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La Dolce Vita Review


Essential
Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Antonioni's L'Avventura were the dawn of the Italian New Wave in 1960, movies about the decadence, glamour and emptiness of middle class life. Placed side by side, they're a portrayal of Rome after the post-World War II economic boom, which led to a new distribution of leisure time for the privileged.

Antonioni's world is stark, cold, confounding, and filled with dead end corners. Fellini's world is more like a circus -- and while his characters are no less doomed than Antonioni's, coming face to face with a great emptiness underneath the glamour, they'll drown with pasted smiles on their faces, dancing the conga.

Continue reading: La Dolce Vita Review

La Strada Review


Essential
La Strada begins and ends with two of Federico Fellini's most simple yet memorable images.

Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina, who was Fellini's wife) is walking along a bright and uninhabited beach. She's in the low corner of the frame, a diminutive figure with her back to us, facing an endless stretch of white sand going off to one side and the infinite vastness of sea and sky going the other. Tentatively, yet hopefully, she moves forward. In a few seconds we know this character.

Continue reading: La Strada Review

La Dolce Vita Review


Essential
Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Antonioni's L'Avventura were the dawn of the Italian New Wave in 1960, movies about the decadence, glamour and emptiness of middle class life. Placed side by side, they're a portrayal of Rome after the post-World War II economic boom, which led to a new distribution of leisure time for the privileged.

Antonioni's world is stark, cold, confounding, and filled with dead end corners. Fellini's world is more like a circus -- and while his characters are no less doomed than Antonioni's, coming face to face with a great emptiness underneath the glamour, they'll drown with pasted smiles on their faces, dancing the conga.

Continue reading: La Dolce Vita Review

Nights Of Cabiria Review


OK
Fellini. For some reason we in film perform a sort of idolatry at the altar of all of the films he made. Ironically, this seems to be just what Fellini would have wanted of us. His films aren't great. They have good camerawork, are visually stunning, and have plenty of lofty notions behind them... but they're not great. Yet we come. And we worship. And we put up with those damn white subtitles on a black and white movie one-too-many times.

Fellini's Nights of Cabiria is one of the many movies that no one knows the man directed. Squeezed in between La Strada and La Dolce Vita, it's most remarkable feature is that it immediately proceeds the controversial and three-hour long opus that Fellini will always be remembered for. It is the story of a Hooker with the Heart of Gold, who wants nothing more out of life than romance, marriage, or a job with a health plan. Only one problem... people continually want to off her for the 40,000 to 400,000 lire that she has lying around.

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Juliet Of The Spirits Review


Bad
Come near and bear witness to Federico Fellini's biggest fiasco, Juliet of the Spirits. Essentially a 2 1/2 hour dream sequence, Fellini cast sometime-collaborator (and longtime wife) Giulietta Masina (Nights of Cabiria) as a put-upon housewife who summons up the energy to leave her philandering husband.

Along the way, she has nonstop visions and heavily symbolic dreams, which are interrupted only by non-sequitur trips to bizarre locales (such as a basket ride to a treehouse in a nearby forest). I'd love to explain further, but to be perfectly honest, none of this makes a lick of sense, leaving us to stare perplexed at Masina's enormous head (perpetually smirking) atop her waifish body while trying to put the nonstop circus/brass band soundtrack out of our heads.

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8 1/2 Review


Extraordinary
If any film embodies what most film school wannabes aspire to make it's Fellini's 8 1/2. That's not to say the film is without merit -- though some complain it is self-indulgent and ultimately without meaning -- it is in fact a seminal work of cinema. In other words, those film school geeks know a good thing when they see it.

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

The White Sheik Review


Very Good
The White Sheik is one of Federico Fellini's most overlooked films. When it came out in 1951, The White Sheik was a direct contrast to the Italian Neorealist films that were made at the same time. Where most Neorealist films dealt with the genuine struggles of lower class Italians, The White Sheik was a light comedy about a well-to-do couple involved in a somewhat trivial episode in their lives.

A recently married couple Ivan (Leopoldo Trieste) and Wendy (Brunella Bovo) come to Rome from a small village to take place in a ceremony with the Pope to legitimize their marriage vows. Ivan, a comically serious businessman, has a strict itinerary that they are supposed to follow over the next couple of days, but Wendy, an impulsive, wide-eyed small town woman, has other plans.

Continue reading: The White Sheik Review

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