she should have just done an interview, not a movie that screams pretension like no other
I know Guy Maddin directed this short film, My Dad is 100 Years Old, but either acclaim or blame should be rest on Isabella Rossellini's shoulders for this. She knew what kind of picture this would be, and Maddin seems more like a hired hand here than a true visionary. And if anything, the vision of sorts is really distracting and unnecessary and is just really poorly done. I know the intentions are good, and if I had to rate just on intentions it would be much higher praising, albeit in such personal terms. Roberto Rossellini is a great filmmaker, one of the greatest that emerged once the smoke settled from World War 2 in Europe. And his films Open City and Paisan are films that should be rediscovered for years to come as technology overcomes the film industry (even if it's just in museums). But one of his daughter's, Isabella, hasn't done the greatest of tributes, from my perspective, with her My Dad is 100 Years Old short film.
There isn't really anything coherent to the picture, which might have been acceptable had it been maybe more focused, so to speak. What I mean is the same pretension that she seems to be commenting on (although too little too late by the last shot when she calls for the camera to move in front of her directly in profile), and done with a very 'this is how it is' take on things. She makes fun of Fellini and Hitchcock (the latter in profile, the former played by her), as Rossellini himself- or the form of him as portrayed by a huge belly that Isabella recollects was what she remembers the most- rags on anything in cinema that doesn't address morality and the like. Only when Chaplin comes out- also again Rossellini herself playing her along with David O Selznik- does some praise come out. For a film that lasts only 15-17 minutes, it seems like it fills up its time much too smugly and with an air of content at being all over the place. It's interesting to see how the rest of the picture, with its obtuse camera angles and pompous style of editing and framing and dialog, compares with the few precious clips of Open City that are shown, and how more insight into the director is in those clips than in everything else his daughter shows.
Now, in full disclosure, I do like Isabella Rossellini a lot, as an actress, and she is a beautiful woman, but taking the controls on a complete tribute project like this nears all too much to the point of disaster. We get a view of a man who is simply all alone, out-casted by a film community that once embraced him, and sullen by the fact that people don't care about his movies after a while, or the kinds of stories and characters he wants to portray. It sounds really good on the outset, but it's not what I thought it would be when I finally saw it- a mess. I would have much rather had seen a full-on documentary on the director instead of some avant-garde deconstructionist short film. A big disappointment from a big fan of the director.
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