Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"La Dolce Vita" by Federico Fellini

I am certain Federico Fellini was expressing his personal sentiment for the tabloid press in "La Dolce Vita", and it's safe to assume that he was not a big fan of gossip columnists and paparazzi. By the time this picture was made in 1961, Fellini was a bona fide celebrity, so he knew how it was to be hounded by these press wolves, but I guess he was determined to do his own study of this peculiar group of people by making a movie about them; moreover, he tried his darnedest to be fair by casting the handsome Marcello Mastroianni to play the lead -- a womanizing reporter specialized in digging glitterati dirt.

One of the many pleasures of watching Fellini's films is to see how he treated the film set like a theater. One might hear some filmmakers give eager students of cinema this advice: "Look, you're doing a movie now, not a stage play, which means that you can do close-ups, and there's no need for the actors to project, because the camera will catch everything." Not Fellini. His actors often project and sometimes overact, but this grand theatricality in his films somehow never bothers us, at least not me.

In "La Dolce Vita", Fellini paid special attention to the gossip columnist's relationship with his live-in girlfriend. Even though Mastroianni's character cheats on her by sleeping with a wealthy heiress (Anouk Aimee) and flirting with a buxom Hollywood star (Anita Ekberg), his relationship with the "ball and chain" is not sacrificed at al -- in a memorable long scene toward the end, the couple get into a big fight, and for a brief moment, I thought I was watching a Bergman's movie.

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