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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An off-beat love story, 17 August 2010

A decidedly off-beat love story as two characters from the fringe seek love in a wasteland of flesh and garbage, only to find it fleetingly in the back of a garbage truck. Kurant's luminous cinematography and Gainsbourg's leisurely pace do much to bring beauty to scenes that might otherwise be unbearably sordid.

Dallesandro and Birkin are beautiful to look at and play a dysfunctional couple in more ways than one. The film explores the poignancy of emotional need, the vulnerability to abuse and the impossibility of communication within the couple. It's a tale of surprising tenderness and cruelty.

Gainsbourg's soundtrack is surprisingly sparse, but used imaginatively and with more than a hint of irony.

love, sex and power, guilt and historical baggage, 17 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Visconti's "The Damned" meets Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" in this tale of terrible decadence. Unfairly accused on its release of trivialising the Holocaust and glamourising Nazi sadism, the film is in fact a fascinating study of love, sex and power, while the protagonists struggle under a burden of guilt and historical baggage.

The film itself is burdened with a script that is often unwieldy and characters that stumble into caricature. Still, it is redeemed by Contini's cinematography and by Bogarde and Rampling who give excellent, if very mannered, performances. This film is a must-see, if only for the insight into European Art House obsessions in the 1970s and to identify the source of iconic S & M images.

Il Conformista re-visited…, 4 February 2008

I've watched The Good Shepherd and really enjoyed it. Well written, well cast, well acted and directed with the right tone, I still believe that the narrative bites off a little bit more than it can chew. Not even a running time approaching three hours can save the film from being overly complex and a decent background in modern history would certainly help the viewer's comprehension of events unfolding on the screen.

Having said that, I believe it is a very good film indeed and clearly inspired by certain classics of the early 70s. I've noted at least one commentator, who drew valid parallels with the character of Michael Corleone as played by Al Pacino in The Godfather films. Nevertheless, I think it greatest source of thematic inspiration is Bertolucci's Il Conformista and the character of Marcello Clerici as played by Jean Louis Trintignant. In that film, the conformist of the title, plagued by his personal demons, longs to be a loyal follower, to belong to the state. In doing so, he deceives, betrays and murders, giving up his personal integrity, his humanity, his sense of self.

Il Confomista was considered a seminal masterpiece in its day, and attained a broader distribution in the United States through the intervention of bright young American directors, including Coppola, Scorsese and De Palma.

Three (1969/I)
12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
How beautiful is youth, 27 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've watched this movie on cable TV and I confess I loved it… and that's not just because of an incredibly beautiful 23 year old Charlotte Rampling!

I guess it's the unhurried way in which the movie conjures up nostalgia and the transient nature of youth. That's a theme that's made very explicit during the tour of the Uffizzi when the guide quotes lines from a poem by Lorenzo the Magnificent. The film is set during a summer holiday, but it seemed to be filmed "off season"… bystanders wear jackets and long-sleeves, the piazzas and especially the beaches seem strangely empty. There's this feeling of "end of summer", of an idyll petering away…

Ultimately, it's a "coming of age" tale, especially for the hapless Taylor. It's difficult not to love the fellow… Generous in spirit, noble in intent, gracious in manner… but his faults are also his own. He refuses to commit, refuses to decide what he wants. It's made clear that he is over protected by his parents (who are paying for the trip). This makes him non-assertive but ultimately complacent. Rather like a child, he wants it all… the love of a woman, the bond of friendship, and he thinks that he can keep it all by not stirring the waters… he thinks that things will not change, but they do anyway, as they always do, for life is change… maybe growth.

Ultimately, poor Taylor is left holding a "handful of flies" (an Italian expression). He leaves, with only a hint of bitterness, for he is not a bitter fellow, but he is (I believe) wiser.

I shudder to think what would result if this movie were remade today. I would envisage plenty of nudity, plenty of sex and redundant sub-plots involving criminal enterprise and action sequences. None of these attributes would be necessarily bad, but the result would certainly not approach the mood of the sensitive and insightful original.

For trivia lovers, the quote from Lorenzo the Magnificent's Song of Bacchus translates as:

How beautiful is youth That runs away nonetheless Let he that would be happy, be so: There is no certainty of tomorrow.

It's so much better in the original.

Finally, I have to ask… Taylor, oh Taylor, how could you refuse Marty at that bedroom door?