Monday, June 6, 2011

Nights of Cabiria

Federico Fellini, Italy, 1957, bw (8.5*)
Cabiria is a wide-eyed, waifish street walker from a poor section of Rome, wonderfully played by Guilietta Masina. We can pretty much surmise her life from the few scenes shown to us by Fellini.

She only seeks true love, but is instead nearly drowned by her boyfriend, who also steals money from her. A movie star takes her home. An accountant says he saw her on the stage once, fate brought them together again. and so on.. In spite of all this, she still inhabits a sad and lonely world - after all, this is Italian realism. No "pretty woman", this is more like real life - the hookers in Hollywood (Klute, Pretty Woman, L.A. Confidential, with Oscars for those 3 actresses by the way) all seem to be only the high-class escort variety, not real streetwalkers.

This is a simple film, carried totally by the performance of Masina, who snares the audience early and then you're caught. To me, this is the best performance in all of Fellini's films. She seems resigned to her life, yet is also childishly hopeful. She still possesses a vitality that life should have drained by now. The fact that Fellini is her husband makes this perhaps the finest collaboration of spouses in Italian cinema. Thankfully, Fellini didn't fill this story with surrealism, it's more like La Strada than 8 ½.

Oscar winner for foreign language film, and a total of 15 awards, 4 for Giulietta Masina for best actress. No. 223 on the IMDB 250, No. 136 on our compendium of all net polls.

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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