Tag Archives: scola

That Night in Varennes / La nuit de Varennes (Ettore Scola, 1982)

La nuit de Varennes is a period drama about the journey from Paris to Varennes undertaken in the year 1791 by the french writer Nicolas Edmé Restif de la Bretonne in company with Thomas Paine, Casanova, a number of high-placed figures, including a lady of the court, as well as several servants, in pursue of the king of France, who escaped with his family from the captivity to join the forces still loyal to him. The film consists mostly of various road capades, and of the conversations between the so different characters on the matters of love and politics.

Though this description might make it seem like the film is tedious, it’s actually fascinating. Being basically a road movie by structure, it feels refreshingly original due to the circumstances of the story, as well as the signs of the epoch. All the dialogs, which are not excessive at all, are well-written and offers a number of curious ideas and details. The characters are three-dimensional, deep and so very different; the chemistry between them is vivid and palpable. The composition of the story is wonderfully harmonious.

The era is depicted at the highest level of authenticity. The overall execution is flawless. The acting is absolutely perfect.

This film is undoubtedly one of the Scola’s best works. Highly recommended.

Names and figures


People of Rome / Gente di Roma (Ettore Scola, 2003)

Gente di Roma is a semi-documentary film that amounts to a collection of unconnected tiny stories about people inhabiting today’s Rome. A reporter conducts a special project to research how do the foreigners live in the city. A dismissed worker comes to the factory in the morning because he couldn’t find it in him to tell his family. Some seniors are being interviewed in order to figure out if they have an onset of dementia. Some homeless people share wine and food sitting under the bridge. An elderly man comes to visit a younger couple, and chats with the wife, while husband has no idea about what’s really going on. A son brings his father to dine at the restaurant after they agreed for him to go a care home. A woman loses her child in the crowd at the meeting. These and many other scenes follow each other and fuse into a single, extremely rich canvas of life in a city that is ancient and modern at the same time.

Some of this little stories are funny, others are quite sad. Most of them are pretty subtle. Combined, they create a picture of the complexity of life in a modern city.

On the one hand, it’s all quite interesting to watch, because every episode of this mixture obviously comes from the heart. On the other – there is no cross-cutting storyline, which is why the attention would invariably drift at some point, and some of the pieces may get lost. All in all it was more fun than not. Sort of a document of the epoch, if you will, that is – a specific kind of cinema, one that you won’t come back to very often. But it’s still important.

Names and figures

The Family / La famiglia (Ettore Scola, 1987)

La famiglia is a story of an Italian family through generations. It starts off at the beginning of the XX century, when Carlo is born into a large family, and it ends with Carlo as a patriarch of the family, which over the years has changed completely but remained the same. As it happens, in the heart of a happy family there lie engrained conflicts and secrets, biggest of which is Carlo’s relationship with Adriana, his wife’s sister.

This film seems to me like an earnest attempt to lay out the history of the modern times through the prism of a single family’s life; it’s all well thought-out, the continuing relationships within the family are consistent and quite rich, too; of course, technical implementation is nothing to complain about, – it’s fine considering the decade, that is. The only problem: you can’t tell a story this long in an amount of time this small. It just doesn’t work. The characters have extremely hard time consolidating themselves in the viewer’s mind, because not just there’s a lot of them, they also keep changing as the internal time goes by, and quite drastically at that. You actually have to work pretty hard to keep track of what’s going on and who are all these nice people, and it turns out to be impossible, and how can you care about a character if it takes you 10 seconds to recall his or her name – in the middle of the narration?

It’s an ambitious endeavour, which I totally sympathize with, but the for this story to work it needs to be a miniseries or something, with at least 4-5 hours of running time. Feature film format is not suitable in this particular case, and while it is not a drawback as it is, it kind of ruins everything.

Names and figures

How Strange To Be Named Federico / Che strano chiamarsi Federico (Ettore Scola, 2013)

Che strano chiamarsi Federico is Ettore Scola’s tribute to his life-long friend and colleague Federico Fellini. It’s a semi-documentary, semi-dramatic memoir of their relationship, and includes some pieces of Fellini’s life that came to happen in direct connection with their friendship.

The film is poetic, ingenious and beautiful. It tells about Fellini with great respect and admiration, and at the same time not in denial of his certain character traits. Which are always forgiven, for he created so many wonderful things.

The narration is very well-balanced; the director alternates various techniques so that none of them can become a nuisance, and moves from one to another with amazing gracefulness at that. The acting – (and there was quite a lot of acting) – is in complete tune with the Scola’s design, not too bright, but perfect within the framework of the concept. All in all, an exceptionally harmonious story, honest and sincere, and light, and funny, and sad, all in one. In other words: highly recommended for all the cinema fans, as well as for everybody else.

