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Somewhere on the outskirts of Rome, a small man machetes his way through the roadside underbrush to get to a beleaguered palm tree.This feature-length documentary walked away from the most-recent edition of the Venice Film Festival with the Golden Lion, becoming the first Italian film to do so since 1998 and the first documentary ever to be so honored.A man who's come into possession of a stately historic villa off the GRA rents out rooms, whether bed-and-breakfast style or for parties, film and television shoots.Rosi's camera looks in on them as they apply makeup to one another and swap stories.It is hardly the first noted Italian film to be described in these terms.It also combines two distinct film languages – historical vignettes from what are assumed to be the writer-director's autobiography with sequences that have the air of documentary footage circa 1972, carefully restaged.Fellini's representations of Rome in its many mutable facets have made his oeuvre a point of reference for all subsequent efforts. His fondness for shooting the city's traffic, and traffic jams, resonates strongly here, as does the sheer variety and allusive complexity of the figures upon whom Rosi's camera alights.
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