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2014年9月19日 星期五

Che strano chiamarsi Federico (How Strange to be named Federico) 2013 (費里尼外傳)

Federico Fellini is a poet of the cinema, the way Chopin is a poet of the piano. He loves films. He lives for the silver screen. When Peter Bondanella asked him to write a foreword for his book "The Cinema of Federico Fellini", Fellini wrote that in Italy, "the cinema has been reduced to a mere pretext for filling two hours of entertainment on commercial television with an unrecognizable pap of cinematic images chopped up by commercial spots" . Is it any different in Hong Kong? To him, a book on him is a "heroic enterprise not unlike that of someone who pieces together a book by picking up off the streets pages that have been torn out and scattered about." Well, someone else has done that too, from the fragments of some of his films but it's not just that. He added a voice, a personal involvement and an affection for that genius of the Italian, no, world cinema. He is a fellow director 82--year-old Ettore Scola, the director of Che Strano Chiamarsi Federico, (How Strange to be named Federico) (費里尼外傳) (2013), his first in 6 years.

For Fellini, the cinema is images, colors, the madness and sometimes, the sadness of life, mixed in with an ample complement of all other kinds of emotions, feelings, moods spanning the full spectrum of the colors of a rainbow and more. In Fellini's films, one feels his passion for life, no matter what happens. One sees life literally pouring out over the edges of screen, like  some molten lava, hot, steaming, almost smoldering as if it were unable to contain itself within that lit rectangle in the dark.  And Ettore manages to convey that feeling, that sense of life which one encounters whenever one sees any of Fellini's films. And more than that, he somehow manages also to convey to us that insatiable curiosity which Fellini harbors for all that is happening to his fellow men, their little idiosyncrasies, their occasional binges of madness, their excitements, their joys, their "fun" and foibles and above all, that strangeness and that mystery which we call life. Maybe to Fellini, life is literally a circus and fun park, with joy rides up and down merry-go-rounds, carousels, clowns, beautiful and some not so beautiful young and not so young female shapes, circus master, acrobats, wild beasts, magicians and in which all try their best to let us have a bit of relief from an otherwise monotonous, boring, dreary life in just black and white.

In this highly personalized and affectionate "biography/documentary", his hommage to his friend and fellow director Fellini, Ettore shows us how Fellini started life at 19 as a cartoon artist from Rimini coming to Rome for an interview at the office of  Marc Aurelio in 1939 (a satirical bi-weekly in Rome under Fascist Italy) and was instantly taken on, specializing in writing jokes, and working together with a bunch of loony cartoon artists who got to decide who shall have the centre page cartoon of the week, going on to make films, how he created his cinematic magic, his lifelong friendship with Mastroianni with snippets from some of Fellini's most famous films including those classic scenes in "Fellini's Roma", the adolescent having their first taste of sex with a fat lady in a caravan, leather jacketed motor cyclists circling Rome at night, how he would meet his fellow ghost writers for the cartoon series, cabaret gags and even film dialogue, their petty jealousies, rivalries and comraderie how they cruise and comb the streets of  Rome of the 1950's and 1960s, observing and sometimes picking up hookers, strangers, artists and talking to them, how Fellini and Scola try coolly to suck the life out of such chance encounters so that he could get the smell and the feel of life and from which they draw inspiration for some of their films. Scola, always regarded as second to Fellini in Italian cinema, shows how he used Mastroianni, whom Fellini refused to use, in his own film Casanova as a subtle demonstration of brotherly rivalry. There's no lack of humor too when Mastroianni's mother intruded into one of the many beachside chats which Fellini and Scola engaged in from time to time and demanded Scola for an answer to just one "motherly" question, presumably having Scola's "La Nuit de Varennes" in mind,  “Why do you always make my son so ugly, while Fellini makes him so beautiful?” No answer was given. She then marched away, the way she came.The film ends by the laying of flowers at the funeral of Fellini, while mourners file past in silence. Those wreaths were wreaths to a bygone age, to a cinematic giant and for me, a poet of the cinema because he captures so well his ceaseless passion for life. .

The scripts are written jointly by Ettore, Paola and Silvia Ettore and young Fellini was played by Tommaso Lazotti, the mature Fellini by Maurisio De Santis, the young Scola by Giacomo Lazotti, the mature Scola by Giulio Forges Davanzati , Marcello Mastroianni by Ernesto and Ruggero Maccari (one of the inseparable trio at Marc Aurelio and after) by Ernesto, The Prostitute on her last night of professional life by Vittorio Marsiglia. The music by Andrea Guerra and the cinematography both capture excellently the kind of atmosphere and feel of Fellini's films. The excerpts from Fellini's masterpieces from Studio 5 where Fellini made all his films, were superbly edited. The narrative mode is episodic rather than linear, a kind of carousel upon the life of Fellini, a wonderful film by a director on the life of another friend, fellow director and icon in the golden age of post-war Italian cinema.