L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

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L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 3:51 pm

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There is a scene at the very beginning of Carlo Lizzani's forgotten La Vita Agra (The Sour Life), in which we are first introduced to the film's grumpy protagonist, Luciano, played by an infectious Ugo Tognazzi in his prime, as he wades through the bustling crowds of Milan's iconic "Centrale" railway station. In thick winter overcoat and scarf, he alights the packed escalators that lead up to the platforms, seemingly unchanged 50 years hence, and makes his way to a waiting carriage. Upon locating his significant other, a dark-eyed mistress played by the illuminating Giovanna Ralli, Tognazzi's character begins to make gestures through the closed window, urging and eventually pleading her not to leave. The woman's expression remains implicit, and the train begins to chug away. Just at this moment, a young man appears, throwing an evidently forgotten suitcase up towards someone in an adjacent window. In the scuffle, our protagonist is bumped rather strongly on the head by the hefty case, but the thrower can do nothing but shrug his shoulders. So Luciano trudges away from the scene, picking his way through the sudden wave of passengers that mill around him. "What a blow, guys...", he suddenly remarks above the surrounding din, turning his sparkling gaze to the camera before continuing: "No, I mean, what a blow it is when after a year together she suddenly leaves." This is the magic of sixties cinema in Italy, and few knew its secrets as intimately as the stocky but charming Tognazzi.

This thread represents my attempt at honouring the Età d'Oro or Golden Age of Italian cinema, which to be honest is a term that could be applied to any of a handful of different periods, including not only Neorealism in the forties but also the country's first international successes, released towards the beginning of the 20th century: Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria in particular, which premiered in 1914 at the White House in front of Woodrow Wilson and his staff, later inspiring Federico Fellini's character of the same name. 26 films shall be featured over the course of the thread: one for each letter of the alphabet, with an emphasis on domestic products. That is, avoiding foreign directors or productions that took place outside of Italy, including the wave of spaghetti westerns that appeared during the sixties, most of which were conceived in Spain, and the slew of Roman epics such as Quo Vadis? and Ben-Hur that were made by foreign hands at Mussolini's purpose-built Cinecittà studios during the prosperous fifties. Despite these external influences and their warping of the Italy's cinematic landscape, bringing new fashions, trends and words to the country's shores, one must also remember that the Italian alphabet is however missing a few letters: J, K, W, X and Y. Hence, some liberties were taken in the construction of this A to Z. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I do, and would hope that some readers might also join me in my endeavours as things play out.
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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Beau » Sun May 09, 2010 3:56 pm

Now we're talking.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Mysterious F. » Sun May 09, 2010 4:00 pm

I love it already.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Rdog » Sun May 09, 2010 4:16 pm

I'm excited for this thread. Loved the first post. I'm pretty much a novice on Italian cinema so this should be a good learning experience as well.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 4:25 pm

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Through miserable open spaces he stumbles, feet dragging in the dirt. His lope is slouched, somehow lackadaisical, betrayed by the stunted nature of his physique and permanently puckered face to give the overall impression of a grown child looking for mischief. Indeed, if there were any tin cans in his path rather than dust, rocks and rubble, you could easily imagine him using them as an outlet for his visibly mounting frustration towards life in this, one of Rome's poorest suburban districts. This is Vittorio "Accattone" (a nickname meaning vagabond, scrounger or good-for-nothing) Cataldi, played by Franco Citti, the titular character of Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1961 debut. Poverty, usually manifested in hunger, is a subject that inspired much of Pasolini's work, and as such is responsible for some of its more memorable moments. In Uccellacci e Uccellini (The Hawks and the Sparrows), for example, there is the embattled old mother who locks her hungry children in an upstairs room for days at a time, yelling: "Go back to sleep, it's still dark!" whenever they begin to stir. Here, however, it can be easily summed up using one of the film's more potent lines: "Hey, kid who gave you the habit of eating? That starving father of yours?" One can literally read the generations of hunger and oppression on the faces of those involved, and they are faces that must have seemed alien to Pasolini when he first visited Rome in the mid-forties.

We must remember that Accattone represents Pasolini's very first foray into film, something the man himself pointed out as a significant hindrance, so is rather rough around the edges when compared to the work of his peers. Nevertheless, it has been hugely influential, and from the very beginning, causing many of those it influenced to react in extremely different ways. Bernardo Bertolucci, who was assistant director on the film, stated that he thought he was witnessing the birth of a new breed of cinema at the time, whereas Federico Fellini pulled out of funding the film because he believed just the opposite. Pasolini's approach to poverty, coupled with his conscious use of stark landscapes and inexperienced actors, caused many critics to label Accattone as Neorealist when it was first released. Rather than use this neorealism to illustrate Italy's current economic state, however, Pasolini instead provides an almost constant drip of religious connotations - something that would define his later work - turning his protagonist into a subproletarian Christ-like martyr, who in his inability or refusal to become part of the social landscape through which he so ungracefully ambles - shunning not only a life of kerb-side lounging but also one of honest work - actively challenges the country's social structure. Accattone's death, and his final, almost relieved sentence, therefore becomes a sacrifice to aid Rome's transition to modernity. It is his disintegration, his refusal to integrate into what Pasolini viewed as an almost stagnant culture, that in the end saves him.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Rdog » Sun May 09, 2010 4:32 pm

