CIAO MARCELLO! A TRIBUTE TO MARCELLO MASTROIANNI At Cinematheque Ontario (317 Dundas West) from June 13 to August 1. See Indie & Rep Film. 416-?968-?FILM. Rating: NNNNN
it’s impossible to imagine post-war Italian cinema without Marcello Mastroianni, and Cinematheque’s summer-long retrospective is a good place to check out any films you may have missed. Think of this as Essential Mastroianni.
The series kicks off with his most indelible role, the jaded, cynical gossip columnist Marcello in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (Friday, June 13, 7 pm).
Everyone remembers Anita Ekberg’s nocturnal splash in the Tivoli Fountain or Anouk Aimée in those fabulous shades, but it’s Mastroianni’s constantly hung-over anti-hero who is the troubled conscience of the film. Will he ever become a serious artist, or will he squander his life in decadence?
Mastroianni’s conflicted Guido in Fellini’s 8½ (July 2, 7 pm) is a variation on that theme, but this time his character is more obviously successful (aging makeup helps), more in control as the star director, sought after by starlets, juggling his wife and his mistress and trying to finish his latest film.
Mastroianni once said that Fellini hired him because of his ordinary face. He’s got a point. His features are pleasant but not intimidatingly perfect, and you can easily project your own thoughts and feelings onto his passive mug, surrounded as it is by colourful types.
That’s certainly the case in Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte (July 9, 7 pm). Here, the actor plays Giovanni, yet another artist figure who’s tempted by both a sexy younger woman (Monica Vitti) and a wealthy industrialist’s job offer, all while trying to keep his marriage to Jeanne Moreau intact.
The actors move around Antonioni’s gorgeous Milan sets like pieces on an artfully constructed chessboard. Mastroianni delivers some of his best work here, especially in his final moments with Moreau where he nearly breaks down.
Mastroianni could smoulder with the best of them. His first major role was in Luchino Visconti’s White Nights (August 1, 7 pm), playing the passionate young man smitten with a woman (Maria Schell) who’s obsessed by a figure in her past. It’s basic soap material heightened by Visconti’s eerily artificial set and the committed performances by the leads.
He could also do comedy. My favourite Mastroianni is his Oscar-?nominated turn as Divorce – Italian Style’s (Saturday, June 14, 7 pm; July 4, 8:45 pm) jaded baron, who orchestrates an elaborate plot so his horny, lonely wife (Daniela Rocca) will cheat on him and he can murder her.
Mastroianni captures it all with winning physicality: love, hate and anxiety, which manifests itself in one of the most hilarious facial twitches ever caught on film.