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|Index||15 reviews in total|
This is an extraordinary film. A pitiless portrait of human race. Scola describes the life of poor and marginal people with no compassion, showing all their miseries and perfidies. In this sense, the film is very close to another masterpiece, Viridiana from Bunuel. Everything in this movie is so disconcerting (beginning with the slum which has a magnificent vista to St. Peter's Cathedral) that it also remembers me of David Lynch's works. Besides all that, the film is absolutely hilarious.
The great Nino Manfredi stars in this side-splitting and brutal black comedy about a bacteria-like family of degenerates occupying the slums on the outskirts of Rome. Manfredi is the misanthropic and miserly aging patriarch who has a secret hoard of money he guards zealously. He despises his wife and cretinous children who try to rob his stash and try to kill him by poisoning his maccaroni. You really won't believe this marvelous quintessence of gross until you see it with your own eyes. It is "commedia all'italiana" in full force.
Just a great film! I think that "Ugly, Dirty an Bad" has more quality than many "Hollywood-made-to-win-Oscars" films. Let's forget by now the humor side of the film; the content brought to the viewer shows as those kind of people try to survive day by day in extreme poverty and illness. Much more than a film to make people laugh, it's a documentary and a "finger-in-wound" in nowadays issues. I hope people after see that movie just don't remember the funniest scenes, but also the human side of the whole story pictured in there. Remember, everywhere we go, even if all around seems to be nice and beauty, somewhere, if we look carefully, we can discover "dark spots"... Recently in an opinion article about another film, in the heading section we could read "[...] Mary, satiated of removing thorns from the rose flowers in local factory [...]" That's the point: there's no roses without thorns! And if you see a rose without them, it's because someone had remove it before...
I would not call this a comedy. Maybe a tragicomedy. It is true, some
scenes are funny. But that's not the point. The point is to give an
hyper-realistic, painful portrait of extreme ignorance and poverty, and
its consequences. These people cannot afford to be good, honest, or
have any positive family feeling. Like prisoners in a Nazi camp, they
are deprived of all their humanity. The only thing that keeps the
family united is the shack they live in, and the idea of taking
Giacinto's money. I want to stress the fact that the movie _is_
realistic. There _were_ shantytowns around Rome in the seventies. And
the people _were_ like that. The constantly mocking and jocking
attitude is a trait of the Roman popular culture. It does not mean
they're happy and light-hearted. So beware, this movie won't just give
you a good laugh. If you like it, check this out as well, I don't think
you can buy it, but the Italian RAI TV showed it some time ago:
I saw parts of the movie when i was a child, today i had the pleasure of having a second chance to see it. I grabbed the opportunity... I'm a person o likes cinema in general, maybe more independent, but keeping the attention on the products of the enterprise... The film is a pungent, powerful blow to the modern society... When it premiered it was also in this condition... But nowadays the film balances between the tragic and the comic gender, with a sensitive eye... Very funny... Extremely dramatic... The ironic look, that scola gives to the foundings of European civilization, the ability to survive, how in extreme conditions (poverty, famine, lack of hygienic conditions) the humans have the capability of preserving values has purity, humor, fantasy And without being afraid in addressing the darkest side of man, the violent being, the amorality, putting aside the fear of shocking th audience Etore manages a brilliant timing in managing the drama and the comedy More would take place in this reflection but I don't want to risk sounding (even more ) pretentious . One of my favorite movies... Até já... ps: I apologize for the quality of my written English...
I just saw this movie, 25 years after it was filmed. Splendid. It's an
Almodovar movie before Almodovar entered the field. The other
commentaries said it all.
I just want to point out the very last scene of the film.
It's so poignant! that young girl we saw throughout the whole movie, as maybe the only innocent and pure creature among all these abominable characters, being the only one that took care of all the children in the slum, helping in the house chores, etc.
Now she appears several months pregnant, doing the same things she always did, raising the first one in the morning, getting water for the family from a public faucet, and before getting to the faucet, she does a little ritualistic thing, she jumps over a low remnant of a wall and walks on its edge --dreaming of being a tightrope walker maybe?-- as the only pleasure she got as a child and even now, as a soon to be mother (because she's still a child).
