Dir: Marco Bellocchio (China is Near)
Itailan pychological horror movie just released on Criterion. A sequestered provincial family is all screwed up, full of hate and malice and incest. It's all too much for Alessandro, who turns to killing just for the thrill, to break-up the oppression of his surroundings.
What does one do when all the smart people are on one side of the critical debate and you find yourself alone? I assumed I would love the film. I eagerly anticipated a breakthrough for Italian cinema and the horror genre writ large. I even watched Bertolucci's fawning (and self aggrandizing) remembrance of the film afterwards to try and learn what made the movie great.
But I was bored. I watched the film in half hour chunks because my mind kept wandering to things like doing the dishes. Was I in a bad mood? Did I pick the wrong film to watch sober? Did I pick the wrong week to quit sniffing glue?
I think what others are going for here is that Fists in the Pocket explores the depravity with which the traditional subjects of a horror film live their everyday lives, how their debilitations function when they aren't wearing a leather smock covered in blood. It brings to us the everydayness of the conditions that might lead to the actions of a psychopath.
But it just never connected with me. I need to care about the characters or their victims, even if I am rooting for their ultimate failure. A bad horror movie substitutes character development for gore; but this movie forgoes both! Part of the problem may be the loose editing and stylized storytelling that featured minimal dialogue and lots of gaps in the narrative. The episodic nature of the writing left me wondering why I was supposed to care about anything this family did. Here, backstory or some descent into this condition would have been welcome.
I am more than willing to admit that I must be wrong. Too many smart people like this movie for me to be the only voice of reason. I often call out others for refusing to admit the shortcomings in their own taste, that proudly proclaiming "I hate classical music" or "I was bored with Lawrence of Arabia" is not a spirited stance against pretention but is instead flaunting ignorance. Not that such beliefs make you a bad person; it just means your have a blindspot. I try to be relfexive in my own prejudices and points of undercultivation.
It must have been the fact that I was sober. Six months from now, me and bottle of Maker's have a date with Fists in the Pocket.