Sunday, July 19, 2009
Original Title: Milano Calibro 9
Director: Fernando Di Leo
Writer: Fernando Di Leo (story), Giorgio Scerbanenco (book)
imdb synopsis: Just out of prison, ex-con Ugo Piazza meets his former employer, a psychopathic gangster Rocco who enjoys sick violence and torture. Both the gangsters and the police believe Ugo has hidden $300,000 that should have gone to an American drug syndicate boss.
I will start right off and say I thought this movie was fantastic. Moody, gritty, thought-provoking. It had strong performances from essentially all the major characters, the story was interesting, it was tight, had a good soundtrack… I could go on. This is a great crime movie with a message.
Ugo is a pretty stoic character… rarely does he show any emotion outside of the occasional punch thrown. This is important in keeping us guessing about his actions throughout the film. Gastone Moschin plays Ugo very nicely I felt.
His antithesis in the film, played by Mario Adorf, is the brash, loud, violent Rocco. He plays underdog Luca Canali in Manhunt, and again he is quite impressive here. Both of these were standout performances for me.
Oh, and Barbara Bouchet dancing 3/4 naked is always stand out (or stand up? zzzing!) for me also!
The story is mainly The Americano and his gang trying to figure out what role Ugo played, if any, in the disappearance of $300,000 before Ugo was captured and imprisoned 3 years prior. We’re kept guessing the entire film as to who knows what and who is going to double cross whom.
There is an interesting subplot as well with two police officers dealing with the Ugo/Americano case in a constant debate over the cause/effect of crime in the country, rich vs. poor, and how to best deal with the crime. It was an interesting look into Di Leo’s politics I though, and it had me searching for more on Di Leo’s themes. Apparently these themes of rich and poor are touched upon often in his films.
We saw a similar theme in Manhunt as well with the rich, powerful, sometimes flashy men all trying to find the unsuccessful Luca Canali to punish him for no reason other than he is an easy target.
Di Leo was definitely on here in story as well as style. I’m nowhere near an expert on film technique, lighting, etc., but I just really enjoyed watching AND seeing this one. It just had the little flourishes that I always refer to that add a lot to the character of the story itself… the little things that make it more than just a story you can look at.
There are some great shots of Milan itself, as well as some nice sets that show a side probably not seen as often; seedy hotels, night clubs, Bouchet’s super-mod apartment that she blends into almost seamlessly (nice touch there!)
As the film opens, Di Leo has some very slick scenes of packages being passed around in public areas that are very nice. There is no dialogue, only the sweet funky 70’s italian crime music we all know and love. It was quite a cool way to begin.
As far as action goes, this one doesn’t have a ton… not in comparison to many films in the genre. I would say this film is primarily one that has you thinking as opposed to on the edge of your seat. It is very performance-driven with some interesting messages.
There are some great scenes, don’t get me wrong. Rocco’s violence is a thing in itself to behold. For example, you can see with the photo here the classic “gangster shaving someone with a straight razor” action! (The first two minutes of this film will definitely have you wanting more.)
This film is smart, well shot, nicely edited, and a joy to watch.
Definitely one of my favorites in the genre that I have seen thus far.
9 out of 10