Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)

This is another film that I feel sort of silly writing about; everything I want to say, I'm sure, has been said countless times and by better people than me. But in my estimation, Nights of Cabiria is Fellini's masterpiece, surpassing 8 1/2 by a pretty big margin. The story of tiny Cabiria, a Roman prostitute who will have you know that she owns her own house. She's been abused by every authority figure, from her mother, who started prostituting her at 15, to Georgio, who opens the film by pushing Cabiria in a river, nearly killing her, and running away with her purse. This man had spent a whole month with Cabiria just to do that, but she still believes in him for a while. She tries to explain the incident away, as maybe he had gotten scared when she fell in the river and ran away, but once he doesn't return for a few days, she finally gets the awful truth. This doesn't stop her from being any less optimistic about love, however, from her night with famous actor Alberto Lazzarri, to Oscar, the man she thinks she finally finds true love with.

Fellini sets Cabiria up for disappointment every single time, but we never end up hating him, nor does Cabiria's bad luck ever seem manufactured. She is just a woman who has been dealt a raw deal by life every single day, yet finds a way to persevere in spite of her desperate surroundings. In fact, Cabiria is the only one in her life who does not realize what kind of life she's living - from her friend Wanda (a beautiful perfomance by Franca Marzi) to the friend that tries to offer his pimping services to her, everyone seems to have an idea on how Cabiria could make her life better. She knows that only love will do that.

I was a bit reluctant to see this movie at first, even though it has such a sterling reputation, because I was pretty annoyed with Giulietta Masini's performance in La Strada (but less so in Juliet of the Spirits) - the extremely childlike, naive Gelsomina sorely grated on my by the end of the film. Masini takes Gelsomina's naive characteristics, but combines them with adult emotions and fragility to make Cabiria a fully developed, believeable person. Francois Truffaut said it best, I think: we love Masini (and Cabiria) in the movie because Fellini does, and translates that love to every single frame in the film. This is a movie of and about love, perfect and imperfect.


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