Posts Tagged ‘Cinema Made in Italy’

Cinema Made in Italy 3 – 7 March 2022

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY is back in a live edition to kick off the Spring with the latest crop of Italian releases. The 12th edition takes place at Cine Lumiere, in London’s South Kensington, and is supported by Istituto Luce Cinecitta and the Italian Cultural Institute.

 

THREE FLOORS (Tre piani) | Director: Nanni Moretti

Nanni Moretti pictures everyday life in a Rome apartment in his latest domestic drama in which he also stars alongside an stunning cast of Adriano Giannini, Margherita Buy, Riccardo Scamarcio and Alba Rohrwacher. Enjoyable if rather conventional this is solid entertainment, the pithy plot turning on a series of events that will have a far reaching impact on all concerned: the women are the peacemakers; the men the troublemakers. Beautifully written and well performed Three Floors had its world premiere at last year’s Cannes film festival and is released in UK cinemas on 18 March

CALIFORNIE | Directors: Alessandro Cassigoli, Casey Kauffman

The five-year journey of a young woman from Morocco who tries to find her place in the sun after moving to a village near Naples: her dreams, her disappointments and her loneliness.

FREAKS OUT – Director: Gabriele Mainetti

Franz Rogowski is the reason to see this needlessly violent drama that follows the lives of three circus performers in 1940s Rome.

FUTURA | Directors: Pietro Marcello, Francesco Munzi, Alice Rohrwacher

A portmanteau travelogue that travels the length and breadth of Italy focusing on teenagers’ hopes and dreams for the future.

THE PEACOCK’S PARADISE (IL PARADISO DEL PAVONE) | Director: Laura Bispuri

After her impressive debut Sworn Virgin  and follow-up Daughter of Mine Laura Bispuri’s latest feature is an underpowered domestic drama that drifts around aimlessly despite its impressive cast led by Veteran star Dominique Sanda who plays a mother celebrating her birthday with daughter Caterina (Maya Sansa) and daughter in law Adelina (Alba Rohrwacher who won Best Actress for her central role in Sworn Virgin.

AMERICA LATINA | Director: Damiano D’Innocenzo, Fabio D’Innocenzo

Stylishly empty psychodrama that starts with promise but rapidly goes downhill from the much feted D’Innocenzo brothers who brought us Berlinale winner Bad Tales and wrote the multi-garlanded Dogman it sees a happy and successful man brought down by his own paranoia.

A CHIARA | Director: Jonas Carpignano

The Guerrasio family and their friends gather to celebrate Claudio and Carmela’s oldest daughter’s 18th birthday. There is a healthy rivalry between the birthday girl and her 16-year-old sister Chiara, as they compete on the dancefloor. It is a happy occasion, and the close-knit family is in top form. However, everything changes the next day when Claudio disappears. Chiara starts to investigate; as she gets closer to the truth, she is forced to decide what kind of future she wants for herself.

THE TALE OF KING CRAB (RE GRANCHIO | Directors: Alessio Rigo de Righi, Matteo Zoppis

Italy, nowadays. Some elderly hunters reminisce about the tale of Luciano together.
Late 19th century, Luciano lives as a wandering drunkard in the Tuscan countryside. His lifestyle and constant opposition to the despotic local prince have turned him into an outcast for the community. In an ultimate vengeful move to protect (from the lord) the woman he loves, Luciano commits the unforgivable. Now an unfortunate criminal, he is exiled to Tierra del Fuego.
There, with the help of ruthless gold diggers, he seeks a mythical treasure, paving his way towards redemption. Yet, little but greed and madness can grow on these barren lands.

WELCOME VENICE | Director: Andrea Segre

Two brothers are in conflict over the way the Venetian lagoon has been transformed, and the identity of the city and its residents has drastically changed.

COMEDIANS | Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Theatrical adaptation: a group of aspiring comedians at a Manchester evening school reunite for their last rehearsal before performing for an agent from London.

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY | 3 -7 March 2022

 

Romeo and Juliet (1968) **** Tribute to Franco Zeffirelli

Director: Franco Zeffirelli  Screenplay: Franco Brusati, Masolino D’Amico | Cast: Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting, John McEnery, Milo O’Shea, Pat Heywood, Robert Stephens, Michael York, Bruce Robinson

138min  | Romantic Drama | Italy

Franco Zeffirelli’s ROMEO AND JULIET captures the innocent rapture of teenage love when hormones spill over to create an intoxicating cocktail of lust and longing. Full of life and perfectly cast, newcomers Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were absolutely exquisite as the star-struck pair, evoking a sweetly innocent sexuality that has never been seen again in cinema history. Their beautifully spoken prose and mesmerising chemistry completes this idealistic yet achingly romantic depiction of tragic love between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, who came from different warring families.

And although D’Amico and Brusati’s screenplay dumbs things down in the classic speeches, each character is superbly cast: Milo O’Shea as the kindly indulgent yet dignified Friar Laurence; John McEnergy’s fiesty Mercutio, and Pat Heywood’s jovial Nurse all make their memorable mark and are still fresh and familiar nearly 50 years later, in this sparkling restoration. Zeffirelli makes good use of the original settings of the play in the medieval ‘struscio’ of Perugia, Viterbo, Siena and the Palazzo Borghese in Rome, and where Pasqualino De Santis’ stunning set pieces luxuriate in an around the rolling countryside of Gubbio (Umbria) and rural Siena (Tuscany), winning him an Oscar for cinematography. Danilo Donati won another for his richly beautiful costumes, and also a Bafta.

Nino Rota’s romantic score “What is Youth” will also flood back to the memories of those who first saw it in the late ’60s or ’70s. He made his name in The Leopard and would go on to write music for The Godfather, Part I and II. The script plays up the relationship between friends Mercutio and Romeo. And Robert Stephens is suave and wise as the Prince of Verona. Romeo and Juliet’s bedroom scenes are quite raunchy in a sensual way – Hussey was almost 16 and Whiting 17 – but they show their tenderness when they break down in tears in the touching final scenes and win Golden Globes for Most Promising Newcomers. MT

A BRAND NEW 4K RESTORATION is now available |  PART OF THE SHAKESPEARE LIVES SEASON: CELEBRATING THE WORKS OF THE BARD over 400 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH.

 

 

Cinema Made in Italy 2019 |

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY is back in London to kick off the Spring with the latest crop of Italian films. The 9th edition takes place at Cine Lumiere and is supported by Istituto Luce Cinecitta and the Italian Cultural Institute.

LORO ****

Director: Paolo Sorrentino Cast: Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio, Kasia Smutniak, Euridice Axen, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Roberto De Francesco, Dario Cantarelli, Anna Bonaiuto | 150′

Paolo Sorrentino’s savage political satire is a powerful portrait of controversial Italian public figure Silvio Berlusconi and his inner circle. | UK release date: 19 April 2019

EUFORIA ***

Director: Valeria Golino | Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Valerio Mastandrea, Isabella Ferrari, Valentina Cervi, Jasmine Trinca, Francesco Borgese, Francesco Pellegrino, Andrea Germani, Marzia Ubaldi | 120′

Valeria Golino’s second film as a director explores brotherly love through two very different siblings. It stars her on/off partner Riccardo Scamarcio as one of two brothers brought together through adversity when one falls dangerously ill. Matteo is a man of means in central Rome, Ettore is a primary teacher in their provincial hometown. Beautifully photographed in the eternal city, Euforia ultimate predictability is rescued by the strength of its dynamic performances.

RICORDI? ***

Director: Valerio Mieli | Cast: Luca Marinelli, Linda Caridi, Giovanni Anzaldo, Camilla Diana, Anna Manuelli, Eliana Bosi, David Brandon, Benedetta Cimatti, Andrea Pennacchi, 106′

After success with her debut Ten Winters this touching love story explores the ups and downs of this emotional journey for two young lovers Luca Marinelli and Linda Caridi.

LUCIA’S GRACE (Troppa Grazia) ***

Director: Gianni Zanasi | Cast: Alba Rohrwacher, Elio Germano, Hadas Yaron, Giuseppe Battiston, Carlotta Natoli, Thomas Trabacchi, Daniele De Angelis, Rosa Vannucci, Elisa Di Eusanio, Davide Strava | 110′ 

Alba Rohrwacher blazes through this upbeat ecumenical drama that sees single working mother Lucia juggling her life between motherhood, an emotionally exhausting romance, and her work as a land surveyor. When she discovers that an ambitious new building project will have devastating effects on the locale, she debates whether to challenge the project when up pops a mysterious woman, claiming to be the Madonna and offering to support Lucia in flagging up her concerns, and suggesting the construction of a church as an alternative. This whimsical affair offers cheap laughs as an alternative to trusting its strong psychological elements, but Vladan Radovic’s lively camerawork and a strong cast carry it through in the end.   

