Celluloid Liberation Front

Books | Molto Bene: The Life and Deeds of a Selfless Egomaniac

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 22, 2020

Carmelo Bene always had very little to do with the provincial history of Italian cinema and its self-congratulatory antics. “Culturally I’m not Italian, but Arab,” he told Jean Narboni in an interview for Cahiers du cinéma in 1968, reclaiming his geo-historical lineage while simultaneously denying the existence of a national culture. Born in the “ethnic mayhem” of Otranto—“a most religious bordello, a centre of culture and tolerance to bring together Islamic, Jewish, Turkish, and Catholic confluences”—Bene dedicated his life to the manic deconstruction of any form of identity, including his own.

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The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio, Italy/France/Brazil/Germany)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 23, 2019

“The most beautiful film is our own history,” confessed Marco Bellocchio to a journalist following the release of The Traitor, after it surpassed Godzilla: King of the Monsters at the Italian box office, proving yet again that the Mafia movieis still a commodity worth investing in.

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The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio, Italy) — Masters

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 5, 2019

By Celluloid Liberation Front Published in Cinema Scope #80 (Fall 2019) “The most beautiful film is our own history,” confessed Marco Bellocchio to a journalist following the release of The Traitor, after it surpassed Godzilla: King of the Monsters at the Italian box office, proving yet again that the Mafia movie is still a commodity…

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Deaths of Cinema | Missives from the End of the World: Jocelyne Saab (1948–2019)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / March 26, 2019

“There is something in borders and frontiers that magnetically draws me to them, while of course the utopia of a world in which these absurd divisions don’t exist is always on my mind,” pondered Jocelyne Saab in one of her last films, Imaginary Postcards (2015).

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Deaths of Cinema | The Cracks of the World: Hu Bo (1988-2017)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 28, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front China’s growing economic clout and rising prominence in world affairs can help illuminate some essential if unflattering traits of the business we call show. Not even a decade ago, any mention of China was usually made in relation to the draconian censorship filmmakers there had to face, often at the expense…

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An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, China) — Discovery

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 5, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front Published in Cinema Scope 76 (Fall 2018)   China’s growing economic clout and rising prominence in world affairs can help illuminate some essential if unflattering traits of the business we call show. Not even a decade ago, any mention of China was usually made in relation to the draconian censorship filmmakers…

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Putin’s Witnesses (Vitaly Mansky, Latvia/Switerland/ Czech Republic) — TIFF Docs

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 2, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front Almost 20 years after having filmed a promotional campaign movie on Putin and his inner circle during Putin’s first run for president, Vitaly Mansky has returned to this material to look back at the early stages of Putin’s rise to power. The intimacy of the footage paradoxically reveals little of the…

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Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy/Switzerland/France/Germany)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / July 2, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front Far removed from any realistic pretence and yet intimately connected to the ineluctability of the present and the obstinacy of the past, Alice Rohrwacher’s latest film unfolds in a state of fantastical rarefaction. No longer bound to the earthly naturalism of her previous two features, Rohrwacher seems to have found in…

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Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson, US)

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 28, 2017

By Celluloid Liberation Front Throughout his artistic militancy, Travis Wilkerson has rooted his praxis in a confrontational understanding of American history and, most crucially, in the reactivation of its repressed radical passages. From the margins of the film industry, Wilkerson has frontally challenged its dominant procedures and manifestations. In his pamphlet-like films, political invectives of…

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Rossellini’s War Trilogy: Neorealism or Historical Revisionism?

