La Dolce Vita (review)

How many movies make you feel like a sophisticate just for having seen them? An evening out to see Federico Fellini’s masterwork — the new print beautifully shows off Otello Martelli’s silvery, creamy black-and-white cinematography — is just about as good for imparting a sense of jaded elegance as an impromptu trip to the Continent. Though not quite as scandalous today as it was during its initial 1960 release, there’s still something shocking in the callousness of playboy journalist Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni), who achieves a low of hard-heartedness through a series of misadventures in and around Rome with the rich, powerful, and bored — actors and artists and jet-setters — that culminates in a decadent house party so debauched and brutal that “orgy” hardly begins to cover it. Anita Ekberg’s exuberant romp through late-night Rome, capped by her wading into the Fontana di Trevi, has justifiably been immortalized — it’s one of the more exhilarating moments committed to celluloid — but the ongoing three-ring circus of paparazzi (the film popularized the word) may be the film’s greatest contribution to pop culture, passing as it has from satire to reality.

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