Pasolini. I’ll be the first to admit that there is work to be done here on my end regarding Pasolini. I’ve seen six Pasolini films, once a piece, between the years 2004-2006. That certainly doesn’t make me an expert (hoping to dig in further soon). As far as his resume, the 1 film in the top 500 of all-time isn’t the problem—it’s the 1 film in the top 100 of the decade that hurts his case (though Salo is very close). The strength of Pasolini’s case is level of authorship in his films. Accattone has hinds of neorealism, as does Mamma Roma– but even then there’s an acidity and anarchism in his work—a scathing rejection of goodness in Pasolini’s worldview that pervades. I’ll get to it more below in the stylistic traits but he’s a genius when it comes to the medium-long shots, landscapes and designing the frame.

Best film:  Accattone. Grim–brutal—a startling debut that his half-Rossellini and half-Bunuel.

Accattone far too often gets lost in the shuffle of the New Wave debuts and the dominance of Fellini and Antonioni in the early 1960’s– look at attention to foreground/background here

total archiveable films: 6

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:  1 (Accattone)

top 100 films of the decade:  1 (Accattone)

most overrated: The Gospel According to St. Matthew lands on the TSPDT consensus list at #145. This is certainly masterpiece territory and when I saw it—I was two grades below that and this film certainly didn’t land in my top 500 of all-time. Again, the same disclaimer as above—it has been far too long since I’ve seen the film and I’ve only seen it, like the rest of these, once so far.

most underrated: I actually don’t have one for Pasolini. TSPDT has Accattone at #462 and I’m at #471. I have Salo rated lower than the consensus as well.

gem I want to spotlight:  Salo. It’s the film from Pasolini I’m most eager to revisit. All of the discussion seems to be around the contemptuous content and controversy but the designs of the mise-en-scene- as evidenced here—are jaw-dropping.

a gob-smackingly perfect composition in Salo
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yet another stunner from Salo

stylistic innovations/traits:  As I said above Pasolini’s style is half-Rossellini’s biting neorealism (especially his 1960’s films) and half-Bunuel flame-throwing, middle-finger cinema of disgust. The visuals are haunting though- consistent, undeniably breathtaking. Medium-long distance shots with symmetrical compositions. I’m anxious to revisit—a closer look may well reveal that this should-be-mounted-on-a-wall-in-a-museum-level photography in his body of work should warrant a greater fate than slot #133 on the list of the best directors of all-time.

symmetry in the mise-en-scene long before Wes Anderson- from The Canterbury Tales
from The Hawks in the Sparrows— I would hang this on my wall
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from Mamma Roma– just one of many strong compositions from Pasolini

top 10

  1. Accattone
  2. Salo
  3. The Gospel According to St. Matthew
  4. Mamma Roma
  5. The Hawks and the Sparrows
  6. The Canterbury Tales

By year and grades

1961- Accattone MS
1962- Mamma Roma R
1964- The Gospel According to St. Matthew HR
1966- The Hawks and the Sparrows R
1972- The Canterbury Tales
1975- Salo HR

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives