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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli (aka Rocco And His Brothers) (1960)

A poor rural family uproots themselves from their home in the south of Italy and travels to the urban city of Milan in the hopes of a better life for the family. Instead, the close knit family self destructs as they are unable to deal with the influences of life in a big city. Whether it is simply their destiny or they are complicit in their own devastation is open to debate. The 1960s were an extraordinary time for Italian cinema and Luchino Visconti's ROCCO is one of the landmark films of that decade. Perhaps only Coppola's THE GODFATHER is on equal terms as a family epic (and epic it is). Visconti takes the adage of blood is thicker than water and family always comes first and shows its dark side. Morality and ethics, right and wrong are pushed aside as Rocco (Alain Delon) misguidedly attempts to "save" his brother Simone (Renato Salvatori) when he is beyond saving and this is what ultimately destroys the family. Words don't do this film justice, it's one of the most gut wrenching visceral experience of all cinema. The film is well acted (although Delon is rather weak in some of his more dramatic scenes) but two performances are stand outs: if the film belongs to anyone, it's Salvatori's brute, a man incapable of comprehending his own animal instincts yet still a man in pain. There's there's the beautifully sustained work of Annie Girardot as the ill fated prostitute who through no fault of her own becomes an innocent pawn in the brothers' lives. Nino Rota contributes one of his very best scores. With Claudia Cardinale, Katina Paxinou (FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS), Spiros Focas, Max Cartier, Paolo Stoppa and Rocco Vidolazzi.

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