Judge Not

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Based on HANDS OVER THE CITY and CADAVERE ECCELLENTI (ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES), Francesco Rosi might be cinema’s greatest architectural filmmaker.

The Italians have always been good at space and locations — it was they, aided by filmmaker/engineer Segundo de Chomon, who developed the first purpose-built dolly so they could explore gigantic sets in three dimensions. Rosi not only selects stunning environments and frames them elegantly, hi tracking shots make us feel we’re there, awestruck.

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The film opens in a catacomb full of mummies, where we meet not-quite mummified Charles Vanel, his face a crumbling McArthur Park cakescape of time’s ravages. Moments later he’s dead, the film’s first prestigious stiff (managing an impressive fall for an 83-year-old). One is inclined to resent the film for offering us Vanel and then snatching him away, but then we get a little more of him in flashback, and stunning environment after stunning environment. Plus a dazzling fashion show of 1970s men’s spectacles. Max Von Sydow’s are particularly alluring.

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Someone is killing judges! The conspiracy plot and film stock switches anticipate JFK, and a discussion about the miracle of transubstantiation made me posi-sure that Alan Moore saw this before writing V FOR VENDETTA. Rosi’s copper, just as dour as Moore’s, is played by the great Lino Ventura, who looks like he maybe bought his nose from the same smashed cartilage vendor as Vanel.

Library porn, Rosi style ~

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10 Responses to “Judge Not”

  1. Don’t The Mattei Affair . Rosi is the Italian Alan J. Pakula.

  2. His career’s also more varied than his docu-style political thrillers suggest, with a range of wildly different subjects tackled. But he certainly had a particular skill and interest in this approach to journalistic fiction filmmaking.

  3. Yes. Christ Stopped at Eboli for example.

  4. Or C’era una Volta, which is REALLY aberrant!

  5. chris schneider Says:

    The one that I’m curious about, simply because it involves such an odd collection of names, is DIMINICARE PALERMO a.k.a THE PALERMO CONNECTION. That’s a script with the names Gore Vidal and Tonino Guerra, plus a cast involving James Belushi and Mimi Rogers and Joss Ackland and Philippe Noiret and Vittorio Gassman. Realistically speaking, I’ll guess that Italian resident Vidal was brought in to make the dialogue speakable by U.S. actors. But still.

  6. Remarkable! It’s kind of nice to be getting into his work so belatedly because it’s basically all out there waiting for me.

  7. “His face a crumbling McArthur Park cakescape of time’s ravages” gets extra points for not Richard Harris-izing it into a “McArthur’s Park.”

  8. Just Googled and apparently it should be MacArthur Park, so Harris and I are both wrong.

  9. Yeah, but he’s wrong OUT LOUD.

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