Friday, September 03, 2010

THE AMERICAN'S SUBLIME ANCESTRY



One of the many reasons to go rushing out to see The American this weekend is its probable short theatrical shelf life. As soon as audiences get wind that the movie is not a high-octane Bourne-in-the-north of-Italy type picture but instead one that values the connection to placid moments of existential contemplation in between assassination attempts that are the hallmark of filmmakers like Michelangelo Antonioni, the movie is likely via col vento. The initial notices, while mixed, have suggested that in the George Clooney thriller directed by photographer and music video director Anton Corbijn is worth a look, however, because of or, depending on whom you're reading, in spite of its languid retro vibe.

Another kind of ancestry in the movie's favor is that of its actors. For those inclined to appreciate the fine cut of his jib, Clooney's continuing conversation with the ghosts of movie stars past such as Cary Grant and Clark Gable is a major reason to see him in just about anything. (Well, maybe not Leatherheads.) For those more appreciative of the feminine form, another more directly biological connection to the past is in play in The American. As it happens, model and actress Violante Placido, who occupies the role of Clooney's love interest (the sex scenes are reportedly hot!) and whose survival is not a given, shares genes with another familiar Italian beauty. In noting her exquisitely oxymoronic name, David Edelstein also wrote of her: “I wondered why Placido, with her soft, open face and voluptuous body, was so familiar. It turns out she’s the daughter of Simonetta Stefanelli, unforgettable as Michael Corleone’s Sicilian bride in The Godfather.”






Sold, one overpriced ticket to see Anton Corbijn’s The American this weekend. Happy Labor Day!

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7 comments:

Gary said...

You make a persuasive case, Big D. My choice for the weekend looks like Get Low vs. The American.

Tony Dayoub said...

Just came back from watching THE AMERICAN, and it's definitely a Bingo!

I'm kind of talked out about it, and I want to save some stuff for my own upcoming post. But I recommend you read Sheila O'Malley's review and my own follow-up comment here.

Tony Dayoub said...

Sorry, the link I tried to provide above didn't get through. Try this.

jim emerson said...

Wow, I didn't know that connection -- but I certainly felt it! Also, "The American" itself takes place in a kind of existential limbo that reminds me of the Sicilian section of "The Godfather."

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Jim, absolutely. Placido isn't a ringer for her mom, but she's just suggestive enough-- and the way she dresses, casual, semi-unkempt hair, very earthy, uncosmeticized look-- connects her to that period, and to her mother too. There is a shot in the film where she seems uncannily similar to Stefanelli, though-- when Clooney is taking her to the river for the first time, I believe, the camera is looking at her over her left shoulder from the back seat of the car, and I could practically hear her reciting the days of the week to him-- "MONNday, TOOSday, THURsday, WENSday--"

I agree with you too that the movie does play like a big-star remake of The Limits of Control, and in this case I'll go with the movie star version. (Jarmusch's movie drove me up a tree.) My friend Don (who didn't like The American much) likened it to In Bruges minus the fun!

Anonymous said...

I am reading this blog after having seen The American. Brilliant film. Didn't like the very end.

But, the biggest problem I have is that I fell in love with Violante Placido. No, it was not the provocative nudity.

It was one scene. The scene where Clooney is in the cafe and she and her girlfriend enter. She clearly is interested in him and by the time she walks away - I'm a 16 year old kid again who has just fallen in love with the hottest woman on the planet. With looks of interest like that, few men on earth could resist her.

This hasn't happened in years ... 20? 25?

Anonymous said...

Look for the allusions to "Once Upon at Time in the West". (1) Frank shooting the innocent kid (shockingly out of character for Fonda) (2) the manner of Cheyenne's death.

Are there other?