Names and figures

Splendor (Ettore Scola, 1989)

Splendor is a story of a cinema theater in one of the Italian cities, from its foundation somewhere during Mussolini’s rule, and until it was shut down in the 1980s. It is also about the history of cinema, as well as the world history, – both these things contributed greatly to the context of the film. And, of course, it’s about people, and most importantly about this guy who saw it all from start (when he was a little boy helping his father) to finish (when he himself was already an old man).

Well, the aftertaste is pretty appealing: I see the movie now as warm, and kind, and sweet, and interesting at that, – which is totally influenced by the impression the Mastroianni’s image left with me – because, it can be characterized with the exactly same set of words. The film, indeed, is all those things, although it’s not uniform, there are emotional ups and downs, just like a normal movie supposed to have. But it has this strong nostalgic vibe, as well as another one – of devoted love to cinema, of real cinema passion. This last thing is not uncommon with the filmmakers; there are few example of successful direct transference of such emotions into stories suitable for screen adaptation, but Splendor, probably, can be deemed one of such, albeit at the periphery.

The acting is amazing. Mastroianni is totally overwhelming, and Vlady is gorgeous – I, actually, have never seen her before in a movie, I knew her only as Vladimir Vysotskiy’s wife, and she turned out to be pretty darn good.

So, the whole composition shapes to be really pleasant. So far, this is one of the best Scola films.

Names and figures

The Archfiend / L’arcidiavolo (Ettore Scola, 1966)

L’arcidiavolo is a picaresque story about a major demon named Belfagor being sent over to Earth in order to start a new war so that the inflow of fresh souls to hell would resume as before. It is based on Machiavelli’s novel or something.

The film desperately tries to be cheerful and funny, but really only some of its escapades are amusing, and most of them are just ridiculous. There is not much to say about it, too, except that it was kind of pathetic. And that the happy ending only made everything worse. Of course, it was one of the earliest Scola’s works, and those tend to be not good in the majority of the cases, even with great directors. Still, it was a disappointment.

Names and figures

Passion of Love / Passione d’amore (Ettore Scola, 1981)

Passione d’amore is a period drama set in the mid XIX century in barely unified Italy. It’s about a young military captain who had the unfortune of being handsome and intelligent, so when he met a very unpretty girl, she fell madly in love with him. The power of her passion staggered him so much, he, well, he didn’t fall back in love with her, not in a traditional sense anyway; it’s hard to grasp what he was feeling, but it surely ruined him.

The story turned out to be really fascinating, alghough it wasn’t that clear in the beginning. It touches upon a theme that is anything but trite, and illuminates it rather comprehensively. The acting is exactly as good as one would expect from a recognized Italian director of that time. The general visual style is sort of archaic, which in my mind is more like a plus than a minus, as it gives some repose from the overly fast modern cinema.

All in all the film is deep and interesting, and well-implemented, too. One of the best Scola’s works I’ve seen so far.

Names and figures

Le bal (Ettore Scola, 1983)

Le bal is a film without words and a lot of dancing. It shows a Paris dancing joint, and the people who come there, who are apparently all frequent visitors, from the times of German occupation during WWII until decades later. There are a lot of characters, each uniquely designed, and correspondingly – a great number of interactions, every single one of which is shown and processed without using any words at all.

There is an acting excersise called “organic silence”, when the participants have to co-exist within some space (usually, a stage) without resorting to voice communication. Usually it looks kinda weird, because speech is natural, and its absence is not; but this set of restrictions is very easily defined and sometimes can produce interesting results, which is why the students often like to expand this excersise into their next level works, – but then again, because it’s pretty simple to construct, but not that simple to enliven, the vast majority of such works are bound to stay experimental, i.e. not interesting.

Sometimes, though, an already developed cinema master adverts to a ambigious method like this, and then – well, then magic happens, although not without flaws. Like, in Le bal, for example, the story is told absolutely brilliantly, because all that is going on is very much clear with minimal amount of attention (which is still required – after all, there are almost no sound clues), but sometimes the characters’ behaviour deviates slightly from the realistic model – not to the bullshit level, nowhere near it, but enough to evoke a barely perceptible sensation of discrepancy. Another thing – at times the movie becomes a bit too allegoric, which is, probably, not a bad thing for this storytelling format, but I’m still inclined to make note of it.

And yet, this movie still feels like a light and wonderful adventure, and though it’s won’t make it to my very-best list, I do find it extremely interesting and entertaining.

Names and figures

The Terrace / La terrazza (Ettore Scola, 1980)

The only thing really interesting here is the structure: the plot explores several storylines all sprining from the same event – a dinner party on the terrace. Kinda like a source of light with beams coming out of it. But the stories themselves resemble each other way too much, so even though it was sort of fun in the beginning, eventually it got rather boring. And considering the length (excessive for such construction), it kills the whole thing.

