Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini

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The Gospel According To St. Matthew Review

Very Good
It's Jesus Christ's greatest hits in this Pasolini classic, a scrappy and odd adaptation of, as the title suggests, the Book of Matthew. Pasolini stays close to the text (reportedly using about half of it) while casting Jesus as a Che Guevara-styled revolutionary, leading his followers to freedom, or at least enlightenment. Star Enrique Irazoqui, a non-professional actor, is the real discovery here, lending a searing and bootstrapped performance to this avant garde oddity. On DVD the film is badly dubbed, which only exacerbates its choppiness, yet it is still worth seeking out.

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Salo, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom Review

Fashioning a defence for Salo is a bit like representing Manson at an appeals hearing, and many who try are hard-pressed to come up with explanations why this -- perhaps the most notorious piece of cinema ever produced -- is an important piece of work. The story, if you can call it that, is based on the Marquis de Sade's most famous work: 16 young boys and girls are rounded up in Nazi Italy and led off to a palace in the country, where they are subjected to orgies of infinite varieties, an extended series of experiements regarding human feces, and finally, put to death en masse. Sure, it's easy to read this as an indictment of the Nazi regime -- but shit eating is pushing things a bit. Rather, the more compelling argument is that Pasolini simply gives up: Humanity is lost, depraved, sick, and worthless.

Whether you agree or not, you'll have a very tough time stomaching this movie (if you can find it at all). Pasolini's message isn't just distasteful, it isn't delivered very well either: The film is rough, the sound is erratic, the pace is jerky. In all honesty it's a terrible, terrible experience -- but give the guy credit: It's certainly unique.

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Mamma Roma Review

If you want to go along with me, I can explain to you the filmic considerations that make Pier Paolo Pasolini's Mamma Roma such an extraordinary work: its importance as a bridge between Neo-Realist and new Italian cinema, its formal quirks, its Marxist reckoning of the underside of Italy's post-war "economic miracle." And, indeed, viewers who wish to pursue these elements can find discussion of all of this and more on the generous extras included in the new Criterion release of the film.

But a substantial part of the beauty of Mamma Roma is that you don't have to go deep to emerge from it satisfied. The premise of the film is universal: The title character (played by Anna Magnani) is reunited with her 16-year-old son Ettore (Ettore Garofolo), who was raised by others (just who remains unclear). Hoping for a better life for him than she had, she aspires to better herself and to provide her son with opportunities in a post-war Italy that still struggles with the consequences of its defeat. The details with which Pasolini fills in this sketch are what made it the cause of a furor in its day: Mamma Roma is a prostitute, and her plans for bettering her son's life include such schemes as blackmailing a restaurant owner into hiring him. Mamma Roma is committed to her son like any mother, but, being a streetwise woman, her care extends to arranging for his deflowering in the bed of a fellow whore. She works hard to shed her streetwalking past - she even buys a stall from which to sell vegetables - but a love from her past (Ettore's father?) disrupts her life with some regularity, demanding money from her and sending her back into the night. And, most tragically, the gains she manages can be hard to discern amid the barren legacy of Fascism in which she lives - her new, "better" home looks much like her previous one - and Ettore himself begins to reject her, still stinging from her absence during his youth. Before long, he begins to decipher the clues offered him about his mother's livelihood, and he turns to crime.

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La Commare Secca Review

Kurosawa doesn't have a monopoly on the story told from different perspectives -- Bernardo Bertolucci, of all people, made one too. In fact, La Commare Secca was his first film.

Secca is awfully rough around the edges, and viewers more accustomed to polished work like Last Tango in Paris and The Dreamers are going to have a tough time reconciling it with Bertolucci's early attempt here.

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Teorema Review

Teorema translates to "theorem" in Italian, and that's an apt metaphor for this ridiculously experimental film from auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Fewer than 1,000 words of dialogue are spoken during the film. That actually sounds like a lot, but the average person speaks at a rate of 280 words per minute (probably more in Italian). That translates to less than four minutes of dialogue during the film's 98-minute running time.

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Pier Paolo Pasolini

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