24 November 2009

Il Mio Viaggio in Italia -or- My Journey Through Italian Cinema (Part Four: 8 1/2)


There's this guy, see and he....He's a director struggling with...And he's got a rich fantasy life...his wife....his lover...a producer who, like a lot of....Catholics, including priests....Symbolism!

Sometimes I write about a film that's so meaningful (to me) that I figure I gotta outdo myself. All stops pulled out, a post that beats the band. Those pulled out stops are beaten by the band with a post.

Words fail.


Guido Anselmi is an artista. Specifically a film director. A ladies man, you should excuse the archaic expression. Played by Marcello Mastroianni, he is Italian cool to the nth degree. Bemused, happily tortured by the many women, supplicants, and hangers on. He's been called both a sadist and a masochist. I know this is a reflection on me, but he seems pretty together. Everyone around him is a little...a little what? A little much at times. They sure won't let the man be. Questions, comments, demands.

There's magic.

There's the Catholic church.

There's beautiful women.

There are dreams and fantasies and the all mix together for a most delicious stew. You could make this movie too provided you were Fellini. Otherwise -- forget it!

Some people don't get it. There's too much or the story doesn't hold or it's self indulgent. Oh well. I offer no insults, explanations or apologies.

It's this: a movie you can go for a walk in. You got your Claudia Cardinale, your Anouk Aimee (fer starters with the women, this is) you got life with all its best parts. The living and dreaming and the excepting that the trials and tribulations are blessings. They mean we're here that we're present. 8 1/2 celebrates life. Look, no one's dying, no one's in any real pain. There's some angst to be sure. There's a lot of existential this and that. Mostly there's rhythm, you can see it in the way people walk. There's the beat, the dance that is life. No wonder they made a musical out of this that will be a film released next month. This is a musical with visuals. (I know what I mean.)

We start in a dream sequence that's one of the most (adjective here) opening scenes you'll ever behold. Stuck in car in traffic and asphyxiated -- not so nice. But the floating, the being pulled down to the beach -- so nice.

Then to the spa. One film in the can the next about to start. But THE MAN NEEDS HIS REST. Won't get it. Will get the women. The wife, the lover, the exes. Will get the producer, typical suit worried about what, the bottom line. Will get the "collaborator" the writer. Pain in the arse, ask me. Will get those papists. Weird scene. Slip in and out of memories, fantasy. (Here's to the harem scene!).

Will get a closing scene that's one of the most (insert another adjective here) on film.

Here's what Guido says during the movie: I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I'm the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.

Hmm. This the director in the movie or the director of the movie talking? (I think so too).

I owe this movie a book. It inspires the creative in me, the artista the intellectual with a dancing soul. It dares to be great. It dares to go places and invites viewers to come along. That's what's so damn great about 8 1/2. It's a ride you get on and off as you please. It's not a one and done film. Not if you like it and if you like it you love it. There is, to flip a phrase, a madness to Fellini's method. You can watch so much here. You can play along at home. What's this mean and what's that all about. Or just enjoy the look which is really the FEEL. Oh sure and the characters too. Watch how sane, how utterly maddeningly and completely sane Guido can seem. Look at whatta crazy sunavbitch he can seem. The world's coolest everyman. (You do know this is an allegory -- no it's not!) Not many movies go in so many directions at once -- on purpose!

Mmmmmmmmm......

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