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Mafioso Review


Essential
Alberto Lattuada's Mafioso has the look and feel of an archived piece of dust-washed stone being hunted by Indiana Jones. Its black-and-white photography (pristine and peerless by any standards) and its leading man, the incomparable Alberto Sordi, are timestamps of a bygone era where style was a matter of pride. Yet, besides a brief run in the early '60s, no one has heard of Mafioso and little is known of its proficient director.

Due mostly to lack of access on DVD or reappraisal, Lattuada has become a cinematic specter; the kind of mythological beast of burden that is known for his capacity for brilliance but is unavailable to anyone interested enough to look him up. To date, Lattuada's only film to reach a Region 1 disc is Variety Lights, and that's only because his co-director happened to be some yutz named Fellini. With the re-release of this seminal work, however, Lattuada's recognition might just be raised from purgatory.

Continue reading: Mafioso Review

Mafioso Review


Essential
Alberto Lattuada's Mafioso has the look and feel of an archived piece of dust-washed stone being hunted by Indiana Jones. Its black-and-white photography (pristine and peerless by any standards) and its leading man, the incomparable Alberto Sordi, are timestamps of a bygone era where style was a matter of pride. Yet, besides a brief run in the early '60s, no one has heard of Mafioso and little is known of its proficient director.

Due mostly to lack of access on DVD or reappraisal, Lattuada has become a cinematic specter; the kind of mythological beast of burden that is known for his capacity for brilliance but is unavailable to anyone interested enough to look him up. To date, Lattuada's only film to reach a Region 1 disc is Variety Lights, and that's only because his co-director happened to be some yutz named Fellini. With the re-release of this seminal work, however, Lattuada's recognition might just be raised from purgatory.

Continue reading: Mafioso Review

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Review


Essential
Positioned in history between the earnest majesty of John Ford's The Searchers and Sam Peckinpah's doomed cowboy dirge The Wild Bunch, Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is animated by the best those classic westerns have to offer. Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western masterpiece is still committed to many of the basic conventions of the not-yet moribund genre, embracing the wide-eyed epicness of Ford's standard-bearer. But Blondie (Clint Eastwood), Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), and Tuco (Eli Wallach), the respective title characters, occupy a brutal and complex moral world akin to Peckinpah, where women are beaten, crippled fathers are executed in their homes, and the ironically-named "good" guy earns his name for being only slightly less vile than the other gunslingers.

But Leone's mixture of seemingly incompatible elements is what makes The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly so great. Not only does he combine a Cinemascope-era outlook with an eye for grittiness, but he mingles tasteful realism with a flamboyant, self-conscious style. Freeze frames, intertitles, and point-of-view shots brilliantly co-exist with the meticulously appointed period sets and sweeping frontier vistas. This fusion, in addition to a surplus of creativity and lack of restraint, makes the third in the so-called "man with no name" series the crowning glory of his career.

Continue reading: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Review

The Postman (Il Postino) (1995) Review


Excellent
The story surrounding the making of The Postman is almost as interesting as the film itself. English/Austrian Michael Radford was hand-picked by the star of the picture, Italian Massimo Troisi, to direct the dramatization of a Chilean novel about the story of Pablo Neruda (Phillippe Noiret), a Chilean poet exiled to an Italian island, where he befriends a local fisherman-cum-letter carrier.

Radford accepted the assignment, and Troisi assumed the title role of Mario, a simple Everyman whom Neruda slowly cultivates from tongue-tied wallflower to smooth Romeo. With Neruda's advice and introduction to poetry, Mario is able to overcome his awkwardness and enchant the woman of his dreams, the darkly beautiful Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), and subsequently he convinces her to marry him. His transformation complete, Mario finds inside himself the romanticism and courage that we all wish for.

Continue reading: The Postman (Il Postino) (1995) Review

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