Saturday, June 16, 2012

And God Created Monica: From Rome with Love with Monica Vitti

AND GOD CREATED MONICA: FROM ROME WITH LOVE WITH MONICA VITTI -- Yes, we know that we borrowed the title of this piece from a famed French film -- but guess what'll change your mind (and forgive us) when you consider that amazing best-kept secret of Italian cinema: Monica Vitti.  When asked to name a beautiful, sensual Italian actress, of course most people will instantly say "Sophia."  But those in the know will say Monica Vitti.  We just adore Ms. Loren!  But in a way, her beauty is so legendary that it is almost like being the most perfect statue on a marble pedestal -- and rightfully so.  But, kids, there has always been a creature so beautiful and so vulnerable in Vitti that she has been the object of desire for men and women alike for many decades in Europe.  Over the course of 55 films (yes!) Vitti has enchanted audiences with her down-to-earth womanness (is that even a word?!) and her ability to appeal with just plain, raw emotion like no other Italian actress of her generation.  It is no wonder that by the end of her film career (which spanned from 1954 to 1989 -- and with a television miniseries in 1991) that she garnered seven (yes, seven!) Golden Globes for Best Actress; the Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Award; and five David di Donatello awards for Best Actress (not to mention so many other awards and nominations!). Of course, we at Studio of Style gladly give her an award for being absolutely fabulous (but you knew we'd do that, didn't you?).  What brought Vitti to international attention was the amazing award-winning 1960 film L'Avventura by renowned superstar director Michelangelo Antonioni (the landmark Blowup and Zabriski Point, for example) -- in which Vitti portrays a women who disappears during a Mediterranean boating trip and by the time the film ends, Vittia emerges a true star that would herald the beginning of a remarkable collaboration with Antonioni that would transform Italian cinema, including the films La Notte (Night -- 1961), L'Eclisse (Eclipse -- 1962) and Red Desert (1964) to name but a few. Out of her stunning body work came only two English-language films -- the campy 1966 Mod spoof of James Bond spy flicks Modesty Blaise with Dirk Bogarde and Terrance Stamp; and 1979's An Almost Perfect Affair with co-star Keith Carradine. Her 1974 film with Spanish-born Mexican director Luis Buñel -- La Fantôme de la liberte -- is considered to be her best in her later career.  Today, the 81-year-young Vitti lives in Italy with writer/director Roberto Russo.  For her role in the history of modern, experimental and surreal Italian cinema, a postage stamp honoring Vitti was eventually issued commemorating her L'Avventura role.  We salute the eternally sensuous Monica Vitti with a rousing brava!!!