Τετάρτη, 29 Ιουλίου 2009

GLI SPECIALISTI (1969, SERGIO CORBUCCI)




You gotta love the spaghetti western multiverse. The iconoclastic vision of a west where good guys get shot point blank with no warning and little reason, where cartoonish villains chew the scenery (usually exteriors shot around Rome) and sweat profusely in extreme close-ups, and the laconic anti-hero walks away from the girl robbing us of the romantic conclusion for the sake of cynicism alone. A lot of people call Sergio Corbucci's films 'depressing'. I find that a bit dodgy as far as descriptions go. I think bleak and unforgiving are more apt mostly because 'depressing' suggests a level of sentimentality almost every Eurowestern director ignored in favour of painting characters in broad strokes. It makes sense that Corbucci wanted to blow off some steam with COMPANEROS after the unremitting one-two sucker punch of bitter nihilism he served us with THE GREAT SILENCE and this (although he would later revert back to his usual tricks with the gritty and vulgar SONNY AND JED). There's still a certain amount of caricature that detracts from the overall grim tone of the movie, in this writer's opinion it hurts more than does any good to have a needless inclusion of three kids dressed like hippies skulking around town in search of gold and trouble. And it hurts to have Mario Adorf playing Mexican one-handed bandit El Diablo as over the top as he always plays his characters.Those minor gripes aside there's more than enough here to wet the palate of the spaghetti aficionado. Shootouts galore, the population of an entire town reduced to crawling naked in the dirt, the typical iconic badassitude of the laconic antihero (played by Johnny Halliday), the moral bankruptcy of almost every character in the movie. Corbucci might never receive the acclaim of the more famous Sergio or the American patriarchs of the genre but you and I know that's a gross injustice for a very talented director. His dynamic shot selection, in depth staging with objects sticking close to the camera and receding in the background, his flair for quick pacing and feverish energy in moving a story that wasn't always all that along, the way he photographs open spaces, everything in his work makes me believe that if Corbucci was American and had emerged 15 years earlier along with Mann and Hawks, the Cahiers du Cinema critics would have lauded him as an auteur worthy of serious critical consideration instead of ignoring him as one more bread-and-butter genre director for hire from their neighbor country.


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