Ever heard people throw around famous directors’ names and think “What if there was a way to make short, pithy references to their cinematic masterpieces without actually having to sit through “Battleship Potemkin?” Fortunately, now there is! We’ve dispatched Intern Anastasia to brave the subtitles—and the pretentious clerks at Kim???s Video—so you can sound cultured at dinner parties.
So, La Dolce Vita is all about Rome???s jet-set in the early ???60s. This not only means it???s black-and-white, but also that the men are always wearing suits, the women are always wearing wasp-waisted cocktail dresses, and everyone smokes and wears sunglasses at night. The main character is Marcello, a journalist/aspiring novelist. Like most ???aspiring novelists,??? he never actually finishes his novel but rather spends most of the movie telling friends he???s ???working on it.??? Oh, and he???s played by Marcello (So meta!) Mastroianni, who is a pretty, pretty man.
Anyway, Marcello has a photographer friend, Paparazzo [Ed: This is where ???paparazzi??? comes from, as TMZ undoubtedly knows] and a girlfriend, Emma. But Marcello cheats on Emma like, all the time. First there???s Maddalena, a dimwitted socialite Marcello meets in a nightclub. They have sex in a prostitute???s apartment—not with her, mind you, but in her bedroom while she drinks coffee in the kitchen.
Then there???s Sylvia, an American movie star. They go to a party and dance together, and Marcello tells her ???You???re everything. You are the first woman of creation.??? (Did we mention Sylvia has huge boobs?) Anyway, eventually they wade into the Trevi Fountain together, thus creating one of the most iconic images in the history of cinema. But who gives a shit about that, because THEN, they see Sylvia???s boyfriend Robert. He???s passed out in the front seat of his car, and paparazzi (there’s that word again!) are snapping away. OMG, totally Lohan! Fellini, ahead of his time.
Whatever, a few days later Marcello goes to a party at his friend Steiner???s house. Steiner is rich and has a beautiful wife and kids, but says creepy things like ???Sometimes at night, this darkness, this silence frightens me. Peace frightens me.??? He also enjoys recording thunderstorms, but no one finds any of this odd.
The next scene is basically the center of the film. Marcello???s sitting at a typewriter at a beachside restaurant, working on his novel. He talks to a teenage waitress there and says she looks like an angel. After this scene, everything unravels.
First, Marcello goes to a party at an old villa and meets Jane. Jane is a middle-aged socialite with Cruella DeVille hair who says things like ???Every biologic test says octopi are oversexed.??? Marcello bones this lady. (See? Things are totally going downhill!) Then, he???s in a car arguing with Emma. Here???s an exchange that will tell you what their whole fight sounds like:
Emma: ???What are you afraid of????
Marcello: ???Of you. Of your selfishness, of the miserable bleakness of your ideals. Don???t you see that you offer me the life of a spineless worm????
He tells her to get out of—then back into—the car approximately five times. Then we see them in bed together, but the blissful post-make-up-sex mood is inevitably ruined by a phone call. It turns out Steiner has killed himself and his two children. Marcello goes to the crime scene and Paparazzo takes pictures of the bodies.
Then Marcello goes to a party to celebrate his friend Nadia???s marriage annulment. He announces that he???s become a publicist, and a party guest responds, ???You???re slime!??? [Ed: FYI, this is how most journalists feel about publicists.] Anyway, then Nadia strips and there are some transvestite dancers and Marcello rips up a pillow and throws the feathers on some drunk girl, saying ???Let???s pretend you???re a chicken!??? This is all supposed to seem debauched and amoral (and it kind of does!) which is all a bit unfair to trannies, no? In any case, they party until dawn and then walk to the beach. Marcello spots the ???angel??? girl from the beachside caf??. She waves to him and makes typing motions, but Marcello doesn???t understand what she???s saying because of the roaring ocean. He turns around, and the angel girl smiles into the camera.
This is the end of the film, and it???s supposed to symbolize Marcello turning his back on innocence, morality, and good old journalism in favor of PR and tranny-packed annulment parties. The second option kind of sounds more fun.
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