28 January 2010

There's Always Room For Giallo

Jell-O introduced that slogan in 1964, and I love that pun, because like Jell-O, giallo has a reputation for being brightly colored, and not very substantial.

However, not all giallo is in color - author Tim Lucas, who has provided commentary on the Bava #1 box set I'm starting with, tells us that La Ragazza Che Sapeva Troppo or The Girl Who Knew Too Much is generally regarded as the first giallo film, in black & white. This makes it my choice to kick off this year's exploration into the world of giallo.

This trailer is so dee-luscious, I'm reluctant to watch the actual movie. I don't see how it could possibly be as awesome as this trailer makes it look.

Review to follow at my leisure.

27 January 2010

Cinema Italiano

I feared it might never happen for me, but I've gone and managed to finally come down with a raging case of giallo fever! Several outside forces over the past few years have now conflagrated to bring me to this point.

Since being diagnosed with the pandemic Mad Men Madness over two years ago, I've been ravenous for early Sixties culture (it's "feed a fever", right?) - reviewing the history, reading the books and watching the movies referenced in every episode. If you've been following along, you'll know that Season 3 concluded at the end of 1963.

Until I can find a photo of Roger riding Mirabelle like a horse,
this photo of Betty & Don in Roma will have to stand in...

One of the many classic films this incited me to finally get around to was Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960) referenced in Mad Men episode #110, The Long Weekend. I followed it up with his 8 1/2 (1963) to have it under my belt before the musical remake Nine arrived in theaters.

Fortunately, my mom needed a ride to the airport last week, giving me the perfect last-minute excuse to see Nine on the ginormous screen at the state-of-the-art Muvico Rosemont, the first theater in the United States with all Sony 4K high-def digital projectors. (They're hosting After Dark Horrorfest 4 starting this weekend.) You could physically feel the bass line in this video. It was just fan-damn-tastic!

I've been doing the pony through the house all week!

The lyrics of "Cinema Italiano" really have me in the mood to watch more actual Italian cinema. At one point in the movie, someone tells the main character, fictional director Guido Contini, that the only notion many Americans have of Italy is what he has shown them in his films. That brought to mind, for me, Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). When I read that Mario Bava was born in San Remo, my image of that town comes only from my many viewings of The Talented Mr. Ripley, which I find enchanting, and bordering on the horror genre. While it's a film set in Italy, by a director with an Italian surname, it's not actually an Italian film. Anthony Minghella also wrote the screenplay for Nine. I find the lyrics of "Be Italian" really interesting, as Sophia Loren might just be the single solitary Italian cast member. Surely there were some other actual Italians in there somewhere. By the way, I'd like to know, just who makes up the brain trust that decided The Hangover and Nine should be in the same Golden Globes category?

Leading up to seeing Nine, coincidentally all month long I'd been preparing for the Final Girl Film Club selection due this week, Mario Bava's Black Sabbath also from 1963! Stacie has carefully laid the groundwork by gently and inconspicuously writing me a prescription for Italian horror at the beginning of each year: Dario Argento's Suspiria early in 2008 and Lucio Fulci's The Beyond early in 2009. She's now taken a solemn vow to review 10 Italian horror movies in 2010.

Ever since seeing Hostel and its sequel (both of which I adore), I've been looking forward to seeing all of the Italian horror movies Eli Roth cited as influences. I remember making a mental note at the time to add Torso, Cannibal Holocaust, Night Train Murders, and Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve to my queue.

Finally, I've had a particular interest in getting familiar with Italian cinema eventually because, although two of my great-grandparents were native Sicilians, from a small village just like The Godfather, just about zero culture has been passed down to me! No cooking, or language, or anything whatsoever. Shameful, isn't it?

My great-grandparents, who immigrated to Chicago from Sicily

Now that my appetite has been whetted, I plan to watch many, and review several, Italian horror films this year. (After all, Mad Men doesn't return until August!)

Get down with the sickness!

14 January 2010


By the way, there's still time to head to the snack bar for refreshments!