Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20

Watched another movie by Ermanno Olmi, this one called Il Posto (the job, the position).  I don't know if it's that I've learned a little now how to watch his films, or if I was just in a more receptive mood, of if it was just a better movie, but this one, unlike my last, really worked for me.  Like a lot of semi-socialist working class art (the Realist novel, e.g.) Olmi's films are very much concerned with work--with what we do at our jobs.  Il Posto is the story of a youngish man who applies for and ultimately gets a job working at a fairly vast sprawling company somewhere in Milan.  (The factory and offices I learn later are based on Italy's Edison Corp, where Olmi himself worked until he was 33).  Like i fidanzati, the story is fairly minimal.  He takes the test to work at the corporation; he walks around Milan with a girl he has a crush on; he gets the job and goes to work; he tries to reconnect with the girl; he settles into the job.  That's it.  And yet the attention to detail, the versimilitude, the quiet beauty of so much of the action, elevates it into something mysterious and almost holy.  At times it reminded me of Daumier.  At times it reminded me of De Sico.  But mostly it was like nothing else I'd seen.  Highly recommended.

Addendum: in the interview with Olmi that came on the DVD, he specifically denied that his work belonged to the tradition of Italian Neorealism.  The Neorealists, he said, used outdoor locations and a documentary feel, but their main characters were always portrayed by professional actors.  Olmi on the other hand, used everyday people in making his films.  No actors.  Therefore, he claims, while he was influenced by Neorealism, he was not, himself, a part of that school.  For whatever that's worth.

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