All the heroes are old and exhausted by life, all are lost with pretty much no hope of ever thriving again. All are pathetic. But I think, it would’ve still be tolerable, if not the politics. One of the characters is a functionary in the Italian Communist party, which was entering its final decade at the time of the story, – and even that change was already unbearable for him. But the thing is that the world had changed even more since then – in fact, the world had changed several times, and fundamentally at that; so that one depicted in the movie feels kinda alien and weird. Not very interesting, though: all those left-wingers, right-wingers, seem so stupid from today’s perspective, it’s hard to believe people really cared about that stuff.

Unfortunately, even all-star cast cannot help this film – it’s too awkward and clumsy, and too long. Definitely not the best of Scola works.

Names and figures

The Voyage of Captain Fracassa / Il viaggio di Capitan Fracassa (Ettore Scola, 1990)

Very nice movie. Especially it is curious because of depiction of the strolling theater company life, but the story and its conflicts are interesting as well. It is about the birth of a creator – a man finds himself in an environment completely different from the one he is accustomed to, he goes through trying times right into the crisis, and through surviving it he discovers and reveals his own true nature. I never read the book, but the film seems very consistent as the milestones of the story are clear and in the right places; the acting is great; the scenery of the XVIII century seems faithful (although, rather depressing).

I would like to say that I enjoyed the film, but it won’t be true, even though the movie itself has nothing to do with my sufferings: the thing is, I prefer watching cinema in the original, and because I don’t know Italian, I used the only English subtitles I could find, and they were machine translated, i.e. awful. I still grasped pretty much everything that was going on there, but mostly from voice tones, face expressions and gestures. That was very exhausting, and prevented me from reveling the film.

Names and figures

Jealousy, Italian Style / Dramma della gelosia (tutti i particolari in cronaca) (Ettore Scola, 1970)

Pretty curious way to show a trial – through characters reading out their witness testimonies right there in the body of the story; it looks amusing and witty, which in combination creates an impression of freshness. The story itself, on the other hand, is rather simple, and would’ve hardly been interesting if not for those director’s little tricks, and Mastroianni, whose character is colourful and solid, and is the only one here able to stir up sympathy. Others (Vitti, Giannini) are good enough cogs for the mechanism of this film, but do not bring out any self consistent effect.

The movie is quite nice and easy, but doesn’t bear anything outstanding in itself.

Names and figures

Signore e signori, buonanotte (Ettore Scola et al, 1976)

A compilation of novellas of various length, some of which are strung on a thread of the through storyline with Mastroianni being a TV-reporter, but for the most part they have nothing to do with each other. Perhaps, the only thing that really unites them all is the light, comic view on their respective subjects. The directors are very different, and so are their brainchildren: there’s farce, and subtle irony, and soft satire, and satire not so soft, and slightly distorted historical events; the quality fluctuates up and down (although, the only thing I really didn’t like was the faecal sketch), and many things are outdated very much by now, but there is still something you can laugh, or at least, smile at.

But I don’t think, there is a possibility of me watching this film for the second time. It’s just not worth it – others just like it appear all the time, now and again. But it maybe of some interest to those who want to understant what it’s like to live in the 70-s.

Names and figures

(1320) – Il commissario Pepe (Ettore Scola)

I have never encountered a film before, for which a tern “unnecessary” can be used completely soundly. It’s a story about a police commissar who finds out that the pretty front for the town community he lives in is total fake, that all those who call themselves respectable members of the society are nothing but crooks and thieves and liers. He goes through existential crisis because of this, and then finds piece of mind (by changing literally nothing except for his own perception). Not a single event in the story arouses any interest, they seem exceptionally insignificant – all and every one of them. I think, it was mediocre even back then, and with time it didn’t become better, but simply lost the remainder of its liveliness as the time slipped by.

Names and figures

(1267) – Unfair Competition / Concorrenza sleale (Ettore Scola)

0. A sad movie about good people in bad situation. I really was afraid that the title corresponds with the story, but it’s quite the contrary. When given the chance to screw a competitor over, the owner of the shop didn’t use it, which actually deprives the story of the conflict other then the outward one (relating to the state and contacts therewith), but grants a feeling of enthusiasm (because there really are decent people) along with depiction of the plot.

1. The presence of the Gérard Depardieu’s name among other actors was one of the major selling points for this film, but the truth is: his participation was limited to just a walk-on part – he appeared in several episodes and although his character said some very important things, he cannot be considered as a story building element. In fact, other characters, who mattered more because of their deeper involvement, also looked much more interesting. Especially Diego Abatantuono. Really good work.

