La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)

This weekend we went to see La Grande Bellezza. A film by Paulo Sorrentino, which covers the all too common Italian theme of middle-aged fantastical desire (general praise of “hedonism”) and the incredibly depressing, international theme of “lost love.” The life of the main character basically sums up the lives of a certain dying breed of European, the infamous “Eurotrash.” As described in the Urban Dictionary:

“A human sub-phylum characterized by its apparent affluence, worldliness, social affectation and addiction to fashion. Males are characterized by a semi-slovenly appearance (including half-shaven faces), greasy hair, rib-hugging shirts, tight jeans and loafers worn without socks. Women are easily distinguished by anorexia, over-bleached hair, gaudy jewelry, plastic surgery (particularly breast-enlargement) and their attachment to the male species. Both sexes greet each other with “air kisses,” immediately speak of their last trip (often Paris, Rome, Majorca), spend hours at “see-and-be-seen” restaurants and exhibit a world-weariness and pained sense of irony.”

Going to the movie is a rare thing for us. Our dog is a hysterical wreck so we can’t go out very often, it’s difficult and requires planning and a dog-sitter. We have had three, our dog walker- the girl we use for short-term visits, and two other women that we use for over-night trips and vacations. One of them has a dog sitting business so she’s usually not available on a whim (understandably) and the other is an American woman who has a garden and two dogs of her own so she occasionally watches other dogs. But these are two different stories. Sort of.

The Grande Bellezza is entertaining. Even someone who doesn’t understand Italian will enjoy it. The cinematography is incredible. Italians are famous for their attention to detail and incredible eye for style. It shows. The main characters life, a writer, was confusion and chaos, and a series of almost dream-like moments. His artist friends, obsessed with mostly bad attempts at being exciting, contribute a great deal of tragedy and entertainment in the characters life. There is a lot of cocaine, drinking, and super unattractive old-man sex. If I wrote a movie about my 20’s (minus the old balls) it would look a lot like the first scene of the movie but if you summed up my entire life it would come down to the terribly ironic moments. We left and I was feeling this very odd mix of inspiration (and accomplishment) with a tinge of depression which is probably how everyone feels after watching it.

We drove quietly through the deep green, sun-soaked hills towards Oliver’s sitter’s house. When we arrived the  dog-sitter, a pretty blonde woman, was laying in her hammock outside in the sun, her pregnant-tummy only slightly visible under her oversized striped t-shirt. She met me at the iron double gates with a smile and a look of mild concern in her eyes. “Now don’t feel bad,” she started, and my brain finished with, “but Oliver ate one of my nephews. He killed a homeless man. He lit our house on fire. He started speaking in tongues.” I looked down at Oliver who was so enthusiastic to see me that I almost laughed because I knew he’d done something bad, we were about to talk about it, and there he was tail-a-wagging, eyes all lit up, tongue flopped out from excited pants. “So,” she continued, “he got really sick  and pooped all over my rug and the really porous tile. He also peed on the guest bed. Oh, and he wiped his dirty butt on my couch.” Great. This is totally why you have no friends, Oliver. “Oh God…I’m so sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with this dog.” Look down, he’s panting, tongue flopping, tail wagging, feet prancing. He has no idea that we were discussing how bad he was. He really does need to be medicated, like the other dog sitter said a few months prior. “He’s very sweet but is it possible to get him some, I don’t know, valium or something?” I laughed but she had this look of desperate plea which led to an awkward moment where I realized that she was serious. I looked back up at the dog sitter who was smiling, “Oh. And he has poop all over his butt. Don’t feel bad at all. I have two dogs too. I know how it is. But maybe if we have to take him in the future we could use a crate? Does he have a crate?” Oliver you are so embarrassing. “He did but it was huge and F took it somewhere.” Damnit! Where is that crate?! Misty, leave the poor woman alone and run for the car. Now. Run. And then I ran to the car and I was like, “DRIVE!” and we disappeared into the grape vines. I mean, I didn’t, but I felt like it.

I tried to adequately apologize before leaving because I like her a lot as a human and I was like, “Judge my dog, not me, I swear I’m nothing like him. I would never pee on your guest bed! it’s genetic! He’s a product of Italy, not me!”. When I got into the car with Oliver I told F what happened. “You’re surprised? Really? He’s practically a canine Dennis The Menace. So, our dog-walker quit two weeks ago, I think this one is finished. Now we really need to train him. I feel really bad for them but I really can’t say I’m surprised babe.” He said matter-of-fact. I shrugged and laughed,”You know, we are a hot mess.” He smiled, “But Italy is beautiful, look at the hills, eh?”

Life is a movie. La Grande Bellezza

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