February 28, 2010

My first post on Kafka’s novel,  The Trial includes an image from the film adaptation by Orson Welles, showing Anthony Perkins as Joseph K, and Romy Schneider as Leni cuddling together.  Maybe it was the awful video transfer I was watching, but I couldn’t get through this movie, and I read the book twice in succession.  It’s another very faithful adaptation…again I say, perhaps too faithful.  But unlike Chabrol’s Bovary, and Heart of a Dog about which I entertained similar, but ultimately abandoned reservations, I’ll pass on this one.  Welles told Perkins that the movie should play like a black comedy, a directive very much in keeping with Kafka’s intent, I think, but the comedy doesn’t come through in what I saw here.

Romy, however, was fabulously seductive as Leni, the nurse of the imperious advocate (Welles) who terrifies his clients whom he is supposedly helping.  Like all the women in The Trial, Leni exerts a tremendous erotic pull on Joseph K, a pull which is simply “a snare” in Kafka’s universe.  A snare keeping Joseph from…what?

Three more…Boccaccio ’70

November 30, 2008

Here are the other three stories from Boccaccio ’70 that accompany the subject of my last post. With the exception of the Fellini-Temptation story, they all deal with the oppressed, prostituted status of women in one way or another. And, of course, one could argue, as do many, that being a sex symbol in advertising is yet another form of selling oneself along with a product, like milk…

Another theme is money, from the low to the high rent realms.  Money and the struggle for a good life, money as an obstacle to true love, money, money, money…

vlcsnap-796606 The first story, Renzo and Luciana, is, I think, the least interesting, being a mix of social realism and comedy, rather weak comedy.  A pretty girl (Marisa Solinas)in the office of a factory wants to marry an office boy there, but there is a rule against married women working there, so they hide it.  She receives the unwelcome attentions of a foolish and slightly effeminate manager who thinks of himself as a higher type, but loves to lord it over his “harem” of secretaries.  In the end, she liberates herself by quitting with her clandestine husband, earning severance bonuses for them both.

vlcsnap-794574The second story is Fellini’s, followed by Visconti’s The Job, with Romy Schneider.  Beginning as farcial treatment of an aristocratic playboy trying to tamp down a scandal about his lastest publicized romps with high-priced callgirls, it turns devastatingly sad.  His gorgeous wife (a marriage of convenience..? arranged “so their property could marry?”) announces she is going to get a job like normal middle class people.  When in teasing her husband she finds that he (who normally won’t bother looking at her) is excited about having sex with her if she makes him pay her for it, she realizes what sort of job it is to which she has condemned herself.

vlcsnap-795455Yeah, that’s Sophia Loren in the final story, The Raffle, and of course, she’s the prize.  Her carnival associates use her as a money maker with a side-game on the national lottery, and the local yokels are going crazy.  She manages to keep her dignity, even before it all turns out harmlessly because the winner is the most sexually timid man in town.

Watching these beautiful women in these stories I was struck by their acting, yes, their acting!  Do such actresses still exist, or is that movie makers have so much lower expectations and demands these days?  Or is it just that watching old films takes one to a different cultural context, so everything seems fresh and novel, like traveling?