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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Otto E Mezzo (aka 8 1/2) (1963)

An internationally renowned Italian film director (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself with a frightening form of director's block. He's paralyzed with doubts and as costs mount on an elaborate film he's set to direct, he has no script! There's a saying that you don't know what you have until you don't have it anymore. When I was younger and attended every new Fellini that opened with anticipation, I don't think I appreciated the enormity of his contribution to cinema. He's been gone for over 20 years now and revisiting 8 1/2, I was astounded by his imagination and creativity. There has never been another director quite like him and when one uses the term "Fellini-esque", one instantly knows what is being referenced. The visuals alone (the B&W cinematography is by Gianni Di Venanzo) justify watching the film but Fellini offers a complex examination of an artist on the brink of artistic bankruptcy. He doesn't give the film's protagonist or us a solution but he does tie the director's inability to create with his flaws and limitations as a human being. A highly influential film on many directors including Woody Allen, Francois Truffaut and Bob Fosse. The massive cast includes Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele, Sandra Milo, Rossella Falk, Madeleine LeBeau and Eddra Gale.

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