Dreamer Schemer

Vittorio Gassman as the overly ambitious Guido in Il Successo (1963)

Vittorio Gassman as the overly ambitious Guido in Il Successo (1963)

“The worst poverty is not wanting to be rich!”

Something is gnawing at Guido. It’s the feeling that life is passing him by and he will never be anything but average which, to him, is the same as being a nobody. We’ve all known someone like Guido whose desire to be rich, famous and envied by all becomes his all-consuming obsession. Is it because his parents were peasants? Despite that, he still went to college, has a steady, respectable job at a major real estate firm and is married to Laura, a beautiful, talented woman who is on the fast track to success at a public relations firm with high end clients. So what’s the problem?   Continue reading

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Adrift in a L.A. Haze

Anouk Aimée in Jacques Demy's Model Shop (1969)

Anouk Aimée in Jacques Demy’s Model Shop (1969)

Los Angeles has served as the backdrop for countless Hollywood movies but in Jacques Demy’s Model Shop (1969), the French director’s first and only American film (if you don’t count the 1984 made-for-TV movie Louisiana), the city becomes the real protagonist. With its sprawling urban landscape, oil derricks, desolate beaches and constant traffic, it  provides a vivid canvas for a contemporary love story about romantic longing, missed connections and unrealized dreams. Film writer Clare Stewart referred to the film in the film journal Senses of Cinema as “a road movie that doesn’t go anywhere” but that’s not a putdown. It’s an apt description of what Demy was trying to create here – a drifting, dreamy mood piece.   Continue reading

Golden Salamander: Treasure and Death in Tunisia

Golden Salamander posterThough relatively unknown today, Golden Salamander (1950), Ronald Neame’s second directorial effort, is one of those unexpected but welcome cinema excursions that actually delivers on its exotic title. On the surface, it appears to be no more than pure pulp, a B-movie thriller, but the casting, direction, music score and atmospheric setting elevate it to A-picture status. It might not be great art but it’s total escapism, executed with flair.      Continue reading