Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The Bay Area's Pier Paolo Pasolini retrospective series begins with a one-two punch this weekend at the Castro and Roxie Theatres in San Francisco, but continues on comprehensively from September 20 through the month of October at Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive (PFA). Senior Film Programmer Susan Oxtoby writes in her preface to PFA's retrospective: "This comprehensive retrospective of the influential Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) features brand-new 35mm prints, many of which were restored by Cineteca di Bologna, presented in conjunction with the Pasolini programs at the Castro Theatre and the Roxie Theater on September 14 and 15.

"A brilliant artist who was at the center of the intellectual life of postwar Europe, Pasolini enjoyed a multidisciplinary career as a novelist, poet, playwright, actor, painter, polemicist, and filmmaker. No stranger to controversy, scandal, and censure (he was involved in some thirty-three trials during his lifetime!), Pasolini represented and articulated many critical perspectives: as a defiant homosexual, a non-aligned leftist, a Catholic (who was tried for insulting the church), and a visionary artist.

"Pasolini's cinema takes its inspiration from many sources: Renaissance painting, Romanticism, Freudian psychology, Italian neorealism, ethnographic filmmaking, and music—his films share an affinity to musical structures and form. His aesthetic often rebuked traditional film grammar, opting instead for a spirit of experimentation. More often than not, he drew upon nonprofessional actors, casting peasants and urban youths who brought an authenticity and edginess to his narrative films. Behind the camera, Pasolini collaborated with top-notch filmmakers, including cinematographers Tonino Delli Colli and Giuseppe Ruzzolini, costume designer Danilo Donati, and composer Ennio Morricone, often working with the crew on location, be it Syria, Yemen, or the impoverished outskirts of Rome. As a poet / filmmaker, he spoke of his 'tendency always to see something sacred and mythic and epic in everything, even the most humdrum, simple and banal objects and events.' "

This series extends PFA's celebration of Pasolini's films from an earlier series mounted in 2007 entitled "The Passion of Pasolini."

It bears repeating that one of PFA's often overlooked educational initiatives is Cine-Files, which proves an invaluable resource for providing materials (in PDF format) that help measure critical reception, especially at the time when a film is making its festival rounds and / or first theatrical appearances. What follows are specific pieces from the Cine-Files archives that I've sifted out for not being readily available online. I've likewise arranged these contributions chronologically as an exercise to see how film commentary evolves and builds upon itself over time.

Retrospective Monographs

Filmoteca Nacional de España's 1976 35-page monograph on Pasolini with contributions from Marc Gervais, Alberto Moravia, Jean A. Gill, Diego Galán, and an interview with Pasolini. Although in Spanish, this document offers some rare photographs as compensation for those who don't speak Spanish.

A six-page extract from Paul Willemen's 1977 BFI monograph on Pasolini.

A remarkable 58-page retrospective booklet written in 1984 by Pasolini and Donald Ranvaud for the 8th editon of the Hong Kong Film Festival that includes Ranvaud's essay "Pier Paolo Pasolini: Heretical Empiricism or Empirical Heresy?"; Pasolini's essay "The Scenario as a Structure Designed to Become Another Structure"; Pasolini's poem "To A Pope"; Ranvaud's robust program notes for the retrospective titles; and a gallery of early photographs of Pasolini. Pasolini's essay "The Scenario...." was first published in WIDE ANGLE. A Film Quarterly of Theory, Criticism and Practice. Editor: Peter Lehman. Vol. 2, No. 1, 1977. Athens International Film Festival / Ohio University Film Department, 1977. His poem "To A Pope" has been posted at Left Turn :: Virage a Gauche.

Art Gallery of Ontario's six-page program brochure for the June 1990 Pasolini retrospective, authored by James Quandt.

A UCLA Film and Television Archive monograph dated September 27, 1991, entitled Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes Of A Poet, includes a forward by Robert Rosen, then-director of the Archive, an introduction, and program notes. Also, a UCLA Film and Television Archive flyer promoting the early work of Pasolini.

Cinematheque Ontario's Summer 2010 program notes for "Pier Paolo Pasolini: the poet of contamination" offers eight pages authored by James Quandt.