That ending shows us that there is no hope for some people in this world, generation after generation they where born to be condemned to live forever under those conditions. Magnificent film!
Nino Manfredi, only professional actor here, shines in this Ettore Scola movie as Giacinto Mazzarella, a former convict with a long series of crimes and a huge, quirky family. He's violent, vulgar, amoral; he lives surrounded by dirt, squalor and poverty. Yet, he's funny. This movie is too funny! Scola directs a group of actors headed by Manfredi, who shows off an irresistible accent, and by Maria Luisa Santella as Iside, Giacinto's mistress, a fat, sweet but silly woman with an "ancient name". But it isn't a carefree comedy: behind the quips and the jokes there's a grotesque depiction of a miserable reality not very far from San Pietro, the most important Catholic building in the world. Not a perfect film, but a very good one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Ugly, Dirty and Bad", the title alone gives you the perfect idea of
what the film is about. And to those who expect the lyrical vision of
Kurosawa's "Dodes'kaden", prepare yourself for a huge disappointment.
So, on the surface, Ettore Scola's film is a realistic introspection into the life of Rome's inner-city, containing so many gut-wrenching and cringe-worthy moments that it feels like constantly reinventing the notion of horror. And in its core, it's such a disturbing experience that I don't think anyone could rationally review the film without getting rid of a gut-feeling oscillating between disgust and shock, and stuck like a booger on a finger.
Maybe I should have used a positive idiom like 'fascination' considering the movie's undeniable comedic (and also comical) aspect, the problem is that the movie is obviously meant to shock: it opens with the sight of a dysfunctional family living in a cardboard shantytown, four generations sleeping and eating together. It's so crowded you can't really tell who is who and the very notion of intimacy becomes meaningless. Scola's vision of poverty is a masterpiece of iconoclasm as it deliberately challenges the whole Italian neo-realist heritage, since all the members of this family are indeed ugly, dirty and bad, making the most average schmuck look like Brad Pitt's clone.
(And while in the best case, some members of this family are only concerned by one of these three repulsive traits, in the worst case, they're like Giacinto, the patriarch, played by a flamboyant Nino Manfredi. Giacinto lost an eye at an 'unfortunate' working accident that earned him 1 000 000 Lire of insurance, a treasure he jealously cherishes, rightfully believing that every one wants a share. On his own paranoid pedestal, Giacinto dominates his family like a condescending dictator.)
"Ugly, Dirty and Bad" is a strange and unique movie nonetheless, when you watch it followed by Scola's interviews, you understand that it was intended to be a documentary first, until they chose to make a feature film. Still, the story's material is so simplistic that the documentary value is never lost during the first acts, while the score conveys the haunting melancholy hidden beneath the shouts and the cries. The movie evolves to a more dramatic level when Giacinto brings a whore, as if the house wasn't already full, and Iside, to name her, is so corpulent (the understatement of the year) that she would hardly go unnoticed. Yet, she inspired the others' antipathy less for her activities (which would have been hypocritical) than for the way she encourages Giacinto to spends his money. Otherwise, she provided enough distraction for some males to be accepted but after this last provocation, the family reaches a breaking point and starts plotting against Giacinto, elevating the film to a more Shakespearian level.
Between the documentary and the tragicomedy, I wondered which of these aspects worked better, the one that throws you disturbing images to your faces with a 'no comment' silence, or the other that transcended the realism to a more theatrical level of absurdity. I guess if we took these two aspects separately, it's more difficult to enjoy the film. In a way, the authentic feel of the movie's inner ugliness allows us to understand the ugliness of the protagonists' actions. Let me develop this.
"Ugly, Dirty and Bad", the whole film works as an alibi to the title, an indirect way to point out that sometimes, even the most sacred institutions can be undermined by the poverty's condition. The film succeeds by not falling in the demagogic trap that would depict poor people as some sort of everyday good-hearted persons. It's dramatized to epic proportions, but the comedy is still the right tone, as it's the kind of stuff that would be too tragic if it wasn't so funny. In other words, it stinks so much that the film doesn't, see?