THE GUEST (L’Ospite) ****

Director: Duccio Chiarini | Cast: Daniele Parisi, Silvia D’Amico, Anna Bellato, Federica Victoria Caiozzo aka Thony, Milvia Marigliano, Daniele Natali, Guglielmo Favilli : 96′

Sofa-surfing is the theme of this coming of age drama about the ups and downs of modern day love and commitment phobia. Guido (Daniele Parisi) is a 38-year-old academic who is writing a pot-boiler on Italo Calvino. But his girlfriend girlfriend (Silvia D’Amico) is having none of it, and puts an end to their flagging relationship forcing him to out of his cosy existence to face some uncomfortable truths through the experiences of lodging with his friends and family. Insightful and enjoyable  .

THE MAN WHO BOUGHT THE MOON ( L’Uomo che compró la Luna) ***

Director: Paolo Zucca |Cast: Jacopo Cullin, Stefano Fresi, Francesco Pannofino, Benito Urgu, Lazar Ristovski, Angela Molina |  103′

This off the wall spy-themed buddy movie from Sardinia stars Jacopo Cullin as a secret agent tasked with investigating a claim that one of his compatriots has bought the Moon as a gift for his girlfriend. Teaming up with his fellow Sardinian Badore (Benito Ugo) the pair set off to infiltrate the Sardinian community and investigate the ludicrous idea in a surefire but engagingly silly caper.

WHEREVER YOU ARE (Ovunque Proteggemi) ***

Director: Bonifacio Angius |Cast: Alessandro Gazale, Francesca Niedda, Antonio Angius, Anna Ferruzzo, Gavino Ruda, Mario Olivieri | 94′

Bonifacio Angius won the Junior Jury Award at Locarno for Perfidia (2014) and returns with this impressively perceptive drama about a middle-aged ‘mammalone’ with a drinking problem. Burning a hole in his mother’s pocket with his failed singing career, he has a mental breakdown and is taken to hospital, where he meets Francesca (Francesca Niedda), a young mother with drug issues. The two fall madly in love and set off on an eventful odyssey to redeem each other by reclaiming Francesca’s daughter who has been taken in to care. 

NOTTI MAGICHE ****

Director: Paolo Virzì |Cast: Mauro Lamantia, Giovanni Toscano, Irene Vetere, Giancarlo Giannini, Eugenio Marinelli, Marina Rocco, Paolo Sassanelli, Roberto Herlitzka, Regina Orioli, Andrea Roncato, Giulio Scarpati, Simona Marchini, Annalisa Arena, Ornella Muti, Jalil Lespert, Paolo Bonacelli | 125 ‘minutes

Ornella Muti makes a welcome return in Paolo Virzi’s playfully affectionate black comedy that explores the mysterious drowning of a film producer in the River Tiber. The main suspects are three young aspiring scriptwriters, and their outlandishly spirited alibis form the basis of an entertaining exploration that takes us back to the golden years of Italian cinema and a moving and magical trip through the backstreet of Rome

THE CONFORMIST (Il Conformista) *****

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Cast: Jean-Louis Tritignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti, José Quaglio, Yvonne Sanson | 118′

A wonderful chance to see this classic cult thriller adapted from a novel by Alberto Moravia. Set in 1938, it tells the story of an aristocratic would-be fascist who is sent to Paris to murder his former, anti-fascist philosophy tutor. Jean-Louis Tritignant is supremely sinister in the role of Marcello Clerici, whose demeanour is an eternal reminder of the banality of evil. It was an instant hit when it was released in 1970, and some say it is one of the most poetic and influential films ever made, beloved by film-makers the world over.

WE’LL BE YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL (Saremo Giovani e Bellissimi) ***

Director: Letizia Lamartire | 92 minutes)

In the early 1990s, 18-year-old Isabella (Barbora Bobulova) was a pop star. Two decades later she’s still on the road singing the same old songs with her son Bruno (Piavani) on guitar. But nothing can last for ever and soon the ties that bind will also unravel in this bittersweet and often poignantly moving musical love story.

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY | LONDON 2019 | 26 FEBRUARY – 3 MARCH

 

Sundance Film Festival | Award and Winners 2019

Sundance announced its awards last night after ten extraordinary days of the latest independent cinema. Taking place each January in Park City, snowy Utah, the festival is the premier showcase for U.S. and international independent film, presenting dramatic and documentary feature-length films from emerging and established artists, innovative short films, filmmaker forums. The Festival brings together the most original storytellers known to mankind. In his closing speech President and Founder Robert Redford commented: “At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to support independent voices, to watch and listen to the stories they tell.” Over half the films shown were directed by women and 23 prizes were awarded across the board including one film from a director identifying as LGBTQI+

This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments in the arts were Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary/China | Dirs: Nanfu Wang/Jialing Zhang,

 photo by Nanfu Wang.

ONE CHILD NATION After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic/USA | Dir/Wri Chinonye Chukwu

 

photo by Eric Branco

CLEMENCY: Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: Dirs: Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov | Macedonia

HONEYLAND – When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female bee hunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

The Souvenir| photo by Agatha A. Nitecka.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic | UK | Dir/wri: Joanna Hogg

THE SOUVENIR: A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, | USA  Dir: Rachel Lears:

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, U.S.A. Dir/Wri: Paul Downs

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary/Austria: Dir: Richard Ladkan

SEA OF SHADOWS/Austria – The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic/Denmark Dir: May el-Toukhy

QUEEN OF HEARTS — A woman jeopardises both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper.

 

The Audience Award: NEXT, Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra

THE INFILTRATORS / U.S.A. (Directors: , Screenwriters: — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary | USA Dirs: Steven Bognar and Julia

AMERICAN FACTORY  — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic U.S.A. Dirs: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot,

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary NOR | Dir: Mads Brüggerwas

 photo by Tore Vollan.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic | Spain (Dir/Wri: Lucía Garibaldi,

THE SHARKS / Uruguay, Argentina – While a rumour about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic USA | Dir: Pippa Blanco

SHARE— After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency| USA | Dir: Jacqueline Olive

ALWAYS IN SEASON — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker USA : Liza Mandelup

JAWLINE — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing USA : Todd Douglas Miller

APOLLO 11 — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography | U.S.A. Dir: Luke Lorentzen

MIDNIGHT FAMILY / Mexico/DOC — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2019 | 23 JANUARY – 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Dogman (2018) ****

Dir: Matteo Garrone | Ugo Chiti | Adamo Dionisi, Francesco Acquaroli, Edoardo Pesce, Laura Pizzirani | Drama | 120′ | Italy

The second Italian hero of Cannes Film Festival appears in Matteo Garrone’s terrific revenge thriller that returns to the filmmaker’s own stamping ground of Caserta with a richly thematic and compulsive exploration of male rivalry and belonging in a downtrodden criminal-infested football-playing community scratching a living.

Life has always been tough in this neck of the woods, infested by gangland influences: it is a terrain that Garrone knows and describes well in his 2008 feature Gomorrah. A brutal brotherhood controls this bleak beachside wilderness where everyone relies on each other to survive.

At the heart of DOGMAN is a tour de force turn from actor turned director Marcello Fonte who plays an endearing and diminutive dog grooming supremo who although popular and kind, has formed a toxic twosome with local hoodlum and sociopath Simone, a thorn in his side who is dragging him constantly into trouble. Marcello’s wife has cleared off and he has a young daughter Sofia (Alida Baldari Calabria) to look after –  and dog-grooming hardly makes ends meet, so to keep Simone sweet he supplies him with cocaine and courtesies, though secretly he wishes him dead.

Marcello possesses the same innate goodness as Lazzaro in Rohrwacher’s drama that played earlier in the competition line -up. And he’s gifted and patient with the dogs brought into his shop, and in one scene he actually goes out of his way to rescue a chihuahua who has been nearly frozen to death in a botched robbery. In short, Garrone uses similar ‘good and evil’ theme as Scorsese in his New York street thrillers where one good person is perpetually trying to redeem the others, against the odds and often at his own expense. Marcello is keen on his friends and is popular and wants to keep it that way, but Simone is a liability and one day will lead him to tragedy.

This is a gritty and violent film and often unbearably so, but there are moments of heart-rending tenderness – between his Marcello and his dependants – where tears will certainly well up. Fonte won Best Award at Cannes for his skilful portrayal that switches subtly from sad loner to desperado.

