Directed by Roberto Faenza and, while filmed in 1981, it was released in Italy in 1983 and in the country in which it is set not long after in 1984.
Former lead singer of iconic punk rock band the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten, stars alongside Harvey Keitel in quite the strange film I must say. Whilst the director ended up trying to market the film to the arthouse crowd, it was filmed in 1981 and not released until 1983. The film has various titles, Copkiller, Order Of Death, Corrupt, as well as its Italian title L’Assassino dei Poliziotti, just to name a few.
It tells the story of a string of murders with the victims all being police officers. Rotten’s character, a rich bachelor with a history of confessing to crimes he supposedly hasn’t committed, turns up at one of two apartments’ belong to Harvey Keitel and one of his friends and professes that he is indeed the cop killer. The film is quite clever in that it leaves you guessing throughout the entire film who exactly the murderer is.
The film as a whole, at least for me, ends up quite all over the place and doesn’t really hold up very well over time. Having said that, the performance from the punk rock singer is quite the turn especially for those who know his music. I, myself, certainly didn’t expect him to pull in such a brilliant performance. The always brilliant Keitel offers a great performance too but as I mentioned before the film unfortunately does fall flat and while the atmosphere which pervades the film is quite eery and fits in with the theme of the film, I think – among other things – that the camera lingers on much too long for much of the film.
What’s also interesting to note is the score is done by the composing legend of spagehetti western fame Ennio Morricone. Not much to say on that really, beside the fact it helped build the creepy atmosphere which fitted well with the performances.
See it only if you’re interested in seeing how Rotten performs on film – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. He’s said himself he’s proud of the film and despite not particularly liking the finished film I can definitely see why.
Directed by Federico Fellini and released in it’s home country of Italy in 1957.
This review was written on August 8th 2011.
We start out with a girl being chased by her lover through a set of fields. As they edge closer to a river, her lover snatches her handbag and pushes her in head first. From then on the protagonist of the story Maria, or Cabiria as she is known on the streets, plunges into the streets bumping into a seemingly never ending array of characters who never seem to fully embrace her. They push her to one side, leaving her heartbroken time and time again. What makes it worse for her is that she is a prostitute – the one “profession” where looking for love is frowned upon and near impossible.
Halfway through the film, Cabiria meets a man who, at night, feeds poor people who live in caves. This character is the only male in the entire film who stays true to her in one way or another. They part ways with a smile and a thank you and he is never seen again. Another scene which cannot leave my memory is where Cabiria stumbles into a magic show and inadvertently volunteers. She is put under a trance and made to act out a scene where she falls hopelessly in love with a man she just met by the name of Oscar. When she awakes from the trance she has no memory of what happened and is bewildered by the crowd who jeer at her. The performance of the magician (or the ‘wizard’ as IMDb lists his character) is especially memorable. Once she leaves the show, she just so happens to meet a man named Oscar who is adamant that they share a connection. After spending time with each other they decide to get married, only for Maria to find out that he isn’t all he has cracked up to be – which leads to another eventual heartbreak.
The pivotal finale, and Maria’s character’s undoubted peak, is absolutely wonderful. She sneaks a sly smile at the camera through a flourish of tears that can only leave you with the impression that we are not leaving this woman unhappy as we saw her in opening scenes of the film.
The story is incredibly written, and the absolutely beautiful score pulls you in and lingers in the background in the most amicable way especially in scenes where music isn’t even necessary. Fellini directs the film with such vigour and beauty that it’s so hard not to look away. Even shots of the streets look divine and I can only imagine how hard lighting those scenes must’ve been for the crew.
Regardless, Fellini overcomes that and presents a finely shot film with a main character with elegance and charm that you cannot overlook – all thanks to the absolutely amazing lead performance from Giulietta Masina.
Directed by Vittorio De Sica and released in it’s home country of Italy in 1952.
Umberto D. is essentially a story about a man trying to come up with the money to pay his rent, but by the end of the film it becomes a film about an old man and his dog trying to make the most out of life.
The film is a brilliant character drama with an absolutely fantastic lead performance from Carlo Battisti as the titular character. Coincidentally, this was his first and last film and like quite a few of the other cast members, he was not an established actor at all. Another great performance in the film comes from a young lady named Maria – whom Umberto befriends – she is expecting but isn’t sure of the father.
There are some greatly explored themes of fatherhood and the relationship between man and animal and it touches upon other themes of health and how the general public looks after or doesn’t look after the elderly. The final scenes with Umberto and his dog feature some great single shots including one of Umberto backing away slowly as he’s trying to leave the country but can’t find anyone to take his dog. There’a also another where he attempts to put him in front of a fast moving train but bails at the last minute having a near death encounter himself and then the beautiful final shot of the two of them walking into the distance gleefully playing with each other.
I really felt a connection to the main character here and felt a nice resolution with him at the end of the piece.