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Monday, 29 November 1999 18:00
5/4/2007 through 5/10/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
When critics say they don't make them like that any more, the 1962 Italian classic Mafioso may well serve as the definitive example of complex, brilliantly kaleidoscopic filmmaking that is sorely lacking today. Made in 1962 in wonderful black and white, Mafioso segues from melodrama to ironic comedy, from frothy farce to pratfall silliness, and from affectionate observation to sad contemplation.


Italian director Alberto Lattuada presents this amazing emotional and physical range with flawless ease and elegant, skillful shifts of mood and action. He trusts the intelligence of his audience to engage fully with the dramatic irony and to understand the tongue-in-check humor while still finding the characters charming.

Mafioso
begins in Fiat's Milan factory with foreman Antonio Badalamenti efficiently and officiously supervising the high tech assembly line. Minutes later, revealing another facet of his personality, Antonio makes a frantic vacation exit with wife Marta and two daughters for Calamo, his village home in Sicily. Their first trip there will bring surprising, memorable experiences including a nostalgic reunion with his unusual family and deference to the feudalistic mores still in full force. Antonio respects the culture and immediately visits Don Vincenzo to deliver a necessarily ornate but also maudlin gift from the Fiat factory CEO. Don Vincenzo rules with a casual, unquestioned command. As Antonio walks into the predictable crisis, his ebullient, sunny disposition will be tested.

Performances, especially by the great Alberto Sordi, add delight and intensity to the curious events. The openness of the Sicilian landscapes contrasts powerfully with the entrapment physically and metaphorically of the Sicilian culture. Piero Piccioni's soundtrack adds a complementary, wordless commentary, and the neorealistic cinematography enhances the immediacy of this curious world of collisions and coping. Director Lattuada has long been overshadowed by celebrated countrymen Federico Fellini, Vittorio de Sica, and Rossellini. They should happily make room at the table for Lattuada because Mafioso is a masterpiece. In Italian with English subtitles, a new 35 mm print of Mafioso is playing at Landmark's Tivoli theatre through Thursday, May 10th [2007].

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