Entertainment » Movies


by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Sep 17, 2019

Those who have followed director/writer Abel Ferrara's career know that the man is anything but conventional. So, when his biopic about the last days of Italian provocateur Pier Paolo Pasolini finally hit U.S. theaters in 2019 after premiering back in 2014 in the festival circuit, those who were already in the tank for Ferrara found something transfixing and revelatory. This critic did, too. "Pasolini" is not only a showcase for Willem Dafoe's talents, but every camera movement also makes a statement. And on this terrific new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, the proper home video showcase has been staged for this film.

Pier Paolo Pasolini (Dafoe) was murdered on November 2, 1975, on the beach of Ostia. His body left brutally mangled, having been run over by a car several times. This recounting of his final days is told through Pasolini's tireless dedication to finishing the script for his never-produced "Porno-Teo-Kolossal" and his novel "Pertolio." Pasolini closes himself off from the outside world in his home, where he lives with his mother and sister. Dodging all visitors, Pasolini only ventures out of his home to visit the actors he wants to cast in his new film and a young Italian boy he'd like to court romantically.

To get in the proper headspace for "Pasolini," I recommend tossing all preconceived notions out the window that biopics are supposed to be a way for the dead to speak to an audience and to try to communicate things that the subjects didn't have enough time for. Ferrara films actual scenes from "Porno-Teo-Kolossal," and aligns them with what's happening in the present, because so much of that film was what Pasolini was feeling at that point in time. That isn't to mean that Ferrara apes Pasolini's style to support his own story. On the contrary, it smacks as one visionary's view of another.

If a movie could ever be elegiac and haunting at the same time, "Pasolini" is it. The shot-to-shot aesthetic in the film may come off as garish to some, but that also forces the audience to tune in to things beneath the surface. If you watch the film, pay close attention to Pasolini's relationship with his mother and sister. He was a meek and sullen man, but it's clear that his art holds dominion over those who love and cherish him. He's not exactly a god to them, but he's certainly looked upon and treated with awe like a god.

There's a wonderful special feature on the "Pasolini" Blu-ray in which Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe talk about their approach to the material, which is worth the purchase alone. Along with the terrific booklet essay by film historian Brad Stevens, this release is a must-own for Ferrara and Pasolini fans alike. Other special features include:

• Behind-the-scenes documentary
• Theatrical trailer


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