Garrone sets the desolate scene resonantly with his brilliant lighting and inventive camerawork, this time working with DoP Nicolai Bruel, who paints this part of Italy with an almost gothic desperation highlighted by Michele Braga’s mournful musical score. MT

NOW ON RELEASE NATIONWIDE | BEST ACTOR AWARD MARCELLO FONTE | CANNES 2018

https://youtu.be/LI2JE_xjAaY

The Mountain (2018) *** Venice Film Festival 2018

Dir: Rick Alverson | Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jeff Goldblum, Hannah Gross, Denis Lavant, Udo Kier | US Drama | 

Rick Alverson enforces his reputation as an arcane arthouse auteur in this drifting and broodingly melancholy film that follows the career of a suave peripatetic professor of lobotomies, seen through the eyes of a repressed young man in 1950s America.

Nothing is really different from today in this Edward Hopper-like world of alienation and conservatism where self expression, particularly from women, is curbed and stifled by a sharp poke in the eyes from Jeff Goldblum’s dapper despotic Dr Fiennes.

There is something unsettlingly surreal about The Mountain and the way it plays out with a glowering intent that solemnly visits the pristine emptiness of its spartan interiors and mournful rural backwaters.  It could be called visionary but it also feels overbearing in its arty pretentiousness. 

Alverson has selected a perfect cast for the doom-laden affair. Tye Sheridan, is a troubled young man whose mother has disappeared into an institution and whose figure-skating father (a mesmerising Udo Kier) dies during the early scenes in their airless home. Trained up as a medical photographer by the rangy doctor with his eye for the ladies and a whiff of eminence grise ruffling through his silver locks, the pair then cut a swathe through select California psychiatric institutions, helping ‘deranged’ patients to be more compliant by detaching their prefrontal cortex.

But as new psychotropic drugs become the treatment of preference, psychiatrists begin refusing Fiennes’ services and he slowly unravels taking Wally and his female friend with him. There is q classic cameo from Denis Lavant thrown in for good measure to complete the wacky weirdness of it all. An acquired taste and a hypnotic film to watch that could be a road best not travelled for others. MT 

VENICE FIOM FESTIVAL 2018

 

The Guest (2018) ***

Dir.: Duccio Chiarini; Cast: Daniele Parisi, Sylvia d’Amico, Mivia Marigliano, Sergio Peirattini, Daniele Natali, Thony, Anna Bellato; Italy 2018, 93 min.

Duccio Chiarini’s portrait of Italian middle-class malaise is familiar all over Western Europe. Thirtysomethings show a depressing lack of commitment – particularly the men. What starts as a romcom rapidly dives into melancholy meditation on modern life.

We meet wannabe write and occasional substitute teacher Guido (Parisi), naked between the legs of his girl friend Chiara (d’Amico). Clearly copulation has taken place, and Guido is looking for the burst condom. After finding it, Guido votes they should go for a baby, rather than the ‘morning after’ pill – knowing full well that Chiara is opposed to the idea: ”I have to have done something with my life before having a child”. And it’s true, neither of them has a good job, despite Chiara’s two MAs, her stint as a tour guide, and Guido’s book on Calvino, which is still waiting for publication. Nothing seems to work in their relationship either: the car is broken down, but there’s no money to repair it. And Guido’s mother (Marigliano) is still buying his underwear, as Chiara points out, although he’s pushing forty. Chiara is considering a decent offer in Canada but is unsure how to broach the topic.  And this is the beginning of the end of their relationship, because Guido suspects that Chiara is seeing another man.

The focus then changes to Guido, who becomes the hero: sofa-surfing with his parents and various friends, and stalking Chiara in the meantime. His mates aren’t faring any better. Dario (Natali) has fallen in love with another woman and is about to leave girl friend Roberta (Thony), a cardiologist. “We met via Tinder”, is Dario’s lame excuse, telling Guido to have a look at Chiara’s emails. Pietro and the pregnant Lucia (Bellato), are more negative than happy about their baby, and Lucia is competing with Guido for a literary grant. This is modern life, according to Guido’s mother: “You throw away, we mend”.

Guido and his generation see relationships and careers as transient. Self-obsessed, the men in particular, fail to grow up or even learn from their mistakes. Chiarini is an insightful observer, and DoP Baris Ozbicer’s camera finds always new angles for the emotional distress of the protagonists. Overall, the feature is more entertaining than philosophical, the director too well-meaning to produce anything with sharp edges. AS

LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 2018

 

 

Rainbow (2017)

Dir.: Paolo Taviani; Cast: Luca Marinelli, Valentina Belle, Lorenzo Richelmy, Anna Ferruzzo; Italy/France 2017, 84 min.

In Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s elegant historical drama, a doomed love-triangle, gets caught up in the tumultuous upheaval of the Second World War and the partisan resistance in Italy. Written by the brothers and based on the 1963 novel by Beppe Fenoglio, Paolo Taviani’s direction is a nostalgic outing  celebrating  the pre-WWII past, but with little to say about the fighting between partisans and Black-Shirts.

Milton (Marinelli) is fighting with the partisans in the winter of 1944/5, when he stumbles upon a villa in the remote countryside once the scene of his love affair for the beautiful Flavia (Belle). They were both students at the time, and loved to play old records. But Milton was jealous of fellow-student Giorgio (Richelmy), who also lusted after the young woman. Entering the villa, Milton meets the housekeeper (Ferruzzo), who remembers him from the olden days. She praises him, but has little to say about Giorgio, who, often visited Flavia after Milton left the scene, making it clear that, “nothing bad happened”.  In the middle of the civil war, Milton tries in vain to thrash things out with fellow partisan Giorgio, who been taken prisoner by the Fascists.

DoP Simone Zampagni creates lovely images of the stylish interiors and rough mountain landscapes, but Taviani never comes to grips with the story: it is really like two films in one, with the director and his co-writing brother distinctly preferring the glorious setting of the past to the mudslinging fighting and intrigues played out at the HQs of both Fascist and partisans. But worse, everything said about war, friendship and jealousy is just trite and banal. Rainbow dies a slow, beautiful death, losing itself in the permanent fog of this beautiful but visionless piece of nostalgia. AS

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY | 7-11 MARCH 2018 | LONDON UK

Orchestra Rehearsal (1979) | Bluray release

Dir.: Federico Fellini; Cast: Baldwin Baas, Elisabeth Labi; Italy/West Germany | 70′.

Fellini’s little known TV vignette is a rather anarchic undertaking which suffers from its episodic form offering moments of brilliance, but even longer stretches of opaqueness.

Seen as Fellini’s only contemporary effort – his other films always reaching out to the past – Orchestra still has some hallmarks of his classics, with the film crew always present, this time we can hear Fellini as the director of a documentary crew filming the rehearsal. Everything gets off to bad start after members of the union squabble about musicians’ payment, and when the conductor (Baas) arrives, things get even worse. He is an arrogant German (perhaps a caricature of Herbert von Karajan), and behaves like a dictator, alienating everyone before he is  ‘sidestepped’ by demolition workers who arrive and tear the place apart. The harpist (Labi) is the victim of falling walls, and after the mayhem stops, the musicians, like frightened children, suddenly obey the conductor.
This was sadly the last music every composed by Nino Rota – a Fellini regular. DoP Giuseppe Rotunno (The Leopard), also collaborated on Fellini classics such as Roma, and he excels here in the limited space allotted to him. But overall the director seems oddly tired and not at home in this contemporary setting. AS

ON BLURAY | 12 FEBRUARY 2018 | COURTESY OF ARROW ACADEMY

Property is No Longer a Theft (1973)***** Bluray release

Dir: Elio Petri | Writer: Ugo Pirri | Cast: Ugo Tognazzi, Flavio Bucci, Daria Nicolodi | Italy | Comedy Drama 126′

Property is No Longer a Theft is the final part of a trilogy by Elio Petri which comprises Investigations of A Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) and Lulu the Tool (1971) aka as Le Classe Operaia va in Paradiso. Bergman allowed himself a “faith” trilogy and Antonioni an “alienation” trilogy, so Petri, as a politicised filmmaker, delivers a “neurosis” trilogy. The inherent sickness of acquiring property, money and power is viewed from a darkly comic perspective: a corrupt Italian capitalism where the thieves, both legal and criminal, thrive and fall.

Total (Flavio Bucci) is a young bank clerk striving for a more meaningful existence beyond the daily grind of dealing with rich businessmen and their money. To get his own back on one of his clients – a wealthy but slightly dubious butcher (Ugo Tognazzi) – Total steals the meat man’s car, amongst other possessions, and kidnaps his young girlfriend Anita (Daria Nicolodi). Total’s motives are a crazed sense of social justice – punishing the rich butcher who he sees as representative of a corrupt class. Yet capitalism has rules that Total cannot break and he pays a severe price for his anarchic intervention.