I've only seen one Pasolini film to date (Porcile) and I don't think I was ready for it personally. I am looking forward to going back to that film at some time and some of his other work. I remember liking parts of Porcile a lot and other parts not so much.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Sinister » Sun May 09, 2010 4:42 pm

lackadaisical.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Pathétique » Sun May 09, 2010 4:44 pm

I didn't like Accattone very much, but Mamma Roma was great.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 4:50 pm

Rdog wrote:I've only seen one Pasolini film to date (Porcile) and I don't think I was ready for it personally. I am looking forward to going back to that film at some time and some of his other work. I remember liking parts of Porcile a lot and other parts not so much.
I've not seen Porcile personally but it's difficult to know where to start with Pasolini. Films like Accattone and Mamma Roma are slightly more accessible than, say, Uccellacci e Uccellini or Salò, but then you're always going to lose something in translation. It's difficult. The English subtitles for Uccellacci e Uccellini, for example, are so minimal that many of the puns and idiosyncrasies are lost. On top of that, if you're not aware of the political and social climate in Italy during that period, you're going to miss most of the references, nods and jabs that Pasolini lays out. I'd suggest perhaps starting with something like Accattone, if possible, simply because it represents the start of his film career.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Rdog » Sun May 09, 2010 4:53 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote: I've not seen Porcile personally but it's difficult to know where to start with Pasolini. Films like Accattone and Mamma Roma are slightly more accessible than, say, Uccellacci e Uccellini or Salò, but then you're always going to lose something in translation. It's difficult. The English subtitles for Uccellacci e Uccellini, for example, are so minimal that many of the puns and idiosyncrasies are lost. On top of that, if you're not aware of the political and social climate in Italy during that period, you're going to miss most of the references, nods and jabs that Pasolini lays out. I'd suggest perhaps starting with something like Accattone, if possible, simply because it represents the start of his film career.
Okay. I'll check out Accattone when I decide to watch Pasolini. As an American I'm interested in learning about Pasolini's films but as you said there are some things that will go over my head simply because I do not know the social standpoint of some things that happened in Italy at certain times.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Kayden Kross » Sun May 09, 2010 5:19 pm

It's amazing, really, that both Ugo Tognazzi and Franco Citti are in Casotto. It's like your entire life was a build up to watching that film.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 5:52 pm

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Vasco » Sun May 09, 2010 5:59 pm

I'm not interested, but thanks anyway.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 6:07 pm

Vasco wrote:I'm not interested, but thanks anyway.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by LEAVES » Sun May 09, 2010 6:23 pm

Ahhh, (B) Cinema.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by B-Side » Sun May 09, 2010 7:09 pm

Neat.
no longer on hiatus from movies(!)

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Philosophe rouge » Sun May 09, 2010 7:26 pm

you put us all to shame.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by dreiser » Sun May 09, 2010 8:17 pm

The Gospel According to St. Matthew was pretty good. Oedipus Rex was unimpressive. My Passolini cupboard is rather bare.
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Post by Björn » Sun May 09, 2010 9:39 pm

Pasolini is me
'Accattone' you'll be


Now I know what Morrissey was referring to when he wrote those lyrics. I'll need to see the movie to see if they're just in there because they sound cool or actually weigh in on the meaning of the song. Well, that and the movie sounds pretty good. Fantastic thread, Jedi. Will there be any Bava?
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Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 9:54 pm

Birdie Num Nums wrote:Pasolini is me
'Accattone' you'll be


Now I know what Morrissey was referring to when he wrote those lyrics. I'll need to see the movie to see if they're just in there because they sound cool or actually weigh in on the meaning of the song. Well, that and the movie sounds pretty good. Fantastic thread, Jedi. Will there be any Bava?
Ooh, which song is this?

I'm not the biggest Bava fan, considering the fraction of his work that I have seen, but what would you have me watch?
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Post by Björn » Sun May 09, 2010 10:01 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote: Ooh, which song is this?

