Film Reviews – Jojo Rabbit, La Dolce Vita (1960) re-screened
Admittedly, a film featuring a little boy in the Hitler Youth, guided by Adolf himself as an imaginary friend, appears at first glance to be an acquired taste… to say the least. However, one of the many marvellous things about Taika Waititi’s latest offering is that it’s accessible to any age group and demographic despite its material. The humour is never crude enough to only be enjoyed by the older viewers and the subject matter is displayed informatively and with clarity.
The best way of undermining any evil ideology is to make it look ridiculous. Jojo Rabbit undermines Nazism and prejudice in general with a combination of the truth and farcical comedy (which is often difficult to differentiate between). The blind fanaticism displayed by many of the characters through the last days of the war may seem ridiculous, especially when it’s in the form of Rebel Wilson mowing down the enemy with an MG42, but this is hardly far from the truth. Images of old men and women fighting against the Allies looks farcical but again, it’s totally accurate. Ultimately the film is successful in provoking all the major emotions that a real piece of quality, and dare I say classic cinema can do.
The performances by all involved are funny, moving and at times excruciatingly heart-breaking. Although the film has received a great deal of praise from most audience members and critics, there have been certain (albeit very few) reviews that have taken almost violently against it. Although it’s possible to find the film middling at worst, to have such a negative reaction for its content is demonstrably incorrect. There is nothing here that is remotely offensive or problematic. Objectively, the film is unquestionably a solid piece of cinema. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but on this occasion (and if any of those few reviewers somehow end up reading this) any extreme negative reaction is neither warranted nor correct… at all!
4/4 (without question)
La Dolce Vita (1960) re-screened:
To commemorate Frederico Fellini’s masterpiece on its 60th year, the Showroom screened the gorgeous black-and-white epic for one night only. How does it look today?
Having seen the film as part of my European Cinema module at university, I only remembered partial scenes from the film which had little connection in my memory. Hardly surprising since it’s three-hours long and told in seven separate episodic tales, each loosely linked by Marcello Mastroianni’s intellectually suffocated protagonist (or antagonist depending on how you view him).
Marcello is a tabloid journalist, followed around by a pack of insensitive paparazzo clinging to him for the next big scoop, like flies on an elephant’s back. Throughout the seven tales, the most famous of which featuring the striking Anita Ekberg swaying through Rome’s Trevi fountain, Marcello navigates his way from one fatuous, materialistic gathering of minor-celebrities, thrill-seekers and movie stars to the next. All the while he yearns longingly for something far more meaningful, but as the chapters of the story unfold, it becomes increasingly clear Marcello is trapped in the vacuous world of material gain and hedonism which others dream of living in. This tragic inability to step out of that world into a life more substantial is summarised beautifully in the final scene following a house party. A subtly haunting and emotional final moment.
The film’s cinematography is amongst the finest in the medium: 60s Rome and the surrounding countryside are shot with picturesque spender. Any frame could be a suitably framed photograph. Even those unfamiliar with the title will likely be aware of at least one shot from the picture. Nonna’s restaurant on Ecclesall Road even has a hand-painted scene from an early section of the film displayed in the lounge area.
Fellini manages to convey a clear sense of theme and ambiguity at the same time. Enough of the symbolism through visuals and story can be easily understood universally, but Fellini gives the audience enough vague material that an active audience member can read what they will into the text.
In a time where celebrities and materialism are held in higher esteem than they have been, the film has found a second wave of relevance in the 21st century and remains as provoking and beautiful as it did in 1960.