#392-Voyage in Italy

Quick recap: A miserable husband and his equally miserable wife go on vacation where they find out just how miserable they truly are.

A barrel of fun, these two

Fun (?) fact: The Naples hotel the couple stayed in was the very same one Tony Soprano, of the Sopranos, stayed in many years later.

Thoughts and observations: 

As much as I fantasize visiting another country one day, Italy is just never in my Top 5 Destinations. But after watching this film, maybe it should be. If we can just ignore the main characters for a second ( or longer, if possible) there were so many breathtaking scenes- from the swanky hotel in Naples to the awe inspiring catacombs to the freaking VOLCANO just sitting there behind the villa. And these two married people-Katherine and Alex Joyce- hated every minute of it. Maybe I wouldn’t jump for joy if offered a trip to Italy but at least I wouldn’t be as miserable as these two. Among the many things they griped about:

  • the food. There’s a scene in which Katherine can barely stomach the spaghetti because she doesn’t know how to eat it.
  • people who speak Italian
  • how the air is too comfortable and it makes them sleepy
  • being at a party and having too much fun
  • being at a party and not acting like you are enjoying yourself

And it goes on. But what Katherine and Alex can at least agree on is how tired they are of each other and I totally get why. Alex spends his time criticizing his wife and shrugging off the few times she attempts to share deeply with him. And Katherine lives in a world of romance instead of reality, which causes her to deeply despise her husband. And yet when the two get the opportunity to spend time away from each other, they spend the entire time feeding their deep seated jealousy against one another. At the end of the movie, divorce is finally mentioned. Alex can’t be bothered to show any emotion while Katherine is about to lose her mind. The very last scene is of them getting out of their car during a parade, embracing, and saying ‘I love you’.

What I love about director Roberto Rossellini is how he was able to convey everything we needed to know about this couple just from their ‘slice of life’ vacation. There is a mention of a former lover of Katherine’s but that’s about it. No stories about how the two of them fell in love or shared previous vacations together or even whether the two had children. But that information isn’t needed because I could already tell the story just from the way they interacted. The best example of this is towards the end when Alex and Katherine visit the buried city of Pompeii. As they look at the fossilized remains of the people, Katherine is overcome with emotion and has to leave. Alex looks completely drained of any emotion but it’s easy to see just how much he is actually holding back. The way he looks at her as she pours her heart out to him is all the proof needed to know how much they truly care about each other. They should still check out a marriage counselor soon though, if there is any hope of a future for the two of them.

Watchability score: 4/5. Beautiful movie and interesting characters but the dubbing was a little confusing at times

Up next: SHAFT

#391- Gallipoli

Quick recap: The tale of two Australians who go off to fight in World War 1…..and it does not go well.

And stars a hot and sweaty Mel Gibson

Fun (?) fact: ANZAC Day was originally observed to honor the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died in the Gallipoli campaign but is now a day to remember all those who died during war.

physically hot, not attractively hot. He was probably an anti-semitic jerk even back then

Thoughts and observations: 

As has become the standard PSA on this blog, war is hell. Gallipoli is no exception of course, so let’s see just how hellish the movie gets:

  • takes place during World War 1, one of the most hellish wars to date (1 POINT)
  • The characters are fictional but I got attached nonetheless and didn’t want anyone to die (1/2 POINT)
  • One of those characters was played by Mel Gibson (-5 POINTS)
  • The actual battle scene only takes place the last 20 minutes or so of the film (-1 POINT)
  • There are SO MANY dead bodies and the death is realistic (2 POINTS)
  • The English bungle everything and have Australian blood on their hands (1 POINT)
  • The training scenes take place in Cairo, against the backdrop of the pyramids ( beautiful setting but worth 0 POINTS)
  • The final scene is of the main character dying a most honorable death (3 POINTS)

So, based on the point system I created just this very second, Galipoli is certified ‘pretty freaking hellish’.

