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Fists in the Pocket (Criterion Collection)

Lou Castel , Paola Pitagora , Marco Bellocchio    Unrated   DVD

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Product Description

Amazon.ca

Like a mortar fired into the heart of Italian cinema in the mid-1960s, Fists in the Pocket had an incendiary impact that's still felt today. In addition to catapulting first-time director Marco Bellocchio to instant celebrity (and a degree of infamy) among European cineastes, this audacious drama challenged the foundations of Italian society--the institutions of family and Catholic religion--and ripped them to shreds without mercy. It's essentially the blasphemous, comi-tragic tale of a dysfunctional family suffering from various "afflictions" (blindness, epilepsy, mental instability), and the pent-up rage of epileptic middle son Alessandro (played by then-newcomer and non-professional Swedish actor Lou Castel, dubbed in Italian by Paolo Carlini), whose delicate psyche constantly threatens to snap. When it does, and he secretly murders his blind mother and younger brother (also epileptic), this act of "collective suicide" is intended to restore the surviving family to some semblance of normality... but of course it only sends them deeper into their peculiar extremities of human behavior. Sarcastic, sadistic, and at times grotesquely amusing, Fists in the Pocket divided audiences with its love-it-or-loathe-it, hell-raising depiction of a family in ruins, blasting provincial values to smithereens with hints of matricide, fratricide, and incest that remain provocative several decades later. Still considered by many to be Bellocchio's masterpiece, and bolstered by Castel's fiercely disturbing performance, Fists in the Pocket is the polar opposite of happy-family idealism. Self-righteous viewers are urged to proceed with caution or avoid this film entirely! --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
In addition to the Criterion Collection's routine inclusion of informative critical essays and interviews in a nicely illustrated booklet, extras on Fists in the Pocket include a 2005 interview with director Bernardo Bertolucci, who describes his initial reaction upon seeing Bellocchio's film in 1965 and its importance in the context of Italian film history. A new Criterion-produced documentary chronicles the origin, production, and legacy of the film through interviews with Bellocchio, Castel, costar Paola Pitagora (who plays Alessandro's psychologically unstable sister), film critic Tullio Kezich, and film editor Silvano Agosti. As with all Criterion releases, the supplements and high-def digital transfer of the film itself are flawless. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Tormented by twisted desires, a young man takes drastic measures to rid his grotesquely dysfunctional family of its various afflictions in this astonishing 1965 debut from Marco Bellocchio. Charged by a coolly assured style, shocking perversity, and savage gallows humor, Fists in the Pocket (I pugni in tasca) was a gleaming ice pick in the eye of bourgeois family values and Catholic morality, a truly unique work that continues to rank as one of the great achievements of Italian cinema.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten gem that packs a wallop May 6 2006
By S. Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film, "Fists in the Pocket", is virtually forgotten here in the U.S., but is a huge cult classic in Italy. The reasons for this are that it's never really been available here on video. And ,it was so ahead of its time that it shocked audiences when it first came out. However, even though it's forgotten, it is an excellent film.

It concerns a strange bourgouise family living in a rural villa together. There is the "normal" but self absorbed oldest brother, a blind mother, a VERY weird middle brother (a brilliant Leo Castel), a manipulative sister, and a retarded youngest brother. In lieu of a (absent) father, the oldest brother is the patriarch of this eccentric clan, and somewhat tied down by it. The weirdo middle brother, Allesandro (Castel), is a hell-bent, anarchal/suicidal/homocidal maniac with epilepsy who decides to rub out the whole family, including himself, to "free" the older brother he claims to admire so much. Thus begins a disturbing, frenzied journey by him to kill his other family members.

As dark as it sounds, which it is, it's also quite darkly humorous at times, as well. It's also easy to see why it was controversial in 1965: there are murders, hints of incest, sacriligious blasphemies, the two oldest brothers sleep with street walking prostitutes ( who are a constant presence in the film), there are eplileptic seizures shown, etc.. Basically, it has all the elements that would've gotten you condemned by the Catholic church at that time.

Director Marco Bellochio made a stunning debut with this film, and it is reminiscent of the early works of Pasolini, Bertolucci, and other Italian new wavers of the time. Definitely worth seeing.

The Criterion Collection has done a wonderful, as usual, job here. The print is sterling, the sound perfect, and there is a great retrospective piece with interviews by Bellochio and Leo Castel (who reminds me of Brando). And there is a wonderful afterword by Bernardo Bertolucci. I do highly recommend this one.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a Bombshell May 12 2006
By Randy Buck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Any film that managed to anger equally the Vatican and Luis Bu?uel must be worth checking out -- and FISTS IN THE POCKET had that distinction upon its initial release. Unlike many scandals of a previous day, however, this spare, beautifully made film has lost not one whit of its power to shock. Bellochio makes an impressive debut as writer/director here, and a marvelous cast, headed by Lou Castell, create a family of fools, freaks and monsters you won't soon forget. Brilliant cinematography, wonderful early score by Morricone (who'd think it possible to ring yet another change on the DIES IRAE?), and the expected sharp transfer and informative extras/liner notes from Criterion. Difficult, spiky and essential viewing for any fan of Italian cinema.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inherited Collective Madness...... Jan. 15 2013
By CARLOS ROMERO - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
In "I pugni in tasca" ("Fists in the Pocket") from 1965 - Marco Bellocchio provoked and incited a film-going audience not yet ready for the ugly truth (about ourselves)! This film also marked the beginning of a new and bold cinema too. Here, Marco Bellocchio gave us an insidious indictment against a social structure that has existed for millennia now. And while the film is not really political, I could not ignore an obvious analogy: a dysfunctional family (the State and Society), suffering from the afflictions of inbreeding (nepotism, patronage, corruption, etc.), and self-delusional provincialism. But the film's true power comes from its composition of images that tells its story in symmetrical and poetic coherence. The cinematography was simply excellent and the editing was flawless, and of course Ennio Morricone's haunting score. Lou Castel's performance was truly mesmerizing for its naked and cathartic genuineness. The film is truly revolutionary for having the courage to paint a true picture of the world and not continue with the same mindless fable, and it should not be confused as an endorsement of nihilist or anarchistic sentiments. I was surprised to learn that even Luis Buñuel was supposedly shocked by its premise (here Buñuel was being truly hypocritical, especially for someone whose own works were deemed controversial and heretical). But as many of us already know: even artists are full of you know what - Merde! This film should be appreciated as a polemic work of Art that is also striving for the sublime. I'm glad I got the chance to see it again. This is a film that dares to acknowledge humankind's collective madness: figuratively and in actuality! The DVD picture and sound quality by 'Criterion' was excellent and the film was in its proper aspect ratio (1.85:1). NTSC, Italian (English subtitles), extras (interviews and observations: Marco Bellocchio, Lou Castel, Bernardo Bertolucci, etc.), NR 105 mins.

Love and Peace,
Carlos Romero
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly symbolic work Feb. 2 2007
By Stalwart Kreinblaster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
An epilectic family is the perfect foil for this poignant study of italian bourgeois society.. Like Renoir's rules of the game, this movie opened up new doors for cinema and found new ways to look at certain aspects of social milieu..

Amongst the italian new wave and classic neo-realism of the period it takes a new route something which is real and yet unreal.. Like the movies of Pasolini and bertolucci, Bellochio's fists in the pocket would honor italy's cinematic past while doing something new and radical..
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars underwhelming March 10 2013
By Frank Meccia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
given the story line, i did not find the film all that effective. characters were unsympathetic and forgettable and the ending was telegraphed long before it happened.
ARRAY(0xc193196c)

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