I pugni in tasca [1965]

06Mar12 – 8 – I pugni in tasca [Fists in the Pocket] (Marco Bellocchio: 1965)

I PUGNI IN TASCA (Fists in the Pocket, 1965) is clearly the work of a young man in the 1960s out to épater that smothering old bourgeoisie, and so it was: this was Marco Bellocchio’s first feature. So we’ve got a horror show family complete with rundown country villa in the mountains outside Milan: a blind mother; a presumably dead but in any case absent father; a disturbed and possibly nymphomaniacal sister; middle son Alessandro, known variously as Ale and Sandro, the serio

usly bi-polar and epileptic antihero of the film; an epileptic and mentally challenged baby brother; and a “normal” older brother (think Marilyn in “The Munsters”) who’s the family’s sole breadwinner. Augusto, the older brother, is embarrassed by his family but feels tied to them and finds himself unable or unwilling to marry his fiancée and start a family of his own. Enter Ale, who gets it into his head to bump off the rest of the family, including himself, to set Augusto free.

Some of this material has been done to death by others, and it is admittedly a bit crude and obvious (the movie apparently “earned huffy put-downs from Luis Buñuel and Michelangelo Antonioni, two of the young director’s heroes”), but there’s something still fresh about it that I responded to. Or maybe it’s just the youthful energy despite the now tired material. The final wordless scene played against a recording of “Sempre libera” (I’m pretty sure it’s Renata Tebaldi singing) is memorable and not only because I still have a headache because Bellocchio wouldn’t allow for that damn final resolving chord. Lou Castel as Ale got on my nerves (imagine the devil offspring of Klaus Kinski and Peter Lorre) but is quite effective, Paola Pitagora is wonderful as the neurotic sister, and Marino Masé sure is pretty. 8/10. [3/6/12]

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