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Old 07-23-2022, 11:52 AM
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43.Marx Can Wait (Marco Bellocchio); grade: A+

Leave it to Marco Bellocchio to use the autobiographical documentary genre to advance the language of cinema. At first, Bellocchio utilizes various familiar documentary tropes to explore his own complicated relationship to the very personal subject: testimonials (witnesses and "experts" recount the unexpected suicide of Marco's twin Camillo in 1968), family ritual (a birthday meal with the families of the Bellocchio siblings), found footage and family archives, and clips from Bellocchio's own filmography. Aesthetic Spoilers: Bellocchio then astonishes with devastating formal gambits that achieve spiritual revelations. He expands the Rappaport-esque Kuleshov effect by splicing in baby photos of he and his siblings to create the impression that they are responding to a sequence from one of his films that dramatizes his own family's playtime (recalling a similar use of the technique to witness the rise of fascism in Italy and to reflect the moral investigation of his own daughter's gaze). In slow-motion, he completes the individual portraiture of his surviving siblings--whose insights into and conflicting memories about Camillo and his death constitutes the film's narrative--as a thorough examination of family dynamics--one sibling turns another's frown into a smile. After that, Bellocchio reminds of his powerful compositional sense and exquisite lighting with a deep-focus shot of Marco walking on a bridge with the fog and a city behind him as if left alone with the mystery of his brother, only for Bellocchio to tickle spectator imagination and express his own deepest longing with the image of a jogger running past with a logo on his sweat jacket that explodes in the mind with unexpected associations (Camillo was a gym trainer). The moment fulfills Bellocchio's exploration of a gym space earlier int he film as he ponders his brother's occupational disappointment. Finally, Bellocchio shows us something I can't remember ever seeing before that challenges preconceptions about personal ambition and artistic pursuit (I won't spoil it). It rivals the visionary expression of radical faith that concluded Bellocchio's career-revitalizing My Mother's Smile (2005)--which kicked off the most awesome run of films in the 21st Century. No wonder a Catholic priest read that particular film as a penitent's confession. Both films climax with the post-postmodern spectacle of divine absolution. Now, Marx Can Wait constitutes Bellocchio's act of contrition.
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