Saturday, May 28, 2022

Il Divo (Il divo: La spettacolare vita di Giulio Andreotti)


Director Paolo Sorrentino

IL DIVO (Il divo: La spettacolare vita di Giulio Andreotti)                B+                                  aka:  The Extraordinary Life of Giulio Andreotti                                                                          Italy  France  (117 mi)  2008  ‘Scope  d: Paolo Sorrentino                      

Winner of the Jury Prize (3rd place) at Cannes, this is a whirlwind of political intrigue, where nearly all of the specifics are lost to the viewer, yet it hardly matters at all, as this as one stylishly clever adaptation of the current Italian political scene where the center of attention is Toni Servillo’s weird but delightfully captivating screen portrayal of the uncharismatic Giulio Andreotti, a mousy postwar political mastermind who served in the Italian General Assembly for over forty years, appointed Senator for life, and on three different occasions in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, elected as the Italian Prime Minister, yet was charged and accused of the murder of a journalist and with having mafia connections, charges that were eventually dropped, then sustained in appeal, and then overturned on another appeal and dismissed, the results of which are shown only at the very end.  From the outset, there is a glossary of important terms and organizations which pass by so quickly that it’s impossible to keep straight, with murky Masonic lodges and devious Vatican bankers, years of Red Brigades and fascist bombings, and a mafia that actually converged into the state, where the violent conflicts seemed like they would never end.  Not knowing seems to be as good a way as any in approaching this film, as it still plays out with astonishing fluidity and directorial flourish, where Sorrentino’s taut musical choices by Fauré, Sibelius, and Saint-Saens alongside original music by Teho Teardo are nothing less than brilliant.  The ease with which this man makes movies feel interesting is stunning, as this has an almost Fellini-esque, carnival-like atmosphere yet the sour looks on people’s faces show the deadly serious nature of their business, shot in the darkened corners of immense corridors of power where humans are dwarfed by the grandiosity of the ancient architecture that all but engulfs them.  Andreotti’s repressive state of mind is so total and so complete that it resembles JULIET OF THE SPIRITS (1965), not in the phantasmagorical dream surrealism, but it mixes fabricated dreams of the protagonist with scenes of murder, orgy, and the mafiosi, entrenched in the impossibility of knowing the truth buried underneath his unchanging veneer of facial expression, veiled as it is in so many layers of denials and implausible explanations, each one of which might actually be partly true.  He reminds us of Everett Sloane as Arthur Bannister in Orson Welles’ LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947), especially the scene as the defense attorney in court when he cross-examines himself on the witness stand.  What is anyone to make of this?  Not just a biography, but a study of power, as Il Divo was the nickname of Julius Caesar, featuring a climactic “confession” sequence where Andreotti, alone in his house, has a sudden outburst.  Shrouded in darkness, sitting in a chair facing the audience, it appears he is under interrogation, but never looks at the camera, instead seems to be talking to his wife, starting in a quiet whisper, but slowly raises his voice, speaking with personal conviction, expressed with strong religious overtones, ultimately calling upon God and his conscience in what resembles a Catholic confessional, claiming every evil act he committed was inspired by a greater good, a scene that very clearly connects religion to politics, calling into question the violence that maintains the state, Il Divo (2008) | The Confession Scene | Eng Subtitles YouTube (2:17).  Andreotti justifies homicides and other acts of violence not as a means to consolidate personal power, but to carry out a divine mandate, as if he were on a mission from God, much like the religious wars stirred up by the Crusades in medieval times, carrying out bloody, violent, and often ruthless conflicts at the behest of the Catholic Church. 

