Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Three Brothers (1980)

Do you like this movie? Yes.

What Do You Like About It? It has the expansive, deliberate, unfrenetic, realist, novelistic style that reached its zenith in the 1970s, particularly in Europe. This depiction of consciousness, character, etc, was akin to how I used to experience life myself until I was around twenty-seven or so.

What Do You Dislike About It? Nothing stands out. It is a little unusual in that it sets out a group of characters with very serious problems or crises happening in their lives and kind of leaves it at that, as if to say, these are the pertinent facts of life, and there is no resolution for them, until you grow old and die (or are killed). But when you think about it you realize how foolish you are, not so much to want, but to expect a resolution such that a character will never be troubled by his great problem ever again.

What Do You Love About it? Nothing to that extreme. I like seeing something of the Europe of my childhood and youth that I could still get a little sense of in 1990, but as one of the themes is about how soul-crushing the modern urban lifestyle and economy were even at that time, I was not indulging in the nostalgia too much.

Who is the director? Francesco Rosi. This is the first of his films I have seen. I would say that on the whole he definitely belongs to the old camp (he was born in 1922, and began directing on his own in the 50s) that reached a kind of maturity by the late 60s and 70s. The films of this school are extremely well-made, both technically and in terms the overall coherence of story or theme. They know what they mean to say and want to show, and how they want to say and show it.

What is important about this movie? This movie is interesting because it comes near the end of an era that, unlike similar transitional periods, I don't think as many people on the creative side of the field realized was the end of an era. Or even if they had some sense of this, I don't think they grasped how different even intelligent people's attitudes towards art and artworks, and the manner by which they consumed and related to them would become. For it seems to me in this regard we are a long way from 1980. In Italian film no less than the other major national cinemas the period beginning around 1980 was a watershed time, as the older masters (Fellini, De Sica, Visconti, etc) retired, and the generation that only knew the postwar world rose to prominence. Rosi does address the theme, so prominent especially in this more recent generation, of the native but poor village one has had to leave behind to contribute economically and socially in the modern world, feeble as that contribution is. He does not fully romanticize it, and it is clear that for the most part it is hopeless for any young person to try to make a life there in 1980, but it is also clear that something serious has been lost with this breaking from tradition.

Anything Else. The sophisticated Euro-sex is kept pretty much to a minimum. There is only one of the brothers who is a threat to get it on with anybody. He does, mysteriously to me, have sex with his rather cold ex-wife (though I thought her attractive enough) after a conversation in which I could not detect any hint that she felt anything towards him other than contempt and security in her total superiority. I don't get how we are supposed to know that she still wanted it, or at least was willing to have it. And the beauty of it is, I never will. But you know why, superior reader. You have been there. And you will never forget it.

A Confession. When I was in college I would get a letter every year, or at least twice I got one, from the financial aid office or admissions office or alumni office or some other office informing me that my aid that year was in some part made possible by a very generous gift to the College from a Mr Whitebread Mayonnaise or other from the class of 1929, who was at the time still living in Baltimore, and that it would be appreciated if I would write him a letter of thanks and say something about my studies and my plans for the future and so on. Needless to say I never got around to writing any of these letters. At the time I no doubt forgot about them within fifteen minutes of leaving the mailbox, and I had thought about it once in all of the years since then, until a few weeks ago, when I remembered that I had been asked to do this one polite little thing in return for ten of thousands of money I was being given, and I had completely ignored it, as if it were beneath my contempt even to acknowledge it all. It's something I should have done, and emblematic of all the reasons why my life relative to the greater world amounted to so little as it did.

My wife has a blog now. She is a natural. Her site is for her Greek and Latin classes (substantial and purposeful) and is wholly devoid of narcissism. I can only marvel at the seriousness and restraint, two qualities I have always longed for and never come close to attaining.

No picture with tonight's posting because my computer situation is still a joke. I have two in the room, one of which is crashing every time I log onto the site, the other of which is loading pictures at 1998 speed. I will probably edit one in in a few days, when I can get something working again.

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