Friday, April 20, 2018

Sergio Leone at the BFI Southbank

From Monday  2  April – Monday  30  April, BFI  Southbank will  celebrate  one  of  the  undisputed  masters  of  cinema, Sergio  Leone.  While  they  may  not  have  been  the  first  spaghetti  westerns,  Leone's  Dollars  trilogy  of A  Fistful  of Dollars (1964), For  a  Few Dollars  More (1965)  and The  Good,  the  Bad  and  the  Ugly (1966)  are  certainly  the  best
known – they  paved  the  way  for  Clint  Eastwood  to  break  Europe  and  for  Leone  to  have  an  enduring  influence  on cinema.  As  part of  the  season, A  Fistful  of  Dollars will  screen  on  extended  run from Friday 13 April,  when  it  is  re-released in selected cinemas by Park Circus.

Schedule for Friday April 20, 2018

The first part of Leone’s Dollars trilogy firmly sets out the winning blueprint for the other two: not least in establishing both the role of Clint Eastwood’s nameless anti-hero and the collaboration with Ennio Morricone, which resulted in some of the most memorable musical themes in movie history. Made on a small budget and based on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, the film focuses on a small town caught up in a fight for control between two warring families. When a stranger arrives he manipulates the feud to his own advantage – resulting in a high body count and some great cinema. – Justin Johnson, Lead Programmer 

FRI 20, APR, 18:30 “A Fistful of Dollars”
FRI 20, APR, 20:30  “A Fistful of Dollars”

A Fistful of Dollars review – punk-rock western as fabulous as ever

The film that made Clint Eastwood a star and legend has a cult, comic-book intensity

The Guardian
By Peter Bradshaw
April 13, 2018

Two fistfuls in fact: two $500 payments – a gigantic amount – which the Man With No Name accepts casually from either side of a bloody feud in the sunbaked Mexican town of San Miguel. He has blown in like a strange force of nature, with a coolly amoral plan to use their mutual hate to his own gunslinging advantage. Striding towards a gunfight, he tells the coffin-maker in advance how many to knock up.

This is the 1964 movie, now on rerelease, which created the revolutionary new genre of the Spaghetti Western, an Italian coproduction shot in Spain and directed with inspirational pulp passion by Sergio Leone –drawing on Kurosawa. And it made a star and a legend of Clint Eastwood. He had been the impetuous young Rowdy Yates on TV’s Rawhide, an open-faced boy with a pleasant singing voice. In this movie, he suddenly, terrifyingly grew up: hat, poncho, grizzly growth of beard, short cigar, eyes perpetually screwed up, as if staring into the sun or suppressing a grimace of incredulous disgust. The Man With No Name and the brutal Dollars movies were a colossal rebuke to the blander Rawhide-style westerns that had come to dominate television.

The other figure that became a legend here was composer Ennio Morricone, for his extraordinary musical score – sometimes with plaintive and slightly nasal trumpets that declaimed his robust Aranjuez-type pastiche, and sometimes the main theme with its whip-poor-will whistling cries, whip-cracks, bells and eerie percussive shouts. The blaringly dubbed dialogue from bit-part players adds to the dreamlike quality of the film.

The Man With No Name (he acquires the name “Joe” from the locals, apparently an all-purpose term for gringos) arrives and instantly sizes up the way the local Rojo brothers are psychotically bullying a small child, who has been taken away from his mother, Marisol (Marianne Koch), because one of the brothers has conceived a fanatically possessive attachment to this woman. This is the hateful bandit Ramón (Gian Maria Volontè), who has a sensual face that often looms sweatily in Leone’s many melodramatic closeups – like a cross between Omar Sharif and Laurence Olivier.

His is the crew which has audaciously kidnapped and killed members of the US army and, disguised in their uniforms, tricked the Mexican army into handing over a huge amount in gold in return for a promised consignment of rifles. The deal ends in slaughter. Ranged against the Rojo gang are the Baxters – anglos who are every bit as violent, and also pompous and pusillanimous. Eastwood’s nameless avenger somehow manages to use one against the other, but shows a human side, of a sort, in his laconic friendship with the bar owner Silvanito (José Calvo) and his gallant rescue of Marisol.

Finally, he will materialise as if from a dust storm with what looks like a supernatural invulnerability to bullets, though keen to dispute Ramón’s belief that a Winchester repeating rifle will always be better than a .45 pistol. And he achieves that all-important ronin asceticism, a need only to keep moving on, although that thousand dollars has in fact made him very rich. A Fistful of Dollars has a cult, comic-book intensity. It is the punk rock of westerns.

Fistful of Dollars Trailer link:


New Book Release

L’orizzonte degli eventi

Authors: Nino Benvenuti, Mauro Grimaldi, Ottavia Fusco Squitieri
Publisher: Cairo Publishing
Language: Italian
Pages: 154
ISBN-10: 8860528798
ISBN-13: 978-8860528797
Released: April 19, 2018

Not only a boxing legend. Nino Benvenuti has entered the law in the history of Italian sport. The memory of everyone is April 17, 1967 when, on a warm spring night, eighteen million Italians, with their ears glued to the radio listening to the chronicle of Paul Valenti, suffering, crying and rejoicing with him for the conquest of the world middleweight title in New York, against Emile Griffith. A great undertaking, which has become the symbol of Italy that was growing around the economic boom, that of the sweet life of Fellini, the one that we all envied. But for Benvenuti champion – of over 200 boxing matches between amateur and professional, Olumpic gold and best boxer in the 1960 Olympics, five Italian titles and two Europeans among amateurs, a European title among professionals, two world titles in two different categories, super welterweight and middleweight - is opposed to the welcome man. A less known aspect that, on the occasion of his eighties, Nino wanted to tell in the first person, without using any parachute. He speaks of his family, an Istrian exile, and of the link with his never forgotten land; of the unhappy marriage with Giuliana with whom he had five children; of the great love for Nadia whom he married in 1998, almost thirty years after he met her; of the relationship he recovered with his daughter Nathalie. A river of words, sensations, feelings. A journey back in time, the photograph of a life lived to the fullest, where the man, beyond the extraordinary successes, turns out to be fragile and vulnerable. Where the comparison with everyday life, once the lights of the ring are turned off, it proves difficult. Where the errors, the disappointments mark him and brings him to rediscover the essence of life in a leprosarium in Madras, India. This, and much more, in this chat with friends, made up of memories, feelings and great spontaneity.

George Hilton, Melissa Longo, Nino Benvenuti
At Libreria Feltrinelli Galleria Sordi book signing April 19, 2018