Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

A review requested by Maciej, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Director Vittorio De Sica released the bitter and grim Bicycle Thieves in 1948 and the utterly crushing Umberto D. in 1952, and in between them made only one film, about the dirt-poor inhabitants of a shantytown. With […]

Whatever else we can say about it, L’attesa is hella art film. If you fell asleep in 1965 and just woke up, you’d probably find nothing exceptional about it, assuming that all European (and especially Italian) “serious cinema” was like this: gorgeously shot, minimally paced, perhaps more ambiguous than it needs to be, chilly and […]

It’s of course lazy and arguably bigoted, speaking to a cramped sample set, to suggest that Italian Filmmaker A and Italian Filmmaker B resemble each other in no small part because they are both Italian. But it is a national cinema that particularly favors enormous, lavish spectacle, and there’s never been a point since WWII […]

A review requested by Marc Lummis, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There are many indisputably great films that it’s clearly impossible for any normal audience member to complete unpack in all their nuances without the aid of some highly specialised arcane knowledge, but even then, writer-director Bernardo […]

A review requested by Julian D, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The career of director Michelangelo Antonioni is not the kind that can be neatly summed up in blunt descriptions like “culmination”, so I can’t use that word to describe his 1975 triumph The Passenger. It does, […]

A review requested by Josep, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There are plenty of things that could be one’s immediate response to Big Deal on Madonna Street, a 1958 Italian caper movie that is one of the small handful of films directed by Mario Monicelli to have […]

A second review requested by David Greenwood, with thanks for contributing twice to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Knowing, as one can’t help but know, that Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom is the most god-damned notorious art film of them all for its grotesque displays of violence, warped sexuality, and […]

1982’s The New York Ripper is a very, very, very special motion picture: it represents the exact moment at which the great Italian horror master Lucio Fulci transformed into the hacky Italian schlockmeister Lucio Fulci. The transition was achieved very cleanly: outside of two scenes which could stand along any giallo of the ’70s for […]

There’s nothing as fascinating as an utterly inexplicable mash-up, of the sort we get with The Perfume of the Lady in Black from 1974: basically, what we have here is Roman Polanski’s Repulsion filtered through the heavy stylistic lens of the gialli, Italy’s genre of gorgeous, atmospheric, usually inscrutable murder mysteries from the ’60s and […]

Part of the Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies Michele Soavi only made four horror films in a career that wasn’t very long (he took many years off to care for his unwell son), which surely explains why his profile isn’t higher. There’s no good argument, certainly not one based on those of […]

Part of the Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies There’s an argument to be made that Lucio Fulci had the most varied career of any director in history. Certainly, among those filmmakers chiefly known for their contributions to the Italian genre machine, I can think of no-one who directed films in such wildly […]

Part of the Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies The phrase that I have chosen, “Masters of Italian horror”, doesn’t entirely describe the work of Riccardo Freda, surely not a name spoken of in the same breath as Mario Bava, Dario Argento, and Lucio Fulci. But his historical importance is such that he’s […]