Few films present us with a philosophy of theft. The emotionally-charged arguments in The Godfather 2 or spiritual tension in Pickpocket have a theoretical and philosophic power. Coppola depicts stealing as a natural activity. Bresson, as a means to find spiritual grace. Yet Petri presents us with a bitter and ironic escapade in ‘praise’ of a thieving world whose logic and highly normalised rules we cannot ignore.

A Brechtian/Godardian distancing effect interrupts his story, with monologues by his characters functioning as unreliable narratives. We criticise and examine their relationship with money and one another. These talks to the camera are filmed in a faintly sinister manner: leering, sweating people anxious to justify their actions whilst the sub-text is often a cry of pain. They’re vulnerable, very human and sometimes deeply sad. Without its comedy Property is No Longer a Theft might have been a tedious political diatribe against capitalism. Yet a brilliant and biting script makes for a compelling, even grotesque, experience as every mad attempt to justify the logic of stealing and owning is hilariously exposed.

Despite his humble role as the local butcher, Ugo Tognazzi’s character is an ill-educated, coarse and ego-driven man living a ‘nouveau riche’ lifestyle. He sexually abuses his girlfriend (Nicolodi’s Anita), who is partly complicit with his treatment and is strongly aware of how she functions in his and other men’s lives. In contrast, bank employee Total often appears deranged and deluded in his pursuit of justice.

Albertone (Mario Scaccia) is a burglar/professional actor employed by Total to rob the butcher. They’re caught by the police. Albertone dies during the interrogation. At his public funeral, a speech is delivered praising the criminal class over the legal class of thieves. Hyperbole is piled up in praise of Albertone, resulting in richly absurd comedy. The phrase “honour among thieves” has never been so superbly ridiculed in the cinema.

Property is No Longer a Theft is both very funny and very serious. It’s a bitter, radical and complex film about monetary contagion. Total suffers from itching, odd tics; always wearing gloves so as not to be physically contaminated by the touch of money. (There’s a great scene where he asks the bank manager for a rise. When refused he takes a banknote and burns it in front of his boss.)

“…in the struggle, legal or illegal to obtain what we don’t have, may fall such with shameful illnesses; they become plagued, inside and outside.”

Total’s opening speech sets the tone for the rest of the film. The characters’ almost farcical antics are captured by Petri’s acute eye for detail as Total purses his intension to be a “Marxist Mandrake”. The break-ins and bungled robberies are excitingly filmed. Fiercely exact editing and camerawork gives the film an exhilarating rhythm (accompanied by an off-centre and spiky score form Ennio Morricone)

Like Francesco Rosi, Petri is an almost forgotten director who urgently needs to be re-evaluated. Property hits all the capitalist bulls’ eyes and is a minor masterpiece, along with his feature debut L’Assassino (1961). More Petri please | ALAN PRICE© 2018

NOW OUT ON BLURAY FROM ARROW | 20 MARCH 2018

7 Days | Sette Giorni (2016)

Dir/Writer: Rolando Colla | Cast: Bruno Todeschini, Alessia Barela, Marc Barbe, Linda Olsansky, Gianfelice Imparato | Drama |

A family wedding in Sicily unites two middle-aged Bohemians who arrive in a sleepy backwater to prepare for the festivities. This ravishingly langorous and deeply affecting Mediterranean arthouse escapade serves both as a love story and a celebration of Sicily and its people.

The Swiss director is best known for his rites of passage scamper Summer Games (2011) which did the rounds on the festival circuit recently. 7 DAYS explores a slow comfortable prelude to baggage-laden doomed love for its tousled twosome, played by Swiss Italian Bruno Todeschini/Delicacy) and Alessia Barela (Summer Games) who make for a convincing onscreen couple with their relaxed and deliciously sensual chemistry tempered by years of romantic disillusionment rather than the high-octane excitement of young lust.

Todeschini plays Ivan, a slightly dog-eared botanist who is instantly drawn to Alessia Barela’s Leventine looks as fashion seamstress Chiara, who is already committed with daughter of 17. Ivan’s brother Richard (Marc Barbe) is getting married and he has arrived early to organise the wedding festivities to Chiara’s best friend Francesca (Linda Olsansky). At first the ramshackle accommodation looks awful but gradually the two work together with the well-meaning locals and in things fall into to place – or not – their passion is fuelled by the pressure of preparing for the big day in the sweltering days and balmy nights in this wild seascape. We get to enjoy some local flora, fauna, history and traditional Sicilian culture, while the couple’s on/off romance sizzles often erupting in angry spats as they both get cold feet, despite the rising mercury. It’s an authentic rendering of late love where maturity and self-dependence are the enemies of the trust and laid back light-heartedness required for love to thrive, let alone develop into something workable and worthwhile and Crolla’s script offers some surprises along the way.

DoPs Lorenz Merz and Gabriel Lobos pull all out the stops in the magnificent locations making the best of the natural wilderness both above the waves and underwater, echoing the emotional rollercoaster of a sunny, often stormy, tale of late love. MT

ON RELEASE FROM 15 SEPTEMBER 2017

 

7 Minutes (2016) | Cinema Made in Italy

Dir: Michele Placido | Writer: Stefano Massini| Michele Placido | 88min | Drama | Italian

Veteran Italian director Michele Placido’s grainy slice of social realism is a timely and engrossing character drama that succeeds despite its low budget credentials and grainy feel. Based on real events, 7 MINUTES is told in intimate close-up from the POV of its female characters who all work in a textile factory in the outskirts of Rome.

Very much along the lines of the Dardennes Brothers’ Two Days, One Night (2014) this is a much more intense and angry affair but its feisty authenticity conveys the feeling of betrayal and bitterness that the women feel when they are given two hours to decide the fate of 300 of their colleagues facing redundancy in an increasingly hostile and stressful urban environment where they are all struggling to make ends meet.

Impassioned performances by Clémence Poésy and Karen Di Porto (in debut) the standouts. Anne Consigny plays the factory boss with sensitive grace in this intelligent and believable story based on a play by Stefano Massini . MT

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY | 1-5 MARCH 2017

 

Pericle Il Nero (2016) | Cinema Made in Italy 1-5 March 2017

Director: Stefano Mordini

Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Marina Fois, Valentina Acca

104min | Thriller | Italy

Stefano Mordini’s noirish thriller has Riccardo Scamarcio as a hard-bitten hitman on the run from the Camorra in Belgium. Based on the ’90s novel by Giuseppe Ferrandino and adapted for the screen by Francesca Marciano this is the one of the best crime dramas showing in the Un Certain Regard strand at Cannes this year.

It probes the seething underworld of the ultra-violent Belgian branch of the Camorra where a low-life from the coalface of the organisation comes up against his boss and is forced to leave his Brussels home and flee to Calais to avoid death.

And nobody seethes like Bari-born Riccardo Scamarcio in a role that suits his brooding sensuality and superb acting chops – he switches from seedy serial killer to suave seducer in the flick of a bag of coins – his preferred method of coshing his victims. Narrated in a voice-over by Pericle (Scamarcio), who is under the control of Don Luigi Pizza (Gigio Morra) a small-time gangster who transferred his operation from Naples to Brussels in the aim of taking over pizzerias for as little as he can, Mordini’s film feels alienating and melancholy. Any resistance from the pizzeria owners leads to a bash over the head from Pericle. But when Don Luigi falls out with a local priest, Pericle – sent is punish him – finds he has a witness in the shape of a female camorra boss, Signorinella, and in order to cover up his attack on the priest he has to kill her.

In Scamarcio’s hands Pericle is a likeable rogue who is adept at avoiding danger and skilled at getting on with strangers. Homeless and friendless when he gets to Calais he charms a sales assistant (Marina Fois) into offering him bed and board in a slightly meaningless subplot. But soon it’s time to move on and meet his destiny as the tension builds for the cold-blooded finale. MT

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY 1-5 MARCH 2017

The Confessions | Le Confessioni (2016) | Cinema Made in Italy 1-5 March 2017

Dir: Roberto Ando | Cast: Toni Servillo, Daniel Auteuil, Pierfrancesco Favino, Moritz Bleibtreu, Connie Nielsen, Mari-Josee Croze, Lambert Wilson, Richard Sammel, Johan Heldenbergh, Togo Igawa | 103min | Thriller | Italy

Toni Servillo and Daniel Auteuil star in Roberto Ando’s slick and timely political thriller that follows the exploits of a savvy monk who attempts to outmanoeuvre the European delegates at a fictional G8 summit.

Sadly lacking the delicious dark humour of Ando’s breakthrough Viva la Liberta that screened during last year’s festival, this is an intelligent and self-assured affair occasionally spiced with irony and graced with a starry international arthouse cast including Connie Nielsen, Lambert Wilson and Moritz Bleibtreu.

