Back in Cincinnati a few months later, I rented "Roma" and "La Dolce Vita." I didn't think much of the latter, but the former was another incredible movie that actually re-taught me how to watch films! Best of all was the cameo from Gore Vidal, my favorite author. "Roma" and "8 1/2" were unlike anything I'd ever seen, but for some reason "La Dolce Vita" simply didn't hold any interest for me. Sure, there were touches here and there of Fellini's brilliance, but what was the big deal overall? I still haven't learned to appreciate it. Maybe it requires more than two viewings.
Then came "Satyricon" and "Juliet of the Spirits". I'd heard that "Caligula", one of my all-time favorite films, borrowed from "Satyricon" heavily, and I'd heard right! Not only was everything I loved about "Caligula" present in "Satyricon", but there was also that creepy, unpleasant, wonderful mood hanging over the whole thing. It stuck with me for days, even weeks, during which I watched the film every day. "Juliet of the Spirits", however, failed to impress me, and I couldn't get past the first 45 minutes because the tape I'd rented from the library was a piece of crap. I didn't bother to try and find another copy.
That fall, I discovered "I Clowns". It should be clear that I absolutely loathe clowns, they depress and sicken me. As a child, I was afraid of them. So you can understand why I went into this one very skeptically. However, I found that it was the second-best Fellini film (next to "8 1/2") that I'd yet found! Why were clowns not this charming elsewhere??? Even though the final segment, the funeral, upset me deeply for some reason, I didn't count that against the film. I love it when films make me feel deep emotions, pleasant or otherwise.
In early 2005, "I Vitelloni" and "La Strada" played on TV. The former annoyed me because it almost felt like the inspiration that led to "St. Elmo's Fire" (for some reason, I changed my mind a little when I saw it on laserdisc). "La Strada", however, got under my skin and refused to let go. "The Fool is hurt" still brings tears to my eyes.
I got a copy of "Toby Dammit" (which ties with "I Clowns" for second place in my book) for my birthday that year, and was blown away again. I even used Toby's "acceptance" speech for my acting class monologue! Shortly afterward, I saw "Amarcord", "E la nave va", and "Ginger e Fred", all of which I was only minorly impressed by, but each (especially the underrated "Ginger") still had the Fellini sense of wonder and charm.
Whew. Sorry for being long winded.