While this is an extraordinarily sinister portrait of Andreotti, what this really resembles is an Italian version of THE GODFATHER (1972) shot by someone other than Francis Ford Coppola, as this is simply another brilliantly expressed version of the same thing, only set in Italy instead of the United States.  What immediately strikes viewers is how the leading character is so morbidly lifeless, lacking all the attributes of a leading man, older, less imposing, completely asexual, striking no fear in the hearts of anyone.  If anything, he fits the Max Schreck profile for Murnau’s NOSFERATU (1922), a shadowy vampire figure who is weakened by sunlight.  Toni Servillo, on the other hand, is running on all cylinders, exaggerated to the point of being grotesque, looking monstrous with his big glasses and impassive demeanor, almost robot-like in his rigidly, mechanical movement, as he’s a creepily queer, brainy, oddball character who is an insomniac, having never kissed his mother, has a personal acquaintance with half a dozen popes, attends mass every morning, rips out the page in murder mysteries that reveals whodunit, and surrounds himself with a fully armed militia, yet is also seen with younger, more energized people who are seen dancing crazily as if in the 60’s, a video camera veering through the crowd, yet he sits quietly with his loyal wife (Anna Bonaiuto).  When someone asks him if he’d like to dance, he responds that in politics, he’s been dancing all his life.  The film is full of cryptic answers and responses like that, some hilarious, almost all of them witty, as apparently this is the guy who knows where all the dead bodies in Italian politics are buried.  Like early Godard films, as each new character is introduced, colorful titles fill the screen identifying them by their name and nickname, organization, and other biographical information, usually to humorous ends, such as the violent manner of their death.  The men that surround Andreotti are enormous-sized behemoths exuding menace, secrecy, and brutality, all stereotyped heavies looking like a bunch of criminals.  The film actually traces several decades of Italian history, including the 1978 kidnapping and eventual murder of then Prime Minister Aldo Moro (the president of Andreotti’s own Christian Democracy Party), which could have been by either the communists or the mafia, where we see many men come to violent unpleasant ends, including a barrage of mysterious killings shown in a dizzying fashion, all somehow linked to Andreotti, directly or indirectly, from 1969 to 1984, aka the Years of Lead, when precisely 236 people were killed and 817 left injured in a series of notorious attacks from both left and right-wing terrorism, yet the film doesn’t dwell in details, instead it enlarges Andreotti’s cold demeanor and operatic world, much of it shown in brief flashbacks with the verve and panache of the director’s unbridled energy in satirizing much of this, almost in comic caricature fashion.  It’s clear he dealt with some bad men, where in trial sequences witness after witness point him out as their mafia connection, but he’s equally at home with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, where on one occasion he had the nerve to tell a Pope, “Your Holiness, forgive me, but you don’t know the Vatican like I do.”  This is about more than a depiction of a political figure, as he is also a symbol of the Christian Democracy Party with strong ties to the Vatican and the Catholic Church that ruled Italy nonstop from the end of WWII to the early 1990’s, profiling a guy who loves spending time alone writing his memoirs in his own hand-written archives, personal records he’s kept about his meetings, appointments, and dirty dealings with everyone he’s ever done business with, all in a lifelong pursuit to remain in power.  In the past 70 years, from postwar Italy until the end of the Cold War, the Church has identified the advance of communism as the primary enemy, consistently viewed as the ultimate Evil.  With this film, Sorrentino is questioning whether doing Evil is necessary for the triumph of Good, particularly when that vehement hatred of Evil (communism) led to a political party, in association with the Catholic Church, aligning themselves with the mafia to eradicate that threat.           

