Sunday 14 January 2007

Fists in the Pocket (1965)

I've watched a lot of Italian movies in my time, but how many of them didn't belong to an obvious genre I really don't know. Not many, that's for sure. I've seen spaghetti westerns, giallo horror movies, sword and sandal epics, but not a lot that could really be called international art. Then again I'm not sure what writer/director Marco Bellocchio intended this to be: a horror film, a psychological drama, a social commentary, a piece of symbolism... it's probably all the above.

It's a portrait of a family in many senses, but this is no regular family. Only Augusto seems remotely capable as a human being. Mama is blind, but the rest of the family have mental issues. Most obviously, young Alessandro is obsessed with death, including his own, and as my lass pointed out he looks like a cross between Doogie Howser and Quentin Tarantino. Those two should never have kids together! He also has the hots for Giulia, which might be understandable under other circumstances, as she looks like a cross between Rosanna Arquette and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Now those two should have kids anytime someone comes up with a means to make it possible! However she's also his sister, and she's hardly all there herself. She seems to be pretty obsessive and may well have the hots for Augusto. She certainly doesn't want him to be with anyone else, that's for sure. The last child, Leone, is a simple epileptic who hardly ever speaks.

What plot there is has to do with Alessandro trying to do his brother a favour and relieve him of the burdens that he so obviously has to bear. He fails to drive them all off a cliff but he's a persevering soul. He's played by Lou Castel (not Lou Costello), a Colombian born actor in his first leading role. It was his second film but he wasn't even credited in the first. He definitely made an impression here though because it set him on the road to a long career and he now has a hundred movies to his name, along with a bunch of television work. I've only seen a couple of them and never really noticed him before. Then again I don't think I noticed anyone else in Irma Vep except Maggie Cheung. She does tend to capture the eye in anything she does, but when she's in a latex catsuit it's hard to notice anything else. After this incredible performance though I'll certainly be watching out for Lou Castel in other films.

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