4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Eat your roots

The Great Beauty: The world is too much with us, but what else is there?
The Great Beauty: The world is too much with us, but what else is there?

Not unlike the Japanese tourist who kicks off Paolo Sorrentino’s latest cinematic feast by collapsing under the scenic force of his search for the great beauty of Rome, I find myself more than a bit overwhelmed.

Movie

Great Beauty<em> (La Grande Bellezza)</em> *****

thumbnail

Celebrated journalist Jep Gambardella (played with mournful comic pall by Tony Servillo) wrote a great novel — 40 years ago. Since then, he's been living a life of social ascendance and moral decline, and now, in the wake of his 65th birthday blowout, he suddenly finds himself surrounded by dead things. As one of the film's more sympathetic sycophants points out, nostalgia is "the only distraction left for those who have no faith in the future." Comic relief arrives in the form of a mummified 104-year-old mother superior whose sole tip for longevity is “eat your roots,” something these cannibalistic roysterers have been doing for decades. Director Paolo Sorrentino puts enough energy into his elastic camerawork and boomerang editing patterns to power three features, and while his nostalgic arrow to the past never finds its bull's eye, <em>The Great Beauty</em> remains a great beauty: an imposing tribute paid to a city, an age, a mindset, and a certain tendency in Italian cinema. It's also the greatest echo of Fellini since <em>Mean Streets</em>.

Find showtimes

The Great Beauty is just that; an imposing tribute paid to a city, an age, a mindset, and a certain tendency in Italian cinema. It’s also the greatest echo of Fellini since Mean Streets.

Disillusionment kicks into high gear in the days following the 65th-birthday blowout for celebrated journalist Jep Gambardella. Played with a mournful comic pall by Tony Servillo, Jep Gambardella is Sorrentino’s answer to La Dolce Vita’s Marcello Rubini, and damn if Servillo’s idler doesn’t rival that of Mastroianni. A self-described “transparent person, without a doubt,” Jep, who has been living a life of moral decline for going on 40 years, suddenly finds himself surrounded by dead things.

Jep never did pen a follow-up to his well-received first novel because his search for the great beauty proved to be more enjoyable than honest work. He discovered early on that topping the invite list was but a drop of the draught needed to quench his thirst for dominance. The power to destroy in print those parties he found displeasing became the motivating factor needed for this wastrel to wake up every afternoon and get out of bed.

Fellini’s characters were prisoners of their own decay. Sorrentino’s glamour mob takes great pride in flaunting wealth. When asked what she does for a living, one of the plastic beauties quickly replies, “I’m rich.” Jaded Jep took the phrase “ruins my view” to heart when shopping for apartments. He is the only person in film history to have a penthouse that overlooks the Coliseum.

Jep lives life with a calm ferocity, always ready and eager to reduce a fatuous interview subject to tears on a whim. Seated at a dining-room table, comforting the husband of a deceased lover, Jeb ignores the colorful terrycloth towels and napkins at his side and removes a black silk handkerchief from his back pocket for the man to blot his tears. It could be the most tasteful and genuinely sympathetic act of humanity in the entire production.

Comic relief arrives in the form of a mummified 104-year-old mother superior whose sole tip for longevity is “eat your roots,” something these cannibalistic roysterers have been doing for decades. Made up with just the right touch of Westmore latex, her third-act appearance opens the floodgates for a torrent of hilarious jabs at the Catholic Church.

There is enough electricity in Servillo’s performance and Sorrentino’s elastic camerawork and boomerang editing patterns to power three features. Still, Beauty occasionally falls victim to its own excess. The fact that these insatiable partygoers won’t vamoose until after it’s “all gone” is made clear from the outset. The numerous scenes of pogo-dancing revelers that follow the initial bash are redundant.

Sorrentino’s nostalgic arrow to the past never finds its bull’s eye: the title conceit of the great, lost beauty is rather flimsy for such a sophisticated main figure. I’m not certain that beauty was the film’s only target. As one of the film’s more sympathetic sycophants points out, nostalgia is “the only distraction left for those who have no faith in the future.” I’ve seen only three of Sorrentino’s narrative features and This Must Be the Place, his bid for Hollywood recognition, doesn’t count. Based on The Great Beauty and Il Divo, I have every bit of faith in Sorrentino’s future as a major cinematic artist.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Another generation discovers Perry’s Cafe

Large portions of breakfast staples stand out beneath the freeway
Next Article

San Diego aggressive rollerbladers return in strength

Big Wheels invade Balboa Park, Liberty Station
The Great Beauty: The world is too much with us, but what else is there?
The Great Beauty: The world is too much with us, but what else is there?

