If Reviews Could Kill Is Now Online! Come Check Out My New Internet Home!

18 02 2010

I’M BACK EVERYONE! WHEW! It’s taken way longer than I expected it to, but a working version of my new site, http://ifreviewscouldkill.com is now available for you to peruse! There, I will write about everything in the vast and wide world of art and entertainment. You can get your dose of all things musical, literary, cinematic, and cultural in one easy-to-use website. I have a review posted currently of the so-so Benicio Del Toro vehicle The Wolfman and the new album by Bon Iver! It would be the greatest honor for you, my friends and fans to check me out there. I have a lot of work to do on the site still, including compiling a shitload of new material and editing the entire Cinematronica project, which I will devote to transferring over ASAP. This will be an amazing new undertaking for me, and I hope this ends up being an amazing community for art and culture for everyone as interested in this stuff as I am. I hope some of you are willing to follow me over to the new site, where I promise to dole out the same enthusiasm and verve that I did here at the ol’ Cinematronica blog.

So, what do you say, guys? ARE YA WITH ME! If so, come on over to my official .com!!!



I’m Still Alive, Everyone! Don’t Fret!

12 01 2010

Sorry for my absence, everyone! It has been such a crazy couple weeks. I couldn’t even explain it all in one sitting. Needless to say, however, I am working very diligently on the site. It’s a long process, though, and to explain why it’s difficult for me, let me get personal with you for a second. Let me tell you who I am.

Hi! My name is Eric. I’m 23 years old. I live in Houston, TX, where I lift boxes at a bookstore and tell all kinds of ribald, sometimes disturbing jokes to my co-workers all day. I do not have any particular training in writing, computer programming, or anything approaching professional skills. I am doing this new website with the help of my good friend Steven, but trying to come up with the design, the content, and the time to do it all is quite difficult at times. I’m slowly getting the hang of it, but I want to make this a cool place, and I think it’s worth losing some buzz for the sake of a better product. I’m not a tech-savvy guy, I’m not a columnist for Variety, I’m just some dude who is self-taught in the art of being Eric, and I’m trying to make something really special for everyone to bask in!

So here’s what’s going down this week; I will be testing out some new reviews on you folks, including my music review for Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago”, a review of the new George Clooney vehicle Up In The Air, and possibly some others as they come up! And don’t forget to catch up with me on 366 Weird Movies, where I’ll have reviews up this week from an indie film called Satan Hates You as well as the new Terry Gilliam film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus! Keep up with me, and we’ll have wonderful times together this week, I promise! And all the while, I’ll continue work on my new digital home! Until then!!!

So What’s Next, Eric!?!?!?!??!?!

2 01 2010

Well, guys, after my first day away from the computer in a year, I can say that I don’t exactly miss writing 1000 words a day. But I do miss interacting with you fine people and giving you the scoop! So, I’m sure we’re all wondering, “WHEN’S THAT NEW SITE GONNA BE DONE, ERIC?!”, and the answer to that question is “soon”. We’re still working out some kinks on http://ifreviewscouldkill.com, doing some fine tuning, and putting the bitch together. But as we speak I am coming up with new segments, articles, and content for YOU!

Here are two new segments of the site I’m working on right now:

MUSIC!- I’ll probably call it the Sonar Club, Music For Cool People, or Ear-gasms. Feel free to drop me a good name for the segment, but I’ll be doing CD reviews both old and new, retrospectives on bands, and stuff about that wonderful noise that makes the world go round. First stop: a little band called Bon Iver gets their critical comeuppance!!!

CULTURE!- Whether it’s called Pretty Little Things, What’s The Deal With That?, The Culture In Revolt, or Things I Say About Things You Do, it will be a segment concerning the culture in America and abroad, as much as I can find, and as much as you’re willing to put up with. I’ll be looking back, to the future, and BEYOND!!!!!!! My first tinkering will be a look back at everyone’s favorite children’s show, David the Gnome!

As I said, I’m working ever so diligently on that stuff, but I don’t have anything new JUST yet. Instead of waiting for some new stuff, go back a few months and peruse the lovely selection of previous reviews; surely you didn’t read ALL of them, did you?

