In PARTNER, Bernardo Bertolucci conflated his interests in psychoanalysis, nonlinear narrative, and Godard to create a uniquely avant-garde work unlike anything in his ouevre. The film is loosely based on Dostoyevsky’s novel THE DOUBLE and concerns an alienated, puckish young man named Jacob (Pierre Clementi) who confronts his own double. Jacob allows his doppelganger to take over his life; the second Jacob commandeers his predecessor’s theater class in the hopes of creating living theater–as a violent act of social revolution. The idea of students wreaking havoc was not an unfamiliar one in 1968, and Bertolucci refuses to take Jacob’s dangerous intellectual posturing lightly. The second Jacob is a handsome killer, the first a handsome weakling who must find the courage to resist his baser self. Bertolucci matches inspired plot points with arresting images, including visual film references and the bright color schemes that would later become his trademark. Continue reading
Love and Anger is a collection of five stories that are the handiwork of directors that have made names for themselves in decidedly different ways among the annals of foreign cinema. The heavy hitters of the time are all on board, including Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor, Partner), Marco Bellocchio (Devil in the Flesh), Carlo Lizzani (Requiescant), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salo), and, a huge treat, the legendary Jean-Luc Godard (Band of Outsiders, Breathless). Most of these films are extremely surreal, but they all have political undertones. This actually works out quite well, as even if you aren’t familiar with the political climate in Italy and France during the 1960s, you can revel in these masters’ liberal use of inventive imagery, much of which never comes completely together in a standard narrative structure. The actors come from a pair of renowned theater groups: the Living Theater and Andy Warhol Factory, and include Julian Beck, who made his mark in Hollywood as the creepy preacher in Poltergeist II. Continue reading
An an introverted teenager tells his parents he going on a ski trip, but instead spends his time alone in a basement.
È facile capire perché il racconto di Ammaniti abbia attirato Bertolucci: sembra di vedere una specie di Ultimo tango a Parigi tutto in famiglia, epurato dall’erotismo più spinto ma percorso da una carica erotica “colpevole” anche se mai demonizzata. Protagonisti sono Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori), figlio di una famiglia romana bene che risiede nel ricco quartiere Parioli, e Olivia (Tea Falco), la sua sorellastra. Lorenzo si chiude nella cantina del suo palazzo in un esilio voluto, per sfuggire a una settimana bianca organizzata dalla scuola. Ma il piano perfetto fallisce quando nella cantina arriva anche Olivia, tossica in fuga da tutti. Inizia così un processo di scoperta che porterà alla reciproca comprensione, finalmente.
Quasi tutto il film si ambienta nella cantina, un set stupefacente, arredato da Letizia Santucci. Una sorta di versione sporca e decadente di un vero appartamento, dove i due protagonisti tentano di ricostruire una normalità provvisoria, isolandosi dalla complicata vita di superficie. Io e te è, in questo senso, anche un film autobiografico, perché lo stesso Bertolucci ha confessato di essersi chiuso in casa a lungo dopo The Dreamers, anche a causa dei problemi alle gambe che lo hanno costretto su una seria a rotelle. Ma come per lui dirigere è stata una scusa per tornare nel mondo esterno, così Io e te infine ci dice che non è possibile isolarsi dalla comunità e che essere soli e poter fare ciò che si vuole non vuol dire per forza essere liberi.
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Left alone in Paris whilst their parents are on holiday, Isabelle (Eva Green) and her brother Theo (Louis Garrel) invite Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American student, to stay at their apartment. Here they make their own rules as they experiment with their emotions and sexuality while playing a series of increasingly demanding mind games. Set against the turbulent political backdrop of France in the spring of 1968 when the voice of youth was reverberating around Europe, THE DREAMERS is a story of self-discovery as the three students test each other to see just how far they will go. THE DREAMERS was helmed by Bernardo Bertolucci, whose THE LAST EMPEROR swept the 1987 Academy Awards garnering nine Oscars© including Best Director and Best Picture. It marks his third film shot in Paris, following THE CONFORMIST and the Oscar-nominated LAST TANGO IN PARIS. The screenplay, adapted for the screen from his original novel, is by English author and film critic Gilbert Adair. THE DREAMERS was produced by Jeremy Thomas (BROTHER, SEXY BEAST) who teamed with Bertolucci on THE LAST EMPEROR, THE SHELTERING SKY and LITTLE BUDDHA. THE DREAMERS strikes a personal chord for both Bertolucci and Adair, for although their paths never crossed, they were both living in Paris at the end of the 60s, experiencing the events against which the film is set. Their love of cinema took them to the birthplace of the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave), immersing them in a strong international cinema culture. Continue reading
This story opens in 1938 in Rome, where Marcello has just taken a job working for Mussollini and is courting a beautiful young woman who will make him even more of a conformist. Marcello is going to Paris on his honeymoon and his bosses have an assignment for him there. Look up an old professor who fled Italy when the fascists came into power. At the border of Italy and France, where Marcello and his bride have to change trains, his bosses give him a gun with a silencer. In a flashback to 1917, we learn why sex and violence are linked in Marcello’s mind. (IMDb) Continue reading
The study of a youth on the edge of adulthood and his aunt, ten years older. Fabrizio is passionate, idealistic, influenced by Cesare, a teacher and Marxist, engaged to the lovely but bourgeois Clelia, and stung by the drowning of his mercurial friend Agostino, a possible suicide. Gina is herself a bundle of nervous energy, alternately sweet, seductive, poetic, distracted, and unhinged. They begin a love affair after Agostino’s funeral, then Gina confuses Fabrizio by sleeping with a stranger. Their visits to Cesare and then to Puck, one of Gina’s older friends, a landowner losing his land, dramatize contrasting images of Italy’s future. Their own futures are bleak. (IMDb) Continue reading
La Via del Petrolio is a three-part documentary Bernardo Bertolucci made for the Italian oil giant ENI that aired in 1967. The film was made following Bertolucci’s breakthrough second feature Before the Revolution, and the director has said that it’s a documentary made by a man who is desperate to direct another feature. Although it’s been long-forgotten, it was fairly successful when it aired, and its recent restoration by ENI reveals it to be a remarkably poetic film, full of echoes with Bertolucci’s other work – from a snowbound, dreamlike car journey through Switzerland that recalls The Conformist, to a mesmerizing portrait of the desert that presages The Sheltering Sky, and compelling footage of laborers that foretells 1900. There’s even a Moby Dick reference – right on the heels of a similar reference in Before the Revolution. Continue reading