REVIEW – RoGoPaG (1963)

FilmJuice have my review of the really rather wonderful 1960s Italian anthology film RoGoPaG. Comprising three short films directed by Roberto Rossellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ugo Gregoretti, RoGoPaG is funny, satirical, gnomic and misogynistic in equal parts but the satire and humour of Passolini and Goretti more than make up for the pretentiousness and misogyny of Godard and Rossellini.

The film begins poorly with a well made but ultimately insipid morality tale by Roberto Rossellini in which an innocent and matronly airhostess (Rosanna Schiaffino) reinvents herself as a ‘whore’ in order to escape the attentions of a horny businessman. Schiaffino is undoubtedly charismatic but her charms simply cannot make up for the grinding misogyny of the film’s themes and plot.

Much like Pigsty and Hawks and Sparrows, Pasolini’s short film “La Ricotta” is a joyous avalanche of images and symbols that communicate mood far more effectively than they communicate ideas. The film revolves around an attempt to make a film about the Crucifixion that ends with one of the bit players dying on the cross as a result of eating too much cheese. Pasolini was evidently sent to prison for making the film and, to be honest, I can see why as the anger and hostility to organised religion are clear even though the exact nature of that anger is much harder to discern. The best short film in the collection is also the product of the least well-known director. Ugo Gregoretti’s “Il Polo Ruspante” is a well-observed and viciously delivered critique of Italian post-War consumerism in which a small family travel across the country while being fleeced by everyone they enter into contact with.

REVIEW – Hawks and Sparrows (1966)

FilmJuice have my review of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s postmodern/religious fable Hawks and Sparrows (a.k.a. Uccellacci e Uccellini).

Much like Pasolini’s Pigsty, Hawks and Sparrows comes across as an intensely weird and inaccessible piece of film making. Filled with portentous images as well as characters and narratives that make very little in the way of sense, both films are products of a time when the fundamental grammar of film was in the process of revision/ The works of Pier Paolo Pasolini feel far stranger than contemporary works such as Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad or Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura because Pasolini has proved to be a far less influential filmmaker than either Resnais or Antonioni. Contemporary audiences can easily decode L’Avventura because L’Avventura contains a number of techniques which, though radical at the time, have since entered the mainstream of film and TV. Conversely, the works of Pasolini contain ideas and techniques that are seldom used in contemporary art house film and so they seem as radically odd now as they did when they first appeared in the 1960s. As I put it in the actual review:

Once you accept that Hawks and Sparrows is little more than a cavalcade of images and references, the film becomes a good deal more enjoyable. Freed from the need to present an argument or tell a coherent story, Pasolini plays with the fabric of our dreams to present a succession of memorable cinematic images including dark-eyed girls with angelic wings, rampaging monks and an aging clown who is suddenly gripped by a lust for life in all its pulchritudinous glory. Hawks and Sparrows is neither particularly entertaining, nor particularly profound. However, despite the film’s decidedly experimental and disposable feel, it remains a timely reminder of quite how brave and innovative art house filmmaking can be when it decides to start rattling cages. At a time when every art house cinema seems filled with beautifully hollow dramas about beautifully hollow upper-class people, Masters of Cinema have allowed us the opportunity to (re) discover the work of a legitimately artistic and legitimately challenging filmmaker.