1963: 4 movies

Flaming Creatures
Writing, direction, production, editing,
and cinematography by Jack Smith

   A caution to sensitive viewers: this movie includes much nudity, depiction of fornication, of an orgy, as well as a mock rape scene. In general, the meaning of this movie is to honor the body and sensuality, all sexualities, including trans-sexuality, to revel in the erotic, and to poke fun at sexually conservative mind-sets. The scratchy soundtrack is perfect and light years ahead of its time, especially when it goes blank, and when it has duelling soundtracks. The cinematography defines lo-fi aesthetic, like half a century before it got its name, with its brightness washouts so glaring that half the time you're not sure what you're looking at. And yet, you like it.

8 1/2
Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano,
Tullio Pinelli, and Brunello Rondi
Produced by Angelo Rizzoli
Music by Nino Rota
Cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo
Editing by Leo Cattozzo
Production design by Piero Gherardi
Art direction by Piero Gherardi
Set decor by Vito Anzalone
Costumes by Piero Gherardi
Makeup by Otello Fava
Hair by Renata Magnanti
Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Sandra Milo,
Eddra Gale, Anouk Aimée,
and Claudia Cardinale

   The way it moves from scene to scene, intercut with dream-sequences, it's abrupt and startling at times. And then at other times, it's so subtle that it's hard to tell where one scene leaves off, which tends to make us really feel like we're living through character Guido's spirit. The photography, writing and editing all taste so deliciously dream-like and mysterious, and seems to represent how the protagonist keeps waking up, never to reality, but always into yet another dream. Feeling as he feels, we begin to search for his true plane, his place of comfort, the one where he really lives or should strive to remain. The cinematography is splendid, sometimes it's crystal clear, sometimes it's foggy and misty like nostalgia and the supernatural, and sometimes it's blindingly bright like we imagine the day of reckoning.
   The movie is so great mainly because it plays on so many levels at once. Is this all the main character's dream? Is it the movie he's making? Is it a dress rehearsal, a making-of, or just a day-dreamed vision of how it could be? Or maybe it's autobiographically about Guido, or autobiographically about Fellini. And that's when the movie hits closest to home, during the parts that feel like it's about an actual person's life. Even if it's not really about anyone in particular, it still feels like it is and so we connect to it, because we understand that these are true emotions and they are realistic, they trigger our own nostalgia and our own weariness with the surreally dreary present.
   The title allegedly comes from the fact that Director Fellini had made 7 feature movies and a short up to this time, thus this movie is his Opus #8 1/2.

La ricotta
Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced by Alfredo Bini
Cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli
Editing by Nino Baragli
Costumes by Danilo Donati
Starring Mario Cipriani and Orson Welles

   It's witty, it's funny, and it's tragic! It shifts between color and black-and-white, and from the story of making a movie to the story of one man's real struggle. It forces us to look at what we deem sacred and what we deem silly, and then subverts it all. Fantastic take on the madness and surreality of movie-making, as well.

Anita O'Day - Live in Sweden
Starring Anita O'Day, Goran Engdahl (p), 
Roman Dylag (b), and John Poole (d) 

   A live set performed with perfection by the singer, as well as the drummer. The pianist and bassist do remarkably well during choruses and verses, but stumble a little during their solos. Overall, it's a stunning thing to watch Anita, this force of music, improvise and delight a live audience with her unpredictable sounds, through long smart angles and cuts that allow this movie to still come across as fresh. A miraculous treat!
   Recorded on 1 November 1963 in Sweden. The songs performed are: Sweet Georgia Brown, Let's Fall In Love, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Fly Me to the Moon, Honeysuckle Rose, On Green Dolphin Street, and Tea for Two. Each one performed to perfection.

2021 March 12 added Flaming Creatures
2020 March 1 added Anita O'Day - Live in Sweden
2014 November 26 updated original entry

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