Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Anima Persa

The Finnish Film Archive showed last night a very interesting Italian film that's not very well known: Dino Risi's Anima Persa (1977) that seems like it's not been shown in the English-speaking countries (there's a title for it in the IMDB, but with the caption "undefined", whatever that means). The film falls somewhere between an artsy film and a giallo film with some shock moments, but it's no Mario Bava or Dario Argento. It's no Fellini, either. Dino Risi was a skillful comedy director from the late fourties on and this shows with many funny and humorous moments, even though the pervasive feel in the film is the feel of the thread, the fear and the absurd. The dirty town of Venice is one of the main players in the movie, as is the decayed Renaissance palace these people live in. Vittorio Gassman, the former leading man of the Italian romantic comedies, is simply marvellous as the engineer who keeps his wife - the beautiful Catherine Deneuve - in tight leash. Highly recommended.

Two other films seen recently, from the small screen:

Antoine Fuqua: Training Day: a very interesting, but at times highly implausible take on what cops do when no one sees them. Seems to be the peak of Fuqua's career, though.

Ron Shelton: Dark Blue: an interesting take on the same theme, with a historic view, as can be expected from James Ellroy whose screen story this is based on. (Did Ellroy write a non-fiction piece on Rodney King or was he planning a novel on the subject? Then he must've sold the treatment to the producers.) Suffers greatly from Shelton's slack direction and Terence Blanchard's cliché-ridden film noir soundtrack with howling saxophones.

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog here.


Todd Mason said...

Hmm...definitely sounds like it could be interesting, ANIMA PERSA. Venice lends itself to suspense films...saw two together at the National Gallery of Art in DC years back, the horror film DON'T LOOK NOW and the suspense film THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS...the recent A FEW DAYS IN SEPTEMBER makes good use of it, too.

Yes, TRAINING DAY can easily be said to strain credulity.

Juri said...

Actually THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS and ANIMA PERSA share the same Finnish title (Muukalaisia Venetsiassa). I didn't like Schrader's film, but Roeg is quite good. There's something similar about Roeg's film and ANIMA PERSA, though the latter is better, I think.

Juri said...

Dario Argento did a film set in Venice, too. Maybe he's done them by the dozen, for all I know.

Todd Mason said...

Asia Argento directed at least one on her own, too.

Juri said...

And Orson Welles planned - and even shot some scenes - a film version of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.