Akira (1988), or My Uncanny Film Origins or The Most Perfect Bookend To Cinematronica

31 12 2009

AT LAST! 365 days, 365 movies indeed! It’s been a long fucking road, friends, but here it is, my last movie for 2009! From the dizzying heights of The Seventh Seal, to the lame pile of degradation of Jennifer’s Body, I have seen a lot of films this year that mean a lot of things to a lot of people. This last film on the website is for me, though. Akira was the first movie that really made me think about the motion picture as art. It was the first movie that grabbed me, called out my name, and took me out of my own head, challenging me to think about things in a different light. Of all the movies I had seen in my life before 1997, Akira was the one that changed everything for me, the one that made me understand the concept of the film as an art form. To me, that crucial shift in thinking means everything, and, of all the films Cinematronica could go out on, I wanted it to be the film that made me who I am today.

Akira is a Japanese animated feature from 1988.  Set in (drumroll please…) THE FYOOCHA!!!, we are taken away to the chaotic and dirty city of New Tokyo, a city rebuilt near the ashes of the original Tokyo, which was destroyed by a gigantic explosion that sparked the third World War of the late 80s (remember how awful that was?). Thirty years afterward, the city has reached completion, but the people squirm restlessly and undulate beneath the overbearing government. Riots and doom prophets run rampant in the streets, crying for change to wash over the stagnant air of the near future. In the midst of all this, a group of angry youths in a motorcycle gang whittle away their futures by clashing with rival gangs in the streets. During the skirmish one of the members, named Tetsuo, has a run-in with a strange, aged child, who is trying to escape from unseen forces. His bike explodes from hitting some sort of psychic shield as he nearly runs the child over, and when the rest of the gang comes to Tetsuo’s aid, a group of government vehicles surrounds them and takes the child and Tetsuo away. They are interested in Tetsuo, whose interaction with the strange child has awakened a power within him, something that neither he or the mysterious military man overseeing his capticity could have ever imagined. His friend and de facto leader of the gang, Kaneda, will stop at nothing to discover Tetsuo’s whereabouts, and decides to sneak in with a group of revolutionaries into a secret government building where Tetsuo and other psychically powerful individuals are being held. But what they soon realize is that what they stumbled upon is bigger than all of them, and it threatens the very safety of the world. Because Tetsuo’s power is growing exponentially, and he is growing more and more mentally unstable. The government will do anything to keep him from realizing his maximum potential, however, as Tetsuo’s story seems to mirror that of a boy from 30 years ago named Akira, a boy whose abilities may have caused the destruction of Tokyo and the beginning of the World War…

Akira is sci-fi at its highest echelon, especially in the sense of challenging the present with its dark visions of the future. A chilling saga about science at the fringe of human comprehension, Katsuhiro Otomo’s epic, which he took from the pages of his own monstrous manga, is the standard by which modern sci-fi is judged, a juggernaut of scathing political and societal indictment with strong messages to match the overwhelming emotional side of alienated youth. Fingers are pointed at the philosophically outmoded Japanese military, the shadowy backroom dealings of modern government, a society who throws the young away without giving them much of a chance, and the cold hand of science, who will put discovery before anything and everything else, even the safety of the human race. If good science fiction makes a statement, Akira is certainly one of the greatest sci-fi films out there.

And it’s also revolutionary for its time. Akira is a bloody mess, an anime definitely for adults at a time when animation was just for kids. There is violence beyond description here, like people being turned into gooey messes, but beyond that it houses disturbing imagery that sunk into my subconscious at a young age. One scene in particular sees Tetsuo, in a mental panic, being attacked by a teddy bear with fangs and a snake arm who is bleeding milk profusely from his face! If that’s not terrifying for a kid, I don’t know what the fuck is! But it’s so good, you won’t really care how freaked out you are in the face of its quality. Which is another reason Akira is so special; featuring over 160,000 cels of animation, this movie is a fully realized animated event. Lips are very nicely synched, and movement is flowing and beautiful. One of my favorite animated moments sees Tetsuo falling from his bike after an accident, and Otomo shows the entire wreck in its full glory, even the moment where Tetsuo rolls off and away like a Japanese rag doll. And, if I can just give a personal kudos, thanks to Katsuhiro Otomo for making Japanese people look… Japanese. I hate how white anime characters look, but the art direction here calls for all the characters in Tokyo to look like Asians, not white girls with purple hair and 36 HHH size breasts! I hope more people take to this art style in the future!

