With Sleepless (a direct-to-video feature), Argento somehow convinced Max von Sydow to appear in this story about a decades-old killer who appears to have come back from the dead. Or is it a copycat killer? Von Sydow plays an old Italian(!) police detective who solved a 1983 serial killing spree in Turin. Long since retired, he is called upon once again when the same M.O. turns up in a rash of murders in the present. Argento spikes this derivative plot idea with some curious (to say the least) plot details. The original killer was a dwarf -- and the police round up the entire Turin dwarf population in the present-day investigation. And some of the murders are nothing short of bizarre -- most notably when one poor girl gets repeatedly impaled through the face with a clarinet, shown in graphic detail. Argento's usual touches -- plenty of gore in extreme close-up -- are readily found.
Continue reading: Sleepless Review
Federico Fellini (who, more or less, had directed eight features and one short before this point, hence 8 1/2) found himself at something of a crossroads at this point in his career. He had come off of La Dolce Vita, widely considered his greatest work, in 1960. Fellini, searching for something that would be a worthy follow-up, he finally settled on 8 1/2, an idea which had been languishing with him for years. The story is priceless -- and has been widely copied ever since. Marcello Mastroianni plays a famous Italian movie director named Guido Anselmi, who... get this... is coming off a big hit and is searching for his next project. He finally finds one, but due to the outrageous antics of his old cast and crew, problems with his personal life (wife and mistress, natch), and an increasingly perplexing series of dreams and waking fantasies, getting the movie underway proves challenging indeed. As the project nonetheless gets underway with no script and Guido's cluelessness about what to do next, somehow the movie gets made. The irony, of course, is that there wasn't much of a script for 8 1/2 either (the actors were given their lines for the day each morning, often verbally) -- it's art imitates life imitates art imitates life. A film within a film within a film. Genius!
Continue reading: 8 1/2 Review