I was surprised by how much time was spent on getting to know the characters and learning about their love of sprinting. I kept wondering when it would be important to the battle and it definitely paid off in the final few scenes. And by saving the gory stuff for the very end, I was lured into a false sense of security that maybe this would be a successful battle and everyone would be ok. Like I said, pretty freaking hellish.

Watchability score: 4/5. Also some choice nudity if that is your thing

Up next: Journey to Italy

 

 

#389- Chimes at Midnight

Quick recap: Prince Hal loves his good buddy Falstaff until it’s time to become king and then he completely breaks off the friendship.

Fun (?) fact: Orson Welles had to actually slim down for the role of Falstaff.

Thoughts and observations:

Shakespearian language is beautiful, I suppose, except that I only understood about 10% of the movie. Maybe 15% if I’m feeling generous. To make matters worse, there wasn’t a subtitles option so I had to listen carefully like some commoner. About halfway through the movie I decided to stop trying to pay attention to what was said and instead treat Chimes at Midnight as if it were a silent film or a film in another language. And it worked, for the most part. I read the synopsis afterward, quite proud of myself for getting the gist of the movie.

But only getting the gist of a movie does not a good movie make. Was it well acted? Sure! Did the music set the tone? Definitely! Was the setting appropriate for the plot? Of course. But I just don’t see the point of ANOTHER film based on Shakespeare. This movie was made in 1965, coming right after several versions of Shakespeare plays and right before many, many more. Now, I’m a bit biased in this regard because literally the only version I have every enjoyed is Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Minus the battle scene, which I’m still not entirely sure who was fighting who, making a film version didn’t add to the play at all. Same costumes as I’m accustomed to, same stale language, same pompous acting. And from the research I did (which was very little) really the only thing people loved was how fat Orson Welles was. If that’s the only criteria here, then this movie is a MASTERPIECE. I have no idea how Welles was able to move around and didn’t just keel over the second the director yelled, ‘cut!’. He actually went on to live another 20 years, which I’m more impressed about than anything else I learned from this movie.

 

Watchability score: 2/5. There are plenty of other films to watch if you want to see kings doing king things.

Up next: The Nutty Professor

#387- Breathless

Quick recap: After randomly killing a police office, Michel tries to convince a recent hook up to escape to Italy with him.

Se

I am equally in love with both Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo

Fun (?) fact: There’s a rumor that the movie was scriptless but that’s not entirely true. Godard wanted a spontaneous feel so he fed lines to the actors instead of having them memorize their own parts.

Thoughts and observations:

I don’t know if I’ve gotten better at understanding Godard’s films or it’s because I’ve had no social contact for the last three weeks because of quarantine, but I REALLY enjoyed this movie. I suspect the latter. What excited me so much about Breathless wasn’t the random philosophical discussions but instead seeing all the people! As 1930s films need a spinning newspaper, French movies always need a coffee shop scene and this one had me at the edge of my seat. No one had to keep 6 feet apart and they could linger at their table for as long as they wanted.

Jean Seberg, as Patricia, had my attention from the very beginning when she was walking down the street selling newspapers. Seeing as how I’m now in sweatpants 90% of the time, I loved living vicariously through her as changed into outfit after outfit for no apparent reason. I’d forgotten about dressing up and going out somewhere. And more than that, I loved how complicated her love for Michel was. When they first met up she was confused, saying that they only hooked up a few times so didn’t understand why he wanted her to flee to Rome with him so badly. But then in the next scene she insinuates that she is pregnant with his child. The way she looked at him sometimes was pure love but by the end of the film she had turned him into police. I wanted the best for her the entire time but I didn’t know what the ‘best’ was.

And as for Michel, I had no idea how to feel about him at all. On one hand he killed a cop and stole several cars. But on the other hand, look at him:

I rest my case

He was the very definition of toxic and there would be no way he would actually make it out of the country but I still would’ve taken my chances.

Watchability score: 4/5. I’m as surprised as you!

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