Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 11: A Film By Your Favorite Director

Day 11: A Film By Your Favorite Director: Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
Sorry about that folks, I was just one of the 800,000 people in the Chicagoland area knocked out of commission by the massive power outage following that nasty storm early Monday.  Consequently, we're a few days behind on our 30 day quest.  That's alright, however, as this is one topic I'd prefer to put off.  How do you go about choosing a favorite director?  When someone's work spans a lifetime, can a particularly strong period for one person carry more weight than a consistently good output?  In some cases.  Of the living wonders, I might have to choose Wes Anderson as someone who has, time and again, successfully built his own universe.  His work is recognizably his, which may make him repetitive for some, but even when he conquers an adaptation (Fantastic Mr. Fox) he manages to magically transform it from the text you once knew to something that seems to have belonged to him all along.  His career, however, is young compared to so many others.  There are a few dozen true cinematic auteurs long gone or in the twilight of their productivity.  Of the Kurosawas, Antonionis, Cocteaus, Godards, Kubricks, and Bergmans, I would be remiss if I didn't continue to side with Federico Fellini as the director who has impacted me the most.  I cited La Dolce Vita as my all-time favorite on Day 1, and while Fellini loses me a bit with films like Ginger and Fred or Roma (though I should maybe give the second one another shot), Fellini from 1950-1970 or so is divine.  In the ranking of Fellini pics, Juliet of the Spirits would fall as my third favorite.  As a film, it's highly contested, one of grotesque over the top exercises that feels "indulgent"  (where's it from, folks?), it's also plagued by stories of Fellini using its production as a way to work with his wife (Giulietta Masina) and his mistress (Sandra Milo) while fantasizing an inner life for Masina.  The film was a critical and financial failure, but as the years have passed it's found its place in history.  I love it not only as the brightly colored product of Fellini's fantasies, but for its sheer quirkiness and utter disregard for the general stodginess of life.  Juliet is odd, prone to fancies light and dark, garishly a product of its time, and alive thanks to Masina.  The colors clash and the overall effect is somewhere between museum galleries filled with Italian religious art (the crimsons of blood and the robes of cardinals, the gold of a bejeweled crucifix) and an American dream kitchen in the early 60's (dusty shades of blue/green, bathtub white).  There's another world outside those pristine picket fences, and it's worth looking into.

1 comment:

  1. I am definitely going to check this out, this looks pretty amazing, and you wrote about it brilliantly.


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