Invited to the IMF summit by one of the other delegates – from countries that represent 50% of the World’s wealth – Roberto Salus, a monk and writer, adds a touch of calm integrity but also a twist of tension to the top secret Monetary Fund get together in his chaste alabaster garb and sincere gaze that contrasts amusingly with the less than trustworthy-looking official attendees (particularly Bleibtrau’s Mark Klein) gathered together in the secluded spendour of a luxury German resort. Two other ousiders are also there to monitor the talks: a musician, and Connie Nielsen’s glamorous author of children’s books, complete the trio.

Auteuil plays the strung out, suicidal master of ceremonies, Daniel Roche, who has summoned the Monk to hear his confession before he pops his clogs, to the annoyance and suspicion of the assembled crew and  who wonder what was said by Roche to Salus in his final hour, and whether he alluded to their secret scheme to bankrupt the world’s poorer economies. His tête à têtes with the monk unfold in flashback adding a frisson of insight as the political narrative progresses.

Although there are overtones that something greater and more powerful may be at work here, Ando and co-scripter Angelo Pasquini fail to develop this supernatrual strand to the film’s slight detriment making the political story less resonant than it could have been. That said, LE CONFESSIONI remains an intriguing and enjoyable watch, largely due to the strength of its performances – particularly from Toni Servillo – Maurizio Calvesi’s arresting cinematography and Nicola Piovani’s atmospheric and stately occasional score. MT

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY 1-5 MARCH 2017

 

Me, Myself and Her (2016) | Io e Lei | DVD | VOD

Dir: Maria Sole Tognazzi | Writers: Ivan Cotroneo | Cast: Margherita Buy, Sabrina Ferilli, Fausto Maria Sciarappa, Domenico Diele | Drama | 102min | Italy

Me Myself and Her is an upbeat and sophisticated romantic comedy that provides a thoughtful addition to the growing mainstream collection of lesbian-themed dramas, although the ending is sadly rather predictable. With shades of Portrait of a Serial Monogamist (2015) and La Belle Saison (2016) it is award-winning Roman director Maria Sole Tognazzi’s second collaboration with Margherita Buy who is just the right person to play the rather sensitive Federica, a woman in her fifties who finds herself living with her friend, who is also a lover Marina (Sabrina Ferilli) after a long marriage to a man. The idea is based on a book by Ivan Cotroneo who also wrote the script for I Am Love (2009) and Loose Cannons (2010).

Early on in the film Federica states: “I am not a lesbian” and this pivotal statement leads to the crucial premise of the film – that sexual orientation can be a moveable feast, not a cast iron condition. At different times of our lives, the sexuality we originally identify with may be called into question as attraction and compatibility often surprisingly become more a feasible state of affairs, whatever the sex of the person we’re attracted to. Margherita Buy and Sabrina Ferilli (The Great Beauty) are believable as a couple of straight-acting and accomplished women who feel comfortable living together, and loving together also works for them in their middle age.

While Federica’s sexuality is morphing into a different sphere, Marina is on also entering a different phase of her life on a career level: a well-known actress, she is now running a restaurant that gives all its daily uneaten food to charity. The difference between them however is where the problems arise. Marina is the more assertive one of the couple and is happily open about their arrangement, even to the Press, and that’s something that makes Federica uneasy as she doesn’t really identify as a ‘lesbian’. And meeting up with an old boyfriend Marco (Fausto Maria Sciarappa), Federica finds herself in bed with him and starts to reappraise her physical feelings for a man. But the affair moves too quickly, as she finds herself trapped between two dominant characters – Marina on one side, and Marco on the other. And both want to take over her life. And Federica is not sure whether she loves Marina or prefers Marco, although these two sexual perspectives are not really examined in depth in Tognazzi’s rather freewheeling, carefree narrative. Marina is also grappling with a personal dilemma of her own: should she take a part she’s been offered in a film that may take her away from Rome, or continue with her successful eaterie.

Despite the rather unoriginal ending, this is a drama that feels really convincing from a relationship point of view. Tognazzi’s two characters are not driven together by toxic dysfunctionality, but by their comfortable attraction and compatibility with one another, which at the end makes for a more satisfactory midlife union that sexual fireworks and slanging matches. MT

MY, MYSELF AND HER IS AVAILABLE ON DVD | VOD FROM WOLF VIDEO FROM 6 DECEMBER 2016 |

The Wait (2015) | L’Attesa

Director: Piero Messina

Cast: Juliette Binoche, Razor Rizzotti, Lou de Laâge, Domenico Diele

100min  Drama   France | Italy

In an villa in Sicily a woman is waiting in the dark. Something terrible has happened and this mystery feels as ancient and as dark at the one between mothers and their sons. THE WAIT is Piero Messina’s directorial debut and it feels a very Italian film with is echoes of Christ’s death underpinning the narrative and linking it to the deep sense of loss and pain that one mother feels in the aftermath to a tragedy that unravels during Eastertide in her family home.

Clearly taking cues from his mentor Paolo Sorrentino, Messina has made a highly stylised and haunting drama with another tour de force performance from Juliette Binoche in the role of Anna. A French woman who married a Sicilian several decades previously, she is now divorced but still lives in the age-old villa at the foothills of Mount Etna.

This is a slow-burning drama that has divided audiences here at Venice Film Festival, where it has its premiere. Lou de Laâe plays a madonna-like young woman who has been invited to the villa to share the Easter holidays with her boyfriend Giuseppe, Anna’s son. But Anna, devastated by the death of her brother, is caught of guard by this arrival and simply cannot communicate, what appears to be another absence, that of her son Giuseppe.

This very simple storyline allows Messina to craft a seductively atmospheric two-hander in which two woman dance a tentative tango while each attempts to scope out the other. As Anna, Binoche is captivating. While being drawn to Jeanne – who is also French and a welcome guest from the ‘outside’ world – she craves her company but also keeps her at arms’ length from the awful circumstances of her sudden loss. This is a clever ploy but also a deeply selfish act, for which she is chided by the old retainer, Pietro (Giorgio Colangeli). Claiming she is waiting for the ‘right time’ to tell Jeanne, she continues to luxuriate in the girl’s bewilderment and she quizzes her on the relationship with her son; playing a power- game while she teases out information from the younger woman.

Clearly, something is not right. Jeanne has not heard from Giuseppe for several days and cannot raise him on his mobile phone. Deeply in love with him, she waits patiently while politely playing houseguest to Anna. At the same time, Giuseppe’s whereabouts remain a mystery: is he injured, dead or simply gone away without letting anyone know? Messina builds up such a magical ambiance, luxuriating in the glorious heat of this Sicilian springtime, that somehow we are content to let the enigma play out, clutching at straws and letting our own imaginations wander as we wonder where he is.

Deeply ambiguous, yet imbued with ancient symbolism, the film ends without even revealing the truth behind this everlasting mystery: that of the relationship between a mother and her precious son. For Catholics, this is especially resonant: the Virgin woman conceiving and giving birth to a boy single-handedly, she continues through life to exert a special and enigmatic control over him until the end.  And to re-enforce the sacred mystery: we never meet Giuseppe in THE WAIT. And for many mothers, this is the only power they have over their sons when the boys grow into men.  Jealously guarded them and keeping other women away for as long as they possibly can. When their sons do fall in love,  the women will always regarded with suspicion and occasionally atavistic hatred and mistrust, by their mothers.

Essentially a two-hander, inspired by the Pirandello’s play: “The Life I Gave You” from Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author”), THE WAIT may be prove too long a wait for many. But savour its atmosphere while you can. Messina is a new voice and a stylish one. And Italian cinema is desperately in need of one. MT

NOW ON GENERAL RELEASE

REVIEWED AT VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 12 SEPTEMBER 2015

 

The Mafia only Kills in Summer (2013)

Director: Pierfrancesco Diliberto “Pif”

Writer: Michele Astori

Cast: Cristiana Capotondi, Alex Bisconti, Ginevra Antona, Pif, Barbara Tabita

90min  Italian  Comedy

An appealing rom-com that races irreverently and at breakneck speed through the director’s imagined family story, growing up in a sixties Palermo as Arturo. But beneath its sunny exterior lies a dark indictment of Mafia violence throughout Sicily. THE MAFIA KILLS ONLY IN SUMMER is the big screen debut of popular Italian household name, Pierfrancesco Diliberto  or “Pif” as he’s best known to his fans. He also wrote and produced the title which won the audience award at Turin Film Festival in 2014.

According to the story, told mostly in flashback, Diliberto’s birth coincides with the election of a famous anti-Mafia mayor, Vito Ciancimino and a mass execution by the legendary clan. Played cheekily as a young boy by Alex Bisconti, and later by the director himself, Arturo develops a keen interest in Mafia-linked PM Giulio Andreotti, obsessing over his biopic (Il DIVO by Paolo Sorrentino) and even going as the PM to a kid’s fancy dress party. During this time, he also develops a shine for his  a little girl called Flora (Ginevra Antona).

