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Movie Review: Isabella Rossellini’s My Dad is 100 Years Old

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Guy Maddin accepting the Persistence of Vision award

Director Guy Maddin was given the Persistence of Vision award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. After his very funny speech, he had a conversation with Steve Seaid from the Pacific Film Archive and showed several shorts including Sissy Boy Slap Party and Sombra Dolorosa which are on the Saddest
Music in the World
DVD.

He also showed a short stylized black and white film he directed which was written by and stars Isabella Rosellini, My Dad is 100 Years Old. It begins showing on the Sundance Channel on Monday May 8th at 7 pm as part of their tribute to Roberto Rossellini along with Open City. It will repeat on Sunday, May 21 at 6 am and Wednesday, 24 at 10 pm (and probably in future months as well).

While it isn’t the same on a small screen as it was on the huge screen at the Kabuki, it is still gorgeous, funny, and moving. Isabella Rosellini does all the voices and plays all the roles including her mother, except her father’s belly.

And it is quite a cast of characters including Alfred Hitchcock, David Selznick, Federico Fellini, and Charlie Chaplin. They have a dialogue about film with Selznick saying that movies should entertain and be illustrations for novels. Roberto Rossellini replies, “Anybody should be able to make films. The Hollywood system prevents that.”

Rossellini says people don’t just want to be entertained, they have a “…need to know. That is what my films are about, the quest for knowledge.” Chaplin just speaks with a tile card saying, “Roberto, life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long shot.”

Ingrid Berman says she wanted to work with him after seeing Open City, and
ended up collaborating with him on “five films and three children.” One of those
children, Ingrid, has objected to the film (or disowned it as Maddin put it when introducing it). And I can understand why she might be upset. But for most people it will either reinforce what is great about her father’s films or it will be an inspiration to watch them for the first time.

Towards the end of the film, Isabella Rosellini objects to Maddin’s camera movements and orders him to move in for “the perfectly simple Rossellini frame.”

David Hudson rounds up some of the reaction to the short.

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About Steve Rhodes

  • http://www.moviesteve.blogspot.com Steve C.

    Dammit. I taped Open City, but I didn’t know about My Dad. I’ll hafta snap that mother up when it replays – I do like me some Maddin…

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