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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 10:37 AM

The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are reviews of just a few of them.

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The Headless Woman (Argentina/France/Italy/Spain, 2008) Weird undercurrents of dread permeate nearly every frame of Argentinean auteur Lucrecia Martel's (The Holy Girl, La Cienaga) teasingly opaque, densely layered mindbender of a movie. Did adulterous middle-aged dentist Verónica (the wonderfully impassive María Onetto) accidentally run over a young boy while fumbling for her cell phone? Or was it all a dream (or hallucination) brought on by Veronica's guilty conscience? As usual, Martel respects her audience's intelligence enough not to spoon feed the answers. Enigmatic and profoundly disorienting, Martel's "art flick with a capital 'A'" plays like a Michelangelo Antonioni remake of Hitchcock's Marnie. While admittedly not for all tastes, Martel remains one of the most gifted purveyors of pure cinema on the international scene. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 and at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. *** (Milan Paurich)

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La Dolce Vita (Italy, 1960) Federico Fellini's magnificent, sprawling 1960 spectacle feels more relevant than ever in an era of celebrity obsession and drug- and liquor-fueled decadence; only minor differences between today Paris Hiltons and the film's mid-20th-century Rome (a Rome that Fellini was quick to say wasn't the "real" Rome, but his own confabulation) is that yesteryear's hedonists didn't have reality-TV shows or internet sex videos to add to their sins. The camera prowls through the capital's night life seen through the sunglasses-eye-view of jaded gossip columnist Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni). The antihero, it's hinted, was a once-promising writer now submerged in the city's trendy moviemaking scenesters and alluring international "jet-set," who both seduce and repel him, such as an enormous-bosomed visiting American blonde actress (Anita Ekberg), a rich nymphomaniac, some amoral children faking a Virgin-Mary miracle, and other Dante-esque sights that, a few decades later, probably would be labeled "Lynchian" (watch for horror-flick siren Barbara Steele in one of her dramatic roles). This was the movie that popularized the term "paparazzi" and is required viewing on the big screen, plain and simple. At 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. **** (Charles Cassady Jr.)

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The Nights Of Cabiriala Notti Di Cabiria (Italy, 1956) Also known as Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini's 1957 drama won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature. Giuletta Masina, Fellini's actress-wife, combining the pathos and the street-smarts of Chaplin's Little Tramp, plays, well, a little tramp. She is Cabiria, a saucy but basically decent prostitute in modern Rome, who goes through a series of episodes, including a pull towards the Mother Church, suggesting redemption or a way out of her sordid life. Cabiria never gives up hope, even though she's disappointed time and again. A hypnosis subplot with Bergmanesque Mephistopheles figure suggests the break away from neorealism and towards the grotesque and phantasmagoric that would hallmark the rest of Fellini's career. The opening act, in which Cabiria gets picked up used basically as a date-prop by a famous American movie actor (insert Hugh Grant or Eddie Murphy joke here) directly inspired the musical Sweet Charity, but Fellini, evidently with no hard feelings, considered Bob Fosse's song-and-dance show/movie to be its own creation, barely related to his. Viewers of the original will discover this is a far richer drama with a lot more to it that Broadway left out. At 9:10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13 and at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. **** (Cassady)

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You the Living (Sweden/Germany/France/Denmark/Norway, 2007) In the opening scene of You, the Living, a man is woken up by a train barreling past his window. He briefly addresses the camera, and then the movie begins a new scene with a tattooed couple arguing on a park bench. Don't like that one either? Don't worry, there are many more vignettes on the way in director Roy Andersson's open-ended look at life. Dozens of little stories play out in single-shot takes, as characters occasionally break out in song or play instruments to the film's soundtrack. Some stories are tied together (the quarreling couple end up at the same bar as a girl whose fantasy unspools later in the film), even though there's no real narrative here. Yet Andersson brings you into these characters' lives, even if it is for just a few fleeting minutes. It's all about making the best of our time here. "Tomorrow is another day," says more than one character. That's life, shrugs another. And in this stylish film, life is indeed a wonderful little thing. At 7:35 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 and at 8:15 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. *** (Michael Gallucci)

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