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La belva col mitra

Oh, boy...
Poor me. I was so eager to see this movie. It's a "poliziottesco", it inspired Quentin Tarantino nonetheless, plus the big plus of having been shot in my hometown. And what a defeat, my friends. Yes, good camera angles. Yes, great score. Right. I won't repeat the profanities I said while watching, just believe me: the rest is plain, full, big, fat, outrageous rubbish all round. Ridiculous plot, no investigative work whatsoever, sloppy and very short car chases. The dialogues? Never mind, you'll barely hear them among the smacks and pows. They had only two sounds recorded: one smack and one pow. The same for all the movie along. Smack! Smack! Pow! Smack! Everybody goes berserk for no reason. "Good morning". Smack! Pow! You remain openmouthed. After the jailbreak Vanni Vitali visits his sister to take care of her. "You need money?" asks the supervillain, "Take these. They're fake. I've millions of them. All fake." Pause. "Listen, will you give me some real money, won't you?" In a scene the detective leaves the police HQ on a truck, no kidding, with a telescopic ladder mounted on, then he reaches the countryside, stops by a pole, climbs the ladder, connects a telephonic device to the wires and...makes a call to the HQ! Not enough? After the robbery the crooks run away taking some hostages with them. A dozen. The crooks leading in the car, the hostages following in a minivan. Driven by a hostage. OK, sorry, gotta stop now, I'm laughing by myself. Choking actually. I want to just say...laughing again. I'm sorry. I rest my case. Wow...

Very Bad Things

A thought provoking movie. No, really.
Ah, the nineties! How young and keen we were! I remember when I first watched this film at the cinema, I didn't find it particularly disturbing. Violence in the movies was fun back then (thanks, Quentin). Things began to get arguable when Boyd kills Lois and Michael. But not because he kills them, but because it was unnecessary. And still there was nothing wrong with the survivors. OK, it's unkind not to inform the police of a homicide you know of, but, hey, they got a marriage to do!

That's the point, this is what the entire movie is all about. Will. How willful are you? Boyd says it, "This is the opportunity for a self exploration". Actually dialogues are very revealing, don't be fooled by the comedy, it is all there in front of you. Boyd again – "You love, and you protect what you love". Purpose. Reward. Laura – "27 years, for all of my life I've been focused only on this very day, and nothing is gonna ruin it!". Micheal – "That flash of absolute, perfect, pure energy, that moment, that's what I'm looking for". That's how they are. The end justifies the means. Like some amateur army generals calculating collateral. Boyd (who, being mad, is the only one who speaks the truth) tells you – "It's a war". A war. This is a war film.

The comedy? Well, this is the truly interesting bit. As for a starter, the comedy in this story is of the grotesque kind. And real life IS grotesque. Every day. So when you encounter a grotesque movie you well possibly be in front of a good one. But in the present case comedy has a way more crucial role. It is the great trick the director plays on us.

Far from diminishing the gravity of the matter, comedy multiplies it, makes it flow out of the screen and fall right upon us. Comedy exerts the function of questioning us. It had been a drama, it'd been easy to take sides, the seriousness of the setup would have warned you, then you'd been ready at the turning points of the story, when ethical dilemmas are posed, to take the right stand. But since it's a comedy, you switch into "auto" and settle for a hour and spare of just plain, good fun. And there comes the ambush - bear with me now, because it's a bit puzzling – when the carachters are faced with a moral dilemma, you are asked to deal with it along with them, BUT, in order to do so, you, as a spectator of a comedy, need to solve a prior moral dilemma – "Should I deal with their moral dilemma even if this means to stop having fun? Should I judge their actions and, as I've already guessed they're gonna do the wrong thing, loathe them for the rest of the movie, having no fun at all?" If you watched it (as I did, and did in DVD and on TV too) till the end, then your answer was "no". And, honestly, we had some issues just with the first death, the prostitute, from then on we didn't even care. There was a goal – having fun – and a downside – sympathizing with a bunch of monsters. We accepted collateral.

If you ask me, no, it isn't as bad as burying a dead prostitute in the desert or killing your friends. It's more like having a little taste of how does it feel like to be an amateur army general, decide what to get and what to loose, an experience of self exploration.

I don't know whether all this was deliberate on the party of the director. If not, even better.

Or worse.

And now tell me you don't shiver.


