Saturday, March 22, 2014

Italy’s 13th Foreign Oscar Winner Shows A Very Beautiful Side Of Rome

Posted by Peter Quennell

Since 1950 Italian films have won more Foreign Oscars than those from any other country.

And now this. The Great Beauty.  Said by some to be a La Dolce Vita for the 21st century and by others to be a Great Gatsby for Italy.

The movie was re-released on 14 March after a limited run late last year and is still playing in many art houses in Europe and the US. The Great Beauty has a 91% positive rating among the critics on Rotten Tomatoes and the reviews sure take off in many different directions.

The Los Angeles Times review started off thus:

As its name promises, “The Great Beauty” is drop-dead gorgeous, a film that is luxuriously, seductively, stunningly cinematic. But more than intoxicating imagery is on director Paolo Sorrentino’s mind, a lot more.

One of Italy’s most impressive contemporary filmmakers, Sorrentino has a superb sense of how to fill a wide screen and, working with his longtime cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, a wizard with camera movement, his visuals display the intoxicating richness of color 35-millimeter film in a way few contemporary ventures can match.

When Sorrentino says in the press notes that “a single shot, if well thought out and balanced, can enthrall and say more than ten pages of dialogue,” he’s as good as his word

Another small shot in the arm for Rome where everybody seems to be headed these days. Well done Rome and well done Italian film industry where movies mainly for adults are still happening.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/22/14 at 06:11 AM in The wider contextsItalian context


Thanks Peter. By happy coincidence I have had the rental DVD of “The Great Beauty” for a week or so but I haven’t got round to watching it. I’m definitely motivated now!

Posted by Odysseus on 03/27/14 at 11:30 AM | #

Hi Odysseus

You’re welcome! It will be interesting to know what you make of it. The gap on Rotten Tomatoes between what the critics think (91% positive) and what audiences think (79% positive) is unusual and interesting.

It seems to do with the fact that the storyline, such as it is, is about a certain decadence and entropy and a sense that maybe the guy hadnt achieved anything real in life despite being rich and a successful writer. Read some of the one and two star reviews on IMDB.

To do with being in a political capital? No big projects or goals, no money in the budgets, warring political parties?

To do with TV and the Internet showing the immense success of some families and an increasing lack of upward mobility?

To do with the guy being a writer? Thats a lonely job and not always the most satisfying.

Hollywood movies often laud the exceptional individual (especially those with super-powers) and the American economy especially rewards the top guys as if they are all geniuses and everybody else is kinda stupid.

Much of the development effort in the world funded by countries themselves and others doesnt focus much on the political capitals, it tries to build dynamism at local levels and draw in as many people as possible into group creative efforts.

The models used tend to be rather top-down and by the standards of what is possible the methods are primitive but they can be energizing and see real results well within peoples’ lifetimes. Being apart of a highly successful group can be addictive.

Meredith seems to have been a charismatic integrative can-do person, and she was into the kind of studies and ambitions that make many of us here sense she would have made a big mark just when its most needed.

Knox in sharp contrast: where was she ever going? All I see in her is “Its all about me me me!!” which is a mindset you can also see in way too many around her, including the highly irresponsible Preston, Burleigh, Dempsey, Girlanda, Fischer and Moore.

We’re all cooked if their kind end up driving the bus.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 03/27/14 at 12:03 PM | #
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