Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

The Hawks and the Sparrows. Credit score: Sparkles in Time

Although I’ve lengthy admired the daring and modern work of Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, I need to admit his spiky and generally stunning movies aren’t at all times snug viewing. His 1966 comedian fable Uccellacci e uccellini (The Hawks and the Sparrows, screening at Pacific Movie Archive at 7 p.m on Saturday, Nov. 5 as a part of a Pasolini retrospective that by some means doesn’t embrace 1975’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom) is the exception that proves the rule: it goes down straightforward — and will even make you snicker.

A primary-time viewing of the movie served as my re-introduction to the pleasant Totò, maybe greatest remembered for his function as a safe-cracking knowledgeable in Mario Monicelli’s terrific Massive Deal on Madonna Avenue (1958). Massively well-liked in post-war Italy, Totò (born in Naples in 1898) starred in dozens of comedies, most of which stay fully unknown and unavailable to Anglophone cinephiles.

The Hawks and the Sparrows. Credit score: Sparkles in Time

In The Hawks and the Sparrows he and Pasolini common (and, ahem, teenage love curiosity) Ninetto Davoli play a father and son (additionally named Totò and Ninetto) taking a protracted, seemingly pointless cross-country stroll. They’re joined alongside the best way by a speaking crow whose knowledge our innocents overseas instantly take at face worth; they quickly discover themselves thrust right into a “story inside a narrative” about two Twelfth-century monks (additionally performed by Totò and Ninetto) ordered by God to evangelise the Gospel to the titular critters.

There’s rather more to The Hawks and the Sparrows than could be adequately described on this précis, however I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the movie’s uncommon opening credit (sung by Domenico Modugno) and Ennio Morricone’s dynamic rating. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, in case you’re bored with Morricone — in my humble opinion, the best composer of the twentieth century — you’re bored with life.

Although replete with references to Marx, Mao, and Italian Communist Occasion chief Palmiro Togliatti, The Hawks and the Sparrows is as removed from dry political polemic because it’s doable to get. There are parts of Beckett, Ionescu, and even Richard Lester’s 1959 brief The Working Leaping & Standing Nonetheless Movie right here. The top result’s, on the danger of sounding hyperbolic, a cinematic masterpiece.

City Destroyer. Credit score: Roxie Theater

Coming to San Francisco’s Roxie Theater on Friday, Nov. 4, City Destroyer is the most recent documentary from native filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman. The movie examines the current controversies surrounding the New Deal-era murals adorning the partitions of Babylon-by-the-Bay’s Washington Excessive College.

Painted by Victor Arnautoff, a Russian emigre and pupil of Diego Rivera, the murals depict the life story of the varsity’s namesake, who — along with serving to discovered the USA and by no means mendacity — additionally dabbled in slavery and genocide. Not for the primary time (the movie touches on a Seventies effort to come back to phrases with the murals), Arnautoff’s work struck a nerve with college students and oldsters upset by his depiction of American historical past.

San Francisco’s college board famously voted to color over the murals in 2019. Fortunately, that didn’t occur — the murals have been coated for a time, however by no means destroyed — and a few board members have been recalled a yr later (admittedly as a lot for the notorious colleges renaming undertaking as for this choice). The problem simmers on, although, serving as a reminder of artwork’s energy to subvert, educate and disgust all on the similar time.

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