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FISTS IN THE POCKET

Italy, 1965 (MIFF 1996, Retrospecta)

Director: Marco Bellocchio

The French Nouvelle vague inaugurated a string of 'new cinema' movements throughout the 1960s in countries including Brazil, Canada and Poland. Marco Bellochio's Fists in the Pocket exhibits many of the distinguishing marks of the Italian 'new cinema' of this period: uninhibited zoom shots, many frantic scenes in cars, freewheeling and lyrical montage segments, a loose, digressive structure of narrative incidents and slapstick, introspection and brutality. Its shocking, transgressive elements may look tame today, but at its first (and only) Melbourne screening, at the 1966 MIFF, some members of the press labelled it 'violent', 'depraved' and 'sick'. it is a 'crazy family' film. Like many works of the era, this family portrait partakes of the 'theatre of the absurd', with its variously blind, frigid, epileptic or insane characters, it ruthlessly presents a secluded bourgeois clan, with all its hypocrisy, banality and alienation, imploding in on itself. And yet it also offers, in its many hysterical outbursts and perverse felicities, the delightful flavour of some intensely wished-for personal and political revolution. Like Makavejev or Skolimowski, Bellochio was-and largely remains today-an anti-authoritarian, attuned to the corrosive and explosive force of the irrational.

At the centre of this time-capsule classic is a young, lithe Lou Castel (resembling Quentin Tarantino!) as a typically indecisive rebel-poet-hero of the '60s. Castel is amazing, with his near-burlesque' body-language combining preening narcissism and seething aggro. Castel was inevitably to play the once-glorious rebel, no longer young or vital, in many subsequent films-including Bellochio's own The Eyes, The Mouth (1982), where he actually goes to the movies to watch his former self in Fists in the Pocket. (AM)

See also...

CHINA IS NEAR

Italy, 1967
Two brothers and their sister, living in a small provincial town, are at the centre of a complex plot through which Bellocchio criticizes petit-bourgeois morality and the current political situation.… More »

VICTORY MARCH

Italy, 1976
Marco Bellocchio's Victory March is a bitter indictment of military establishments and their training methods. The director takes up the theme of his earlier film on the warping effects that rigid in… More »

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