The Leopard

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The Leopard

After you've dispensed with the auld lang synes and midnight ball drops (rumor has it Snooki's taking a ride in one), why not ring in the New Year at Film Forum with this stunning restoration of Luchino Visconti's times-they-are-a-changin' masterpiece? It's not just the passing of a year, but the end of an era for Sicilian aristo Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina (Lancaster). Garibaldi's just landed, the current ruling class is on its way out ("those who will take our place will be jackals, hyenas," notes Fabrizio) and the prince's nephew, Tancredi (Delon), is moving around semi-aimlessly between political causes.

Nothing an arranged marriage to the hubba-hubba daughter (Cardinale) of a scheming nobleman (Stoppa) can't fix, at least outwardly. But Fabrizio knows in his heart that this is merely a bandage on a festering wound. Two-plus hours of engrossing machinations and opulent scenery point the way to the pice de rsistance: a 45-minute gala scene that the Almighty himself would approve as a luxuriant prelude to the Rapture. Waltzes are danced, mortality is considered; Lancaster's performance (so grippingly brilliant from frame one) comes to a tear-stained head. Let's see the Situation mourn the Italian gentry with as much reserved grandeur.

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