1972 love letter

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Rome, at various stages in director Federico Fellini's life.

This impressionistic glimpse at Rome sort of washes over you. It's filled with moments. Some vignettes, like when a bunch of people are having dinner, are beautifully mundane. Others, like the Catholic fashion show, are beautifully wild. That latter blast of blasphemy is the highlight, climaxing with a shot of a pope who manages to out-funky every other pope put together after a parade of bishops lit like arcades, roller-skating cardinals, and nuns in flapping garb. Prior to that, things are only mildly strange. You get a couple trips to brothels, fascinating footage in the subterranean parts of Rome with some disintegrating frescoes, and the eerie blue shadows of nocturnal dogs.

This feels like an artistically manufactured documentary, almost more like orchestral jazz than a traditional movie. It's got its beautiful movements, its darker and uglier ones, and its crescendos.