I'm not rich enough to be arrogant and snob, which means 'bad' by rich standards, but I'm not poor either. As an ordinary person, I can only witness how dreadfully uneducated, poorest categories are, and how nasty and dangerous some become. If anything, "Ugly, Dirty and Bad" shows to what extremes poverty can lead, when the notion of possessing becomes such a luxury that some people would pay the biggest price to get the less valuable object, a bike, a good time with a girl, some money. The notion of possession is crucial to understand what drives these people's lives, why a girl brags about posing as a sexy model, why a man is a transvestite, why one steals etc. Each one takes a share of the European liberalism with what they can handle best, the film is also iconoclast as a powerful social commentary about the limits of the European dream.
And Giacinto is the most powerful as the one who 'possesses' the most, and killing Giacinto was less a matter of honor than a way to prevent him from spending the money for the whore: 'not personal, strictly business'. Everything was for pure materialistic reasons, even the grandma is treated like a ticket for pension. And when the film takes a strange climax with Giacinto, victim of food poisoning, agonizing alone on the beach, until he makes himself a gastric lavage using his bike's pump, this incredibly disturbing scene demonstrates these people's ferocious' attachment to life, when dying means losing what you have. Giacinto basically couldn't afford to die.
Ultimately, the only ones who're not concerned are the children, still not aware of how being rich looks to dream about it. Scola provides us some relieving moments to see the innocence and purity in these little kids' hearts before they would get perverted too ...as the film's last shot sadly suggests.
After all these years I still come back to this movie, enjoying a true art. Although it shows the so-called-life of the people from the bottom, it's still a beautiful portrait of the human race in its essence: we are truly ugly, dirty and evil inside, behind all those masks we wear. This is "human" deprived of all the "civilization". The movie itself is a masterpiece. All those shots, casting, directing, music, dialogs, scenes that make you cry and laugh and disgust you simultaneously, all led by the master Scola. One should not review any movie without previously watching this one. This is what any movie should be: a picture of life. Sometimes funny, but mostly loathsome. And we're all just animals inside, just give us a chance to show it. Highly recommended as "a must".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First a word of warning to Italian readers: "Africa begins south of
Rome", goes an Old Italian saying this is filmed in the borderland.
So, the proud descendants of the Roman culture that they are, they
won't like everything about this review.
Rome: ancient cradle of European civilization, which gave us democracy and the alphabet. Rome: modern, buzzing metropolis, city of culture, style and fashion. In Ettore Scolas film we only get to see glimpses of those Romes, which loom far, far in the distance. Scolas Rome is the rotten tooth of a city that once was the heart of an empire. A corpse, so degenerated that only sheer tenacity and stubbornness keeps it alive.
This film could have been shot in any slum in this world, be it in Rio de Janeiro, the trailer-towns of the Midwestern US or one of the gypsy encampments of Eastern Europe. But such an utterly black, cynical comedy like "Brutti, Sporchi e Cattvi" could probably only have been produced in Italy.
In one dilapidated hut lives the Mazzatella clan: a sheer countless number of relatives, each poor, unemployed, unemployable and rotten to the very core. "Proud" head of the family is Giacinto (Nino Manfredi) who has one worry in the world: that his relatives would steal the million lire insurance money which he "earned" by loosing his left eye in a quicklime accident (we don't know how much a million lire was worth back then, but we presume at least a few hundred bucks).
When Giacinto picks up corpulent drifter Iside, bringing her home into the family-bed, his clan decides to take more drastic measures, flavoring his macaroni with rat-poison. However, the one-eyed patriarch survives (with the aid of saltwater and a bicycle-pump) and shows his relations, who's on top of the familial food-chain.
Director Scola wasn't lying when he promised to show us "the dirty, the ugly and the mean"; three terms which not only define Giacinto, his family and the squalor in which they gleefully live. At the same time, he shows us humans with whom we can instinctively relate to, not mere caricatures of the poor or corrupt. Scolas film is powerful, even important: it makes us laugh and at the same time, makes us wonder what we're laughing at.
In that sense, films like Emir Kusturicas "Black Cat, White Cat" or Michael Raeburns "Triompf" probably own more to Scola than the average viewer might have realized.
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