Friday, December 12, 2008
The cineaste that time forgot: Marco Ferreri
This week on the show I’m happy to reach back and air segments from an interview I did back in 1996 with Italian filmmaker Marco Ferreri. The twist to this episode is that it’s not a rerun: that interview was licensed for use in the new Marco Ferreri Collection, released by Koch Lorber. Thus I'm showing the interview, now with English subtitles, rather than its former on-site translation (which was good, but way too polite). The Ferreri box in which the interview appears includes eight movies, five of which have never been on DVD before, and two of which had never reached these shores, even through the mail-order VHS channels I’ve been monitoring for so long.
On the episode I run through the themes common to Ferreri’s cinema: allegories about the ends or beginnings of civilizations; absurdist, dark humor; parables about the birth of feminism in the Seventies; and the inevitable sight of major French and Italian stars in embarrassing and bizarre situations. I am devoted to Ferreri’s work, and have had to scramble around to find copies of his films on VHS over the years. As for DVD, there were three Image releases of titles that appear in this box, but nothing else has seen release until this Koch box. To celebrate this, I thought I’d do a survey-post showing the little of Ferreri that has cropped up on YouTube. I plan on uploading scenes from my interview, but for the instant, these clips are your best immediate fix for Marco-mania.
The rare Italian video documentary Marco Ferrreri: The Director Who Came From the Future, included in the box, is excerpted here with English subs. It is the best (and I believe only) introduction to Ferreri on video.
Here is an extremely groovy trailer for Dillinger is Dead, which has been restored and is rumored to be a candidate for a Criterion release in the near future:
This appears to be a handmade trailer for La Cagna, aka Liza, which finds Marcello Mastroianni on an island with Catherine Deneuve and his dog. In the film’s most memorable series of scenes, Catherine kills the dog, and takes its place (wearing a collar, heeling, fetching sticks). Only Ferreri got major European stars to tackle this sort of weirdness:
Ferreri’s only arthouse hit in America was La Grande Bouffe(1973), the tale of four jaded middle-aged men deciding to eat and fuck themselves to death. Here’s a suitably odd moment from the beginning of the proceeedings:
A scene from the same film, that I didn’t have time to include in this week’s episode. The distinguished Michel Piccoli suffers death by farting. The way this clip is cut on YT you miss the opening, where he plays the piano while expelling gas at a good clip:
There are no subtitles for this clip from the amazing Don’t Touch the White Woman(1974), Ferreri’s tripped-out Seventies Western satire, but you won’t need them to understand Marcello as a ridiculous Custer and Michel Piccoli as a puffed-up Buffalo Bill (speaking French with a pronounced American accent):
There are a few clips on YouTube that come from the films that are just simply impossible to get in the U.S. In fact there’s one whole film, The Banquet, that is offered (sans English titles) on the site. Here’s a totally comprehensible, unsubbed bit from The Future is Woman showing Hanna Schygulla and the perfect Ornella Muti enjoying themselves at a tacky Italian nightclub (for those who dig Eighties cheese, this is it):
During my film-fan years, the only Ferreri film that got major distribution was Tales of Ordinary Madness, his 1981 Bukowski adaptation that featured the super-cool Ben Gazzara as Bukowski’s fictional alter-ego. Gazzara was the perfect envisionment of the Bukowski hero, with the best-ever voice to recite his poetry:
And how could I resist the urge to end with one of the stranger but more compelling Marco fever-dreams, Bye Bye Monkey (1978). These are clips I uploaded to YT when I began doing this blog some months ago: