8 1/2 was shown tonight in film class, and when it was announced, I couldn't help but feel a rather dampened sense of a excitement. Sure, it's a great piece of filmmaking simply because of its singularity. No one else could make this, not just because of its autobiographical nature, but because of its sheer invention. You can't like movies and say this one's no good. And yet I can't get myself to have any feeling of bliss for this movie. The professor is ecstatic for it to the point that I think he's shown it for every film course he's ever taught. And he always sits in the front row, with eager eyes.
While the movie has such visual intricacy that demands lots of viewings, I never have the desire to re-watch it. I've seen it twice, and this would have been the third time, yet I couldn't get myself to stay. I decided I could sneak out of the auditorium, make it back two hours later for the end of the film without the professor noticing (it really helps that he likes to sit right up front). I didn't feel all that guilty because I was planning to go watch a different film instead on my own, one that I was eagerly anticipating and that would objectively surely be every bit as fulfilling as Fellini's treasure.
The movie was Gotz Spielmann's (whose new film, October November, just played at Toronto) much-heralded Revanche, which I'd never seen before and was thrilled to discover was streaming on Hulu Plus (I only have a week left on my 14 day free trial, so I'm trying to squeeze in as much as possible). But to my disappointment, the playback was inconsistent, and the frequent pauses left me frustrated at the University's suspicious internet quality. Whenever this happens I get extremely irritated with streaming, and just long for a DVD where the quality is perfect and the playback smooth. Of course I refused to watch the film with such pauses, and instead got to writing a paper that's due monday on Auden's sublime Their Lonely Betters. So skipping 8 1/2 did have its benefits.
I ended up back in the auditorium and caught the final 15 minutes of the film. While I didn't have the patience to sit through the whole movie, I did enjoy immensely these final images. In fact, I sort of loved them, including the merry dance, which in the past simply annoyed me. I was glad not to have seen the whole movie again, and perhaps that made these images work for me. 8 1/2 is an exhausting film in its entirety, and the closing minutes are always a chore for me. So stepping out for the first two hours of the movie perhaps had benefits for me and my conflicted relationship with the film. In any event, I don't think I'll ever like 8 1/2, or any of Fellini's later work, as much as I enjoy his early semi-neo-realist cinema.
Tomorrow the weekend starts; after my last class at two I'll give Revanche another try. For some reason I really feel the need to see it before I go see Prisoners. It's going to be a good weekend.