Distributor Brandon Films, Inc. provided an 11-page monograph on three of Pasolini's films: Accattone, Gospel According to Matthew, and Hawks and Sparrows.

Accattone (The Scrounger, 1961)

Program note from the 1966 New York Film Festival.

Distributor Brandon Films, Inc. provided an 11-page monograph on three of Pasolini's films: Accattone, Gospel According to Matthew, and Hawks and Sparrows. Brandon Films was distributing these films to the American public in the 1960s. Cine-Files also offers an individual 1968 program note.

Stanley Kaufmann's essay "The Poet and the Pimp" for New Republic (April 6, 1968)

Joseph Morgenstein's essay "Behold the Man" for Newsweek (April 1968)

Andrew Sarris's Village Voice review (June 6, 1968)

A June 1, 1990 program note by James Quandt for an Art Gallery of Ontario screening.

An April 05, 2001 Cinematheque Ontario program note. Author unknown.

Undated, unidentified program notes.

Mamma Roma (1962)

Milestone Film and Video's 1995 distributor materials are notable for their select quotes from various reviewers and Magnani herself when the film was, in effect, reintroduced to the United States via the championship of Martin Scorsese. Cine-Files also offers a Milestone flyer for the film.

Robert F. Hawkins' September 8, 1962 review for Variety

The February 1964 review for the Monthly Film Bulletin (the precursor to Sight and Sound)

The October 22, 1966 program note for the San Francisco International Film Festival

Nancy Scott's November 19, 1966 review for People's World

J. Hoberman's November 29, 1988 review for the Village Voice

Daniel Mangin's January 18, 1995 review "Alma Mater" for the SF Weekly

Michael Covino's January 20, 1995 East Bay Express review, "Beautiful Losers"

Georgia Brown's January 24, 1995 Village Voice review, "Queens of the city"

Tom Lanham's February 1995 review "I Remember Mamma" for Pulse!

David Denby's February 13, 1995 review for New York Magazine

Cole Gagne's 1995 review for Film Journal International

An undated, unidentified one-page synopsis

Gospel According to Matthew (Il Vangelo secondo Matteo, 1964)

Gordon Hitchen's 1965 Film Comment article "Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Art of Directing"

Time Magazine's February 18, 1966 review, "A Communist's Christ"

The Catholic Film Newsletter's March 24, 1966 study guide to Matthew.

Brendan Gill's March 5, 1966 review for The New Yorker

Richard Schickel's March 11, 1966 review for Life Magazine

A 12-page book excerpt from Pasolini On Pasolini: Interviews (1969), wherein Oswald Stack interviews Pasolini regarding Matthew

Distributor Brandon Films, Inc. provided an 11-page monograph on three of Pasolini's films: Accattone, Gospel According to Matthew, and Hawks and Sparrows. They've also provided specific distribution materials for Gospel According to Matthew, and a four-page interview with Pasolini

Tom Allen and Andrew Sarris's February 11, 1986 review for the Village Voice

Raymond Durgnat's review

Elizabeth Sussex's review for Sight and Sound

Miscellaneous press kit, program notes (one and two) and distributor materials (one and two)

Hawks and Sparrows (Uccellacci e uccellini, 1966)

Unidentified three-page program note (January 23, 1966), which includes essay "The Story of Tòto At the Circus"

New York Film Festival (1966) program note

Time Magazine review (September 23, 1966)

Faux Raccord four-page article (January 29, 1970) includes an interview with Pasolini, (presumably from Oswald Stack's Pasolini on Pasolini?)

Distributor Brandon Films, Inc. provided an 11-page monograph on three of Pasolini's films: Accattone, Gospel According to Matthew, and Hawks and Sparrows

John Stanley's article "Packaging of blatant and subtle idiocy" for the San Francisco Chronicle's Sunday Datebook (April 17, 1988)

Publicist Larsen Associates put together a four-page press kit for the July 23-August 5, 1993 retrospective "Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Eyes Of A Poet."

