"Moonlit" by Marcus Correa
"Perfect Day" by Anthony Jones
"Belts, Bags, & Bricks" by Ian Farmer
"Appropriation & Education" by Marcus Correa
There is nothing more stylish than Italian film actor Marcello Mastroianni peering down his perfectly balanced sunglasses in the comedy-drama “8 ½” with his fixed gaze through his slick shades. This is a fact, watch the film, get to that scene, and say, “Oh holy fuckin’ shit he’s cool.” There is nothing more stylish, perhaps the only more stylish character in the history of film is also played by Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita.” He is what we come to associate with high-end Italian style, something rather tailored, fitted, toned, and measured. It is a type of confidence without being loud, it is thought without being too thought out, and perhaps in more simple terms, it is better than all the other shit out there.
"It’s important to note the majority of styles we see in foreign pop culture, are often derived from a marginalized group of people"
"White males have dominated the industry so long, it was not until 1991 when John Singleton became the first black male to be nominated for Best Director for his release of “Boyz n the Hood.”
Italian style, and Italian film in particular, stems from a tradition of farmland, poverty, and of course war. Yes, the rich were always fucking rich, but that is the same with any other European country. Italy has a unique history with fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who was one of the few allies of Nazi Germany. Following World War II, there was a mass wave of depression that spread all across Western Europe, something that can be traced to art movements like the French New Wave and work by artists such as Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, who began to paint films with portraits of everyday life in all of its bleakness. These movements did not touch the U.S. in the film sector, though it is important to note the daily struggles of marginalized people in the U.S. were creating art alike. Cinema across the globe was still controlled by the rich, and the rich in the U.S. meant white males, which made it easy for people like Orson Welles to thrive as an auteur in the U.S. film industry. White males have dominated the industry so long, it was not until 1991 when John Singleton became the first black male to be nominated for Best Director for his release of “Boyz n the Hood.”
During 1945 something different was happening in Italy. Following World War II, a very deep sense of cynicism spread across the country- there was a future to be built from the ruins. Films began to focus on the daily struggles of an Italian man, the war-torn person trying to slowly get ahead of a bombed-out cityscape. The first film related to the movement, which of course would become known as italian neorealism, was directed by Roberto Rossellini titled “Rome, Open City,” a war-drama focused on the city during the tail-end of the war. The film is gritty, intense, and unlike other war films like the John Wayne starring jerkfests of Hollywood, this one was unwavering and unmoving. Where Hollywood films glamorized life removing the boring parts, Rosselini argued film should just be life, boring parts and all.
"In Italy, the film styles come from a place of bare bones. In front of the camera, the suits and sunglasses replaced the threads of the people from a war-torn country."
Italian neorealism, at least the initial movement, only lasted about 28 films before it began to split into different genres and styles. The plummeting economy shifted from the hope for a social utopia to a capitalist purgatory. The rich stayed rich and the poor stayed poor. The country as a whole became more stable but the plight of the everyday worker remained in a state of struggle. Suddenly a new niche group began to rise in Italy, and they were making movies reflecting this period of transition. Federico Fellini, who grew up in a poor beach town before joining the circus, directed “La Strada,” a film portraying a poor duo of a traveling strongman and a clown which ends on the beach. As the directors gained more notoriety through their films, they also happened to make more money, which led to the subject matter changing. Films switched focus from the bleak environment to the bleak introspection of guilty characters who not only survived the war and thereon after, but somehow thrived through one of the most difficult times in history. Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film “8 ½” pictures a successful director as he not only struggles to remember the premise of the movie he is directing, but also his childhood.
It is important to note the majority of styles we see in foreign pop culture, are often derived from a marginalized group of people. In Italy, the film styles come from a place of bare bones. In front of the camera, the suits and sunglasses replaced the threads of the people from a war-torn country. Italian neorealism never failed to recognize its roots, even if it was behind a haze of cigarette smoke and starring a man in a suit.