Not unlike the Japanese tourist who kicks off Paolo Sorrentino’s latest cinematic feast by collapsing under the scenic force of his search for the great beauty of Rome, I find myself more than a bit overwhelmed.

Movie

Great Beauty<em> (La Grande Bellezza)</em> *****

thumbnail

Celebrated journalist Jep Gambardella (played with mournful comic pall by Tony Servillo) wrote a great novel — 40 years ago. Since then, he's been living a life of social ascendance and moral decline, and now, in the wake of his 65th birthday blowout, he suddenly finds himself surrounded by dead things. As one of the film's more sympathetic sycophants points out, nostalgia is "the only distraction left for those who have no faith in the future." Comic relief arrives in the form of a mummified 104-year-old mother superior whose sole tip for longevity is “eat your roots,” something these cannibalistic roysterers have been doing for decades. Director Paolo Sorrentino puts enough energy into his elastic camerawork and boomerang editing patterns to power three features, and while his nostalgic arrow to the past never finds its bull's eye, <em>The Great Beauty</em> remains a great beauty: an imposing tribute paid to a city, an age, a mindset, and a certain tendency in Italian cinema. It's also the greatest echo of Fellini since <em>Mean Streets</em>.

Find showtimes

The Great Beauty is just that; an imposing tribute paid to a city, an age, a mindset, and a certain tendency in Italian cinema. It’s also the greatest echo of Fellini since Mean Streets.

Disillusionment kicks into high gear in the days following the 65th-birthday blowout for celebrated journalist Jep Gambardella. Played with a mournful comic pall by Tony Servillo, Jep Gambardella is Sorrentino’s answer to La Dolce Vita’s Marcello Rubini, and damn if Servillo’s idler doesn’t rival that of Mastroianni. A self-described “transparent person, without a doubt,” Jep, who has been living a life of moral decline for going on 40 years, suddenly finds himself surrounded by dead things.

Jep never did pen a follow-up to his well-received first novel because his search for the great beauty proved to be more enjoyable than honest work. He discovered early on that topping the invite list was but a drop of the draught needed to quench his thirst for dominance. The power to destroy in print those parties he found displeasing became the motivating factor needed for this wastrel to wake up every afternoon and get out of bed.

Fellini’s characters were prisoners of their own decay. Sorrentino’s glamour mob takes great pride in flaunting wealth. When asked what she does for a living, one of the plastic beauties quickly replies, “I’m rich.” Jaded Jep took the phrase “ruins my view” to heart when shopping for apartments. He is the only person in film history to have a penthouse that overlooks the Coliseum.

Jep lives life with a calm ferocity, always ready and eager to reduce a fatuous interview subject to tears on a whim. Seated at a dining-room table, comforting the husband of a deceased lover, Jeb ignores the colorful terrycloth towels and napkins at his side and removes a black silk handkerchief from his back pocket for the man to blot his tears. It could be the most tasteful and genuinely sympathetic act of humanity in the entire production.

Comic relief arrives in the form of a mummified 104-year-old mother superior whose sole tip for longevity is “eat your roots,” something these cannibalistic roysterers have been doing for decades. Made up with just the right touch of Westmore latex, her third-act appearance opens the floodgates for a torrent of hilarious jabs at the Catholic Church.

There is enough electricity in Servillo’s performance and Sorrentino’s elastic camerawork and boomerang editing patterns to power three features. Still, Beauty occasionally falls victim to its own excess. The fact that these insatiable partygoers won’t vamoose until after it’s “all gone” is made clear from the outset. The numerous scenes of pogo-dancing revelers that follow the initial bash are redundant.

Sorrentino’s nostalgic arrow to the past never finds its bull’s eye: the title conceit of the great, lost beauty is rather flimsy for such a sophisticated main figure. I’m not certain that beauty was the film’s only target. As one of the film’s more sympathetic sycophants points out, nostalgia is “the only distraction left for those who have no faith in the future.” I’ve seen only three of Sorrentino’s narrative features and This Must Be the Place, his bid for Hollywood recognition, doesn’t count. Based on The Great Beauty and Il Divo, I have every bit of faith in Sorrentino’s future as a major cinematic artist.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Six String Society’s Pianotastic project

Kenneth Rexrode brings concert theatrical to Oceanside
Next Article

Picking the perfect white elephant gift

Revisit the art of humorous gift giving
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close