La dolce vita

I went to work and felt tired after the shift.  I took a walk to Safeway and bought sandwiches, yogurt, and macaroni and cheese.  I went home and took a nap.  I finished reading “See You Next Tuesday” by Jane Mai.  A lot of it was about bodily functions.  I watched the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “La dolce vita.”  It was released in 1960 and was already more than twenty years old when I first saw it.  It’s hard for me to believe that Fellini, Marcello Mastroianni, and Anita Ekberg have all died.  I can’t see how this movie could be good with Paul Newman in the lead role.  I read that Barbara Stanwyck and Luise Rainer were considered for other parts.  The film starts with an image that gets your attention, a statue of Jesus being carried by a helicopter.  Marcello, the celebrity reporter, is in the helicopter trying to get women’s phone numbers.  We get a good look at Rome.  There are episodes that follow, like the children who pretend to see the Madonna, and the movie star in the Trevi Fountain.  We see some Fellini trademarks, like Catholic figures, lines of people, and a beach scene.  I’ll always remember Marcello’s argument with Emma that has him driving away and coming back.  Marcello’s father comes to visit, and they see a show with magical balloons.  Marcello’s car is something like the motorcycle in “Amarcord.”  We hear some early rock and roll, namely Little Richard’s “Ready Teddy.”  The sound is off, though, which is an annoying quality in many, many foreign films.  I suppose that if we saw more of Anita Ekberg, she would have become annoying.  She had a predictably short attention span, picking up a stray cat and forgetting about it after telling Marcello to get some milk for it.  Sylvia was something like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.  High definition made her scenes and many other scenes look clear and clean and impressive.  Besides the fountain scene, the major contribution to popular culture from this movie is the term “paparazzi.”  The photographers are out there, getting the shots of Sylvia, the children, and the wife who doesn’t yet know about a tragedy.  I don’t think I liked the idea of having the young girl return for the last scene.  It seemed so unlikely.  This movie was one of Roger Ebert’s favorites.  I’m not sure that I would want to see it that many times, considering that it is three hours long.  It probably has resonance, with the writing and drinking and celebrity chasing.  Besides the fountain scene, I remember Sylvia for rushing up the steps, exhausting the photographers, and losing her hat in the wind.  I like this period of Fellini because we’re still getting human stories that are down to earth, like the father and the young girl.  I’m not sure that I would ever want to see the Casanova film again.  This film feels linked with “8 1/2,” which would be released three years later.  The years would fly by, and before we knew it, we would see Mastroianni in “City of Women.”  Most of Fellini’s movies in color were not as enjoyable as the earlier works, which is curious, because he should have flourished with color photography.  The direction I didn’t like what the increased length of the films because I like concise statements.  Whenever I watch a Fellini film, I think of the scene in “Annie Hall” with Marshall McLuhan.  Fellini should have appeared in the scene, and it would have made more sense and been funnier with him in it.  Anita Ekberg was in movies like “War and Peace” and “Woman Times Seven,” and in the later Fellini films “The Clowns” and “Intervista.”  Her career certainly would have been drastically different if she was selected to be in the first James Bond film, “Dr. No.”  As it was, she was in a lot of movies that have been forgotten, and we still know her only for the Trevi Fountain.  In her last years, she encountered problems like a broken hip, a robbery of her home, along with fire damage.  She had financial difficulties when she was 80.  She died on January 11, 2015 at age 83.  Her remains were buried in Sweden.  Some of the people who died on March 29 include Joyce Cary (1957), Carl Orff (1982), Paul Henreid (1992), Bill Travers (1994), Alistair Cooke (2004), and Maurice Jarre (2009).  Today is a birthday for Elle Macpherson (52), Brendan Gleeson (61), and Eric Idle (73).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind segment for March 29, “Some Like It Hot,” starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, was released in 1959.  In 1982, “Chariots of Fire” won the Best Picture Oscar, Henry Fonda won the Best Actor Oscar, and Katharine Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar, both for “On Golden Pond.”  In 1993, “Unforgiven” won the Best Picture Oscar, and Al Pacino won the Best Actor Oscar for “Scent of a Woman.”

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