• Revolver

    Revolver

    ★★★★

    The Years of Lead

    The death of brotherhood

    Revolver opens with Fabio Testi burying Jean de Grave (never a more appropriate name), his partner in crime, his friend, his bro. "What a couple of crooks we are, coming out here to die in Italy. What a couple of jerks." Jean makes Fabio promise not to bring him to a morgue after he dies, so Fabio buries him in the ground by a riverbed. They were friends, so of course he…

  • We Still Kill the Old Way

    We Still Kill the Old Way

    ★★★★

    The Years of Lead

    "The usual petty bourgeois custom we all know."

    Elio Petri packs the Italian political paranoia conspiracy thriller into a concise but nonetheless effective little bundle. Gian Maria Volonté plays the inquisitive communist professor Paolo Laurana whose playboy pharmacist friend "dies" in a "hunting" "accident." Nobody was surprised that he had been receiving an abundance of anonymous letters threatening his life — he was sleeping with half the village's wives, after all — but nobody expected anyone…

  • Ben-Hur

    Ben-Hur

    ★★★

    There's a version of this movie that plays Judah's anger at the imperial violence of the Roman Empire against Jesus's unconditional love and asks how we're supposed to love in a world so evil, how we're supposed to love thy neighbor when thy neighbor is the devil, but the feeling I get from the film has a slightly different nuance to it. The reading that makes the most sense to me is that Ben-Hur is a product of his…

  • Zack Snyder's Justice League

    Zack Snyder's Justice League

    ★★★

    "Down with the modern world. Back to the dark ages."

    The world mourns the death of Superman, the death of a symbol, the death of hope. It is grief and despair and alienation written with the language of the genre: the optimism of The Man of Tomorrow dies; the pessimism of The Dark Knight lives.

    Superman's death awakens not only sorrow and anguish, not only detachment and isolation, it awakens something much more terrifying: superweapons called Mother Boxes. Evil space…

  • Kidnap Syndicate

    Kidnap Syndicate

    The Years of Lead

    "If shit was worth something, the poor would be born without an ass."

    Fernando Di Leo's High and Low

    Three men in ski masks attempt to abduct the son of a wealthy family from a public school yard, but the boy's friend, the son of a poor mechanic, defends him, so the kidnappers take both. They demand a hefty ransom for the two children, ₤10 billion, but it's nothing the rich construction magnate Mr. Filippini can't…

  • Lucky Luciano

    Lucky Luciano

    ★★★

    The Years of Lead

    What strikes me most about Lucky Luciano is the way that it smuggles modern anxieties into theaters using historical fiction without losing sight of the socio-cultural significance of the historical setting. Both the package and its contents have meaning. The film opens on newsprint-style text explaining how its title character was deported from The United States to Italy in 1946, sardonically framing this deportation as a "gift." Luciano's real-life ship sailed for Naples in February of…

  • Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

    Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man

    ★★★★

    The Years of Lead

    "Masculine supremacy is bullshit. You have to believe you're supermen."

    Bisexual energy poliziotteschi

    Italian buddy-cop actioner about two hot Sicilian boys who live together and ride around on their motorcycle together and shoot at each other for target practice together and go out and kill mobsters together and flirt with the horny secretary at the police station together and have tag-team sex with equally hot Italian women together and walk around their apartment in their underwear…

  • Machine Gun McCain

    Machine Gun McCain

    ★★★

    The Years of Lead

    Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk) wants to take over The Royal, the most prestigious casino in Las Vegas, but it's run by the mob, it's precious to them, it's "forbidden territory," so he needs someone exceptional to knock it over. He drops $25k to crack the titular Hank "Machine Gun" McCain (John Cassavetes) out of prison and has McCain's son Jack convince him to rob The Royal. Hank has plans of his own, however, and after killing…

  • Contraband

    Contraband

    ★★★

    The Years of Lead

    "I don't have ulcers, I give them to everybody else!"

    A very Fulci poliziotteschi

    Fabio Testi works for a mob-controlled smuggling operation, and things are working well for him, he's making more money than he did when he and his family lived in Milan at least, they were starving then and couldn't even find a job, legitimate or otherwise, so, you know, yes, maybe working for the mafia is driving a bit of a wedge between…

  • How to Kill a Judge

    How to Kill a Judge

    ★★★★

    The Years of Lead

    The poliziotteschi puts itself on trial. A crime film about the impact of crime film.

    Damiano Damiani, a director who released a string of political crime films in the 1960's and 70's portraying fictionalized versions of real-life activism and violence, at least one of which seems to endorse its depicted killing of a judge, now brings us How to Kill a Judge, the story of Giacomo Solaris (Franco Nero), a director who released a political crime…

  • Confessions of a Police Captain

    Confessions of a Police Captain

    ★★★★★

    The Years of Lead

    "One of these days you'll turn on the tap, and blood will run out. Or you'll see something in a crack in the wall, scrape it out, and what will you see? A finger, or an eye." Don't scratch at the buildings or you'll find a dead body inside, Police Captain Bonavia warns Deputy District Attorney Traini. Italy is built on a foundation of corpses, he says, and this turns out to be more than just…

  • I Am Afraid

    I Am Afraid

    ★★★★

    The Years of Lead

    "If someone shoots at us, in a sense it means we're already dead."

    The undeath of Italian justice

    I Am Afraid has the structure of a paranoia thriller — the wonderful Gian Maria Volonté plays a police officer assigned to serve as a bodyguard for an honorable judge, and he gradually uncovers a rather dishonorable trail of corruption that leads all the way up to Italy's highest offices of government and military — but the emotion