Born out of the distinctive political styles of prominent Italian film directors like Francesco Rosi and Luchinio Visconti, whose films are characterized by a very realistic, almost documentary-like stylistic approach, while Elio Petri, on the other hand, veered in an opposite direction, known for a grotesque, often hallucinatory style.  Two films raised public awareness on the kidnapping of Aldo Moro, Marco Bellocchio’s GOOD MORNING, NIGHT (2003) and Renzo Martinelli’s FIVE MOONS PLAZA (2003), both playing an important part of Italian culture, offering reconstructions of political killings and terrorist acts that may challenge the official police versions.  Matteo Garrone’s ultra-realistic crime drama GOMORRAH (2008) and Sorrentino’s film were both released the same year, mixing historical documentation with a flamboyant visual style, including a hyperactive presence of the camera, showing a preference for the long shot and plenty of fluid camera movement.  While this film is an exposé on Andreotti’s controversial political career, it is also a reflection on power, told in Sorrentino’s distinctive style, dazzling edits with a free-wheeling camera by Luca Bigazzi using a variety of shots from all angles, yet this is clearly a darker subject matter, as he’s capturing an impressionistic, behind the scenes glimpse of a shady, unprincipled man who may be the most influential Italian in the last 50 years co-existing right alongside a violent underground mafia movement that interacts freely within the normal political framework of government.  Add to this anti-communist radicals inside and outside Italy, alliances that taint nearly every aspect of social progress, as political assassinations are commonplace, from bankers to judges to elected officials, where arrested witnesses are notorious for remaining silent on his behalf.  How does one ascertain the truth in this kind of disfigured mythological landscape, where what we see onscreen only supposes what might have really happened?  Embodied by the Red Brigades, one of several left-wing terrorist organizations, they were ultra-Marxist, the most radical of the radical, viewing communists as their declared enemy.  Aldo Moro’s kidnapping occurred when he was on his way to broker an unprecedented alliance between the Christian Democrats and the Communist Party, yet his assassination by the Red Brigades closed off that possibility.  The fact remains the Christian Democrats did nothing to help free Moro, with Sorrentino’s film dramatizing Andreotti’s moral responsibility for a multitude of crimes while avoiding any direct accusation.  Speculation has swirled around Andreotti as to his degree of involvement in Moro’s death, with the film certainly accentuating a perception that he felt tragically guilty over the affair long afterwards, with blood on his hands, as he consistently refused to negotiate with terrorists, effectively sealing Moro’s fate.  The impression left was that Moro was sacrificed to preserve political stability.  What we do know is where this all leads to, as the failed practices of this corrupt government led us to the oily practices of yet another perhaps even more corrupt government led by Italian television billionaire Silvio Berlusconi (the longest serving leader of a G-8 country), whose three national television channels comprise half the nation’s viewing audience.  But the film barely casts a nod in his direction, instead relishing the time spent with a deftly underplayed Andreotti and his band of merry men, all of whom eventually desert him or are killed, a man, surprisingly enough, who will have the thrill of watching this movie portrayal of his life while he’s still alive to see it.  One would think he would be amused, though his actual response, “I don’t agree with Sorrentino’s portrayal of me, but I understand he had to make certain dramatic choices to make it interesting; my real life is actually quite boring.”  A meticulously researched work that can be exhilarating and oddly captivating, as it seems to elevate Italian politics to an unending series of Mephistopheles deals with the devil.  Viewed as some sinister, Machiavellian embodiment of power, all that’s missing in this illustrious Andreotti portrait is a three-pronged trident in his hand.      

Monday, May 23, 2022


Director Konstantin Costa-Gavras

Grigoris Lambrakis a month before his assassination

Christos Sartzetakis


Raoul Coutard behind the camera with Costa-Gavras

Costa-Gavras with Yves Montand

Costa-Gavras with Jacques Perrin

























































Z                      A                                                                                                                      France  Algeria  (128 mi)  1969  d: Konstantin Costa-Gavras

Any resemblance to actual events, to persons living or dead, is not the result of chance.  It is DELIBERATE.                                                                                                                               —The opening title card of Z

