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Worth A Look: 9.09%
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Pretty Crappy: 2.27%
Sucks: 9.09%

1 review, 38 user ratings

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8 1/2
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by Charles Tatum

"Being Federico Fellini"
5 stars

Federico Fellini makes one of the most personal films a director could ever make, giving his audience a look at what made a master tick.

The film is easy to sum up in a few lines, but a plot summary does not do the visuals credit. Guido (Marcello Mastroianni) is a film maker relaxing at a spa and trying to find the inspiration to get going on his next picture. He has a giant spaceship set built, has been filming screen tests, but his heart is not in it.

People from his life, especially the women, begin pressuring him to begin the film. His married mistress Carla (Sandra Milo) arrives to see him, but this does not trigger anything. He invites his bitter wife Luisa (Anouk Aimee) down, and she brings her mystical friend Rossella (Rossella Falk). Rossella senses things may not be going well for Guido, who slips in and out of dreams and fantasies about the people in his life. Eventually, the actress Claudia (the most beautiful woman at this time- Claudia Cardinale) arrives and for a second Guido perks up before committing his final directorial flourish.

This is not a perfect film. There are scenes here that move at a snail's pace and may have you checking your watch. The film is done in Italian, so subtitles are in order. However, everyone should watch this film just to see Fellini at work.

Different characters in the film comment on Guido's script as if they were commenting on the very film you are watching as well. It is full of imagery, but not about anything. Fellini goes into Guido's head and gives us some breath taking fantasy and dream sequences. One childhood memory has the local village character Saraghina (Eddra Gale) dancing a rhumba on a beach. The most famous fantasy sequence has all of Guido's women gathered into a harem and catering to his every need before they decide to revolt and he must quell the riot with a bullwhip.

There are some laugh out loud scenes, but Guido's melancholia is so real you may feel guilty for smiling. Fellini addresses Catholic guilt, as well. This is not a purely Italian issue, in this day and age of 9/11 memorial services and "Girls Gone Wild."

The stark black and white totally works, as Fellini comes up with lovely shadowed shots and interesting camera placement. The film's music is made up mostly of standards, interesting when you remember that not many of us have an original motion picture soundtrack playing in our head when something notable happens in our lives (unless you are a musician). The acting is above par, the performers are never pushed away by the camerawork. Mastroianni is just perfect as Guido. Anouk Aimee is more than a typical wronged wife. Sandra Milo is a very busty, and very sexy, mistress who wants Guido to see her as more than a mistress but not too much more. And of course, the glorious Claudia Cardinale, who has so few scenes but is impossible not to watch. When she fails to enliven Guido, you know things may not end well. There is a hilarious conclusion at a press conferences (Guido is literally dragged to it) that is so real, it could have been shot yesterday. The reporters question Guido about everything from the film to nuclear weapons, I half expected to see an "Access Hollywood" mic or Byron Allen in the background.

"8 1/2" is a buffet for the eyes, you can see where Kubrick gathered much of his inspiration. Sometimes slow, the film is infinitely rewarding, a product of great acting, genius directing, and good timing.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1916&reviewer=325
originally posted: 07/19/03 17:14:12
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/11/15 stanley welles an inventive and fascinating seminal work of cinema 5 stars
5/20/12 Hermes Pan After all my work...musicals have come to this and Mamma Mia? 2 stars
6/08/11 Monsieur Hulot Drama, satyr, surrealism, neorealism, poetry. Best Fellini's movie. 5 stars
2/20/11 moose rapper My daily life is a lot like this 5 stars
2/04/11 Josie Cotton is a goddess A true classic 5 stars
1/19/09 Arthouse Monkey A true classic by Fellini! A must see for film fans! 5 stars
10/02/08 SB Incredible film - love the glasses! 5 stars
1/25/08 proper amateur film critic outstanding cinema masterpiece 5 stars
11/15/04 guido murphy better than a five star 5 stars
6/04/04 MyGreenBed Despite being an arthouse lover, I've never been into Fellini. I prefer "Juliet...Spirits". 4 stars
5/22/04 John serious and funny - jst compelling stuff by Mr Fellini 5 stars
4/17/04 jags brilliant , its very funny n extremely sad ... 5 stars
3/17/04 jova bayutas excellent 5 stars
1/19/04 TheDude Havn't seen it. Sounds OK. Maybe I'll check it out sometime. 5 stars
12/04/03 Andrew Callaway Best movie... EVER! 5 stars
7/20/03 Charles Tatum Slow, but worth it 5 stars
5/19/03 Ryan F. Very self-indulgent, but i love Woody Allen so hey i can take it! 4 stars
4/09/03 Goofy Maxwell Brilliant study of a playa's player. The gist? I wish these ho's would just get up off me! 5 stars
7/05/02 rnb Great movie. 5 stars
12/05/01 Bob Alexander A masterpiece. 5 stars
6/12/01 il siciliano 8 and half films, Francis. It was hi eigthth and a half film (one was co-directed) 5 stars
4/22/01 laura Just because its fellini doesn't mean its not 8 1/2 tons of s**t 1 stars
4/17/01 Fred Bloggs self-indulgent crap! 1 stars
4/03/01 Scott Holman The Greatest!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/14/01 Francis Pigeon eight and a half what??? 1 stars
11/14/00 salvo toscano Fellini, il genio 5 stars
9/24/00 Amy This is a cinematic masterpiece. 5 stars
5/17/00 Jason Sibelius I just love Fellini 5 stars
1/17/00 William Berger A masterpiece. The second greatest film ever made, also my favorite. Pure brilliance. 5 stars
12/20/99 Tyfahra Singleton Brilliant. 5 stars
11/24/99 Arron Fellows Opening sequence is great but I couldn't give a flying toss about the main bloke. 4 stars
10/25/99 Justin Amazing, insightful filmmaking... 5 stars
10/04/99 Chuck Schick good flick 5 stars
5/09/99 carl these guys don't know how to make a film. 1 stars
4/22/99 Anne Frank This film is above brilliant, a masterpiece 5 stars
4/10/99 Michael Grimm not bad 4 stars
4/06/99 Cool Thing Fellini in it's purest form. 5 stars
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  25-Jun-1963 (NR)
  DVD: 04-Dec-2001

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  02-Feb-1964 (M)

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