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Susti Heaven

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Studio: The Criterion Collection
Year: 1969
Cast: Michel Piccoli, Anita Pallenberg, Annie Girardot, Gigi Lavagetto
Director: Marco Ferreri
Release Date: April 2, 2010, 3:13 pm
Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:34m:52s

ìI donít want to design anymore of these.î - Glauco (Michel Piccoli)

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I'm honestly not familiar with this film going in, but the Criterion Collection stamp of approval alone has me chomping at the bit to dive in.

Movie Grade: A

DVD Grade: A-

No one will ever accuse filmmaker Marco Ferreri of being a standard, by-the-numbers filmmakers. His films are so off-the-wall and beyond mainstream affairs, that many have questioned his sanity through the years. Whether itís a man finding the corpse of King Kong in New York City in 1978ís Bye Bye Monkey, or the sexual escapades depicted in 1973ís The Grande Bouffe, Ferreri has pushed the envelope over and over again in glorious ways. Despite being plenty weird in its own right, his 1969 little-seen gem Dillinger is Dead is, relatively speaking, ìnormal.î Still, itís a challenging film, to say the least, but now more and more film buffs can take said challenge, thanks to The Criterion Collectionís awesome new DVD release.

The ìstoryî centers on Glauco (Michel Piccoli) who makes gas masks for a living. Heís just finished up a day at work, and heads home to his wife, Ginette (Anita Pallenberg), and maid, Sabine (Annie Girardot). Unfortunately, Glauco is more apt to devote his time and attention to the lovely Sabine than his ultra lazy wife. Glauco isnít one for sitting still, regardless, as he never becomes comfortable and jumps from watching TV to taking apart a gun he has stashed away randomly, to eventually visiting a nude Sabine in her room. Is Glauco a working man who will never be happy with his daily activities, or does he simply have the shortest attention span in the world?

To say that Dillinger is Dead is not for everyone is a pretty big understatement. Other than a series of verbal exchanges in the very beginning and a handful of conversations while in Glaucoís house, thereís virtually no dialogue in the film. Instead, weíre left to watch Michel Piccoli wander around and basically spend a ìnormalî post-work evening. While many of you are already second guessing your thoughts about seeing this Criterion release, let alone continue reading this review, know that every minute of this film is riveting despite a lack of action. Perhaps if you take the proceedings as (David) Lynchian Reality TV, youíll be as engrossed with the film as I was, as Ferreri has us hooked into refusing to turn away from what craziness Glauco might get into next.

This is the rarest of films that leaves itself open to interpretation, yet leaves the viewer wondering, at the end, if thereís even a hidden meaning to be interpreted. Itís more likely that the voyeuristic nature of the film is simply Ferreri being his normal, nutty self. I see it as Ferreri being smarter than his audience. He knows human nature all too well, in that heís tapping in to our overwhelming curiosity to see how someone, other than us, goes about their daily lives. Setting the film in Glaucoís home touches on an even more personal curiosity to let ourselves into the most personal aspects of someone elseís life. This is pure, unbridled surrealist filmmaking in the truest sense of word, yet itís devoid of the camera tricks and bizarre imagery so brilliantly mastered by the BuÒuels and Lynches of the world, and just as effective.

Ferreriís gem wouldnít be nearly as effective without the amazing work of Michel Piccoli. Nearly a one-man-show, Dillinger is Dead is essentially a showcase of what Piccoli has consistently brought to the table as an actor in films by the best of international directors. Heís worked with nearly everyone, from Godard and Varda to Mario Bava, but heís never been as brilliant as he is here. The most impressive aspect of his work as Glauco is that Piccoli barely speaks a word. Instead, he relies on his tall, lanky physical characteristics and wonderful facial movements, allowing us to connect to whatever inner torment this bored, lonely character is dealing with. Pallenberg and (the gorgeous) Girardot are quite good as well, but Piccoli practically blows them off the screen whenever they share it with him.

The Criterion Collectionís single-DVD release is an excellent one, thanks in large part to the new, wonderfully- restored transfer that was approved by Mario Vulpani, the Director of Photography. This isnít the best of Criterionís work in this department (perhaps the reason for a lack of a Blu-ray version), but itís still far and above the best the film has ever looked on home video. The audio is a bland, yet always clear and distortion free Dolby Digital Mono mix, and a decent amount of extras rounds things out. In all, this is another title that fans of challenging cinema should seek out immediately.

Chuck Aliaga April 2, 2010, 3:13 pm