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Fists in the Pocket 
Written by: on September 8th, 2007

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1965
Director: Marco Bellocchio
Writer: Marco Bellocchio
Cast: Lou Castel, Paola Pitagora, Marino Masé, Liliana Gerace, Stefania Troglio, Jeannie McNeil, Mauro Martini, Gianni Schicchi, Pier Luigi Troglio

DVD released: March 28th, 2006
Approximate running time: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Criterion
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95

Synopsis: A young man named Alessandro (Lou Castel) suffers from seizures decides one day that the only way he will ever achieve his dreams is by killing off his dysfunctional family. One by one Alessandro eliminates the weakest members of his family. He is encouraged in his endeavor by his sister Giulia (Paola Pitagora) who has ulterior motives all her own. Will Alessandro find the nirvana he seeks or will he forever lose himself in the downward spiral he has created.

There have been many memorable directorial debuts and yet one would be hard pressed to find a film a genuinely unique as Marco Bellocchio’s debut Fists in the Pocket. The film is a horror/thriller hybrid that at times disguises itself as a drama. Visually the film features a style that is never heavy handed as it lends itself to what is going on instead of drawing attention like many films often due with gymnastic camera techniques.

The film also benefits from an extraordinary screenplay which also happens to be written by Marco Bellocchio. The story is filled with a cast of colorful characters like a blind mother, two brothers who suffer from seizures; one of these brothers whose name is Leone not only has seizures, he is retarded, a sister who is starved for love and affection from her brothers and the only normal person in the family is Augusto who is burdened with taking care of this group of social misfits.

Performance wise everyone is superb with the spotlight shining brightly on the films lead Lou Castel Alessandro. Fists in the Pocket would mark the first time Castel would headline a film and his mesmerizing performance is so spectacular that one almost feels they are watching a documentary and not a film. The other performance in the film that really stood out for me was that of Paola Pitagora who plays Giulia Alessandro’s sister. The relations between Alessandro and Giulia as the film progresses ventures into territories that are often incestuous.

The film doesn’t feature any elaborate or bloody deaths and yet it doesn’t lose any of its menace or malice. The idea of killing those closest to you, your family gives the film a vibe that is similar to a horror/thriller like film. It is also interesting that feels nothing but pity for Alessandro even though he is committing diabolical deeds. Through the years I have more films scored by Ennio Morricone then I can remembered and yet with each new one I hear he never ceases to blow my mind with the motifs he comes up with. Morricones score mixes haunting motifs with more maniacal pieces that accentuate the insanity that unfolds before ours eyes. Ultimately If you enjoyed Marco Bellocchio’s  Devil in the Flesh then you will not want to miss out on seeing his masterpiece Fists in the Pocket.

The DVD:

Fists in the Pocket is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. The image is up to their usual high standards with only a few minor instances that are inherent to the source martial looking less then flawless.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been provided. The audio is equally immaculate with no defects and error free subtitles have been included. The audio mix while not dynamic is does perfectly complement the film.

Extras for this release include a video afterword by director Bernardo Bertolucci (11 minutes – in English), interviews with director Marco Bellocchio, actors Lou Castel and Paola Pitagora, editor Silvano Agosti, and critic Tullio Kezich (34 minutes), a theatrical trailer (in Italian with English subtitles) and a booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Deborah Young and an interview with Bellocchio. This release comes with a handful of extras which is highlighted by the excellent collection of interviews with director Marco Bellocchio, actors Lou Castel and Paola Pitagora, editor Silvano Agosti, and critic Tullio Kezich. They all recall in great detail working on the film and what they feel about the end product. Overall Criterion has put together an amazing DVD release for Marco Bellocchio’s Fists on the Pocket.

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