Archive for Divorce: Italian Style

Bagman

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2018 by dcairns

I Cinema Ritrovato keeps reminding me to get into the Commedia All’Italiana school of social/sex comedy. MARRIAGE, ITALIAN STYLE (De Sica) and TEMPI NOSTRI (Blasetti) were my belated intros to the genre, which has no real definition but depends on a shared set of assumptions about what an Italian comedy is likely to entail. This year we saw DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE and LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN, which sealed the deal. So I’ve started seeking out more.

Here’s a bit from PECCATO CHE SIA UNA CANAGLIA (TOO BAD SHE’S BAD), directed by veteran Alessandro Blasetti.

De Sica, in overcoat and mustache, has a trick valise with no bottom, capable of swallowing up smaller baggage when lowered onto it. He’s hunting for a suitable target while his equally criminous daughter, Sophia Loren, who owes it all to spaghetti, distracts attention, which she was always good at.

Nice long take starting at 50 secs mark — amazing comedic choreography of actors and camera — and, my God, De Sica is a fine comedian. How can one guy have so many talents?

Director Alessandro Blasetti had a weird career, with a lot of epics early on, a first film destroyed by the Nazis (the opening alone survives) and later works popular under fascism. In the fifties he turned to comedy and never looked back. ALTRI TEMPI introduced the idea of the compendium film to Italy, where it thrived, or do I mean throve? Doesn’t sound right. It’s a form which originally meant multiple short films by the same director, and was corrupted into those multi-part, often multinational abominations where if you were lucky you got two decent episodes out of five.

PECCATO stars Marcello Mastroianni but did not screen in the Il Cinema Ritrovato season of his many works. He plays an honest cabbie who falls for congenial congenital thief Sophia Loren, whose entire family, presided over beneficently by De Sica, is crooked to the core. The vision of Italian society presented is of a conglomeration of rapacious swindlers and imbeciles — probably an accurate one, allowing for Blasetti’s cynicism. Marcello is honest and not dopey, but love blinds him, so he is in a continual state of outrage at Loren’s low-down activities. The movie finds equal amusement in her blithe reactions — doesn’t this poor man understand the way the world is?

From Matrimony to Divorce

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2018 by dcairns

The day — our last in Bologna — began with the sweet and hilarious HOLY MATRIMONY, directed by John Stahl, from Nunnally Johnson’s script (his favourite of his own works, adapted from Arnold Bennett) — and ended with DIVORCE: ITALIAN STYLE, Pietro Germi’s black comedy starring Mastroianni, which managed to make comedy out of Sicilian so-called “honour killings” without appearing misogynistic or crass — something the central performance contributes to enormously.

In between, we did a bit of walking about in the 35° heat, perhaps having picked not the best day for sight-seeing, but also took in Henry King’s depression-era whimsy ONE MORE SPRING (written by NOW I’LL TELL’s Edwin J. Burke — a subject for further investigation) — and the staggering CAROSELLO NAPOLETANO, a full-on attempt to transpose the epic audio-visual splendour of THE RED SHOES to Italy (complete with Massine as choreographer). In fact, lacking as it does a real central narrative, it may be closer to TALES OF HOFFMANN, which makes it even more radical. More on this one soon also.

So I only saw four shows — my fewest of the fest, I think. Fiona saw three. But everything was damned good.

Now we have a plane to catch, a stopover to endure, and an eventual late-night arrival in our refurbished flat — and, tomorrow, a very heavy cat to collect.