His childhood it full of chance meetings with anti-Mafia heroes in Italian society who all end up victims of the deadly organisation – magistrates Giovanni Falcome and Paolo Borsellino and General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa. Eventually in his twenties, Arturo wises up to the corrupt criminal underbelly in his hometown of Palermo and his drama ends on a triumphant note in tribute to all those who have lost their lives as innocent victims of the Mafia’s treachery. Deftly intertwining fact and fiction by a skilful blending of archive footage and actual staging: the upshot is an entertaining if slightly slapstick story with the same cheerful charisma as Roberto Benigni’s LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

Significantly Diliberto has declined to pay protection taxes to the Mafia, in line with the Addiopizzo policy adopted by a group of Italian businesses. Let’s hope he’s stays around to bring more of this kind of cinema to arthouse audiences.

OUT ON RELEASE IN LIMITED ARTHOUSE CINEMAS FROM 1 JULY 2016

 

Suburra (2016) |

Directior: Stefano Sollima

Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Elio Germano, Claudio Amendola, Alessandro Borghi, Greta Scarano, Manfredi Dionisi;

130min | Italy/France 2015 | Action Drama.

After his standout first feature film ACAB – All Cops are Bastards, director Stefano Sollima directed two hugely successful crime series for TV, Romanzo Criminale and Gomorra (both were remade as features), before returning to the cinema with SUBURRA, an apocalyptic, anarchic and violent operatic saga of greed and decadence.Based on the novel by journalist Carlo Bonino and crime writer Giancarlo De Cataldo, the film takes its name from a district in ancient Rome, known as a Red-Light area, but nevertheless is the birth place of no lesser than Julius Caesar. This connection, linking Upper Class crime executed by professional criminals, links the action in SUBURRA.

In early November 2011, Rome two momentous events: torrential rainfall and the abdication of Pope Benedict XV. Sollima shows the week leading up to what he calls an apocalypse (an end of the world scenario) which leaves Rome in danger of being submerged in the floods. Filippo Malgradi (Favino) is an MP in the Lower House of the Italian Parliament and a well-known fixer with good connections to the underworld. After trying to sponsor a bill allowing the costal region of Ostia to be transformed into an Italian Las Vegas, with huge kickbacks for lawmakers and property developers, he spends the evening with two prostitutes, one under-aged. One girl dies of an overdose, and Malgradi leaves the other woman, Viola (Scarano), to get rid of the corpse. This way Malgradi sets in motion a violent circle of revenge killings, whilst he tries to get the Planning Bill through parliament.

A small-time pimp, Sebastiano (Germano), falls into the hands of the vicious Gypsy gang leader Manfredi Anacleti (Dionisi), after his father, a one-time powerful gang boss, commits suicide, leaving huge debts with Anacleti, who takes his anger out on Sebastino, taking away his villa and car. Meanwhile, Numero 8 (Borghi), Viola’s on-off boyfriend, a loose cannon, murders the man who helped Viola to dump the corpse of the girl in the sea. Unfortunately for Numero 8, his victim is Anacleti’s son Spadino.

Anacleti senior is unable to control his family; his sons are playing football in the living room, and the he goes into overdrive: he tries to kill Numero 8 and Viola, whilst kidnapping Malgradi’s son. All this chaos is anathema to the Samurai (Amendola), an ex-right wing terrorist, now in charge of the property deal in Ostia. Whilst he literally cleans up the loose ends, he underestimates Viola. And as the rain engulfs Rome, Malgradi, Anacleti and The Samurai get a very different, but deserved punishment.

DOP Paolo Carnera’s images of near eternal night and torrential rain together with an equally overpowering, electronic soundtrack by the French duo M83, make SUBURRA an emotional overpowering tour-de-force. It’s a contemporary Dante’s Inferno; a cesspit of soulless characters who are so regressed, they are almost antediluvian. Their bungling and lust for violence is astonishing, as is their capacity for self-glorification and deceit. Whilst the narrative is hardly original, it just about enough for this opera of wild decadence and engrossing sadism. SUBURRA is a B-picture with the aesthetics of Visconti’s La Caduta degli Dei. AS

OUT ON RELEASE FROM 24 June 2016

 

Pericles the Black (2016) | Un Certain Regard 2016

Director: Stefano Mordini

Cast: Riccardo Scamarcio, Marina Fois, Valentina Acca

104min | Thriller | Italy

Stefano Mordini’s noirish thriller has Riccardo Scamarcio as a hard-bitten hitman on the run from the Camorra in Belgium. Based on the ’90s novel by Giuseppe Ferrandino and adapted for the screen by Francesca Marciano this is the one of the best crime dramas showing in the Un Certain Regard strand at Cannes this year.

It probes the seething underworld of the ultra-violent Belgian branch of the Camorra where a low-life from the coalface of the organisation comes up against his boss and is forced to leave his Brussels home and flee to Calais to avoid death.

And nobody seethes like Bari-born Riccardo Scamarcio in a role that suits his brooding sensuality and superb acting chops – he switches from seedy serial killer to suave seducer in the flick of a bag of coins – his preferred method of coshing his victims. Narrated in a voice-over by Pericle (Scamarcio), who is under the control of Don Luigi Pizza (Gigio Morra) a small-time gangster who transferred his operation from Naples to Brussels in the aim of taking over pizzerias for as little as he can, Mordini’s film feels alienating and melancholy. Any resistance from the pizzeria owners leads to a bash over the head from Pericle. But when Don Luigi falls out with a local priest, Pericle – sent is punish him – finds he has a witness in the shape of a female camorra boss, Signorinella, and in order to cover up his attack on the priest he has to kill her.

In Scamarcio’s hands Pericle is a likeable rogue who is adept at avoiding danger and skilled at getting on with strangers. Homeless and friendless when he gets to Calais he charms a sales assistant (Marina Fois) into offering him bed and board in a slightly meaningless subplot. But soon it’s time to move on and meet his destiny as the tension builds for the cold-blooded finale. MT

CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 11-22 MAY | UN CERTAIN REGARD

 

 

 

 

La Quinzaine des Realisateurs| Directors’ Fortnight 2016 | Latest World Premieres

DivinesThe Directors’ Fortnight is a Cannes side-bar with a focus on auteur driven drama and documentary features that runs in parallel to the Cannes Film Festival. It was started in 1969 by the French Directors Guild after the events of May 1968 resulted in cancellation of the Cannes festival as an act of solidarity with striking workers.

logo_quinzaine_int_whiteThe Directors’ Fortnight showcases a programme of shorts and feature films and documentaries worldwide.

Divines (2016) | Drama | France | World Premiere

Uda Benyamina comes to Cannes with her debut feature, a drama exploring themes of power and success through the story of a young girl who sets off on a religious pilgrimage but meets love along the way.

Dog Eat Dog (2016) | Crime Drama | US | 

Carved from a lifetime of experiences that runs the gamut from incarceration to liberation, Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog  is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by American crime writer Edward Bunker (Runaway Train) who also started a criminal career before making it big in the movies. This Ohio set action drama stars Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe and Christopher Matthew Cook as recidivists who need to hit one more jackpot before they retire.


Fais de beaux reves (c) Simone Martinetto 3Fai Bei Sogni | Sweet Dreams (2016) | Drama | France | Italy |World Premiere

Berenice Bejo (The Artist) and Valerio Mastandrea star in Marco Bellocchio’s latest drama  based on Massimo Gramellini’s 2012 Best Seller exploring a man’s emotional insecurity brought on by his mother’s early death. With award-winning cinematographer Daniele Cipri on board this promises to be a visual treat.

L’Economie du Couple (2016) | Drama | France Belgium | World Premiere

Joachim Lafosse (Our Children) returns to Cannes with this Brussels-set contempo drama that stars Berenice Bejo and Cedric Kahn as a separating couple with kids, forced to cohabit their beloved marital home due to financial difficulties.

Fiore (2016) | Flower | Drama | Italy | World Premiere

Daphne is in a juvenile detention centre, serving time for robbery, when she falls for another inmate Josh. Their love feeds on exchanged glances and snatched conversations in Claudio Giovannesi’s drama about forbidden love and a strength of feeling that threatens to violate the law.

SEQ 21, J4, Cours de natation Samir et Agathe

SEQ 21, J4, Cours de natation Samir et Agathe

The Aquatic Effect | L’Effet Aquatique (2016) | Drama | France | Iceland | World Premiere

The final feature of France Icelandic writer and documentarian Solveig Anspach (who sadly died of cancer in 2015). No stranger to Cannes, her film Stormy Weather was screened in the Un Certain Regard section in 2003, and she won the Piazza Grande Award at Locarno for Back Soon in 2008. The Aquatic Effect is a drama that has Samir Guesmi and Florence Loiret Caille.

