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LA DOLCE VITA

NOT AS SWEET AS YOU'D THINK 60 YEARS ON

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
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By Jess Fenton
12th April 2020

Once again, after last year's success with 'Some Like It Hot', I'm back with my partner Sam filling in those embarrassing gaps in my film history. Today I tick two boxes: 1. A Fellini film, and 2. what better way to do it than with 'La Dolce Vita' in 2020, with this being the film's 60th anniversary.

The closest I've come to a Fellini film before is watching Rob Marshall's 2009 film 'Nine'. Yikes! Shan't be doing that again. And then there's that scene in 2003's 'Under The Tuscan Sun' when Lindsay Duncan reenacts Anita Ekberg's famous fountain scene after spending the film claiming to be Fellini's muse as a teenager. So that's it. That's all I had to go on. And so, on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon while self-isolating, my beloved Sam and I sat down to educate ourselves. What we discovered was nowhere near what we expected, and it should be noted that only one of us made it all the way through...

0:01:53 One minute and fifty-three seconds! One minute and fifty-three seconds of the most boring, uninspired opening titles I've even seen. This does not bode well.

0:01:55 Wait! This movie is three hours long! Ah crap!

0:02:03 Helicopters? The opening scene is helicopters? Is this 'La Dolce Vita' or 'Apocalypse Now'? Ha!

0:02:09 Wow, that's a lot of construction. I guess Rome really wasn't built in a day. Ba dum dum!

0:03:10 When did foley and sound editing and design become a thing? Because I noticed it during 'Some Like It Hot' too, and there's a 10 year gap between these movies. I cannot believe in all that time no one thought to add atmospheric sound.

0:03:46 Ooooo! Armpit hair. Way to go Italian ladies of the 60s!

0:04:19 SAM: Look at that! This was shot with a medium format camera.
JESS: You are such a nerd.

0:05:26 Smoking indoors - Groooooooooooss

0:07:10 Did that guy just tell his wife to "Shut up, you". What the fuck?

0:08:17 This is a club in 1960; why is everyone wearing sunglasses indoors? I've seen four people so far!

0:08:28 Is that...is the woman twirling her pearls eating a crustless sandwich at the bar in a club? Who are these people!?

0:09:10 Fucking paparazzi! Even back then. Heinous parasites.

0:09:20 JESS: She looks so much like Bridget Fonda
SAM: Who? The prostitute?
JESS: Is she a prostitute?
SAM: I have no idea.
JESS: Yeah I have no idea what the hell is going on either.

0:14:12 Why does the score for a film set in Italy sound so oriental?

0:17:21 JESS: Sooooo that woman is just going to let those two bang in her bed?
SAM: I feel the Italians are a very welcoming people.
JESS: Yeah, I'd say!

0:18:01 JESS: God, does he ever stop smoking!
SAM: No Jessica! He's Italian and it's the 60s.

0:18:48 Well, that's the most dramatic fall against I doorframe if ever I saw one!

0:21:02 Is this a drive thru hospital? What in the world!?

0:21:43 Holy crap! Walking into a hospital room with an unconscious woman on the bed and a doctor putting his shoes back on looks soooooooo suss!

0:22:53 What the hell kind of hospital is this? There are more staff than patients.

0:24:11 SAM: That's a cape!
JESS: She looks like she's wearing a fur blanket. If this was today she'd have a bucket of red paint thrown on her in about two seconds.

0:27:59 Oooh she's a Marilyn Monroe type and they're doing that famous interview with her when she was in London.

'LA DOLCE VITA' TRAILER

0:29:21 What's with the wigs? Who is she, Moira Rose?

0:30:19 Stage five clinger! We have a stage five clinger alert!

0:33:36 Oh my god the hat! ...With the perfect hair fall! Brilliant!

0:35:14 Frankie looks like one of those Greek statues of Zeus or something. I mean, it's a look. Not one I'd go for, but it's a look.

0:35:48 SAM: Does this movie have a plot yet?
JESS: Not that I can tell.

0:41:01 The 'Dirty Dancing' lift! The 'Dirty Dancing' lift! ...before 'Dirty Dancing'! ...in a gown! Very impressive. Now I'm just waiting for those enormous breasts to fall out.

