Monday, October 15, 2007

The night

I hate the kind of work life that leaves little space for much else. Unfortunately for the past month, I have pretty much been in that sort of work life and missed out on watching enough movies or reading enough books. And of course writing down about whatever I did watch or read.
To be fair, though, I partially made up for the lack of movie watching in a single weekend by going for a marathon of seven movies over two days. Most of them were the kind of movies that I enjoyed - two of them particularly so: La Notte and The Brave One. Also watched both parts of the Japanese Ringu - much better and far scarier than the English versions that followed as ‘The Ring’ series. I think remakes are a bad idea in general – statistically speaking. Though of course The Ring did make its share of box office money.

I had been meaning to watch Anotnio’s 'La Notte' for a long time. (Of course, it is impossible to find sufficient time to do all the things that you would rather do – ironically you spent most of your life doing stuff that you would rather not). La Notte is the story of a night in a couple’s relationship - Giovanni & Lydia – It is a night both in the physical and metaphorical sense of the word. A culmination of what perhaps was a shining relationship, into the dusk of coldness and indifference – leading to the dark hour of perhaps eventual separation. Antonioni, in his typical style which says more through gestures than words, has taken the viewer though this painful sequence of distancing. It makes you wonder why two attractive people who have each other would seek the company and affections of others. In the beginning, this ‘other’-ly interest is subtle. Giovanni’s interest in a nymphomaniac, Lydia’s glances towards streetwalkers. That they are no longer ‘together’ is highlighted by Lydia’s otherworldliness in the presence of her husband. The estrangement is mutual – and it is because they both seemed to have married a concept rather than each other – Giovanni a rich attractive girl desired by many, Lydia a talented writer adored by lot. They try to love the concepts, and are therefore disappointed, annoyed and jealous in the real persons that lives behind those ideas.

The movie has a terrific ending - if novelists don't know how to wind up their writing, I suppose they can pick up a cue from Antonioni. He knows how to do it in perfection.

Antonioni has done a remarkable work with this movie. It seems very real and un-dramatic. (Except for the scene with the nymphomaniac, which seemed a little out of place). I have really begun to like him quite a lot, though I think he can be (and IS) excruciatingly slow. thought I would hammer Jack Nicholson in ‘The passenger’ to make him move a little faster!
La Notte is supposed to be the second in a trilogy made in combination with L’Avventura and L’eclisse – either of which I have not seen, but will get on to soon. Even though it looks a little unlikely right at this moment.

5 comments:

Bit Hawk said...

What a coincidence. I saw this movie just last month!
I saw this just after L' Avventura (which was painfully slow) I loved La Notte better than its prequel. I think Jean Moreau has the most natural disinterested look you can ever get from a person. And some of the shots from Antonioni were very good (esp. when Monica Vitti switches off the light with her leg, as we see her silhouette!)

My favorite among his movies is the nihilistically brilliant "Blow Up" (it has a great climax as well!)

I remember someone making fun of Antonioni's "slowness". If he has to show that a heroine leaves, he just does not show her leaving - he holds her hand, walks by her side, opens the door of her home, say good night and then come back :)

However visually brilliant his films are, I would always prefer the warmth and honesty of De Sica movies over Antonioni's.

Madhuri said...

De Sica - hmm! I have not watched anything from him. My initiation into movie watching is as recent as this year - before that I was least enamoured with this form of entertainment :-)
You have any good De Sica movies in mind that I should try and get?

Bit Hawk said...

My movie craze started just last year. So, we have been watching many good movies around the same time :)
De Sica's "Bicycle Thief" is a very touching movie, so is his "The Women". I have heard that his "The Children Are Watching Us" is good too, yet to watch it.

Alok said...

This is one of my all time favourites as well. I love the other two L'Avventura and L'Eclisse as well. Both equally pessimistic and subtle in their portrait and dissection of human relationships in the modern world.

I specially love the outdoor scenes where Moreau just walks aimlessly around aimless streets.. the other two films in the trilogy have more such outdoor scenes showing how isolated from the real world and real experience these people are.

A basic course in classic Italian cinema will include

Bicycle Thief (Vittorio de Sica)
Rome Open City or Paisan (Roberto Rossellini)
Nights of Cabiria or La Strada (Federico Fellini)

and if you are more adventurous films of Pasolini that I wrote about on my blog recently.

I had written about a documentary on the history of Italian cinema here. More names there.

Madhuri said...

Thanks for the Italian movie crash course - will get cracking on to the list. I think I have Bicycle thief somewhere.