2. On the whole: the film has few piercing moments (one of the most remarkable is when both salesmen were taken to some administrative dude and the italian one was offered a sheet of paper), and creates good final feeling of sadness and irreversibility; it is built in a style the Hollywood has nothing to do with – seemingly fool of unnecessary things, this film tells about people, dignity and bad times so that in the end the spectator gets a pretty solid impression on the era. But – there are other films that can give an impression not in the least solid, so I’d better be watching them, taking into consideration especially that the only English subtitles I managed to find for this movie were obviously composed with the huge help from google.translate service and therefore are very hard to apprehend.

Names and figures

(1211) – C’eravamo tanto amati (Ettore Scola)

0. I like these Italian movies – they’re usually full of life and very vital. Sometimes they’re hard to follow, because the characers talk very much and very fast. But the picture becomes clear in the end anyway.

1. The story basically revolves around three war-time friends and what became of them in the course of thirty years. It’s about how money can corrupt; and that to love is not equal to to be in love; and that the world can be wrong all along, and you can be right. It’s kinda delicate and deep, which is not uncommon for the italian cinema of that time.

2. The film is also interesting because Federico Fellini appears in it as himself, and so does Mastroianni and several other prominent figures – the episode with Fellini was also funny (when the fan had mistaken him for Rosselini). Vittorio De Sica, to whom the film is dedicated, by the way, also appears on the screen, but as his name is absent in the titles, I presume, that was some kind of newsreel footage.

3. So: it was a nice piece of cinema, I enjoyed it, and think it’s worth saving. It might not be the great film, but one of the good ones – that’s for sure.

Names and figures

//1142/4-// ——— //Новые чудовища ~ I nuovi mostri//

   Несколько зарисовок из повседневной жизни итальянцев конца семидесятых. Все новеллы объединены одним мотивом – в них побеждают или просто остаются безнаказанными плохие люди. Подано все это как бы в саркастическо ключе, но сарказм по большей части горький. Смешного нет, и даже те истории, которые начинаются красиво, заканчиваются плохо, и ты знаешь об этом, и ждешь подвоха, и он случается.

Некоторые новеллы настолько коротки, что отношение к ним даже не успевает сложиться. Персонажи других как правило ничего кроме легкого (а когда и не очень легкого) отвращения не вызывают. Орнелла Мути очень красивая. Кино в целом – ничего особенного.

Имена и цифры

Ужин | La Cena

4, 02:01:41, 1998


Страна производства: Италия, Франция
Постановка: Этторе Скола \ Ettore Scola ~ 4/5
Сценарий: Этторе Скола \ Ettore Scola, Фуно Скарпелли \ Furio Scarpelli, Сильвия Скола \ Silvia Scola, Джиакоммо Скарпелли \ Giacomo Scarpelli ~ 4/5
Операторская работа: Франко ди Джиакомо \ Franco Di Giacomo ~ 4/5
В ролях: Фанни Ардан \ Fanny Ardant, Антонио Катанья \ Antonio Catania, Франческа д’Алоджа \ Francesca d’Aloja, Риккардо Гарроне \ Riccardo Garrone, Витторио Гассман \ Vittorio Gassman, Джанкарло Джанини \ Giancarlo Giannini, Мари Гиллейн \ Marie Gillain, Нелло Маскиа \ Nello Mascia, Адальберто Мария Мерли \ Adalberto Maria Merli, Коррадо Ольми \ Corrado Olmi, Эрос Паньи \ Eros Pagni, Стефания Сандрелли \ Stefania Sandrelli ~ 4+/5

   Изображая обычный вечер в традиционном итальянском ресторане, Скола не проводит главную сюжетную линию. Да она здесь и не требуется. Ситуаций, специфических в каждой группе характеров, за каждым столом, более чем достаточно, чтобы держать аудиторию в неослабевающем напряжении. Действие столь стремительно, что внимание зрителя не ослабевает на протяжении всего фильма, с начала до конца. Это удивительно для фильма, действие которого разворачивается в одном единственном месте, в интерьере ресторана.

Фильм в традициях итальянской классики – много персонажей, у каждого своя история, своя сюжетная линия, все эти линии причудливо сплетаются, образуя… не знаю, что они образуют; я бы сказал – крону, но для кроны нужен ствол (в данном случае сюжет), а его-то как раз и нет. Само по себе это не плохо и не хорошо, а в данном случае скорее плохо, потому что от фильма остается ощущение воды, ускользнувшей из сложенных ковшиком ладоней: вот как будто перед тобой только что была река полноводная, а вот все, что осталось – несколько глотков. Здесь есть и трагедия и комедия, обеих поровну, и возможно в этом и заключается беда – ведь компромисс, как известно, это решение, которое одинаково не устраивает ни одну из сторон; да и в кино не место компромиссам.


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