The English Pulp Fiction (out of time, Ritchie!)
I watched it when it was released and I found it funny, clever and capturing. I watched it in recent times and I found it still funny, clever in a sort of way and, instead of capturing...silly. Hopelessly silly.

Empty, I would say.

I mean, what's the big deal about a bunch of dangerous blokes slaughtering each other? It seems like Ritchie carries a flame for dangerous blokes. He goes to the point to hire real dangerous blokes to play the dangerous blokes on the screen! It's a bit disturbing. A kind of "feticism", isn't it?

I know violence is amusing, but what's the point of so much violence? What am I supposed to learn from this movie? That "heavy is reliable"?

Nonetheless I still like it. And that's what disturbs me most.

P.S.: In Pulp Fiction there were some females at least!

The Hills Have Eyes

Craven vs cinema
Tagline: the lucky ones died...before watching this.

I've never watched a Bulgarian movie from 1920's, so I can't say this is the worst movie ever made, but it surely is the worst movie I've ever watched. I can't almost remember it.

All I can recall is a family of stupid people who don't do anything right. Their car has one wheel out of four stuck in the sand, so they decide that there's nothing to do and prepare to live the rest of their lives there. Then there's an old man who is aware of the existence of a band of cannibals in the whereabouts but has never considered the idea to report the fact to the police.

And, speaking of the police...if those freaks have lived around there eating humans for years, lots of people must have come the sheriff didn't suspect anything?

But I gave up asking questions after the first five minutes or so. The rest is bore. An hallucinated unbelievable bore.

I will be merciful and won't speak about the dialogues. And the acting. And the effects.

I will only mention the final scene, where the freak girl eliminates a snake (the snakes! they come out in the end, what the hell do they have to do with the story?) with a sniper-precise throw of a stone, demonstrating the full disregard of Mr. Craven for reality and for things that happen on planet Earth in general.

I believe there have been riots when the film was first released in 1977.

Even being eaten by a cannibal wouldn't be a fair punishment to the director for this attack on intelligence.

The Man Who Haunted Himself

So naive. So seventies.
Despite I was a child when I watched it, I didn't manage to be scared. And I tried.

The opening sequence says all. There's this proper gentleman driving his dignified car along the highway, the sun shines in the sky and everything is jolly good when all of a sudden for no apparent reason he pulls out a kind of "evil" face, pushes the throttle down and starts driving like a madman.

Then he has an accident, obviously. A bit strange accident, truth be told. We see him squeezing his tyres from side to side for something like five minutes without hitting any other car and finally pulling down some cones and a wooden fence. This must be a serious accident in England though, because next thing he's struggling for his life in the emergency room.

Which is notable since his body shows no injuries and there isn't the smallest trace of blood round there. But this is only the beginning. During the surgery (don't ask me what kind of surgery, there were doctors doing stuff and yelling to each other) his heartbeat literally splits in two and becomes "double". I'm not kidding you. There are two different lines doing beep beep now on the monitor of the machinery whereas there was only one moments before. And nobody there seem to notice that.

Now, you would expect these unusual events being explained along the movie. I don't know, the devil, reincarnation, something.

No way.

You are only allowed to know that now there's a second Mr. Pelham in town, dating girls and driving sports cars dressed like a buffoon (Where does he sleep? Where does he get his money? Does he have a driving license to show to the police in case they stop him?).

We can understand this movie only if we consider it not a horror but a goofy social satire on middle-class dullness. An "American beauty" ante litteram. And even so...

I loved the very English background and the seventies atmosphere.

Not actually a movie, rather a good laugh.


A milestone
It's not the plot, there isn't. It's not the human depth of the character, there isn't. It's the way Paolo Villaggio's voice-over narrates the events. The tone, the rhythm, the dramatic accent on absolutely secondary details. I guess everyone has a friend who's unbeatable in telling stories, the guy who makes the whole local bar or pub laugh for hours upon rather simple anecdotes. Villaggio's of that kind. You listen to him simply because he's so good at it. And for what he did to Italian language, he's second only to Dante Alighieri. Whith his linguistic inventions he totally renewed the way we speak. There is not a single line from his earlier movies which hasn't become of common use. Pure genius.

