Movie Journal – 4/12/2012

L’Avventura (a.k.a “The Adventure”) (1960)     5/5

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (Janus Films)

Antonioni’s L’Avventura was a game changer. It showed the world that characters’ actions don’t necessarily have to be associated with meaning, mainly because people don’t necessarily do meaningful things. There is some psychology that not even cinema can unravel, despite the fact that filmmakers may enable us to try.

On an island off the coast of Sicily, Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) and Anna (Lea Massari) are on a peaceful yacht trip, if not for the anxiety of a soon-approaching marriage, especially after the couple has not seen each other for a significant duration of time. In other words, it transforms into relationship hell. Soon enough, Anna goes missing, and her best friend, Claudia (Monica Vitti), begins to help Sandro look for her, even after the vacationers have abandoned all hope on the island. The two then form an inexplicable relationship, and although Anna’s mysterious absence lingers throughout the film, the new couple arguably abandons their quest.

Antonioni shoots the film brilliantly, as fascinated with nature as his characters’ faces, which range from expressionless to painfully emotional. There are recurring themes throughout the film of time and dream, but what ultimately sticks is the isolation faced by Sandro, Anna, and Claudia. The post-war upper class is so out of synch with reality, so disconnected from their own emotions that they fail to form meaningful relationships. The affair that Sandro and Claudia begin is “the adventure” the film refers to (“l’avventura” is also translated in English as a “fling”); the search for interpersonal connection that was never fully explored by Anna, hence her physical disappearance.

The lack of passion in this society does not enable Sandro and Anna to learn all the rules of love quickly (or even properly). In fact, in film’s final act, Sandro may have finally failed. But relationships will never succeed without knowledge of human weakness, and ultimately, the ability to forgive; to trust the one you love and share hope for a better future. I’m just calling L’Avventura as I see it. But I guess I don’t really know, do I?

 

 

Flesh for Frankenstein (a.k.a. “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein”) (1974)     4/5

Directed by Paul Morrissey (Bryanston Distributing Company)

How does one even attempt to review Flesh for Frankenstein? Can you just trust me that I saw it? Please? How about this, I’ll just show you a screenshot.

Not good enough? Okay fine, let’s compromise. I’ll sum it up in the following paragraph…

 

The Andy Warhol-produced, Paul Morrissey-directed, Udo Kier-starring Flesh for Frankenstein is one of the most hysterically funny, gory, and least terrifying horror films ever made. Because of the purposefully awfully dialogue and performances, it is also instantly quotable, incredibly bizarre, and not soon forgotten. The cinematography, however, is undeniably interesting, as are the filmmakers’ interpretations of the Frankenstein legend. Who ever thought the baron’s obsessions would be driven by psycho-sexuality? (The only thing that gets this guy off is giving life to corpses and getting them to mate …. but not without having his way with them first!) Despite the ultra-campy attitude (and deceptive artlessness) it applies to the genre, the film is a surprisingly fresh, thought-provoking interpretation of a story we all claim to know so well.

 

Still not good enough? Fine! Here’s a few memes*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Not guaranteed to make sense if you’ve never seen Flesh for Frankenstein, or if you only know Andy Warhol as the “soup can guy”

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