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Barabbas Review


Good
Any good Christian or Jeopardy! fan knows that Barabbas was the murderer that the Romans chose to free rather than Jesus when Pontius Pilate asked them to pick someone to receive a pardon. The film (based on the novel of the same name) imagines -- with minimal attention to anything that is historically known -- what might have happened to Barabbas after he was freed, tracking him back into a life of crime, a decades-long sentence of hard labor, and a stint in the gladiator pit, all before he's eventually redeemed through the message of the man who hung on the cross instead of him. Barabbas, in keeping with the Biblical epics of its era, is overwrought and overlong, but Anthony Quinn is memorable in the leading role, even when the script is derivative of everything from Spartacus to Ben-Hur, films which were still fresh in the public's mind. Barabbas has aged poorly in comparison (though Spartacus isn't the masterpiece many wish it to be, either).

Teorema Review


OK
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.

Continue reading: Teorema Review

Death In Venice Review


OK
Dirk Bogarde's mustache in Death in Venice stands as one of the most disturbing hairstyles ever put on film. Combined with his semi-shaggy banker's do and his 1910s attire (say, sitting on the beach in a white three-piece suit), his appearance is unforgettable even if this movie is relatively otherwise.

Hopelessly abstract to the point of silliness, Death in Venice follows Bogarde's Gustav, a composer, on a holiday to Venice where he's meant to relax. Instead he becomes obsessed with the very idea of "beauty." It's hard to blame him -- he encounters a procession of ugly goons throughout his stay, and the already crumbling city is under seige by an outbreak of cholera. You can almost understand why he's looking for something pretty, but when his gaze lands on an androgynous teenage boy (Björn Andrésen) the film becomes beyond troubling. Gustav chases after the kid for the remainder of the film, obsessing about the cholera but subconsciously engineering ways to keep himself from having to leave Venice.

Continue reading: Death In Venice Review

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