Akira is, for me, the point in Japanese filmmaking when anything seemed possible. Where the future was vivid, the message was strong and eloquent, and the world seemed ready to accept it. Looking at Japanese films now, I think they took some of that spirit here and there, and while the films now are not nearly as great as that moment promised, I’m just glad that one film rose above the rest to tell its amazing story with a verve and a presence that still cannot be matched today. I loved it then, and, after seeing it again for the first time in years, I love it even more. Timeless music by Shoki Yamashiro and breathtaking animation by Katsuhiro Otomo make this a film that you will never, ever forget, so Akira gets a big Cinematronica thumbs-up and 10 geriatric children out of 10! My highest recommendation!

FUCK! I’m done! I can’t believe it! It’s been a great year, everyone, and I can’t believe how much fun this was! Thanks, everyone for your support, and I hope you come see me at my new website, http://www.ifreviewscouldkill.com, when it starts up! I’ll keep updates on here for the launch of the new site, so you’ll have up to date Eric news, but until then, enjoy your New Years Eve and I am TAKING A WEEK OFF OF REVIEWS! HAPPY 2010 EVERYONE!!!!!

Citizen Kane (1941), or Once In A Lifetime

30 12 2009

So here we are. You know, when I thought about starting this Cinematronica thing a while back, I always knew I would have to review Citizen Kane. It is the most wonderful of all American films, to me, and although that may come as a sort of surprise from a 23 year old, and perhaps I might come off as somwhat pretentious for choosing something so obvious, it’s a film I take very close to my heart. For me, Citizen Kane is a crucial story for the American cinematic mindset; it is both blockbuster and daring independent film, a debut from a young upstart who had his own ideas as to how films would be made; a child of studio expectations and fiercely personal individual goals that ends up being freater than the sum of its parts. It tells a story that touches me to my very core, a story of loss, ambition, greed, and that most human desire to be loved and truly understood. There is something here that truly lays hands on perfection, a considerable skill, a very noticeable ambition, and a love of cinema that transforms this film from merely a film to a work of art, and an exceptional one at that.

We follow the story of Charles Foster Kane, a man who grew from humble origins to eventually amass a wealth that most people could not ever imagine. We begin at the end of his life, when a group of reporters gather together to find clues on the enigmatic man’s life, loves, and mysterious last word, “Rosebud.” The reporters interview many of Kane’s close friends and acquaintances, and discover a man who had an indomitable spirit but a terrible hunger for power that would both found a massive newspaper empire and simultaneously demolish his aspirations for anything else. But even with all the people in his life explaining who he is, they soon find Kane to have an unspoken quotient to him, something unexplainable to him that keep them from understanding him fully. Will they discover the mystery of “Rosebud”? Does it help to explain the life of a man who was larger than life but so much smaller than his own desire?

Citizen Kane is, in some ways, a treatise on the state of America in modern times. In other ways, there are definite links to Kane and legendary news tycoon William Randolph Hearst that echo throughout the film. And in other ways, one could also link, eerily, I might add, the tragic downturn of Orson Welles himself after his failure in Hollywood. Citizen Kane has the power to twist and turn its meaning through the years; it is a character study without peers, astute and wise, that seems to mean different things to different people. For me, it leaves a very individualized print on my heart that would take another essay just to explain, and I’m sure the meaning and the emotional power is found elsewhere for others. It is a film whose true value cannot be honestly appraised, and whose very meaning is neatly encased by the end of the picture but still loftier than one can begin to express before the credits are over.

The filmmaking is some of the finest I have ever laid my eyes on. From a technical standpoint, there are things going on here that are WAY ahead of its time. Deep focus is the process of making everything in both the foreground and background of a shot look sharp. Almost every scene in Citizen Kane uses this effect somehow, to my honest surprise. The effect requires massive amounts of staging beforehand, making sure things stay absolutely in focus the whole time, so this isn’t something one could just go for in 1941. But Welles does, and the effect speaks for itself. Every scene is beautiful, looking clear, crisp, fresh, and striking. The score by Bernard Hermann is one of the best of the 1940s, blending sorrowful themes with the punchy tunes of industry and drive that perfectly explains the world around Charles Foster Kane. And although Orson Welles, in his career ,would go on to direct films that to this day have yet to be equaled, Citizen Kane, his first film, was his most impressive as a director. He directs not with that Hollywood flair that was so popular at the time, but with that independent eye for evocative imagerythat would go on to dominate his aesthetic sensibilites (as well as damn his Hollywood career…). Kane, with the dynamic direction Welles utilizes, is seen less like Phillip Marlowe from The Big Sleep, but rather Kihachi from A Story of Floating Weeds.

