"Raymond, you're going to die."
A piece of film criticism I think about a lot is the end of Ebert's La Dolce Vita review, the Great Movies version from 1997. Ebert wasn't the greatest writer in the world, but he was often able to concisely explain concepts I was already playing around with. It's a sizable chunk, but I'll paste it here just in case you've never read it:
“Movies do not change, but their viewers do. When I saw La Dolce Vita in 1960, I was an adolescent for whom 'the sweet life' represented everything I dreamed of: sin, exotic European glamour, the weary romance of the cynical newspaperman. When I saw it again, around 1970, I was living in a version of Marcello's world; Chicago's North Avenue was not the Via Veneto, but at 3 a.m. the denizens were just as colorful, and I was about Marcello's age.
When I saw the movie around 1980, Marcello was the same age, but I was 10 years older, had stopped drinking, and saw him not as a role model but as a victim, condemned to an endless search for happiness that could never be found, not that way. By 1991, when I analyzed the film a frame at a time at the University of Colorado, Marcello seemed younger still, and while I had once admired and then criticized him, now I pitied and loved him. And when I saw the movie right after Mastroianni died, I thought that Fellini and Marcello had taken a moment of discovery and made it immortal. There may be no such thing as the sweet life. But it is necessary to find that out for yourself.”
I think both last night's film, A Clockwork Orange, and Fight Club try to harness this power held by La Dolce Vita as described by Ebert. Or, at least, many people go through similar cycles with the three. But the problem is what is left when all the distracting excesses are set aside. With Clockwork, it seems to work beyond those elements by commenting on them, and while Fight Club has internal criticism, probably the most overt/direct of the three, it relies on these excesses to maintain any interest in the film. In conclusion, I highly recommend La Dolce Vita to everyone who hasn't seen it.
Note: This feels soooo much different than Fincher's other films, and it must be because of the writing, particularly the narration. The pacing seems off (especially in comparison to a slower boil like Seven).
Note 2: Wow, this thing has been imitated a lot. Probably the most copied film with everything under a $50 million budget; I'd say even more than Pulp Fiction at this point.