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Name: Dan Sallitt
Location: New York, New York, United States

Friday, June 1, 2007

Antonio Pietrangeli, BAM, July 6 and 26; and Other Italian Matters

I'm going out on a limb to recommend these films, as I haven't seen them since the 80s. Italian director Antonio Pietrangeli had a small reputation in the 60s, died in an accident at the end of the decade, and hasn't been spoken of much since. But his films made a strong impression on me when I ran across them, and the two titles I liked the most are playing in BAM's July "Leading Ladies of Italian Cinema" retrospective. In my memory at least, the movies are intimate, closeup-laden, female-centered, and quietly emotional. My favorite, La Visita (The Visitor), screens on July 26; before that comes Io la conoscevo bene (I Knew Her Well) on July 6. I don't know of much literature on Pietrangeli in English; Paolo Vecchi wrote a nice entry on him in The Encyclopedia of European Cinema, edited by Ginette Vincendeau.

The series runs from July 6 to 29, and contains other films I like, including Luigi Comencini's Bread, Love and Dreams, which was a big hit in its day.

As the subject is Italian cinema: the Walter Reade's annual "Open Roads" series is coming up June 6-14. For those who want to explore, I found trailers for a lot of the titles at the site. The best known film in the series is The Family Friend by Paolo Sorrentino, who's placed a few films in competition at Cannes; for some reason I'm also interested in In Memory of Me, and maybe even Schopenhauer, just because it sounds so weird.

These days I'm big on finding online trailers when I want to research festivals.



Anonymous Sky said...

I W/O'd of the Sorrentino, but I can heartily recommend Schopenhauer, which is strange and withholding but has an amazing visual sense. Bresson seems like a big influence on the affectless performances and the way sound design has to suffice when an image would be too much, but Maderna has his own weird, sometimes very funny approach to storytelling. There's a perverse reticence to the way his characters behave, but the film might've fallen apart without it.

June 10, 2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Schopenhauer is the one I missed, in order to see Fuller's bizarre Street of No Return....

I was very tempted to walk out of the Sorrentino myself, but I think there was something interesting buried in there under its many offputting elements. About halfway through I began to sense a rather somber, philosophical sensibility, starting with the grave conversations between the beautiful young woman and the ugly, malevolent protagonist: there was something fascinating in how they understood each other instantly. Ultimately it felt like a movie about a guy whose greatest joy is also his undoing, and who knows and accepts that from the beginning.

In Memory of Me was very much in Bresson's shadow - it felt like A Man Escaped with hints of Escape from Alcatraz! - but I didn't enjoy it. It's a classic case of a filmmaker unwilling to go to the interior place that his material demands, and so inadvertently turning his movie into a plodding pseudo-noir about monks spying on each other and not learning anything interesting....

June 11, 2007 12:22 PM  
Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

I did manage to catch Schopenhauer, but I liked it a bit less than you did, Sky. Couldn't quite put all the elements together: the withholding seemed intended as droll, shaggy-dog humor; but there was also a strain of coarser humor (sex changes, flagellation) that was getting in the way for me. The shot choices seemed downright bizarre at times.

June 14, 2007 4:33 PM  

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