La_Pazza_Gioia_04_(c)PAOLO CIRIELLILa Pazza Gioa | Like Crazy (2016) | Comedy | France | Italy| World Premiere 

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi joins Paolo Virzi for their second collaboration, a comedy, in which she plays mental patient who strikes up a friendship with a woman from a completely different background (Michaela Ramazzotti) while being treated in a Tuscan mental home during the Summer holidays (right).

Les Vies de Thérèse | Documentary | France | World Premiere 

Filmed here at her own request by director Sebastian Lifschitz, are the final days in the life of militant feministe, actress and lesbian Therese Clerc, who died in February 2016. She also took part in his 2012 documentary Les Invisibles, which explored the lives and difficulties of older lesbians and gays in French society.

Ma Vie de Courgette | My Life as a Courgette  (2016) | Animation | World Premiere 

Based on Gilles Paris’ book on the same name, this gorgeously animated family drama is scripted by Girlhood director Celine Sciamma and set in the French Alps.

MeanDreams_TheKissMean Dreams (2016) | Thriller | Canada | World Premiere

Canadian filmmaker Nathan Morlando (Gangster) makes his Cannes debut with a thriller set in Northern Ontario and starring Sophie Nelisse and Josh Wiggins.

Mercenaire photo 3Mercenaire (2016) | Drama | France | World Premiere 

In his coming of age directorial debut, Sacha Wolff stars alongside newcomer Toki Pilioko, when they take off to play rugby in a big city on the other side of the World, and discover that manhood comes without compromises.

image1Neruda (2016) | Biopic Drama | Arg, Chile, Spain | World Premiere

Gael Garcia Bernal and Alfredo Castro again join forces with Pablo Larrain and his scripter Guillermo Calderon (No) in a biopic that explores the Nobel-prize winning poet’s time as a political fugitive in Chile during the 1940s.

Poesia_Sin_Fin_1_©Pascale Montandon_JodorowskPoesia sin Fin | Endless Poetry (2016) | Fantasy Drama | Chile | World Premiere

Chilean Maverick Alejandro Jodowovsky is back in Cannes with another fabulous family affair. Endless Poetry stars his sons Brontis and Adan and is filmed by multi-award winning DoP Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love).

Raman_Raghav_1Raman Raghav (2015) | Thriller | India | World Premiere

Vicky Kaushal was the star turn of last year’s Un Certain Regard romantic drama Massan. He returns to Cannes in Anurag Kashyap’s thriller that follows the exploits of the notorious 1960s Bombay serial killer Raman Raghav, played by Bollywood star Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Siddiqui also starred in Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) an epic drama charting the deadly inter-generational blood feuds that once took place in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Risk_Film Still Julian Assange_Courtesy of Praxis FilmsRisk (2016) | Documentary | Germany | US 

Writer, director and activist Julian Assange has certainly captured the imagination of journalists and filmmakers with his political antics; Alex Gibney –We Steal Secrets – being one of them. Here he forms the subject of American filmmaker Laura Poitras’ latest documentary Risk that takes place in Britain (left).

DSC_7087

Tour de France (2016) | Drama | France | World Premiere

An unlikely friendship develops between an ageing art lover Serge (Gérard Depardieu) and young rapper Far’Hook, when they are forced together on a coastal journey from Northern France to Marseilles on the trail of 18th Century maritime painter Joseph Vernet, in this usual comedy drama from French director Rachid Djaidani.

Two Lovers and a Bear (2016) | Drama | Canada | World Premiere 

Kim Nguyen’s romantic drama has Dane DeHaan (Life) and Tatiana Maslany as lovers who form a spiritual bond in the remote town of Nunavut, in the Canadian North Pole (below left).

TLB_Still_17_credit_photo_max_filmsWolf and  Sheep (2016) | Drama | Denmark | World Premiere

With a cast of newcomers, Shahbanoo Sadat tells a tale about a mountain farming community in northern Cashmire and their belief in a legendary wolf with the soul of a woman.

LA QUINZAINE | DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT | TAKES PLACE DURING THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 12 – 22 MAY 2016 

 

Spirits of the Dead (1968) | Blu-ray release

Directors: Federico Fellini, Louis Malle, Roger Vadim

Cast: Jane Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Terence Stamp, James Robertson Justice, Salvo Randone, Peter Fonda

121min  | Fantasy Horror | US | Italy | France

The Sixties was a vintage decade for film and TV adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe. There were over 35 productions. Yet in 1969 a remarkable Poe film came and went with very little recognition. SPIRITS OF THE DEAD is a portmanteau piece directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini. Allowing directors of other nationalities to adapt American Horror Gothic is fascinating. So what did two Frenchmen and an Italian bring to Poe? Not complete fidelity to the text but undoubtedly intrigue and atmosphere.

The first film Metzengerstein concerns the rivalry between two families and a brief meeting between Fréderique (Jane Fonda) and her brother Wilhelm (Peter Fonda). When Fréderique fails to seduce her brother Wilhelm, she orders his stables to be burnt down. Wilhelm is killed in the fire and his spirit self-incarnates into a wild black stallion. This sounds dramatically promising. Unfortunately Vadim’s direction is so perfunctory that development is ditched for style. He is more eager to show off his actors wearing skimpy ‘period’ costumes (Jane Fonda’s wardrobe used as a trailer for his next Fonda film Barbarella). Only Claude Renoir’s fine photography redeems Metzengerstein, with a magnificently shot sequence of the stables ablaze.

Next is William Wilson. In contrast to Vadim, Malle’s direction is strong and pointed. The film re-works the theme of the doppelganger/alter-ego. Alain Delon is well cast as Wilson, a sadistic army officer. In confession with a priest, Wilson talks about being pursued by a man of his own image and name. Though the film’s chase scenes are gripping, the strongest sequence is the card game between Alain Delon and Giuseppina (Brigitte Bardot wearing a black wig!). Here Malle employs a manner of suspense, comparable to his first film Lift to the Scaffold. This has little to do with the original story but manages to convey, as does the film’s ending, Poe’s perplexing and morbid anxieties.

Finally we have Fellini’s episode, Toby Dammit. This is a genuine exercise in horror. Toby Dammit (Terence Stamp, at his best) is a famous movie actor disillusioned by his work, drugs, drink and the brittle celebrity bubble he lives in. The devil, in the shape of a young girl in a white dress bouncing a luminous ball, keeps following him. All Toby Dammit cares about is when he’ll receive his producer’s present of a Ferrari. However once the car arrives, the devil intervenes. Fellini creates situations both sinister and funny (the film’s full of jokes about cinema and philosophy) engagingly balanced against the set design horror of a broken Dantesque looking bridge and a victim’s blood dripping on a wire. Toby Dammit is a ‘horror of manners’ that is amongst Fellini’s best films.

SPIRITS OF THE DEAD is uneven: Period drama with a psychedelic edge that flounders, gains its balance and then disconcertingly swings forward to black contemporary satire that is  unpredictable, humorous, shocking and occasional visual brilliant. These are not obvious Poe adaptations. I think old Edgar Allan would have approved of their spirit. ALAN PRICE

NOW AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY COURTESY OF AMAZON.CO.UK

Per Amor Vostro (2015) | Anna | CINEMA MADE IN ITALY WEEKEND

Direct0r: Giuseppe M. Gaudino

Cast: Valeria Golino, Massimiliano Gallo, Adriano Giannini, Elisabetta Mirra, Daria d’Isanto, Eduardo Cro

109 min | Italy France | Drama

Director and co-writer Giuseppe M. Gaudino (Round the Moon between Earth and Sea) delivers a typically Italian tale of woe and a sensitive character piece for Valeria Golino, one of Italy’s best loved actresses. Anna is a mother of three, a martyr to her family who is clearly depressed. Overloading the already confusing narrative with various subplots, Gaudino chooses a mannered style which oscillates between moody black and white images and colourful phantasy sequences, leaving Golino to struggle with her subtly nuanced performance amid a fog of artistic experimentation.

In Naples, Anna is in her forties and lives with her teenage children Santina (Mirra), Cinzia (D’Isanto) and Arturo (Cro), the latter being deaf, and her violent out of work husband Gigi (Gallo), a failed singer, whose has previously led his family to near ruin. But a criminal streak run throughout the whole family: Anna served time in a  juvenile prison to cover up for an adult relative, who would have had to spent ten years behind bars. Now working in a TV studio, she writes dialogue prompts for the amateurish cast of a TV soap opera that stars another Italian favourite Adriano Giannini (as Michele). In a brief spell of euphoria the two become lovers but gradually black clouds drift in (literally and metaphorically) when a friend, whom she replaced at work, is murdered. But that’s not all: her family is again plunged into financial trauma affecting the lives of her neighbours.