Orson Welles knows just how to direct Orson Welles, because his turn as the mysterious Charles Kane is one which will live on forever. His face is a mask of avarice, but just beneath it is something wounded, something wanting. Although Kane pushes everyone away from him, there is a part of this character that cannot think of a more dreadful punishment than being alone. It is a complicated character, but one that Welles excels at playing, and he does justice to his own writing by acting superbly. Joseph Cotton plays Jedediah Leland, Kane’s best friend. Through his interview scenes and his real interaction with Kane, Cotten spins a wonderful character that wants what’s best for Kane, even if telling him the truth means destroying his relationship with him. His charming, smirking demeanor as a person adds a lot of spice to this character, and I, for a change, liked how much of himself he left in the character. Dorothy Comingore plays the haunting role of Susan, Kane’s mistress, and later wife. She has a great range, and I felt a great deal of sympathy for this character as she took more emotional distress from the curmudgeon Kane than she really deserved. But her intensity, that piercing gaze of hers, keeps us glued to her every moment Susan pops on-screen, and I kept hoping the longer the movie went on that she would have more scenes. She’s really quite lovely here, a joy to watch.

What else is there to say? Citizen Kane is a monolith of American cinematic history. It is simply an amazing achievement, all of it made even more amazing still when one takes into account that this was a debut feature. Orson Welles created something here that transcends lists or “Best of” segments or “pretentious” reviewers like myself prattling on about its glory. It’s just something that American fans of cinema need to experience to truly understand the language of our films and the emotional truths of our work. Citizen Kane represents the best we have to offer in terms of technical innovation, impeccable writing, and superb acting. It is an American institution, and, whether you like it or not, it has a message that is undeniably relatable and culturally relevant even today. I truly love it, and I give it an enthusiastic 10 Rosebuds out of 10! My highest recommendation!

Tomorrow is the LAST day of Cinematronica, the last leg of my 365 day journey, and the last review period I shall post for a week! Tomorrow I go back to where it all began for me. Tomorrow I watch Akira! Until then!!!

Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), or The Meaning Of Epic

29 12 2009

Hello, all! Another day in this final week, another classic! Some movies are simply part of the vernacular of cinema. They are vibrant, wonderful, and universal in their emotional appeal. They cannot be questioned in their quality, their sterling vision, or their importance to cinema. Such films do not come around very often, but their effect is timeless on the human spirit, and it is really something special to sit down, putting away the modern accouterments and distractions, and just watch one. Lawrence of Arabia is one such movie, an epic that rivals its spiritual predecessor, The Bridge on the River Kwai, of which I did a REVIEW (link here!), in scope and grandeur. It is certainly one of the first films that pop into mind when one thinks of a historical epic, and its legend is only exceeded by the movie itself. I mean in when I say that everything you’ve ever read about this film is true.

Based loosely on the book “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, it concerns the real-life exploits of T.E. Lawrence, the British officer who served as a liaison during the Arab revolt during World War I. From his humble beginnings as a misfit Lieutenant during the conflict, we are introduced to a man with few aspirations in the military, but a very deep interest in the nomadic Arabs, known as the Bedouin. He is sent on an assignment to assess the likelihood of an Arab overthrow of the Turkish forces led by a man named Prince Faisal. Lawrence finds in Faisal’s camp to be just what he needed. He decides that the Arabs indeed have a chance against the Turks, and, more than that, he has a plan to help them succeed. He wants to help the Arabs wage war personally; it is a controversial move, one that will not go without repercussions, but Lawrence was anything if not controversial, and his destiny in the conflict will be decided by him and him alone. Outside influences from the British Army try worming their way into his ear, attempting to shove him this way and that way. But Lawrence clearly shows that he is his own man, and the conflict between the Turks and the Arabs may just be decided by the efforts of a white man who has fallen in love with the desert.

David Lean does it again!!! Lawrence of Arabia, based on the real life account of larger-than-life British soldier T.E. Lawrence, is one of the greatest British movies I have ever seen. Lean proposes the most spectacular visions as a director, his camera working like a sweeping mural of a bygone age to bring this historical drama to life. He and constant 60s cinematographer Freddie Young make an Egypt that is as regal and as proud as Mankiewicz’s Rome in the following year’s Cleopatra. The sets are lavish and awesome and the natural beauty of the desert is brought to life with plenty of long, loving shots into the unknowable distance. The visual strength of the haunting desert landscape is put to good use by Lean, who takes the time to show us that even in the midst of modernization, man is no match for the harsh mistress that is the endless sand. The movie’s visually a jaw-dropper, and it is most likely Lean’s finest-shot picture.

