Archive for La Dolce Vita

Fortnight Elsewhere

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2013 by dcairns

I don’t know, I thought MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL was pretty good for what it was.

The film is TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN, in which Vincente Minnelli dives into la dolce vita with Kirk Douglas and Edward G Robinson shooting a euro-pudding super-film in Rome, 1959.

Here, they seem to have acquired the wallpaper from VERTIGO.


Maybe it’s the fault of Irwin Shaw’s source novel, but the movie, often seen as a follow-up to the Minnelli-Douglas Hollywood melo THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, sometimes seems to lack logic — characters do whatever is required to bring on the next emotional frenzy. One second Robinson is scorning his desperate wife’s suicidal tendencies, the next she’s sympathising with him about his creative crisis. Their joint betrayal of another character at the end seems under-motivated or under-explained, but is nevertheless powerful — it’s a movie where power, exemplified by the jutting, dimpled Easter Island chin of Mr Douglas, is more important than sense. Just like the industry it deals with, in fact.


George Hamilton is quite good, stropping about pouting, Rosanna Schiaffino is sweet, Daliah Lavi is a lot of fun as a luscious but fiery diva. We get a few minutes of gorgeous George MacReady, and Erich Von Stroheim Jnr plays an assistant while simultaneously BEING the real-life assistant director on the picture. Douglas does his usual muscular angst, amped up to eleven.



In fact, everybody’s playing it big, broad, and on the nose, including composer David Raksin, who seems to be competing with Claire Trevor for the Volume and Hysteria Prize (given out every year at Cinecitta). I didn’t mind, though — there are acerbic comments on life and movies which sometimes feel accurate or at least heartfelt, and Minnelli trumps up an incredible climax as Kirk falls off the wagon and endures a long night of the soul in a series of Felliniesque night spots. As with SOME CAME RUNNING, Minnelli has saved so many of his big guns for this sequence that it almost feels like another movie, that other movie being TOBY DAMMIT. If Fellini influenced Minnelli, it obviously worked the other way too, as Terence Stamp’s nocturnal Ferrari phantom ride seems very much influenced by the screeching rear projection ordeal Kirk puts Cyd Charisse and his Lambourgine through.


Film Theory

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on April 2, 2012 by dcairns

“What’s happening in this scene is — you can be with a woman, and things can be going really well, you think it’s definitely going to happen… but then a cat shows up. And you can forget it.

“And Fellini understood this.” ~ C. McLaren.

Meanwhile, over at Limerwrecks, you can read an ode to Vampira which has perhaps the best title I ever devised.

Happy 100th

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on January 12, 2010 by dcairns

By some strange socio-linguistic quirk, it is not ever acceptable to refer to a woman as old if you know her name (although an unidentified person in the street might be thought of as an “old woman”) so one can only observe that the mighty Luise Rainer is today 100 years young. That must be really young.

While it’s tempting to attribute her longevity to getting out of the picture business while the getting was good, genes as strong as those cheekbones must also be involved, and a certain determination too. An attempted comeback in LA DOLCE VITA was thwarted when Fellini cut her scenes, and then he had the nerve to base the rather irritating movie star in EIGHT AND A HALF on Rainer, but even this can be spun into positivity: Rainer remained an inspirational figure even when not onscreen.

Hooray for her!


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