Released 50 years ago, Federico Fellini's 8½ is partly a self-portrait of the frustrated filmmaker, but it's equally a fantasy picture. Marcello Mastroianni plays the blocked director juggling two beauties (Anouk Aimée and Sandra Milo—good dilemma to have), bereft of ideas for his next picture (some kind of sci-fi extravaganza), and hounded by press and producers. In response, Guido retreats into memory and fantasy, where yet another woman awaits (Claudia Cardinale, some dream). From the very first scene—Guido trapped in the traffic jam, then flying aloft—8½ conveys claustrophobia and desperation. All these people, asking what he'll do next! All these women, asking if he loves them! Guido's fanciful escapes and reveries are the stories that come easily to him (unlike his dreaded next movie project); they're snippets of the movie running his head that he could never commit to film (or not a narrative film). My favorite scene is the flashback to Guido's youth, he and his boyhood pals dancing on the beach with the lusty prostitute Saraghina (Eddra Gale). It's a burst of surreal neorealism, a collision of Italian genres, like some broken remnant from an ancient ruin. All of 8½ is like that—precious fragments that won't be made whole. Through Thurs. BRIAN MILLER

Feb. 15-21, 6:30 p.m., 2013

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