Drama

Michelangelo Antonioni – Cronaca di un Amore AKA Chronicle of a Love (1950)

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Michelangelo Antonioni’s first narrative feature is a stark, minimal interpersonal drama that would establish many of the themes and techniques that would recur in his work for the rest of his career. Story of a Love Affair centers on the dynamic between Guido and Paola, two old flames re-igniting their passions for one another. Tabs are being kept on both of the lovers by their current spouses as well as by a private investigator, but even after their pursuers fall out of the picture — whether due to accidents or disinterest — Guido and Paola find that their love for each other is waning. Filled with stark, empty compositions, unpredictable camera movements, and static, self-obsessed characters, Story of a Love Affair would mark Antonioni as a maverick among the prevailing neorealists of the post-war Italian film community.
-AMG Review- Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – Blowup (1966)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader wrote:
Michelangelo Antonioni’s sexy art-house hit of 1966, which played a substantial role in putting “swinging London” on the map, follows a day in the life of a young fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who discovers, after blowing up his photos of a couple glimpsed in a park, that he may have inadvertently uncovered a murder. Part erotic thriller (with significant glamorous roles played by Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Verushka, and Jane Birkin), part exotic travelogue (featuring a Yardbirds concert, antiwar demonstrations, street mimes, one exuberant orgy, and a certain amount of pot), this is so ravishing to look at (the colors all seem newly minted) and pleasurable to follow (the enigmas are usually more teasing than worrying) that you’re likely to excuse the metaphysical pretensions–which become prevalent only at the very end–and go with the 60s flow, just as the original audiences did. Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – Zabriskie Point (1970)

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Zabriskie Point, director Michelangelo Antonioni’s only American film, is an unusual, visually stunning examination of youthful rebellion against the Establishment. The film, initially presented in quasi-documentary style, presents a group of college activists discussing key issues of their political agenda. Mark (Mark Frechette) steals an airplane and flies over a desert where he meets Daria (Daria Halprin). She is the pot-smoking secretary to businessman Lee Allen (Rod Taylor), while he is a rebel searching for a worthy cause. In the midst of the arid surroundings, Mark and Daria fall in love. Antonioni’s nonrealistic approach to American counterculture myths, his loose and sluggish narrative, and the dialogue (credited to Fred Gardner, Sam Shepard, Tonino Guerra, Clare Peploe, and Antonioni) caused Zabriskie Point to be poorly received when it was first released. The score features songs from Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Kaleidoscope, The Rolling Stones, John Fahey, The Youngbloods and Patti Page. Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – Il Grido AKA The Cry (1957)

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One of Antonioni’s most important films and a precursor of L’AVVENTURA, IL GRIDO has gained in stature over the years to the point where it overshadows some of his better known works. (Its images and atmosphere are amongst the most indelible in all Antonioni.) An imposing portrait of a worker who wanders the Po Valley with his little daughter after his wife leaves him, IL GRIDO is one of the director’s personal favourites: “When I saw IL GRIDO after some time,” Antonioni said, “I was stunned to find myself faced with such nakedness, with such great solitude. It was like what happens on some mornings when we look in the mirror and are startled by the reflection of our own face.” “IL GRIDO attains the perfection of a masterpiece. . . Indeed, it is a classic of cinematography, and certainly one of the most significant films of recent years” (Pierre Leprohon). Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – Il deserto rosso AKA Red Desert [+Extras] (1964)

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Quote:

Feb. 19, 1965

Red Desert is at once the most beautiful, the most simple and the most daring film yet made by Italy’s masterful Michelangelo Antonioni, a director so prodigiously gifted that he can marshal a whole new vocabulary of cinema to reiterate his now-familiar themes. The new element of Antonioni’s art is color. In Red Desert he shows a painterly approach to each frame; indeed he had whole fields and streets sprayed with pigment to produce precise shades of mood and meaning. Never has so bleak a vision of contemporary life been projected with more intensity, from craven yellow and life-brimming green to violent, passionate crimson and the grey of total despair. Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – L’Avventura (1960)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader wrote:

The controversial, highly charged 1960 masterpiece that put Michelangelo Antonioni’s name on the international map. It’s a work that requires some patience–a 145-minute mystery that strategically elides any conventional denouement–but more than amply repays the effort. The ambiguous title adventure begins on a luxury pleasure cruise. The disconsolate girlfriend (Lea Massari) of a successful architect (Gabriele Ferzetti) mysteriously disappears on a remote volcanic island, and the architect and the woman’s best friend (Monica Vitti) set out across Italy looking for her, becoming involved with each other along the way. In the course of their epic travels, Antonioni paints a complex portrait of a crisis in contemporary values and relationships. His stunning compositions and choreographic mise en scene, punctuated by eerie silences and shots that linger expectantly over landscapes, made him a key Italian modernist director of the 50s and 60s, perhaps rivaled only by Rossellini. This haunting work–the first in a loose trilogy completed by La notte and Eclipse–shows him at the summit of his powers. Read More »

Kelly Reichardt – Ode (1999)

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Quote:
If something characterizes Reichardt’s work, it’s that it always finds its characters downhill. And if that vivid decadence, that pain of not being anymore that transmit the characters in River of Glass, Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, her three features, already causes anguish, those great moments of pain captured by the director intensify, through condensation, in each of her short subjects. Death is lord and master in the shorts Then, a Year and Travis, and also in Ode, the only mid-length film by this daughter of cops (him, scientific; her, narcotics). Then, a Year combines, without attempting any kind of narrative, Reichardt in her adoptive Portland with a pastiche that mixes statements from different shows about crimes of passion. This idea is resumed in Travis, video-installation where that focus that never reaches the image, sensed as violent close-ups of a fixed photograph, is centered in politics: Reichardt infinitely loops fragments from the interview with a mother that has lost her son Travis in Iraq, and who, in every little confession, leaves a piece of her heart. Lastly, in Ode, the director shows the courage for loving of two young Baptists, capturing, for three quarters of an hour, the story of a love that could never be between Billy Joe and Bobbie Lee, and its tragic outcome. And the inevitable one, because there’s no place for the humbled joy of those poor old hearts in the oppressive world of the religious deep America. Read More »