Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

La Notte, 1961

Reviews will be forthcoming on more 'Movies I Love' in due course: JOHNNY GUITAR, A STAR IS BORN, OBSESSION, ALONE ON THE PACIFIC, THE DEAD, LOVE ME TONIGHT, SON OF FURY, A LETTER TO 3 WIVES etc, in the meantime here are a selection of stills from Antonioni's LA NOTTE from 1961, his film after L'AVVENTURA, the second of that 'trilogy' with L'ECLISSE which followed in 1962.
I have written extensively about those other Antonioni's here already, but a second look at LA NOTTE after several decades shows what a rich, complex work it is, and it remains, like JULES ET JIM for instance, the very definition of an arthouse movie. I may have been too young to realise it fully back when I was 20!

Giovanni and Lydia [Marcello and Moreau] are the bored married couple in Milan, visiting their dying friend Tommaso in hospital (director Bernhard Wicki) with Marcello, a well-regarded intellectual whose new book is just out, being tempted by a female patient ..... meanwhile Moreau walks around Milan - her state of mind being conveyed just as vividly as it was when she was walking around Paris in LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD. Milan here circa 1960 is in a state of flux with new impersonal buildings going up [just like in London in 1966 in BLOW-UP we are aware of the new evolving city around us]. Later, after some soul-less exotic dancing in a nightclub, there is that fashionable party by a rich industralist [who thinks he can buy an intellectual for his team], as again Marcello begins a flirtation with the owner's daughter Valentina, Monica Vitti - in black wig for a change. Valentina though realises this will not go anywhere ... Lydia (Moreau) also flirts with a flirtation but changes her mind. She also rings the hospital and is anguished to hear of Tommaso's death, as they all get wet in the rain by the pool. There is a nice scene between Lydia and Valentina as they dry out, as they understand each other. Later in one of those bleak Antonioni dawns, we follow the couple as she despairingly reads that letter he had written to her when their love was new and fresh - he does not remember writing it. It is an ending as saddening as that of LA DOLCE VITA - or indeed the ending of L'AVVENTURA or BLOW-UP where the photographer simply just vanishes. This slow-to-some film is of course a product of it's time and place, with usual Antonioni screenwriter Tonino Guerra among the collaborators. Hard to believe it is 50 years old - that marvellous photography by Gianni di Venanzo is as fresh and paint.

Moreau, Mastroianni and Vitti all look marvellous here in their early 60s prime. A 'Masters of Cinema' release well worth seeking out.

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