Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chat: Senso (The Wanton Countess)

Natalie: Are you busy or chattable?

Tracy: I'm doing some grading, but it's definitely not capturing all my attention! How's your morning? Want to talk Senso?

Natalie: Morning is fine. I'm getting frustrated with my shirt not cooperating under my cardigan but that's the worst of it. But, yeah, I can chat Senso

Tracy: Hah! That is frustrating. So my thoughts on Senso were pretty much contained to "pretty dresses" and "yet another movie where people don't know how to have an affair."

Natalie: I can add in "I like how her pretty dresses match the sets at certain points" like when she's running through the street early on in a greyish beigeish dress the same color as the stone. But, otherwise, it was terribly drawn out and melodramatic. I couldn't finish it. I got to the point where he talks her into paying the doctor--and it was painful to get that far--and I'd pretty much figured out what was going to happen (confirmed on wikipedia).

Tracy: I know. Another note I wrote was "She's getting played!" You've seen/read a lot more Williams than I have. Did you see any of him in this?

Natalie: Oooh, um. Well, Williams examines these sorts of relationships but I feel like he does with a lot more economy and truth. And not so much melodrama. His stuff is more raw than soap-y. Did someone say Williams was connected?

Tracy: He and Paul Bowles contributed to the script. I thought it was just the "English" version, but their names were in the credits, so I guess they were involved in polishing this one as well? And that's true--more raw than soap-y, even though the plot might be similar.

Natalie: Huh. I didn't know that. I see more Bowles if only in the sprawling aspect. I would think with Williams involved it would have been more explosive. I know Williams spent a lot of time in Italy...

Tracy: Yeah, and maybe the political stuff, which I was also underwhelmed by. It's like the entire war just existed to make this affair more of a transgression for the countess, but they forgot to really contextualize why her political allegiance mattered for her country or family or whatever.

Natalie: I'm seeing that Williams and Bowles did dialogue for a 94 minute English version--but if they were credited in the Italian one. Strange. Anyway, yeah, the war was just a backdrop. Kind of like Gallipoli. Every now and then they go, "Oh! We're at war!" and it's an excuse for dude to wear an improbably white ginormous cape while flinging himself on street grates and grass and whatnot.

Tracy: Hah! That cape was a character in and of itself. So yeah. I don't know whether we should feel like his execution was ultimately a good thing--that he deserved it for being a dick or for being Austrian--or if we were supposed to judge the Countess for being stupid and then acting out in revenge. The political plot and the love plot just didn't go together.

Natalie: No, it didn't go together at all. I guess I can be on board with his execution because he did violate his terms of military service what with the bribery but it did not fit with the love story at all.

Tracy: Even the book doesn't seem to really have a reason for liking it. It was apparently a departure for the director, both in style (color) and content (aristocracy rather than working class). They call it a "distinctly high-class melodrama" and give props to Farley Granger for "letting it rip with his self-loathing." Ah. The director usually directs operas. That makes sense.

Natalie: oooooooh. Yeah, it is operatic I suppose and there is the opera at the beginning. Although all I could think during that part is "who takes a bayonet to the opera." Yet another example of how the war wasn't contextualized.
Tracy: Hah! I guess you never know when you might have to skewer someone. As an aside, Farley Granger is a pretty fun name. But yeah, you couldn't finish, I kept falling asleep--do we think it belongs in le book?

Natalie: Ha! Farley Granger is an excellent name. Sounds good for a muppet-furred dog. I wouldn't keep it in le book. You?

Tracy: I don't think so. Let me see if any other films from this director are in there.

Natalie: Good question.

Tracy: Oh, there's a ton: Ossessione, Rocco and his Brothers, and The Leopard!!!! I would definitely boot Senso. We have enough from this dude, and The Leopard, though I also thought it was way too slow, was better.

Natalie: Oh wow! I was thinking maybe if this dude normally does working class that's why this one felt so odd but the Leopard is totally aristocracy and it didn't seem odd. Too long but not melodramatic and thin.

Tracy: Maybe this was the transitional movie? Rocco looks working class from the picture. I guess we'll see if the previous two are better, but I feel safe saying no to Senso.

Natalie: Yeah. Hopefully we don't see for a while. So, boot Senso!

Tracy: Arrividerci.

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