Food for thought
It seems like a strange idea for a fast food restaurant to
sponsor a documentary pointing out the evils of the American food industry, but I'm sure
the people at Chipotle know what they're doing by offering free screenings of
Robert Kenner's's "Food, Inc." at the Kendall Square Cinema on July 15 and the Coolidge Corner Theatre on July 16.
And if you're like me, any movie that causes you to lose your appetite brings
to mind Marco Ferreri's "La Grande Bouffe" (1973) in which three middle aged
men relentlessly and graphically eat themselves to death.
Perhaps you're not familiar with Ferreri: when God made Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo
Pasolini and Federico Fellini all the pieces he had left over he used to make
this fearless and transgressive master of bad taste. So here's your chance to catch
up: July 10-13 the Brattle Theatre will
be screening Ferreri's rarely seen and truly sui generis tour de force "Dillinger
is Dead" (1969). No, it's not an early
version of Michael
Mann's "Public Enemies," but fans of that movie might be fascinated by the
inserted snippets of archival footage of Dillinger and his victims. Instead it
is a surreal parable of civilization and its discontents as Glauco, an industrial designer of
gas masks played by Michel Piccoli (he's also in "La Grande Bouffe"), returns home after being lectured at length
by a colleague about Marcuse's theories of alienation. There he finds his
gorgeous wife (Anita Pallenberg with three lines of dialogue, all dubbed into Italian)
nearly passed out in bed and his dinner cold. So he decides to cook something
Ah, the food connection. But not so fast. Things take an
unexpected turn when, while looking for some ingredient in an overstuffed
closet, he finds a rusty revolver wrapped in a 1934 newspaper with headlines
about Dillinger's demise.
Many absurdist non-sequiturs follow, including Glauco
marinating the gun in olive oil and painting it red with white polka dots. By
the time he acts out scenes from home movies and joins the maid Sabina in bed
with a watermelon, you begin to suspect that what Chekhov said about loaded
guns might eventually come into play.
Ferreri's tone remains affectless throughout, underscoring the
weirdness of the material, and Piccoli comes off as simplemindedly bemused, as
if suffering from a head injury that has turned him into a childish but
Wacky as "Dillinger is Dead" may be, in its own metaphorical way
it's as devastating as a critique of capitalist excess as "Food, Inc."