Dillinger Is Dead

1969 movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A guy dicks around.

This is nearly plot-free, like all great movies should be. It's filled with scenes of the main character cooking, sitting around, watching home movies, playing cops 'n' robbers or something, spending time with the women in his life, teasing his wife with a phallic symbol, finding another phallic symbol, painting polka-dots on a gun. Not much actually happens. Even finding that gun, an act which should probably be at least odd and probably a bit shocking, is just ho-hum. Michel Piccoli plays the guy, and he does it with a childlike cool. It's a perfect performance although he never gets a chance to do anything spectacular. A lesser actor/director combo would have created a character too wacky to make something like this work although I would like to see Nicolas Cage in a similar situation. Piccoli is the anti-Cage here, a guy who just lives on the screen for an hour and a half and does nothing to stand out from the situation of the movie, a situation in which almost nothing of importance happens. I liked the quiet performance a lot.

I also liked Anita Pallenberg, a woman who apparently had sex with most of the Rolling Stones. She's fetching.

She never leaves the bed in this movie. It kind of reminds me of my wife. Ba dum tss!

Marco Ferreri, the guy who directed the fun La Grande Bouffe, directed this, and it's definitely a product of the late 1960s. There's an easy-going style and nods to pop art--especially with the painting of the gun (see poster) which is movie's most iconic imagery. There's also a lot of great music, eclectic enough to match the decor of the apartment. Piccoli's character lives in a time and place that makes me envious. He's fooling around with his hot little maid, has that hot little wife of his, and has a great record collection. Ferreri's storytelling, if you can even call it storytelling, feels organic and freeform. The character meanders in a way that almost doesn't seem worthy of being on anybody's screen, but that fascinating performance and a sneaky sense of mystery keeps you engaged. Your eyes are glued to the screen because you want to find out if anything at all's going to happen.

Things do eventually happen. A climax is reached although you're not going to be sure how or why it got there. Nothing builds up to that climax, and combined with a surreal denouement, it makes for a genuine what-the-hell experience. It's a cool little flick, and at the very least, it reminds me that I need to see La Grande Bouffe again. That one's got both nudity and food.

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