By Celluloid Liberation Front / June 23, 2017

By Celluloid Liberation Front Two years before Roberto Rossellini started shooting Rome, Open City on January 18, 1945, the famed Italian director had just completed another war trilogy. Inaugurated with the 1941 navy flick The White Ship, followed a year later by A Pilot Returns, and crowned in 1943 with Man of the Cross, the…

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A Dionysian Vision: Il Cinema Ritrovato XXX

By Celluloid Liberation Front / August 16, 2016

By Celluloid Liberation Front “Whereas the dream is thus the individual human’s play with what is actual, the art of the image-maker (in the broader sense) is play with the dream.”—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dionysian Vision of the World Now in its 30th edition, the second after the physical and artistic departure of the late Peter…

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The Man Who Would Be Cinema: Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016

By Celluloid Liberation Front / June 27, 2016

By Celluloid Liberation Front.  “Black is not a colour, it’s an attitude.” —James Baldwin Heavyweight champion in the fight for racial equality and social justice, poet, rhapsodic loudmouth, adorable smart-ass, magician, wisecracker extraordinaire, Muhammad Ali, né Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., had survived his own death long before dying. No screen, big or small, will ever…

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TIFF 2015 | Youth (Paolo Sorrentino, Italy)—Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 4, 2015

By Celluloid Liberation Front While allegedly accessing the higher echelons of world cinema, thus benefiting from bigger budgets, many recent Italian films resemble fruitless advertising campaigns, advertising nothing but themselves. In the case of Paolo Sorrentino, what might have been initially mistaken for talent has regressed into an airtight container of formulaic empty gestures, self-parodies…

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TIFF 2015 | My Mother (Nanni Moretti, Italy)—Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 3, 2015

By Celluloid Liberation Front If there is any accomplishment to be ascribed to Nanni Moretti’s cinema at all, it would be that it celebrated the irony-less cult of the self long before the word “millennials” entered the vocabulary of marketing gurus. Though already suffering from an indigestible dose of self-obsession, Moretti’s early films were about…

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TIFF 2015 | The Other Side (Roberto Minervini, Italy/France)—Wavelengths

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 1, 2015

By Celluloid Liberation Front Away from the gangrenous nepotism and mafia-like favouritism that govern the film industry in Italy, Roberto Minervini has found a way to transcend his accidental birthplace and its current idea of cinema. The Other Side is set in Louisiana, among the communities of white lumpenproletariat very much removed from the redeeming…

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Italians Abroad: Youth, Mia Madre, Tale of Tales, The Other Side

By Celluloid Liberation Front / June 23, 2015

By Celluloid Liberation Front “To support Italian cinema is a crime against humanity.”—Franco Maresco Even more provincial and mediocre than the three Italian films in the Cannes Competition was the reaction of the mainstream media in Italy when they woke up to what they perceived and reported to be an unforgivable affront. None of their…

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TIFF 2014 | A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, Sweden/Norway/France/Germany) — Masters

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 9, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is Roy Andersson’s third installment in his trilogy of films “about being a human being.” Regrettably, said trilogy has been on a downward trajectory from the original brilliance of Songs from the Second Floor through the less impressive but still enjoyable You,…

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TIFF 2014 | Pasolini (Abel Ferrara, France/Italy/Belgium) — Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 7, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front Willem Dafoe takes on Pasolini’s last three days on earth in a difficult, almost impossible film that Abel Ferrara directs with respectful audacity. Seventy-two hours in the life of the heretical Catholic and erotic Marxist poet, columnist, theorist, filmmaker, and tumultuous and gentle earthling. We get to see enacted glimpses of…

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TIFF 2014 | The Sound and the Fury (James Franco, US) — Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 7, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front Oh boy! Where to even start? Let’s try from the beginning: a Shakespeare quote opens the film, which tells us that James Franco reads the preeminent Elizabethan playwright or Wikiquotes, which as far as the film is concerned doesn’t make that big of a difference. The guy has actually had the…

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TIFF 2014 | Red Amnesia (Wang Xiaoshuai, China) — Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 7, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front Deng, an aging but relatively sprightly old woman, spends her retirement taking care of her house and her grown-up children, who nonetheless appear to be better off when she is not around (one is busy building a successful heterosexual family, the other slacking about in front of the computer). Only the…