Kino International distributor materials

Miscellaneous program notes from the San Francisco Cinematheque, California State University / Sonoma, The Dartmouth Film Society, and Audio Brandon Films

Oedipus Rex (Edipo re, 1967)

Gene Moskowitz's Variety review (September 1984)

J. Hoberman's Village Voice review "That's Amore" (December 11, 1984)

Charles Ryweck's Hollywood Reporter review "Pasolini's Rex has unique view" (December 17, 1984)

Scott Rosenberg's Boston Phoenix review "All In the Family" (May 7, 1985)

Michael Covino's East Bay Express review (July 12, 1985)

Kino International Corporation's 1990 distributor material

Arco Films S.r.L.'s tri-lingual distributor material, notable for its thorough synopsis. They also put out a 10-page booklet with a sensuous gallery of photographs

Horizon Films six-page press kit, including Pasolini's comments on the making of the film

Teorema (Theorem, 1968)

Eagle Films, Ltd. eight-page distributor materials on Oedipus Rex, Pigsty, and Teorema

Hank Werba's Variety review (September 6, 1968)

Unitalia's May 1968 synopsis

A four-page book excerpt from Oswald Stack's Pasolini On Pasolini (1969) where Pasolini is interviewed re Teorema

Guy Flatley's New York Times article "One Man's God, Another Man's Devil" (April 20, 1969)

Dane Wilsonne's write-up, included in Kit Parker Films 1979 distributor materials

Judy Bloch's program note for the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 21, 2002)

Richard Gertner's program note for Exceptional Films at Art Museum, Philadelphia (undated)

Peter Whitehead's critical essay on Teorema as a parable of the contemporary family (undated)

Miscellaneous program notes, one from Karen Landsman, the other author unknown (both undated)

Pigsty, aka Pigpen (Porcile, 1969)

Eagle Films, Ltd. eight-page distributor materials on Oedipus Rex, Pigsty, and Teorema

Hank Werba's Variety review (September 17, 1969)

New York Film Festival program note (September 28, 1969)

Roger Greenspun's New York Times review "Pigpen: two tales of modern and medieval savagery" (September 29, 1969)

Rosalind Delmar's review for Monthly Film Bulletin (March 1970)

Cinevista distributor material (1994)

Mark Rappaport's seven-page critical essay "The autobiography of Pier Paolo Pasolini" (2002)

Medea (1969)

San Francisco International Film Festival program note (October 23, 1970)

New Yorker review "Processo alla Callas" (April 24, 1971)

Clara F. Emerson's Newport Daily News review "Photography high point in Pasolini's film Medea" (July 21, 1971)

John Osias's Daily Californian review "Pasolini's Medea: nature uberalles" (August 19, 1971)

Paul D. Zimmerman's Newsweek review "Life With Mother" (September 13, 1971)

Susan Stark's Detroit Free Press review "Medea a magical mythic tour" (December 24, 1971)

Ken Barnard's Detroit News review "A ho-hum Medea" (December 24, 1971)

Jean de Baroncelli's Le Monde review (undated)

The New Yorker article "Letter from Paris" (undated)

François Nourissier's L'Express review (undated)

Filippo Sacchi's Epoca review (undated)

The Decameron (Il Decameron, 1971)

Robert F. Hawkins' Variety review (07/07/71)

Evergreen Review's seven-page article "Pasolini's Decameron" with David Hamilton's set photos (No. 92 Vol. 15, September 1971)

San Francisco International Film Festival program note (October 6, 1971)

Time Magazine review (October 18, 1971)

Beverly Walker's Los Angeles International Film Exposition program note (November 5, 1971)

Lawrence Devine's Detroit Free Press review "Artful Decameron mildly 'X'-y" (September 6, 1972)

David Schwartz's New Community Cinema program note (August 1981)

Cinevista distributor material (1994)

United Artists Corporation's five-page press kit and a four-page synopsis

Unidentified two-page synopsis (undated)

The Canterbury Tales (I racconti di Canterbury, 1972)

Robert F. Hawkins' Variety review (July 12, 1972)

Atlanta Journal and Constitution's article "It's X-rated English lit" (December 15, 1979)

Atlanta Journal and Constitution's article "Canterbury Tales due after delay over 'X' " (December 16, 1979)

