Bertolucci. Bertolucci is a style-plus director with a top 100 film- I don’t have many of those left at this point. The Conformist is a brilliant visual high-wire act of a masterpiece—directed with flair and gravitas. Although he’s got 9 archiveable films you can capture all you really need from Bertolucci with 4 films which certainly hurts his cause. I think it also hurts his cause that his most famous film (though not his best)- Last Tango in Paris– is way better known for Brando’s performance and the explicit content than Bertolucci’s direction (which is too bad because Bertolucci directs the hell out of it, too).

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despite this being the tango (I believe)- this stunner is actually from The Conformist

Best film: The Conformist. Politics, architecture and interior design (mise-en-scene all-timer here) and clearly a massive masterpiece. Trintignant gives his best performance and film noir and European art house cinema get a rare blending here.

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canted angles with parallel lines in The Conformist
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shadow and structure
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long shots in The Conformist
another beautiful wall-art quality shot from The Conformist proving the film isn’t all shadow and Venetian blind work

total archiveable films: 9

top 100 films: 1 (The Conformist)

a jaw-dropper from The Conformist

top 500 films: 3 (The Conformist, 1900, The Last Tango in Paris)

top 100 films of the decade: 4(The Conformist, 1900, The Last Tango in Paris)

most overrated:  This is really boring but I think the 4 films of his (same top 4 below in the top 10) rated in the TSPDT top 1000 are very accurate.

most underrated:   Last Emperor may be slight underrated at  #813 on TSPDT but I’m not sure I’m probably pretty close.  

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remarkable imagery for someone’s 4th best film in The Last Emperor
wonderful color saturation

gem I want to spotlight:  1900. RT beats it up but I love it. It’s gorgeous to look at, sprawling, kind of filthy in some ways. It reminds me of Once Upon a Time in America actually (which also stars De Niro and a mostly American cast with an Italian master in a really long film).

stylistic innovations/traits:  Bertoluccci’s work is both provocative and vibrant. From Last Tango to Eva Green in The Dreamers Bertolucci is known for his controversial work. He was influenced by Pasolini (who he worked under) and Visctoni (The Leopard in particular). His work with Venetian blinds, shadow, architectural space, and epic filmmaking (pure photography) are matched by very few auteurs. His weaker filmography after his top 4 films doesn’t deter his poetic talent for large canvasses.

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the window panes here in The Last Tango in Paris creating a visual motif much like the window shadows in The Conformist

top 10

  1. The Conformist
  2. 1900
  3. The Last Tango in Paris
  4. The Last Emperor
  5. Before the Revolution
  6. The Sheltering Sky
  7. Spider’s Stratagem
  8. The Dreamers
  9. The Grim Reaper
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epic landscapes in The Sheltering Sky

By year and grades

1962- The Grim Reaper R
1964- Before the Revolution R
1970- Spider’s Stratagem R
1970- The Conformist MP
1972- The Last Tango in Paris MS
1976- 1900 MS
1987- The Last Emperor
1990- The Sheltering Sky R
2003- The Dreamers R

*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