I'm not the biggest Bava fan, considering the fraction of his work that I have seen, but what would you have me watch?
Song: "You Have Killed Me" off of Ringleader of the Tormenters

Bava: Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace, The Girl Who Knew Too Much... I think those are generally considered the standouts of his work in the 60's.
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Post by dreiser » Sun May 09, 2010 10:02 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote: Ooh, which song is this?
"You Have Killed Me"
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

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Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
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Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 10:03 pm

Birdie Num Nums wrote:Song: "You Have Killed Me" off of Ringleader of the Tormenters

Bava: Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace, The Girl Who Knew Too Much... I think those are generally considered the standouts of his work in the 60's.
The Girl Who Knew Too Much is the only one of those I have shortlisted currently, under "R", of course. Looks good.

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Sun May 09, 2010 10:55 pm

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Like much of Pier Paolo Pasolini's earlier written contributions to the world of film, Mauro Bolognini's Il Bell'Antonio (translated variously as The Beautiful Antonio or Antonio, the Great Lover) couldn't be further removed from his later work as a director. This, Pasolini and Bolognini's penultimate collaboration in a screenwriter-director relationship spanning five films and five years, from 1957 to 1961 (Marisa La Civetta, Giovani Mariti, La Notte Brava, Il Bell'Antonio and La Giornata Balorda), was also their most commercially successful release, thanks largely to the popularity of the Vitaliano Brancati novel upon which it is based. The pair's decision to move Brancati's narrative setting from the height of fascism to the Italian present day, though maintaining the geographical setting, helps create an old-worldly feeling in which the lingering after-effects of fascism in the south are only amplified. These after-effects, among them the myth that masculinity and virility are man's most treasured values, are illustrated through Bolognini's father character, who actively fosters his son's widespread reputation with women by boasting of his apparent exploits to all those in earshot. When the truth is finally revealed, and everyone comes to discover that Antonio isn't even man enough to consummate his own marriage, his father's world and all the crude values that support it suddenly crumble to the ground, finally ending in tragedy for all involved.

Mastroianni's Antonio, who is actively feminized by Bolognini throughout the film - dwelling on his pretty eyes, long lashes, unobtrusive mouth and generally immaculate appearance - draws an interesting parallel to the almost opposite character he played in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, also released in 1960. Bolognini stresses his protagonist's passive qualities, his ease in the presence of male friends, which hints at the character's possible homosexuality though never declares this openly. Looking at some of the director's other works - La Viaccia, Agostino and Senilità, to give but three examples - Bolognini is very much concerned with creating portraits of men who are suffering: inept, impotent, incapable or simply alienated by their destiny. There are some passing resemblances to the work of Visconti, but Bolognini appears more interested in using these male characters to reflect or comment upon particular social perceptions. His young character in La Corruzione, for example, which was released a few years after this, is fresh from boarding school and sets out into the world with the aim of becoming a priest, only to be knocked back by his own industrialist father who believes in a different kind of discipline. Just as with La Corruzzione, Il Bell'Antonio ends with that defiantly un-masculine act of shedding tears, showing Mastroianni's character weeping silently and impassively in the reflection of a darkened mirror as his friend's voice escapes unheard from an idle telephone nearby.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Epistemophobia » Sun May 09, 2010 11:02 pm

Faces, shadows.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Trip » Mon May 10, 2010 12:33 am

wat

Needs more Rossellini.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 6:20 am

Image

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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 9:01 am

Question: would people prefer it if I included a synopsis with each write-up?
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Trip » Mon May 10, 2010 9:03 am

Epistemophobia wrote:Faces, shadows.
Husbands?
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Epistemophobia » Mon May 10, 2010 9:09 am

Trip wrote: Husbands?
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Sinister » Mon May 10, 2010 2:44 pm

I see a Fulci there!
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 3:52 pm

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It isn't difficult to figure out why most film adaptations fail. Frequently, when considering well-loved pieces of literature, we often find that the film in question does not live up to the standard we have imposed upon it ourselves by reading the book; we have created our own world, our own faces and settings for these characters, meaning that any other take on the material (perhaps even by someone more experienced or attentive than ourselves) will be immediately and perhaps even subconsciously rejected. More importantly than this, however, is that film is often derived from literature simply by studying, translating and then producing said content for the screen. Indeed, very rarely are the most faithful adaptations also the most comprehensive or convincing. The most impressive and long-lasting adaptations are those in which the adaptors overlook words and narrative elements in favour of capturing the essence of what it is being written. This is the approach Bologna-born filmmaker Valerio Zurlini employed when taking on the work of popular novelist Vasco Pratolini; first with Le Ragazze di San Frediano (The Girls of San Frediano) in 1954, and then Cronaca di Familiare (Family Diary), released some seven years later. Based on Pratolini's semi-autobiographical tale, Cronaca di Familiare is told, regretfully, by Marcello Mastroianni's character Enrico as he looks back on a life (or lack thereof) with his younger brother Lorenzo, played by the young French actor Jacques Perrin.

The difference between Pratolini's two brothers is illustrated using a number of subtle techniques by Zurlini and his co-writers: most notably in the way these brothers are dressed. Enrico is swathed throughout in a dark winter coat, reflecting his own brooding personality, and is prone to terrible outbursts of coughing. The innocent Lorenzo, however, is dressed in a long beige coat with patterned socks and leather shoes that must have been considered outgoing at the very least. His light hair and light coat represent the warmth and luxury in which he was lucky enough to be raised; an upbringing which has left him with a positive yet somewhat deluded outlook, and one that isn't clouded like his older brother's. In this, his first full-length colour film, Zurlini uses the paintings of Giorgio Morandi and Ottone Rosai to devise a colour scheme (weathered greys, olive greens, pale blues, and dark browns) that aptly complements this sad tale of loss and regret. Cinematographer Giuseppe Rottuno only furthers this by employing deliberate and slow (albeit very little) camera movement. Cronaca di Familare therefore resembles a subdued but quietly poetic painting, in which colour bursts forth only in the expressions, glances and gestures of the two main characters. Indeed, while the film slips on occasion into uneasy melodrama, thanks largely to an overwrought and rather ungainly score, it is saved by the performances of Mastroianni and Perrin; their chemistry, in which words are not required to depict the love shared between their two characters.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 4:58 pm

Sinister wrote:I see a Fulci there!
Beatrice Cenci? I've not seen it. Good?
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Sinister » Mon May 10, 2010 5:27 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote: Beatrice Cenci? I've not seen it. Good?
Probably. I have it in my hard drive for over 2 years. :oops:
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 7:36 pm

Kayden Kross wrote:It's amazing, really, that both Ugo Tognazzi and Franco Citti are in Casotto. It's like your entire life was a build up to watching that film.
Before watching it, I felt as though my whole life had been leading up to that particular moment.

After watching it, I realised just how very useless my life had become.
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 9:22 pm

Image

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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Armin » Mon May 10, 2010 9:24 pm

World Champ from Sweden will be watching.
"I'd prostitute my talents if it would further my cause, steal if there was no way out, kill my friends or anyone else if it would help my art."
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 9:31 pm

Armin wrote:World Champ from Sweden will be watching.
Can the World Champ guess what's coming up next?
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Philosophe rouge » Mon May 10, 2010 9:35 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote: Can the World Champ guess what's coming up next?
The letter D.
Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality - it's all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I'm attending here is a show with another set. And the show I'm attending is myself. Fernando Pessoa

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Armin » Mon May 10, 2010 9:35 pm

JediMoonShyne wrote: Can the World Champ guess what's coming up next?
Dolce? :shifty:

World Champ is going to sleep, with his shiny belt around his waist.
"I'd prostitute my talents if it would further my cause, steal if there was no way out, kill my friends or anyone else if it would help my art."
Letterboxd.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Mon May 10, 2010 9:53 pm

Philosophe rouge wrote: The letter D.
Sharp as a tack, as always.

Hint: "We would like to thank Piero Tizzoni for allowing us use of his pink beach on the island of Budelli, in Sardinia."
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by ribbon » Mon May 10, 2010 10:52 pm

Things are happening here & I like them.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Quite-Gone Genie » Mon May 10, 2010 10:55 pm

Il deserto... pinko
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Derninan » Mon May 10, 2010 11:24 pm

This is a great thread, Jedi.
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by Pathétique » Tue May 11, 2010 1:01 am

Marcello's in everything, isn't he?
“Cinema is neither an art nor a technique, but a mystery.” ~ Godard
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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue May 11, 2010 6:20 am

Pathétique wrote:Marcello's in everything, isn't he?
I know, right?

He was just greedy.
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by thewandy » Tue May 11, 2010 6:25 am

A Jedi thread is always welcomed.

Opinion of La legenda del pianista sull'oceano?
I like the scent of this new forum.

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue May 11, 2010 6:42 am

thewandy wrote:A Jedi thread is always welcomed.

Opinion of La legenda del pianista sull'oceano?
I'm not usually too fond of Tornatore but I must admit, it looks interesting.

Perhaps if I make a nineties thread. :P

Have you seen any of the films featured thus far?
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by thewandy » Tue May 11, 2010 6:46 am

JediMoonShyne wrote: I'm not usually too fond of Tornatore but I must admit, it looks interesting.

Perhaps if I make a nineties thread. :P

Have you seen any of the films featured thus far?
Nope. Right now my available leisure time is few and far between my work, and the movies I've recently watched are all Asian or horror movies. But maybe a few might pop up that I recognize; anyways I'll just add this to my enormous backlog of films I am supposed to watch.
I like the scent of this new forum.

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Re: L'Età D'Oro - An A to Z of Italian Cinema in the Sixties

Post by JediMoonShyne » Tue May 11, 2010 7:37 am

LEAVES wrote:Ahhh, (B) Cinema.
I still haven't worked out what this is supposed to mean.
“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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