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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Bernado Bertolucci’s debut pic at 21, based on a Pasolini story about a police investigation following the murder of a low-rent prostitute, turns each interrogation into a discrete/contradictory flashback detailing the hours leading up to the crime. (It has been compared, misleadingly, to RASHOMON.) The film bears the usual assortment of then fashionable discontinuity quirks and narrative ellipses, but nothing can hide Bertolucci’s natural talent, one largely at variance with Pasolini’s pitiless, misogynistic views. Under Bertolucci, these wrong-side-of-the-track Romans become real people, and he gives them room to breath even when they only squander time. Aimless wandering, petty crime, lovemaking; the only person doing a job of work is the prostitute. (A very Pasolini touch.) Added to his bent toward dynamic framing, sweeping camera movement and visualization of tactual surfaces in the physical details and backgrounds, and you already have a real filmmaker. His next, BEFORE THE REVOLUTION, would take on all comers.

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