Federico Fellini: The man and his flying imagination

Mind-Altering Cinema

Get ready for the sweet life. For seven nights starting September 10, the Absinthe House is running the greatest hits of Federico Fellini in a brief retrospective, ¡Fellinissimo! There are no majorly remastered versions with "missing half-hours" reinserted being shown, but it is a chance to see the best of the Italian master's work on the big screen. The fest begins appropriately with La Strada (1954), his first film to seize international attention (a grip Fellini would never relinquish). The fanciful and depressing story of circus performers in a hostile yet strangely magical world set Fellini apart from the postwar Italian neorealists, and made stars of his leads, Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina, Fellini's muse and wife. On Saturday comes the director's most famous and most acclaimed piece, La Dolce Vita (1960), which gave new meaning to hedonism, not to mention the fun of frolicking in fountains. The word Fellini-esque, and the genre it came to describe, was firmly secured in our vocabulary after the 1969 release of Satyricon (another romp, this time set 2000 years earlier, through decadent and, of course, hedonistic Rome), which shows on Sunday. The more subdued Roma (1972), screening on Monday, takes us around the Eternal City once again, but on a more personal voyage that includes encounters with the director's real-life friends such as Gore Vidal. Showing on Tuesday, Amarcord (1974) depicts a very different world, that of Fellini's home village, in a very different tone. But not to worry, City of Women (1980) careens surrealistically back to familiar terrain both physically and metaphorically on Wednesday, when Marcello Mastroianni invades a feminist co-op, and linear structure takes a holiday. On Thursday La Strada and Satyricon play again in a double bill.


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