An incendiary political thriller based on the 1966 Vassilis Vassilikos novel, which lists no government authority by name, only their position, documenting the events leading up to the 1963 assassination of Greek pacifist and social democrat reformer Grigoris Lambrakis (played by Yves Montand), known as the “Lambrakis Affair,” whose death unleashed an unexpected scrutiny of a fabricated series of explanations provided by the police, all eventually exposed as lies, introducing the world to one of the more important figures in cinema, the Investigating Judge, or Examining Magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant as Christos Sartzetakis), who overlooks all the threats to his life and career, as well as his own political ideology (the son of a military colonel) and actually uncovers factual evidence contradicting the façade of police reports, and one-by-one placing the conspiracy of Greek military leaders under arrest, touching the social consciousness of young cineastes, critics, and political activists around the globe who had never seen a movie like this.  Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival (strangely spoken in French), mostly shot in Algeria, it won the Jury Prize, with Jean-Louis Trintignant, who would go on to star in Bertolucci’s The Conformist (Il Conformista) (1970), also picking up the Best Actor Award, making over $14 million dollars internationally, inspiring a generation of conspiracy dramas, while the film also won Academy Awards for Best Editing and Best Foreign Film.  Hugely successful in France and abroad (though banned in Greece), screenwriter Jorge Semprún fought fascism under the Franco regime in Spain, shot by French New Wave cinematographer Raoul Coutard, edited by Françoise Bonnot, while the musical score was by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, the film unveils themes that are central to the work of Costa-Gavras, the repercussions of tyranny and the subtle variations of guilt.  The director made a Political Trilogy of films with Yves Montand, a renowned actor and singer already associated with progressive causes (alongside his equally legendary wife Simone Signoret), including THE CONFESSION (1970), another political thriller based on a true incident, the kidnapping of a Czech Communist Party functionary (Yves Montand) that becomes a critique of Eastern Bloc Communism, and STATE OF SIEGE (1972), another fictionalized treatment of an actual event, when an American intelligence agent (Yves Montand) is tortured/interrogated/assassinated by Uruguayan Marxist terrorists, all films that meticulously detail a sequence of events with harrowing ramifications.  The director has come under an array of criticism from Marxist sympathizers who suggest his dramatic methods tend to invoke sympathy for individual victims of political repression.  A tireless champion of artistic freedom, Costa-Gavras’s father fought against the Nazis in the left-wing Greek resistance movement, but after World War II was labeled a communist by the country’s new government and frequently imprisoned.  The political blacklisting of his father eliminated higher educational opportunities for his son, who was a leading ballet dancer in Greece, but unable to hold a driver’s license, also denied permission to study film in the United States, so instead he emigrated to Paris to study law and filmmaking, becoming synonymous with tireless research and storytelling of profound skill and integrity.  Breaking into the public consciousness with this film, it is a shattering and viscerally potent experience, with viewers enticed and manipulated by a new manner of experiencing events and ideas, featuring a level of immediacy and urgency that is exceedingly rare to cinema, something along the lines of Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966) or Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo (Il divo: La spettacolare vita di Giulio Andreotti) (2007), taking us into the bowels of the Italian General Assembly and Giulio Andreotti, serving seven times as the Italian Prime Minister, able to withstand multiple murder trials, reported connections to the mafia, while also accentuating the kidnapping and eventual murder of then Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro.  It also brings to mind a more local experience, Howard Alk’s The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971), where a Black Panther activist was assassinated by police, but their tracks were similarly covered by a web of deceitful lies by the police, and at the time, there was no Examining Magistrate to sort out fact from fiction, so that job was left to the filmmaker himself.  Drawing from films with an intense political message, capturing the tensions and energies of the time, much of this resembles the paranoid conspiracy films of the 70’s, clearly inspired by a decade of assassinations in the 60’s (Assassinations and attempts), from John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Patrice Lumumba, Mehdi Ben Barka, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Fred Hampton, yet what’s unique to this film are the slow introduction of at least 30 different characters, each seemingly having their own point of view, all providing subjective, alternative, and contradictory versions of the same incident, as flashbacks only increase the psychological tension, turning this into a RASHOMON (1950) style inquiry that poses particular challenges to the viewer. 

