Pin It
Favorite

Give It a 10 

You know the Madonna/ whore dichotomy? Nine has that and several other stereotypes

click to enlarge art14486.jpg

Am I alone out here, or are there others who feel that, with the exception of the brilliant La Strada, Federico Fellini was making movies that only he understood? I mean, who are these pseudo-intellectuals who have been pontificating for decades on the remarkable insight of the fabled director, or the true meaning of his densely layered (definition: confusing), supposedly autobiographical films? Hell, a recent book of interviews with him featured an introduction that stated, “Fellini enjoyed obfuscation, and his own recollections about his past varied according to whim.”

Which brings me to the inordinately over-praised 8 1/2, a film that, after four viewings over the years (one time I was very stoned), still remained a puzzle to me. By the time I gave up trying to watch it, I didn’t even want to know what it was about. The less said about Satyricon and Amarcord, the better.

Then along came Rob Marshall and his multi-Oscar-winning film adaptation of the splashy musical Chicago: ridiculous story, instantly forgettable songs, overuse of close-ups, a body double for Richard Gere’s dance steps, MUCH TOO LOUD.

Funny, then, that the pairing of Rob Marshall’s direction of material based on 8 1/2 has resulted in one of my favorite films of the year.

Set in 1965, much of it on a shape-shifting soundstage at Cinecitta Studios in Rome (where Fellini did most of his work), it’s the story of once-successful Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a director who’s sorely in need of a comeback film. He’s even scheduled to begin production on one. Just one problem, though: He’s out of ideas. The sets are built, the actors are arriving, and he hasn’t even started the script.

Cue the singers and dancers, and fire up the befuddled director’s fevered imagination. Bring on a series of current and remembered visits by a bevy of women in his life (Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Fergie), including his long-suffering wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz) and his pushy mom (Sophia Loren), and let ’em burst into song. (Hudson and Fergie are standouts.)

Somehow Marshall shapes a jumble of disparate segments into a shimmering thing of beauty and excitement, of fantasy and reality. It’s both a character study of a talented and troubled artist and a pointed peek at the creative process.

Best of all, even though I don’t intend to revisit 8 1/2, at least now I know what it’s about.

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • The One Who Knocks
  • The One Who Knocks

    Why an Australian indie called The Babadook became one of 2014's creepiest films
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Let My People Go Big
  • Let My People Go Big

    Exodus: Gods and Kings fails when it tries to humanize its spectacle
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Ed Symkus

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Stranger Than Fiction

    Jon Stewart tries his hand at directing with the true story Rosewater
    • Nov 12, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Fresh Spin

    A local record shop is reincarnated under a new owner, giving this generation a taste of vinyl
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • Hairy Matters

    L.A. glam-metal pioneers Mötley Crüe are calling it quits, and that's not necessarily a good thing.
    • Nov 19, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation