Juliet of the Spirits

Giulietta Masina

1965’s Juliet of the Spirits (Giulietta degli spiriti) was Federico Fellini’s first film in colour and he goes at it like a child whose Christmases have all come at once. Up comes a screen of opening credits so vividly blue that it’s shocking, followed by an opening scene where the quiet and mousey Juliet (played by Fellini’s own wife Giulietta Masina) is assailed on all sides by people, chatter, action. The quiet romantic evening she’d had planned with her husband Giorgio (Mario Pisu) has been upended. He’s brought home a gaggle of people, party animals who want to have fun. Fellini wants to have fun too, and he wants to fill the screen … Read more

I Vitelloni

Fausto and friends

Federico Fellini’s 1953 breakthrough I Vitelloni is often translated as The Bullocks. The Young Bucks would be better, since it’s the story of a group of young Italian guys – all of them pretty good looking, all of them with a high opinion of themselves – who do very little with their time apart from drink, smoke, play billiards, bet on the horses, chase women and, coming way down the list, occasionally wonder what the future might bring. Scratch that. It’s actually really the story of one of the group, Fausto (Franco Fabrizi), a handsome devil in the Richard Burton mould who, as the film starts, is trying to skip town, having impregnated … Read more

11 November 2013-11-11

Charlie Hunnam in Pacific Rim

Out in the UK This Week   Pacific Rim (Warner, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD) Guillermo Del Toro, everybody, which raises expectations – Pan’s Labyrinth and Cronos being not too shabby. And Hellboy being a yawn but at least a formidably realised one. Throw a director of that ability at a story about alien creatures rising up out of the Pacific and waging war on humanity – who wage it right back with huge robotic leviathans controlled by human drivers – and the result should be something fairly awesome, shouldn’t it? And Pacific Rim actually is awesome up to a point. We have Charlie Hunnam showing his formidably sculpted abs. We have Idris Elba as the … Read more

La Dolce Vita

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 29 September Anita Ekberg born, 1931 On this day in 1931, Kerstin Anita Marianne Ekberg was born, in Malmö, Sweden. A model in her teens, Ekberg was Miss Sweden by the age of 19 and had a contract with Universal studios shortly afterwards. Howard Hughes, a keen student of the female form (or lecher, according to your viewpoint), and then owner of the RKO studio, was also keen on exploiting her talents, but Ekberg preferred to go horse-riding and take part in the sort of stunts that starlets in the 1950s got up to. More often seen in a bikini, or … Read more

La Dolce Vita

fellini marcello mastroianni and anita ekberg la dolce vita

More than 50 years old yet curiously contemporary, Federico Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece isn’t just a cynical critique by a conflicted Catholic of “the sweet life”, it’s the film that announces the arrival of the world we now inhabit. It starts with one of cinema’s most famous shots, a lingering view of a huge statue of Christ being airlifted, possibly rescued, from a Rome gone to the bad. God, Fellini appears to be saying, has left us, and in his place we have placed the pursuit of carnal pleasure, the joys of the night, drink and the worship of our new deity – the celebrity. This, after all, is the film that introduced the … Read more

Isn’t It Iconic?

the original poster

La Dolce Vita might not be the best Italian film ever made. Or the cleverest, steamiest or most gripping. But it is the most iconic. Here’s why… Just a touch over 50 years ago the assembled critics at the Cannes film festival gave Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita a standing ovation. Not at the end of the film, or even at the moment when Anita Ekberg gets into the Trevi fountain, its most remembered scene. No, what got them to their feet was the film’s opening shot. It’s of a huge statue of Jesus Christ being airlifted out of Rome, the Eternal City. It doesn’t look like much now but back then this … Read more