The story can’t be sold short for all of its majesty. It begins as merely a story about a military maverick who thinks a little differently than everybody else around him. But T.E. Lawrence was more than that as a person, and so I’m glad Lean decided to tell the more personal story of a man who was torn between his orders and a cause that he thought was genuinely worth fighting for. It’s wondrous to watch his transformation from unassuming British soldier to guerrilla warrior to full-fledged Bedouin leader in the span of 223 minutes. Most people feel that is an inordinate time to spend watching a movie, but if any film can make you feel that nearly 4 hours is not a lot of time, it is this film, I assure you. It breezes by like the wind upon the tip of a curved Arabian scimitar. Good imagery, I know…

Shall I just go ahead and say that Peter O’Toole is the man? Okay, I’ll say it; Peter O’Toole is the fucking man here! T.E. Lawrence could only have been played by an actor who was similarly larger-than-life, and O’Toole was just that. He makes the character veritably vibrate with the vitality of the age. It is a performance that will live in history books as long as they exist. But Lawrence was not an easy man to be; he is attacked, brutalized, beaten senseless by the sun, and, in one particular scene, possibly raped (!!!). There will never be a remake of Lawrence of Arabia, or any re-imagining that could compare to this version, because the blood, sweat, and toil O’Toole invests here is irreplaceable but instantly recognizable to anyone who watches it, and anybody who tries to take up this mantle in the future will look a little foolish trying to fill such large robes. Other actors impress, as well. Alec Guinness again supports David Lean’s wildly British vision as Prince Faisal, a most interesting character indeed. He is the man who entices Lawrence into this battle at the beginning of the film, and it is his character that really influences Lawrence the most. Guinness steals the show once or twice for himself, as is his wont, and gives some great lines that are still insightful and relevant today, like:

Prince Faisal: Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men: courage, and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace, and the vices of peace are the vices of old men: mistrust and caution.

Anthony Quinn is Auda abu Tayi, a ruthless Arab leader whose support become very valuable to Lawrence, and he is a great character. Quinn plays an Arab man rather stiffly, and according to some of the prevailing stereotypes of the day, but it’s not as bad as it could have been, all things considered, and I actually rather enjoyed it at times, mainly because of his rather impressive physical transformation. Omar Sharif plays an excellent supporting role as Sherif Ali, one of the men assigned to Lawrence by Faisal. He is excellent, and added some genuine spice to the mix with his smooth, leading-man presence. Jose Ferrer makes a small appearance as a Turk here, but while his role is small, it is at a terribly crucial scene, and when you see him, you’ll realize that they could not have had anyone else play the part. Great casting all around.

Like the gravitas the amazing Maurice Jarre score suggests, Lawrence of Arabia is a film that will live forever. But it will only breathe deeply if more people take the time to see it. It is a real gem, a classic by which other classics are judged. There is not another film like it, not that I have seen, and it is simply a unique, risky epic that would rather focus on quality than on any preconceived notions of structure or character development.  I have nary met another person in my life who has seen it as well, and I doubt I will meet anyone anytime soon who treasures it like I do. But, perhaps, if you take my advice and check it out, you’ll see what I mean when I speak of its undeniable quality and will not be reticent to give it a full recommendation of your own! I give Lawrence of Arabia 10 Pillars of Wisdom out of 10! My highest recommendation!!!

Tomorrow I discuss what is most likely the greatest film of all time. I think we’re all aware of what I’m talking about. That’s right; you, me, Citizen Kane, tomorrow!

8 1/2 (1963), or The Sordid Life Of The Artist

28 12 2009

Ah, the dulcimer tones of fine Italian cinema! They call to me like a pizza made out of encouragement and long, life-affirming hugs. Today we cull our film from the timeless works of Federico Fellini, the director of La Dolce Vita and Satyricon. This, his most personal and revealing film, is one of the greatest European films of the 1960s. It has a hypnotic, dream-like power that is truly a joy to bask in. And a big part of what makes this film so special is the semi-biographical perspective the film takes. It is a comical, poignant, subversive, and slightly surreal take on Fellini’s life at the time by Fellini himself. It is extremely powerful in its intimacy, and it speaks to us from beyond the gulf of time with a voice that is almost instantly relatable with its portrait of the artist as people as vulnerable as you or I.