In 1967, two years before filming started, the far-right military junta, under the authoritarian dictatorship of Georgios Papadopoulos and the Colonels’ Coup, took control of the Greek government through a coup d’état, instantly declaring martial law, the suspension of political expression, and the arrest of political enemies, while implementing draconian restrictions on individual liberties and freedom of the press.  Much of this is reflected in both the opening and closing scenes of the film, as in the introduction an Assistant Minister of Agriculture is revealing methods to eradicate mildew or crop disease, which he equates with leftist foreign interference, a metaphor for communism, which requires indoctrination at schools, universities, or working-class factory plants, suggesting their unwanted presence needs to be completely eradicated from Greek society through an aggressive use of voter intimidation and a cooperative police and military plan at the local level to switch votes to their own party.  What this film demonstrates, then and now, is how the mechanics of fascist corruption are firmly hidden under a mask of law and order.  Greece was undergoing a decade-long struggle for political dominance between the left and right, leading to a rise of military conservatism seeking to oust the outside Soviet influence clashing with leftist, communist-leaning organizations seeking to create a Modern Greek state free of American influence, specifically a proposed U.S. Polaris missile submarine base.  Both sides had nationalist agendas free of outside political agitation, so when the Deputy, leftist activist Grigoris Lambrakis, a member of parliament for the opposition Union of the Democratic Left, is called upon to give an anti-American and anti-nuclear speech in the Greek port city of Thessaloniki on May 22, 1963, the local government shuts off all options, refusing permits to both indoor and outdoor auditoriums, confining the event to one single option that they could prepare for, a tiny union hall just across the street from the hotel where Lambrakis is staying, filling the streets with anti-leftist hooligans, basically paid rabble rousers utilized by the police to stir up trouble, interrupting speeches with clubs and sticks, targeting communists and students, sending many to the hospital.  Despite receiving a credible death threat earlier in the day, the police intentionally ignored it, claiming this was a tactic often-used to gain headlines in the newspapers.  Nonetheless, Matt (Bernard Fresson) and Manuel (Charles Denner), two leftist lawyers, are hastily making arrangements, only to be thwarted at every turn, reconfiguring things at the last moment, notifying the pubic of the changed venue through the distribution of student pamphlets, yet they are harassed and interrupted as carloads of agitators are unleashed upon them, many subject to brutal beatings, creating a manic disturbance even before things are allowed to begin.  By the time Lambrakis arrives at the airport and transported to his hotel, he has difficulty crossing the street, as the assembled police simply ignore the marauding crowd, with one of them bashing Lambrakis in the head even before he climbs the stairs to the union headquarters, broadcasting his speech via outdoor speakers, yet the police have built a heavy presence of right-wing thugs out on the street who unleash a barrage of rocks, clubs, and fists as the night explodes in a torrent of confusion and panic, described as “hoodlums” and “wage slaves without wages” in his speech denouncing Greece’s use of nuclear armaments while arguing for a move from the country’s right-wing, pro-war stance to a more pacifist approach, contending half the entire budget goes to military expenditures.   When Lambrakis tries to return to his hotel, a three-wheeled truck known as a kamakazi comes out of the crowd driven by Yago (Renato Salvatori as Spyro Gotzamanis), targeting the Deputy, with Vago (Marcel Bozzuffi as Emmanouel Emmannouilidis), a man in the back hitting him with a devastating blow to the head, knocking him first to his knees, before falling to the ground in a pool of blood, which gets replayed through witness testimony in slow motion, much like the Zapruder film.  In the ensuing pandemonium, a man leaps onto the kamikazi and attempts to engage them, but they fight him off, leaving him heavily injured on the street, where they would have finished him off except pedestrians arrive along with the police, with the driver immediately contradicting the witness testimony.  Nonetheless, Yago is hauled down to the police station.  It’s not the assassination, however, but the ensuing investigation that dominates the film, following a systematic structure, something first realized in Fritz Lang’s M (1931), following the culprits, confronting the avalanche of lies, the attempts to silence witnesses, and the eventual arrests of the real criminals.   

