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  1. (A&F link to This Must Be the Place (2011) and The Great Beauty (2013).)
  2. (A&F link to This Must Be the Place (2011).) The Telegraph: Jep thinks back on his life, which has also been the life of the city, and realises he has spent most of it searching on the rooftops and in the gutters for what he calls la grande bellezza – "the great beauty". What he actually finds is gangsterism, triviality, hypocrisy and decadence. We meet a well-respected cardinal, hotly tipped to be the next Pope, who has nothing to share but cookery tips. (In his defence, they sounded pretty good, and I did scribble down his advice on how best to pan-fry duck.) Later, a priest and a nun walk into a haute cuisine palace and order a bottle of vintage Cristal champagne. The sacred and profane smash into one another everywhere, as if Sorrentino is working some kind of metaphysical Large Hadron Collider. The soundtrack features some of the most stirring devotional music ever composed: Tavener’s The Lamb, Martynov’s Beatitudes; and also We No Speak Americano, as heard in The Inbetweeners Movie. The Atlantic: Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's visually imaginative, very entertaining new film is essentially a variation on Fellini's La Dolce Vita, plunging us into the cruel, voluptuous world of Rome's media, artistic, and intellectual elites. Revolving around a novelist-turned journalist played by Toni Servillo (who looks like Italy's version of Joe Biden), the first hour and a half of The Great Beauty is a delight; Sorrentino's gliding camera snakes its way through lavish, champagne-soaked, techno-thumping parties (the film's opening sequence is a tour de force), and then slows down for quieter day-after scenes (mornings in bed with a new conquest, lunches with friends, meetings with the editor-in-chief, afternoon strolls) that echo with loneliness and regret. In the final half hour, the movie starts slipping into self-indulgence, with the director unnecessarily explaining things through dialogue and voiceover that his images have already evoked perfectly. Still, the film holds up as a vivid glimpse, both funny and deeply unsettling, of a Berlusconi-era Italy rotting below its luscious-looking surface. The Guardian: As always, Sorrentino has an architectural eye, his cameras panning over crumbling buildings, unclothed bodies and (most importantly) Servillo's face with enraptured awe. Céline, Proust, Sartre, Dostoevsky et al are invoked for both comic and philosophical purpose (you half-expect a cameo from Woody Allen) although dialogue is often abandoned in favour of music as the succession of tableaux vivants unfold. Ultimately, it all adds up to less than the sum of its parts, lacking the discipline of the superior Il Divo. But Servillo is an entrancingly mercurial presence upon whose reptilian smile an entire city appears to be founded.
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