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I thought I would comment on Fellini’s 1957 film, Nights of Cabiria, after having finished a paper on it for Daniel Goulding’s module. This film, starring Fellini’s wife Giulietta Masina as the title character, is one of the most effective of Fellini’s neo-realist films. Before Fellini progressed to the surrealism that most of us probably know him for (La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2…) he made a number of poignantly raw films that commented on the state of postwar Italy and the anxieties of the Italian people who had been living in a false reality designed by Mussolini. Liberated from fascism, Italians desired retribution in the eyes of the world and were confronted with both physical destruction and widespread disillusionment. Through the character of Cabiria, a prostitute who dreams of one day finding true love, Fellini sent a message to his countrymen that pride, conviction and self-respect can allow anyone to endure even the greatest of hardships. Abused and betrayed by her lovers, mocked and ignored by her friends, Cabiria perseveres through a series of the cruelest occurrences. As the film comes to a close after Cabiria has undergone her most harrowing test, Cabiria wanders into a procession of singing and dancing youth. Dirtied and exhausted, loveless and penniless, a smile crosses Cabiria’s face in one of the most touching moments in cinema (certainly one of the most moving moments in any of Fellini’s films). I highly recommend this film and Goulding’s module courses (every spring semester). Though I’m not in the current module on Kieslowski (direct of the three-color series), I’m still attending the films on Tuesdays at 3:00 and welcome any one else who is interested to join.

I watched this movie the other night on my friend’s projector and I was blown away by it, although I did not particularly enjoy the experience.  Written and directed by Gaspar Noe (with an accent on the “e”), an Argentinian filmmaker, in 2009, this 2 & 1/2 hour film can only be described as technically revolutionary.  Opening in modern day Tokyo, the viewer has to acclimate to a half hour of POV shots from the perspective of the main character Oscar.  Oscar is an avid hallucinogenic drug user (we find out later that he uses because of some serious childhood trauma) who has just recently reunited with his sister–raised in a separate foster home– in Tokyo.  With an obsessive interest in the drug DMT, Oscar quickly finds out that DEATH  is the ultimate trip.   For the remaining 2 hours of the film, we see Oscar’s past and the world he has left behind from the point of view of his wandering soul.  Noe does some really remarkable things in this film to communicate a disparate narrative that consistently jumps time and space and lacks a verbal narrator.  With some of the POV shots I was mystified by how he hid the camera from the frame (there’s this one part where Oscar is looking at himself head on in a mirror and washes his face in the sink where you see the reflection of the action and the simultaneous action being performed in the foreground as though the camera lens is Oscar’s actual eyes.  Its impossible to explain, one simply has to see it…). There are quite a few disturbing images in the film (including an abortion procedure) that were so effectively candid that they made me want to look away.  Noe  tests the viewer’s patience and commitment to the film with minutes of blank frames that punctuate the narrative (and make you roll your eyes– you simply cannot stay absorbed at that point), and delights the acid head or the itunes visualizer fan with long segments of the trippiest hallucinations.  All in all, it is definitely worth seeing–it truly expands the horizons of cinema.

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