. Our CineVerse group came to the following realizations about this picture:
WHAT DID YOU FIND INTERESTING, UNEXPECTED AND MEMORABLE ABOUT THIS FILM?
OTHER MOVIES DIRECTED BY VITTORIO DE SICA:
WHAT OTHER FILMS CAN UMBERTO D. MAKE YOU THINK OF?
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Friday, April 14, 2017
It's for no small reason that director and film historian Martin Scorsese called Rome Open City “the most precious moment of film history.” He and many experts believe this picture infused cinema with a new kind of realism, immediacy and energy that proved to be highly influential on both sides of the Atlantic. This movie is worth studying and appreciating for multiple reasons, including the following discussed by our CineVerse group last night:
Monday, April 10, 2017
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
It's widely known that Franco filmmakers like Godard and Truffaut loved American pulp fiction and film noir. But long before the French New Wave and its slight tip of the cap to noir influences, the Italians were dabbling in the genre, as evidenced by Luchino Visconti's 1943 classic "Ossession," an early adaptation of James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Our CineVerse group took a closer look at this picture last evening and came away with these observations:
HOW IS THIS ADAPTATION DIFFERENT FROM AMERICAN VERSIONS OF “THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE”?
• The 1946 version with Lana Turner was glossier, and featured more of a true film noir femme fatale who was evil and calculating.
• The female lead in this movie, by contrast, is arguably a more sympathetic character who is driven by understandable marital frustration and desperation for her economic and trapped condition. We see her collapse, surrendered, in a kitchen full of dirty dishes and feel for her more than Lana Turner’s femme fatale.
• This version “excels in a more taboo realm,” wrote reviewer Gary Morris, who cited the Italian film’s “barren landscapes, driven characters and sexual frankness…and unabashed lust with which Visconti treats the illicit relationship.”
• Speaking of the setting, the location is more rural, realistic and believable than in the 1946 version. This is a more bleak and unfertile landscape.
• Prostitution is also common in the world these characters inhabit; Giovanna implies that she previously prostituted herself before marriage out of financial pressure, and Gino is enamored with a young harlot later in the film.
• This adaptation doesn’t show the murder, nor have a suspenseful buildup to the crime or a carefully planned murder plot. The murder occurs off-screen and is executed seemingly on the spot, at the sudden whims of the secret lovers.
• This version also features the suggestion of a gay relationship between Gino and Spagnolo—or at least an unrequited crush on one for the other. “What makes Ossesssione particularly compelling,” wrote blogger Tony D’Ambra, “is a homoerotic strand interwoven with a critique of petit-bourgeois values.
• Per Henry Bacon, the director “wanted to convey the internal life of his characters through their behavior and their relationship to the environment, to capture their essence by showing them as an organic part of a certain social reality, which in various ways constantly conditions and guides their behaviors, thoughts and feelings.”
• Here, instead of using stylized setups, formalistic framing or clever editing the camera is employed to depict the psychology of the main characters. Consider how the female characters are first introduced and continually photographed in the 1943 vs. 1946 films: the latter uses soft lenses and glamorous lighting; the former doesn’t try to objectify or pretty up the female lead.
• There is more of an exploration of class warfare and tension between the social classes in this Italian rendition.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN RISQUE AND CONTROVERSIAL ABOUT THIS FILM FOR 1946?
• The sexual subtext: the passionate sudden physical-based romance between the 2 lovers.
• Its dark and seedy subject matter and bleak tone: this film was considered provocative and insulting to the Fascist regime, and hence suffered from censorship meddling and distribution hurdles—with prints of the movie seriously edited and even destroyed. Fortunately, the director stashed away a secret negative or it would have been lost forever.
• Clara Calamai, who plays Giovanna, had appeared topless in an Italian film a year before this, so she had likely developed a sexy reputation that would have rattled cages.
WHAT THEMES ARE EXAMINED IN “OSSESSIONE”?
• Doomed love
• The corrupting influence of lust and greed
• Shifting loyalties
• Ironic fate
OTHER FILMS THAT OSSESSIONE BRINGS TO MIND
• Double Indemnity, also involving a plot by lovers to do away with a husband
• Body Heat
• Other adaptations of Postman: The Last Turning (France, 1939); a remake starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange from 1981; and a 1998 Hungarian version titled Passion.