Una vita difficile

Amazingly real
Just when you are thinking that Italy is a stupid country, ever been stupid and hopeless not to be stupid, find your old VHS of this movie and watch it again. Neorealistic dramas of the forties and the fifties depict a country in comparison of which Transilvanya seems Disneyland, and that's not reasonable; comedies of the sixties and seventies are quite silly and superficial. This film, along with "C'eravamo tanto amati" in my opinion, is a perfectly balanced synthesis of both streams. There's fun and there's poverty, laughter and desperation, and this makes it the most truthful social portrait of this strange, controversial place I live in. It's a good summary of recent national history as well. And it contains two or three of the highest peaks of comedy of the entire world's cinema, see the argument with the restaurant owner for the bill (I fear it works only in Italian, though)or the dinner at the aristocratic family the evening of the elections for the choice between monarchy and republic. This is worth a couple of lines. Silvio, a leftist journalist and former guerrilla soldier against fascists, and his wife are rejected by restaurants because of their lack of money. They meet an aristocrat they know who invites them for dinner. The reason is not generosity but the fact that at that dinner there are thirteen people, and a common belief was that the circumstance would bring bad luck. At the table a full inventory of the meanest and most grotesque old fashioned conservative characters of the time, who, in an embarrassing way, try to hide their opinion on the new despicable hosts and to be kind to them. As the dishes arrive the couple forget good manners and make a show of themselves. Conversation falls on politics and Silvio enworsen his situation with some bitter comments, while his wife kicks him under the table. Suddenly come the results of the elections: Italians chose republic! Someone faint, some other curse, but Silvio and his wife hug each other. The monarchists, now mad, leave the room and here comes the scene you'll remember: the butler comes, bearing a bottle of champagne, solemnly he approaches the two proletarians and fills their glasses in silence.

Finché c'è guerra c'è speranza

Nihilistically true
It's not among the best Sordi's movies. Alberto provides a large amount of fun as usual, but most events are simply unbelievable and the general impression is of an imprecise, almost amateurish work. It's the final scene that's worth the existence of this piece of cinema. And it's great cinema. The kind of cinema that speaks out, makes statements. Even though one could not agree with those statements or label them as irresponsible or even right oriented. Pietro Chiocca is an arm dealer who, during a business trip across Africa, is fooled by a journalist who puts his face upon every Italian newspaper. When Pietro comes back home, after having avoided death across numerous terrific adventures, he finds his whole family angry at him because he's a death salesman. His wife is disgusted, his kids shout at him that they're ashamed of their father's job. Instead of being offended, Pietro laughs out and, with a sense of relief, makes a speech, a speech that unloads a shiver along your spine. He says -Ok, i'll quit selling arms, i'll go back to my old job if you ask for it. I will earn much less money but I'll be happier and it will be moral. But we'll have to leave this fabulous mansion and you'll have to forget your cars, motorbikes, jewelry, luxury and social status. Consider it. Don't answer now. I'm tired and i'm going to bed. I need to catch a plane in three hours to go back to business: if you really want me to stop doing what I do, let me sleep, because I need it, otherwise wake me up- And they wake him up.

Lord of War

A half exploited opportunity
If this movie was three hours long and had a few more secondary characters it would have been the greatest movie of the decade. The story is a capturing tragedy, there are some brilliant ideas (the opening scene, the father pretending to be Jewish, the one night disappearing of the cargo, the lined up tanks shoot, Orlov's being a patron of the arts, the gasp after the encounter with the two prostitutes), the director had already showed his skills in setting up detailed and visually perfect representations (Gattaca), actors fit, lines are sharp, there's humor, but the whole thing looks like Niccol was in a hurry. And, maybe, a little too naive. Since when millionaire illegal arm dealers cruise all over the world without twenty fierce bodyguards? And, correct me if I'm wrong, Interpol has so many men, equipments and dollars at its disposal? Anyway, does it actually exist? And do lovely parents like those arrive at their son's marriage party after all the others? Weren't they at church? And what a coincidence having an uncle who is a colonel in the soviet army! And can a white guy in a suit survive more than five minutes alone in an African slum at night? And that blonde child! Didn't really Yuri suspect at all about his wife's loyalty? Too many shortcuts, imprecisions and anachronisms (for God's sake, couldn't they provide appropriate clothes for the seventies at least?). It's no big deal, all right, but they are distractions, they are the same of grammar mistakes in a book: they break your imagination and make you say -Hey, it's not real, I'm only watching a movie!- And that's the most anti movie thing that you can find in a movie. Worse if the movie is good.

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