Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Satyricon

I'm on break, and no one else I know is home at present, so I've been watching a lot of movies. In the past two days, I've seen Casino, We Don't Live Here Anymore and Satyricon.

Casino was an entertaining movie, but it really felt like a weak echo of Goodfellas. Scorsese uses much of the same cast, the same co-writer and the same filmmaking style. This basically forces you to compare the two films, and Casino just doesn't stack up. Its story is all over, and it lacks the feeling of innovation that Goodfellas has, even fifteen years later. The film has music going in practically every scene, but Scorsese never really uses the music, it just plays along, under the action, and rarely comments on the scene its involved with. So, I liked it, but it's probably the weakest Scorsese film I've seen. Of his work that I have seen, I'd say Goodfellas and The Aviator are the best. It took me two viewings to really appreciate Goodfellas, but I don't think another viewing would improve Casino that much.



We Don't Live Here Anymore is notable for featuring two of David Lynch's ladies, Naomi Watts and Laura Dern, as well as Peter Krause, aka Six Feet Under's Nate, and Mark Ruffalo of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So, this is a hell of a cast, but it's a movie that never quite comes together. The opening sequence is really striking, but for most of the movie, the characters just argue with each other, but unlike in, say, Six Feet Under or Buffy, you don't care about these characters, so watching them argue isn't that interesting. If this sort of stuff was happening with characters you cared about, it'd be riveting, but here, it doesn't quite make it. The acting is great though, and there's some very cool editing moments.



So, that brings us to Satyricon, by Federico Fellini. I watched 8 1/2 by him a few weeks ago, and it was great. I thought it was a pretty odd film, but this film goes way beyond it. People always say stuff like "It's a one of a kind film" or call films weird, and normally I don't agree, but this was a very weird and unique film. It's a film that challenges the viewer, but also puts you in a world where pretty much anything is acceptable, a world where morality doesn't apply, so you might be put off by what's going on, but the characters don't question it.



The mcguffin of this film is when Ascilto steals Encolpio's slave boy, Gitone, and sells him to an actor. Encolpio is in love with this slave boy, and the film makes no comment on the morality of this. You just have to accept that his quest to have a life with this boy is ok if you're going to enjoy the film. I was a little confused at first when no one seemed to question him, but it's ultimately just a way to get things started, and his quest is forgotten as the film continues.

After a little bit of watching, I was a bit disappointed that this movie didn't have the dream cut ins from 8 1/2. But, after a while, I realize that the entire film is like a dream. It just moves from one episode to another, and you're not really sure how you got there. There were moments, like when Encolpio is fighting a minotaur when I tried to think of what happened to get us to this point and I couldn't remember. We just ended up there somehow, and you can't really question it. Trying to find a coherent narrative in the film is a great challenge. Encolpio gets carried along, sometimes disappearing from the film, only to return a few minutes later after a little episode involving someone else occurs.

The most notable stylistic thing about the film for me was how Fellini constantly had the extras looking at the camera. There were these huge crowd scenes, and he'd move around the place, only to wind up with some strangely made up person staring directly at the camera. This is in some ways a Brechtian technique to emphasize the artificiality of the film world, but it doesn't take you out of the story, so much as draw you into it. It's like these people are asking what you think of what's going on, as if you're really there. It was freaking me out, because these people were just staring, like they were waiting for me to do something.

This was a movie that, despite not having much of a plot, was never boring. I got completely sucked into the world of the film and sort of drifted along, seeing this bizarre world that Fellini created. He described it as a science fiction film, but the alien civilization is Rome before Christianity, and that's accurate. This feels like a completely different world, and the film has more in common with Gilliam's Time Bandits than Gladiator.

Visually, the film is extremely rich. There's a lot of huge crowd scenes, and all the extras are made up in really odd ways. The sets are gorgeous, and there's a lot of bizarre occurrences on them. Also, everyone has the 60s ring around the eyes makeup, which I'm a big fan of.



The ending of the movie was oddly abrupt, but appropriate. Fellini just throws you out of the world, and you see the remnants of it on the beach, in the form of the mosaics. You're there, pondering what has happened, and realizing that the movie wasn't really going anywhere, it was what it was, just moments from a world that's gone. I loved the film, I think it really works as sort of a harder edged version of the typical 80s fantasy movie, and just as a really strange dreamlike journey of its own. 8 1/2 I really liked, but it went on a little too long, this one did not.

So, that was a top notch film. I've got La Dolce Vita on hold, so that'll be my next Fellini.

Related Posts
8 1/2 (2/19/2005)

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

watch it again. I think that Ascitlo was in love with Encolpio and stole Gitone to get him out of the way.
Gitone, played by Max Born, was the most interesting person in the film. He seem to be moved only by music and song but has no value accorded him other than that of sex object. And he has been a sex slave since childhood. As he and Encolopio return home they pass a room filled with child prostutues, the kind of place where Gtione got his start. Watch his face when he's not working for Encolpio he seems to hate Encolpio and just wants to be away. He probably felt that way about all men. Whores are important in Fellini and Gitone, I think, is one of his best studies.

Samewish_sandwich said...

I also love gitone too! Gitone is pretty and max born is handsome too! but too bad is this movie was 1969 year....
This movie scene also look colorful, most of scene use blue, orange and dark color to prove the ancient rome color beautiful and the rome ppl look so real~~!

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