The plot is simple. We follow the exploits of famous director Federi- I mean, Guido Anselmi, and his tribulations with finishing his latest film. He’s having creative difficulties, mostly caused by everyone nagging on him all of the time about it. He’s famous and revered, and he’s expected to create something really amazing, but all the pressure is getting to him. It grows ever worse as personal problems at home involving his wife and his various infidelities. Everyone wants a piece of him, everyone wants to talk to him, and he can’t get away from it. He checks himself into a spa, thinking that will alleviate some of the stress, but it soon becomes apparent that he cannot find solace. He begins to retreat into fantasy, waking memories, falling into the nostalgia of his colorful past. Can Guido make the movie come together after all, or is he doomed artistically in this endeavor, enslaved by his own haunting memories and the debasing lack of control in his life?

It is so strange how shared experiences affect us. 8 1/2 speaks to anyone who has been put under pressure to create something, or put through a ringer of high expectations over anything. Guido is the poster child for the overly encumbered, the man living up to unrealistic expectation, and I think anyone can understand that desire to be left to one’s devices. But 8 1/2 speaks at times specifically to the artist, the ones disenchanted with their craft after experiencing some sort of block, who allow the world to eke into the sacred personal world of their art. And yet, simultaneously, 8 1/2 is completely about Fellini, and there is no message to be bequeathed, only a recollection of who Fellini is and his own trials and travails as an auteur. So through his experiences we can project a similarity between us and him, this was an intensely unique scenario that he lived and shared with us. In a way, Fellini makes us discover the meaning of art and storytelling through the dichotomy of 8 1/2.

Fellini creates something edgy, surreal, and hilarious in this virtual cinematic memoir. 8 1/2 takes us into the mind of a man who is cowed in the face of the women he has loved, and so we can look at it as a sort of conquering of the male through his passion. Guido, as a character, is both inspired and driven to distress by all the women in his life; his wife, Luisa, who he loves but has trouble approaching due to her demeanor, his mistress Carla, who is the exact opposite of Luisa, for better or for worse, and the beautiful and enigmatic Claudia, an actress working closely with Guido who he feels is the only one who can pull him through this strange block of his. As he drifts into fantasies, he even recalls other women in his life, in particular an older lady in his youth that first awakened his feelings of sexuality. But it is not an indictment of women in any way, as that does not seem to be Guido’s or Fellini’s intention; it is a celebration of women, how they confound, exasperate, inspire, and terrify the adult and the confused young boy in us all.

The acting is the best you’re likely to see in the Mediterranean during the early 60s (until Godard filmed a movie there, that is…) Marcello Mastroianni, Fellini’s male muse for the second time, blows me away as Guido. At the time, he was seen as a sex symbol, much like the Hugh Jackman of his day, but truly Mastroianni proves here that he’s more than just a pretty face. He plays the struggling artist like it really means something to him, a thing so rare in acting nowadays. He is Guido in the same way that Guido is Fellini; it seems to flow from a very natural place. Even the surreal bath scenes in Guido’s fantasy is very subdued compared to the zaniness that Fellini could have pulled out of him, which is telling of something just below the surface of this awesome performance. The women in Guido’s life are also amazing. Anouk Aimee plays Luisa, the wife, with a glare and a bitter glance that puts an icy chill in my spine. She is very disappointed in Guido for reasons that are both very apparent but never implicitly stated. I like her a lot, especially in the scenes that Guido fantasizes about her, where we see her range. There’s a lot more to take in about this character than we see at first, so pay close attention to her and understand her, she will become much more vivid to you afterwards. Claudia Cardinale plays a movie star named Claudia (NO!) that is Guido’s ideal woman. She really epitomizes the heart of this movie, which exists somewhere between the consternation of Guido and the myriad souls of his muses. I liked her character the best, as she seemed so sweetly earnest, even in the face of Guido’s lecherous behavior.

8 1/2 is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, the ears, and the heart. It is the tale of the artist in distress, the tragedy of failed creativity that anyone can relate to, despite its intensely unique perspective. The fine acting, the astounding script, and the immaculate direction by Fellini himself are simply words to the same lovely song that combine to make something that is more than the sum of its parts. 8 1/2 now resides in the very language of Italian cinema, from the cinematography to the sheer attitude, and it’s not there without good reason. If you go and see this fiercely independent vision of surreal heartache and comedy, you will understand by the end of it all. I give 8 1/2 10 Claudias playing Claudia out of 10! My highest recommendation!

Tomorrow I take in Lawrence of Arabia! Until then!!!!!!!