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Anita Ekberg's Assets

"The episodic narrative follows a jaded journalist, Marcello (Mastroianni), on an odyssey in search of himself amid the decadent, dehumanized beauties of Rome’s glitterati, the sunglasses-at-night crowd. “Whither Jesus?” is a question, perhaps addressed, perhaps dismissed in witty set pieces like Anita Ekberg’s visit to St. Peter’s wearing a tight-fitting curé’s habit, or Marcello staring down a dead fish, with its enormous open eye. Former journalist Fellini was cunning indeed in casting His Handsomeness to portray his alter-ego, but Mastroianni was cannier still: his Marcello is a shabby soul, chasing miracles he knows to be false, and delivering them as truth."

"The most celebrated sequence in the film comes a good three quarters into the picture, where Marcello Mastroianni, portraying a magician from a tv commercial, and Anita Ekberg- who has blown up into a human helium balloon so large that she can only fit into towels, not dresses, and is a sad, unwitting parody of her earlier feminine glory, entertain Fellini and his crew at her estate outside of Rome, and Mastroianni conjures up images of the two of them from their famous Trevi Fountain scene in the great La Dolce Vita (1959). Not even that iconographic footage can save this film, for Ekberg’s and Mastroianni’s reunion and interactions are as fake and mannered as this whole film, and seeing Fellini at his height only underscores how far this film is from that earlier masterpiece."

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  • 8
  • E
  • Aug 22, 2009
  • English

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