Ah, Fellini! I wish I could give him a big ol' smooch! No one can do la dolce vita like Federico.
In this carnivalesque portrait of provincial Italy during the Fascist period, Fellini satirizes his youth and turns daily life into a circus of rituals, sensations and emotions. Adolescent desires, male fantasies, and political repartee are set to Nina Rotas music in this beautiful transfer of Amarcord.
Mr. Busch says:
Well here I was SO excited that our latest film in the series was from 1974 after all these ancient ones, and the damn thing is set in the '30's! This is one crazy movie with a whole lot of hollerin'. Part of the time I felt like I was in Farrelly country with all the bodily fluids, flatulence, and low humor (which to my delicate sensibilities bordered on the offensive; for instance, one of the first lines is a man shouting at the town whore, who is clearly mentally disabled, "I bet you even dip a cock in your morning coffee!" John Waters would be proud.) Don't get me wrong, I realize that this is a grand satire of everything from fascism to prostitution masquerading as a coming-of-age flick. The sets, costumes, and scenery are alternately bleak and breathtaking as we are taken on a guided tour by several narrators through a year in the life of an Italian town loosely based on Fellini's home. Truly stunning scenes of ritual are strung along from episode to episode - you're bound to be amazed and charmed by some and disturbed by or, like me, indifferent to others. The film is all about the characters, though, and I dare anyone with a beating heart not to love the town's patron saint, Gradisca. But can we please get a Criterion movie with no soldiers for once?!
There are no special features except a restoration comparison, which was kind of funny because this film seemed to be in much worse shape than the ones that we have watched that were decades older. No commentary, trailers, or other info - kind of surprising for Criterion. I'm so glad though that I finally know why the "Amarcord" logo has those huge breasts resting in it. You will be, too.
My god, this movie is NUTS. I guess a master like Fellini can do away with plot, but he seems to be a little TOO in love with these (admittedly) loveable characters. The movie begins and ends, in true Fellini style, with giant set-pieces: a town bonfire and a wedding. He's great at setting up characters within crowds and making you feel like a participant in the festivities. Life to him really IS a parade. What I love about Fellini is his ablity to adore each person for the very veriness that makes them them. I kept singing an old Adam Ant song to myself: "Every girl is a something girl...she's got some THING."
It was nice, after all these early films, to see some camera movement. Fellini carefully chooses his moments to move the camera, and he does so with mastery. He's consistently astonishing at framing, but when he moves the camera, with its shifting foreground and background.....well, it's just lovely.
But I confess that all the masturbation scenes made me realize that not only is Fellini reminiscing about his youth and commenting on the self-proud nature of fascism -- this movie itself is an act of masturbation (of course, one could argue that every movie is). All apologies, but give me "8 1/2" or "La Strada".
Next up: The 400 Blows!