Scott Cain's Atlanta Journal review "Pasolini's Canterbury Tales is everything it should be" (December 26, 1979)

Jim Whaley's Atlanta Journal review (December 29, 1979)

Brent Northrup's Daily Journal-American review "A film that captures the X-rated texture of life among 14th century commoners" (April 18, 1980)

New York Times article (May 25, 1980)

Winsten Archer's New York Post review "Canterbury: Tales That Are Xceptional"(May 30, 1980)

Veronica Geng's Soho Weekly News review "A Few Easy Codpieces" (June 4, 1980)

J. Hoberman's Village Voice review "Chaucer's Heads, Pasolini's Tails" (June 9, 1980)

Judy Stone's San Francisco Chronicle review "Language is a problem in The Canterbury Tales" (October 31, 1980)

Jeanne Miller's San Francisco Examiner review "Delayed years—perhaps by good taste" (October 31, 1980)

Soho Weekly News advertisement

Unidentified two-page synopsis and one-page article (both undated)

Arabian Nights (Il fiore delle mille e una notte, 1974)

Tony Rayns' Monthly Film Bulletin review (April 1975)

Howard Kissel's Women's Wear Daily review (July 25, 1980)

Vincent Canby's New York Times review "Arabian Nights last in Pasolini trilogy" (July 27, 1980)

Ernest Leogrande's Daily News review "Arabian Nights: the X is excess" (July 28, 1980)

New York Post review "X-rated tales of Arabian Nights" (July 28, 1980)

John Azzopardi's Chelsea-Clinton News review " Primitive, moral Nights streams along" (August 12, 1980)

Robert Hatch's The Nation review (August 16, 1980)

Judy Stone's San Francisco Chronicle review "Pasolini's delightful Nights" (January 9, 1981)

John Stark's San Francisco Examiner review "Pasolini's dreams of Arabian Nights" (January 9, 1981)

Donald McLean's Village Voice review (January 16, 1981)

Cinevista distributor material (1994)

Peter Bondanella's Cinematheque Ontario program note (July 27, 2000)

Hank Werba's Variety review (undated)

Samir Hachem's L.A. Weekly review (undated)

ICPR Public Relations 14-page press kit, including a "colloquy" with Pasolini quoted from an interview with Georges Moraux

Produzioni Europee Associate 27-page press kit, including an excerpt of an interview with Pasolini from Il Tempo (April 28, 1974)

Unidentified one-page synopsis (undated)

Salò or The 120 Days of Sodom (Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma, 1975)

Gene Moskovitz's Variety review (November 26, 1975)

Gian Carlo Mazzini's two-page Europeo article "L'amaro mondo degli omosessuali" (in Italian) (November 28, 1975)

Sari Gilbert's Europeo article "I buoni e i cattivi" (in Italian) (November 28, 1975)

Alredo Bini's Europeo six-page article "I primi passi del regista Pasolini" (in Italian) (November 28, 1975)

Paolo Ojetti's Europeo five-page article "La censura e Pasolini" (in Italian, parts one and two) (November 28, 1975)

Nereo Condini's Village Voice article "Pasolini's last film: a shocker you may never see" (March 15, 1976)

Rob Baker's Soho Weekly News review "Salò: the last passion of Pasolini" (September 29, 1977)

New York Times article (October 4, 1977)

Ina Lee Selden's New York Times article "Salò is disturbing ... but Rome public and critics like it" (October 10, 1977)

Charles Ryweck's Hollywood Reporter review (October 11, 1977)

David Ansen's Newsweek review (October 17, 1977)

San Francisco Surf Theatres press releases (November 21 and November 23, 1977)

Judy Stone's San Francisco Chronicle review "Salò: caustic insight into society" (November 30, 1977)

Stanley Eichelbaum's San Francisco Chronicle review "Repellent legacy of a slain director" (December 1, 1977)

Leslie Camhi's Village Voice article "Censor Shock" (September 27, 1994)

Silvia Feldman's four-page Human Behavior Magazine article (undated)

Gideon Bachmann's four-page Film Quarterly article (undated)

London Film Festival (20th edition) program note

Cinevista distributor material (1994)

Billings Associates three-page press kit