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TIFF 2014 | Return to Ithaca (Laurent Cantet, France) — Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 7, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front A nausea-inducing film of simplistic primitivism, Return to Ithaca is Laurent Cantet’s contribution to the debunking of the myth of Caribbean socialism (as if there were any illusions left). We are in the sado-Marxist island of Cuba, where any human right is cruelly crushed bar those of being able to have…

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TIFF 2014 | Black Souls (Francesco Munzi, Italy) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 6, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front Italian films on the mob seem to do pretty well at the box office, be they about the cultural mafia that hangs out on the elegant rooftops of Rome sipping cocktails and talking crap, or the more venial kind that sees poor people exchanging fire in the suburbs of Naples. Black…

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TIFF 2014 | 99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani, US) — Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 3, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) lives with his mother and son in a home he thinks belongs to them, until one day one the ominously named Mike Carver (Michael Shannon), accompanied by a couple of zealous policemen, informs him and his family that it actually belongs to the banks. Kindly invited to…

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TIFF 2014 | Leopardi (Mario Martone, Italy) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 3, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front After dealing with the unification of Italy in We Believed, Mario Martone returns with another film of “unassuming” proportions: Leopardi, a biopic of the eponymous poet, one of the most revered and studied in the boot-shaped peninsula lately known more for its scantily dressed TV starlets than its literary output. Oppressed…

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TIFF 2014 | Hungry Hearts (Saverio Costanzo, Italy) — Special Presentations

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 2, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rochwacher) get stuck in a toilet together and fall in love, they marry and have a kid, but they won’t live happily ever after. Quite the contrary: once the newborn comes into their young and hopeful lives things get quite complicated, to say the very…

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TIFF 2014 | The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Indonesia/Norway/Finland/UK) — TIFF Docs

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 2, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front In Joshua Oppenheimer’s sequel to his Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing, the focus shifts from the colourful perpetrators of the crimes that the Indonesian junta committed in the mid-’60s so that Shell, BP, Goodyear and other companies could access the country’s natural resources to the killers’ victims. We follow an optometrist…

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TIFF 2014 | Heaven Knows What (Josh and Benny Safdie, USA/France) — Wavelengths

By Celluloid Liberation Front / August 31, 2014

By Celluloid Liberation Front There are a limited amount of situations one can stage when endeavouring to show the daily routine of street junkies in a movie, and Heaven Knows What suffers from such limitation in its sincere but problematic attempt to chronicle the cyclical existence of a group of young addicts. Mood swings are…

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Hito Steyerl: Artless Dissidence

By Celluloid Liberation Front / June 20, 2014

  By Celluloid Liberation Front The society whose modernization has reached the stage of integrated spectacle is characterized by the combined effect of five principal factors: incessant technological renewal, integration of state and economy, generalized secrecy, unanswerable lies and an eternal present.—Guy Debord “Even though political art manages to represent so-called local situations from all…

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Home Sweet Homeless: The Harmonious Dissonance of Otar Iosseliani

By Celluloid Liberation Front / August 9, 2013

  By Celluloid Liberation Front “Censorship in the west is like everywhere else, it forces my colleagues to follow certain rules—the first rule being the box office.”—Otar Iosseliani Almost unnoticed, bucolically roaming the canting bustle that is the film industry, where smiles range from vile to servile and vainglory is king, the cinema of Otar…

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Lustfully Sifting Through the Archives of Cinema: Il Cinema Ritrovato XXVII

By Celluloid Liberation Front / July 11, 2013

By Celluloid Liberation Front “Variety and multiplicity are the two most powerful vehicles of lust.”—Marquis De Sade Were we to emulate the Biblical terminology Il Cinema Ritrovato employs to describe one of its sections and apply it to the festival experience as a whole, rather than a Paradise the Bologna festival is more like a…

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Festivals | Rome, Around the World

By Celluloid Liberation Front / December 8, 2012

By Celluloid Liberation Front Given the disastrous and shapeless state that has characterized the Rome Film Festival since its unfortunate inception, it was not hard for Marco Mueller and his team to come up this year with something less vapid than what preceded. At the same time it was unthinkable that the festival’s identity and…

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