DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
8 1/2 (OTTO E MEZZO) (director/writer: Federico Fellini; screenwriters: Ennio Flaiano/Tullio Pinelli/Brunello Rondi; cinematographer: Gianni De Venanzo; editor: Leo Calozzo; music: Nino Rota; cast: Marcello Mastroianni (Guido Anselmi), Claudia Cardinale (Claudia), Anouk Aimee (Luisa Anselmi), Sandro Milo (Carla), Rossella Falk (Rossella), Barbara Steele (Gloria Morin), Eddra Gale (La Saraghina), Guido Alberti (The Producer); Runtime: 138; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Angelo Rizzoli; TCM; 1963-Italy-in Italian-dubbed in English)

"If a Fellini fan, this one is a must see."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini's ("La Strada"/"The White Sheik"/"I Vitelloni") most celebrated pioneering film takes its title because Fellini had previously completed six features and three short films, adding up to 7 1/2--thereby he named his new picture 8 1/2. It's filmed in black and white, has the catchy music of Nino Rota and is still diverting because of a few remarkable visuals. But it has diminished in value with the passage of time, as its fresh visual approach at the time to its storytelling about a director going through a crisis because he has suddenly lost his ability to create no longer packs a knockout punch and when viewed today seems self-indulgent. Though Fellini and co-writers Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli and Brunello Rondi keep jabbing away at a myriad of things that are mostly personal to the director, revolve around the creative process and also offer a plethora of complicated subplots, the pic still seems to lack profundity and its satire never catches fire as the director never really has much to say of value about anything that matters. The pic remains interesting if the viewer cares that Fellini, despite all the film's faults, makes a cinematic splashy attempt to bare his soul as if he was going through a Jungian analysis (Fellini indeed was treated by Jung in real life).

It won Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1963.

The narcissistic 43-year-old famous successful Italian movie director Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni), who plays Fellini's alter ego, feels worn down and on the verge of a nervous breakdown when unable to be inspired for his new big-budget science fiction tale about the survivors of a nuclear war and retreats from Rome to holiday at a fancy country health spa, where he takes solace in dreaming, recollecting the joys and humiliations of his childhood days, ruminating about his Catholic upbringing and finding fascination with his sexual fantasies. At the resort the mentally tortured director must deal with his personal crisis, his pushy producer (Guido Alberti), his lusty mistress (Sandro Milo), his embittered wife (Anouk Aimee), the back-biting ambitious starlets he has cast, writers and the usual suspects found in the film industry. After all Guido's doubts and thoughts of suicide, it leads to a magical happy ending where the schoolboy Guido plays the flute at a circus to lead a parade of all the people he has ever known that meant something to him.

The film features Fellini's usual glossy freewheeling style of filmmaking, his signature aerial and surreal shots, vertical zoom movements, jump cuts, the creating of a circus atmosphere; while it covers his usual themes that are delivered through images that are exotic, strange and grotesque. If a Fellini fan, this one is a must see.

REVIEWED ON 5/31/2012       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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