0:43:35 I swear Vespas were only invented for paparazzi.

0:47:27 Did he just call the woman he just banged to bring over the woman he wants to bang? Who is this guy!?

0:49:25 This crazy chick is walking around with a damn kitten on her head.

0:50:23 Oh, this is the scene. Wow, an empty Trevi Fountain. That'll never happen... well, except for now, I guess. Ooooh, that's weird.

I wonder how many people have tried to recreate this scene since the movie's release? (quick Google search) Okay, I couldn't find out how many, but I can tell you it's a €450 fine if you do.

0:54:20 JESS: Why is Rome so damn empty?
SAM: Because someone forgot to book extras for this day?

0:56:36 Now there's a dude playing church organ. What the hell is this movie about!?

1:01:55 A fucking miracle tree! What is happening?!?

1:16:09 I can't tell if this film is racist or not. It's definitely misogynistic.

1:18:22 [Sam exits the viewing session. He's more than had enough. Can't say I blame him.]

1:24:17 Marcello is at a party, sitting on the floor playing with the dog. Yep, that's so me.

1:30:10 Is he cracking on to that child!? And after he was such a dick to her?

1:41:10 Is Marcello encouraging his father to cheat? Damn, man!

1:45:12 My God, this old man is a "Me Too" perp waiting to happen.

1:58:00 Why is the Queen of England driving that car?

1:59:29 "Hello, you little whore" - is that seriously the dialogue!?

0:02:03 Ghost hunting! Of course the crazy drunken rich people are ghost hunting. It's just what this movie needs!

2:08:17 He just cracked on to that rando after saying he wanted to marry Maddalena!

2:12:05 "Go to hell, you idiot" - yep, why wouldn't someone say that.

2:14:30 Nip slip!

2:15:40 So now he's about to sleep with Elvira. Sure. Yep. Why not. Wear a condom!

2:18:05 Why are they breaking up in the middle of nowhere?

2:22:27 And now it's daylight. Fuck! how long did he leave her out there? This relationship so disgustingly toxic.

2:23:30 Steiner killed himself and the two kids. What. Is. Happening!

2:32:05 A friggin divorce party! And drag! Just what this movie needs. It already has everything else.

2:34:40 Nope, I spoke too soon. Now the divorcee is stripping.

2:37:35 Everyone is critiquing her stripping technique and order. Interesting. Not how I thought this would go.

2:39:40 I love that someone just hands the guy a plate of spaghetti in the middle of a party and it's normal.

2:40:38 Is he pimping people out? God, Marcello is just awful. Why do all these people like him?! And why do all the celebrities hang out with a tabloid journalist? I don't get it!

2:42:24 The most dramatic drink toss ever.

2:45:03 And now some poor drunk woman is being feathered, coz... yeah.

2:50:10 A stingray! For fuck's sake, it's almost like when the dinosaurs show up in 'Tree of Life'.

2:53:35 Thank fuck that's over! I'm beginning to think the title of the film is meant to be ironic.

CONCLUSION:
Nope. Never again. I get it, you have a tabloid journalist named Marcello and here follows a series of scenes in his life as he wrestles with becoming a more serious writer and his sleeping through the rich, powerful and beautiful in an effort to climb the social ladder, all while dragging along his poor, long-suffering fiancée. But it meant nothing to me. If I, as the audience, can't connect with this odious human, then why should I care about what he does with his life? Each new scene introduced me to more of his deplorable behaviour and the equally hideous people he chose to surround himself with. I never saw his charm, nor his appeal, and at the end of the film couldn't see the benefit of such a tale. There was nothing extraordinary about the filmmaking either, although I did enjoy Fellini's love of shadows. I'm obviously seeing this film through modern eyes, but it just hasn't connected with me as intended 60 years ago. A beloved classic for some, but not this 21st century gal. Sorry.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 04/02/1960
RUN TIME: 2h 54m
CAST: Marcello Mastroianni
Anita Ekberg
Anouk Aimée
Yvonne Furneaux
Magali Noël
Alain Cuny
Annibale Ninchi
Walter Santesso
Valeria Ciangottini
Riccardo Garrone
DIRECTOR: Federico Fellini
PRODUCERS: Giuseppe Amato
Angelo Rizzoli
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