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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

La Grande Bellezza (aka The Great Beauty) (2013)

On his 65th birthday, a journalist (Toni Servillo, THE GIRL BY THE LAKE) begins to question and examine his "success" in life. Once an acclaimed novelist for his one and only book, he's achieved celebrity by chronicling the high life of Rome's artsy set. This is a ravishing film, a contemporary riff on Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA. In fact, it was probably the 1960 film that influenced Servillo's writer to go to Rome and write about the beautiful people. For those who wax nostalgic over the great Italian directors of the 50s and 60s like Fellini, Visconti or Antonioni; Paolo Sorrentino's LA GRANDE BELLEZZA proves as vital and as potent as the great Italian films of that period. Sorrentino has a near astonishing eye and the episodic nature of the film allows him to lavish some stunning images whether it's a shot of cranes nesting on a balcony at dawn (there were audible gasps in the audience at this shot) or a Roman debauchery to a throbbing dance beat, this is a movie lover's feast for the eyes as well as the senses. In the central role, Servillo captures the regret of talent wasted in a life of hedonism. It's his film all the way though other actors are able to make an impression especially Sabrina Ferilli as a 40ish stripper and Sonia Gessner as a 104 year old nun. Awesome is such an overused term but I can't think of any other word that describes my reaction to this great film. With Carlo Buccirosso and Fanny Ardant.

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