In something of a change of pace, the scene shifts to the Deputy’s wife, Hélène (Irène Pappas), who gives a remarkable performance, nearly all of it wordless, emulating the grief yet quiet dignity of Jacquelyn Kennedy following President Kennedy’s assassination in the same year of 1963.  At the time, it would have been impossible not to recognize the comparison.  The tragedy of her grief at the hospital is overwhelming, conveyed though flashbacks to better times in a master class of understated emotion, holding it all in, changing the entire focus of the film, as Lambrakis holds on for a few days before he dies (half a million Greeks marched at his funeral), yet she’s forced to witness doctors talking about her husband in the most excruciatingly dire medical terminology, yet she endures it all.  By the time she returns to her hotel room, finally left alone, she lets it all out.  The astonishing performance Pappas provides cannot be underestimated, as it profoundly elevates and humanizes the experience. The military junta has all their witnesses lined up, concocting a story about two drunken nobodies out on a wild adventure swarming through the crowds before anyone could react, accidentally running over the Deputy, ready to close the case as death by unfortunate accident, with over a dozen witnesses swearing both Yago and Vago were drinking heavily at a bar just prior to the accident.  This contradicts what the viewer has already seen for themselves, as both Yago and Vago were mingling through the crowd, creating a scene by attacking leftists and clubbing them over the head.  When the arresting police officer has Yago confined at the station, he is carrying a club and there is no alcohol on his breath.  Within days, the military Generals have him officially change his report to delete those tiny details.  Initially, only one person is willing to come forward to testify before the Magistrate, but he is attacked by a speeding car and also clubbed over the head, yet when he falls, there are a dozen witnesses who swear he is drunk and fell off the curb, transporting him to a hospital, where he is placed under police guard.  The General, (Pierre Dux, based on Konstantinos Mitsou) and his right hand man The Colonel (Julien Guiomar, based on Efthimios Kamoutsis), both remind him that he was drunk, against all his personal protests, caught up in a Kafkaesque universe where nothing makes sense.  Also, an autopsy performed at the hospital provides conclusive evidence that the Deputy was killed by a severe blow to the head, contradicting the parade of police witnesses offering phony testimony.  Once again the scene shifts to the Examining Magistrate, as he is charged with sifting through the diversionary smokescreen, suddenly interrogating many of the witnesses, some of them provided by a Photojournalist (Jacques Perrin, based on Giorgos Bertsos) who has photos that contradict the police testimony, while in an electrifying sequence they attempt to run down Manuel on the street to prevent his testimony.  Within no time, the Magistrate has cracked a secret right-wing organization favored by the police to cause havoc when they need it, changing the entire scope of the investigation, where a telling moment occurs when what he has routinely been calling an “incident” becomes labelled a “murder” investigation, hauling in a parade of witnesses, who absurdly use the exact same words to describe events, suggesting they were told what to say, finally discovering that it wasn’t the acts of drunken citizens or riled up protestors, but a deviously concocted plan initiated by higher ups in the government.  Sartzetakis came under heavy pressure to wrap up the case quickly without extending the investigation, but he held firm, leading to an exhilarating climax, resulting in a rhythmic procession of heavily decorated military leaders being called in for questioning before being indicted for both perjury and murder charges, a quick succession of events that plays out like a cavalry charge, with rapid-fire editing that may have laid the groundwork for Francis Ford Coppola’s procession of mafia killings in THE GODFATHER (1972), while the typewriters in close-up tapping out the indictments are copied in Alan J. Pakula’s ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976).  The assembled forces for the greater good finally stand up for themselves, bringing a warranted jubilation to the audience, with leftist groups proclaiming victory afterwards, all but assured of winning the upcoming elections.  Yet the final epilogue crushes their spirits, as two months later the Magistrate is mysteriously removed from the case, witnesses die under suspicious circumstances, and 21 defendants are acquitted, the two assassins receive relatively short sentences, both pardoned by the junta shortly afterwards, and the military officers receive only reprimands.  Sartzetakis was expelled from the judiciary, arrested multiple times and tortured while imprisoned for a year, though he eventually served as the President of Greece from 1985 to 1990.  The end credits list all the things from A-Z that were banned by the junta government, most too absurd to believe, including long hair on men, miniskirts, the Beatles, Mark Twain, modern and popular music, sociology, labor unions, modern math, strikes, Chekhov, Beckett, Pinter, Albee, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Sartre, Ionesco, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Euripides, Socrates, Sophocles, Tolstoy, Trotsky, the bar association, peace movements, Russian-style toasts, learning Russian, the Vassilikos novel, the letter Z, which means “he lives,” while composer Mikis Theodorakis was placed under house arrest in the Peloponnese Islands.

Postscript                                                                                                                                       Greece and the Global Sixties | HuffPost null  Tom Hayden, former SDS President and California State Senator, March 18, 2010

Perhaps “Greece in the Sixties” is remembered in another historical category because of the dictatorship, but the omission in Sixties historical literature is a serious one, promoting the popular understanding of the Sixties as mainly concerned with middle class lifestyles.  This is distorted historiography.  Greece after all was the fulcrum of the Cold War which dominated the Sixties generation.  The 1967 coup was one of many CIA-assisted ventures that were typical of the time.  The Greek dictatorship was imposed in response to the departure from Cold War politics that the Center Union coalition represented.  The November 17 movement’s resistance to tanks on the Polytechnic campus was a symbol as great historically as that of Tlatelolco Square in Mexico City five years earlier.  If I may say so, Melina Mercouri was as great a global figure representing a revolution in the arts as was Jane Fonda — and Mikis Theodorakis as great as Pete Seeger, and Costa-Gavras as great as Stanley Kubrick.