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By far the most shamelessly self-indulgent movie I've ever seen. That doesn't make it bad. It's beautifully shot and has some fun moments, but three hours is an awfully long time to watch rich people be capricious.
Too many people are missing the point. The film is a critique of the mainstream world's descent into superficiality, conformity, materialism, and self indulgence, showcasing this descent through the Hollywood/journalist lifestyles, and hereby also displaying the influence/effect these lifestyles have in our societies. The film brings to awareness the vanity of celebrity culture by taking place within it, and non-judgmentally observes the lives that are lost within the self-indulgence of it. Fellini exposed the lie that the so-called elite lead the perfect life, revealing in truth that the extravagance of their lives is nothing but a façade for their superficiality. Most of all this is a film about self-boredom, lack of satisfaction, and the vain search for satisfaction through conformity and superficial relationships.
A critique of a societal group works if the group in question can understand the comments. Here it only feels like they are in on the joke, the rest of us unwashed masses trample over each other to get a piece of a "miracle tree."
I can appreciate the technical skill on display and the cinematography was good but I feel that people are too afraid of having a dissenting opinion. I understood most of the main points the film was making, I just didn't care. In order for me to sit through an over-long, self-indulgent, jerk-off fest, I have to sympathize with one of the characters, particularly the main one. Marcello wasn't particularly compelling and you never see him actually working (writing; interesting note, when I had the thought of when is he going to actually write something, the very next scene was of him sitting in a cafe failing to writing anything), so his existential crisis, which seems neatly resolved by the end, comes across as tedious.
There were three stand-out scenes that I enjoyed. The opening sequence with Jesus, Steiner's party monologue and the very last bit with the monster on the beach. More than any other parts, they supported the auteur's vision, however they cannot be viewed in a vacuum and need to be taken in with the drawn-out whole.
And to think that I put off seeing this for so long, just to have an opportunity to experience it in its intended format, is very anti-climatic.
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