LA NUIT DE VARENNES (Ettore Scola, 1982)

Marcello Mastroianni’s aging, dissolute, debt-ridden, heavily powdered, exhausted, painfully thoughtful Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt, is the principal reason for seeing Ettore Scola’s sadly mediocre La nuit de Varennes, a lavish exercise that takes us to the crossroads of history and what if . . . ? In June 1791 the French King and Queen, Louis […]

TODO MODO (Elio Petri, 1976)

From Leonardo Sciascia’s novel, Elio Petri’s penultimate film, Todo modo, is a deliriously funny satire—although spoilsports may carp, given that the principal target, Aldo Moro, here called M., was murdered for real, by Red Brigades members, two years hence. Moro was president of the Christian Democrats; goodness knows whether Petri’s incendiary film contributed to his […]

CITY OF WOMEN (Federico Fellini, 1980)

Marcello Mastroianni is surprisingly lackluster as Snàporaz in Federico Fellini’s extravagant, tedious La città delle donne, which Fellini once described as his most dreamlike film. The dream is a nightmare, out of which Snàporaz tries to escape once launching it by getting off a train in pursuit of a shapely, sophisticated woman in a fur […]

PEREIRA DECLARES (Roberto Faenza, 1996)

Marcello Mastroianni won his fourth David di Donatello Award as best actor—the Italian film industry’s prize—for his fine performance as Dr. Pereira, editor of the Saturday cultural page of Lisboa, an urban Portuguese “independent newspaper” that avoids political controversy and concerns, in Roberto Faenza’s Sostiene Pereira, from Antonio Tabucchi’s novel. It is 1938, and civil […]