Valeria Golino moves elegantly through this drama with impressive grace and serenity despite her purported mental instability and Matteo Cocco’s appalling black and white images and freeze frames which lend and air of artificiality to the whole undertaking: they lack any crispness because they have been probably shot originally in colour. In an attempt to evoke feelings of helplessness, her bus becomes flooded with water. Other artful gimmicks include clouds of ink which gather whenever Anna looks out of her window into the Bay of Naples. Obviously, Gaudino is trying to convey Anna’s mental illness in these symbolic sequences but the results are often overbearing and provide no real insight into her troubled mind. An often repeated kitsch-colour scene shows her as an angelic child, having to ‘fly’ from her window down to the yard on a secured rope. But despite her unhappiness she feels a responsibility to her kids, despite Santina’s turning against her on the grounds of her lack of enterprise in acquiesing to her difficult past.  Valeria Golino won the Silver Lion for Best Actress at last year’s Venice Film Festival for her portrayal. She is the only reason to watch this over-ambitious, but flawed drama. And, of course, Adriano Giannini who is superb as the quintessential Latin Lover, with his raffish charm and come to bed eyes. AS

SCREENING DURING CINEMA MADE IN ITALY | 10 – 14 MARCH 2016 |

Quiet Bliss (2014) In Grazia di Dio | Cinema Made in Italy | 5-9 March 2015

Dir.: Edoardo Winspeare

Cast: Celeste Cascario, Laura Licchetta, Anna Boccadamo, Barbara de Mattheis, Amerigo Russo, Antonio Carluccio

Italy 2014, 127 min.

Edoardo Winspeare (Life Blood) has tried to create a modern family epic in the aesthetic forms of neo-realism, along the lines of Alice Rohwacher’s Cannes hit LE MERAVIGLIE. Whilst he not always succeeds, QUIET BLISS is an interesting family-saga, which is full of fights, reconciliations and renewed strife. Italy has always been known for its family businesses but Chinese competition and high loan-interests signal the end for a family-run clothing company in the Southern town of  Salento. As a result, four women are made homeless and the family home has to be sold too. The mother, Salvatrice (Boccadamo) has three very different daughters: Adele (Cascario), who had run the factory with her cousin Vito (Russo), a goody-two-shoes, suffering from chronic psycho-somatic pain; Ina (Licchetta), who does not pull her weight in the factory and is more interested in the young men of town and Maria (Matteis), who has an university degree and is an aspiring actress. After Vito has unwisely taken up smuggling with the criminal Cracifixo, the men drift out of the picture to Switzerland, and leave the women to build a home and tend the olive orchards in the countryside. Bliss this is not, since none of the protagonists has changed – apart from Salvatrice, who marries the pious Cosimo. Adele still tries to “reform” her sisters, but her efforts are thwarted: Ina has an unwanted pregnancy and Adele’s selfishness nearly ruining Maria’s acting career. Her only friend in life seems to be Stefano, a former classmate, who tries to help her to reduce the still enormous loan payments to the bank.

QUIET BLISS begins intensely, the fight for survival in a global world is contrasted by the old-fashioned family intrigues. Together, they spell doom for Adele, who has to fight on two fronts. Her efforts at saving anything is finally thwarted by Vito’s smuggling affair, no wonder she sees men as an hindrance in life – just the opposite of Ina, who can’t have enough male attention. The tempo begins to limp when the women have arrived in the countryside, where too much time is spent on agricultural questions. The long shots, reminiscent of the Brothers Taviani, compensate for a sagging last hour. Cascario (Winspeare’s wife) and Ina (the director’s stepdaughter) head a very strong female cast. Camerawork tries to be innovative, working very hard to create a huge dichotomy between the factory and rural life, without making an idyll out of the latter. The length of QUIET BLISS is its main detractor, hampering the effectiveness of this otherwise watchable family drama. AS

SCREENING DURING CINEMA MADE IN ITALY FROM 5-9 MARCH 2015. TICKETS HERE

 

So Far, So Good (2014) | Cinema Made in Italy | 5-9 March 2015

FINO A QUI TUTTO BENE

Dir; Roan Johnson

Cast: Alessio Vassala, Silvia D’Amico, Melissa Anna Bartolini, Paolo Cioni, Isabella Ragonese, Gugliemo Favilla)

Italy 2014, 80 min.

Roan Johnson follows his first film, The First on the List, with SO FAR, SO GOOD, another outwardly enjoyable but ultimately empty film.

In Pisa, five flatmates are facing up to the end of their lives as students with varying degrees of success – or failure, as the case may be. Ilaria (D’Amico) is pregnant by a married man who has not returned to his wife but to a new mistress.  Instead of writing her PHD thesis, she will have to return to her very traditional parents in a small town. Vicenzo (Vasallo), the only scientist in the household, has landed a job at Rejkavik university. His girlfriend Francesca (Bartolini) is a theatre student and actor like the rest of the group and doesn’t want to go with him and be jobless in Iceland. Cioni (Cioni), the odd man out and least selfish of the flatmates, offers to live with Ilaria and adopt her baby, in desperation. But over this whole story hangs the ghost of their flatmate Michele, who killed himself in a staged car accident a year ago. Andrea (Favilla), was going to follow Michele’s brother Marco to Nepal – until he bumps into his ex-girl friend Marta (Ragonese), an established TV actress, at the farewell party. So, the quintet is left at sea in a motorboat, without any gas in the tank.

SO FAR, SO GOOD suffers from the fact that Johnson can never make up his mind if he wants to direct a rather silly comedy or something more substantial. His protagonists are a selfish bunch and not very endearing. The men don’t even try to hide their rank machismo. The women blame the men for everything, whilst having a tendency to indulge in self-pity. All this would work with a much more serious approach, but Johnson takes a much more light-hearted look at their ups and downs, which are admittedly funny but detract from the underlying problems of the group. Instead of showing five people in search of an identity, SO FAR, SO GOOD is just another comedy about a group of young people who don’t know how to grow up. A  shame then, since the ensemble acting is brilliant and the fresh and lively camerawork shows Pisa from an interesting and novel perspective. An opportunity missed. AS

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY RUNS FROM 5-9 MARCH 2015. FULL PROGRAMME HERE

The Ice Forest (2014) La Foresta di Ghiaccio | Cinema Made in Italy | 5-9 March 2015

Director: Claudio Noce   Writers: Francesca Manieri

Cast: Emir Kusturica, Adriano Giannini, Ksenija Rappaport, Domenico Diele

99min  Noir Thriller   Italian with subtitles

The feisty Bosnian actor and director Emir Kusturica (Time of the Gypsies) is the reason to see this dourly sinister revenge thriller set in the wintery mountains of the Trentino Alto Adige, Northern Italy. He plays Secondo, in name and in nature – as this is not a lead role despite his being the best-known actor here. A Serbian national, he lives in a snowbound power plant next to the Slovenian border and runs a clandestine human trafficking outfit with half-brother Lorenzo (Adriano Giannini). A pre-credit sequence from 1994, shows the murder of a Serbian man by human traffickers whilst his little brother escapes, and we are led to believe that Secondo is the key contact involved in illegal immigration and money laundering in this remote location.

When young mechanic Pietro (Domenico Diele) arrives in the village to repair a dodgy electricity cable, the others become uneasy eyeing him with a savage mistrust. And it doesn’t take long for us to realise who Pietro really is, particuarly when Lorenzo suddenly disappears. Suspicions are further aroused with the arrival of Lana, a Slovenian (Ksenija Rappoport) forest ranger on the hunt for a dangerous bear: it soon emerges that she is really a detective investigating the disappearance and murder of a Libyan woman.

Claudio Noce does his best to ramp up tension in this confident, well-paced second feature, with a series of revelations that keep us on our toes to a degree, while admiring the Alpine setting with its icy landscapes and sweeping aerial photography of  a majestic dam over the valley. Performances, particularly from Kusturica and Rappoport, are strong and although the script could benefit from being tighter, there is a constant threat of skulduggery with animosity brewing between the predominantly male cast involved in cross-border intrigue and illicit subterfuge. An unexpected twist develops between Pietro and Lana adding a frisson to the proceedings and marking out Pietro to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and far from the unassuming character who originally came to town. In the brutal climax of this watchable Noir thriller, it becomes clear that the village victims are not going to be of the bear variety. MT

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY RUNS FROM 5 -9 MARCH 2015 – TICKETS HERE

 

 

 

Good for for Nothing (2014) Buoni a nulla | Cinema Made in Italy | 5-9 March 2015

Director/Writer: Gianni Di Gregorio

Cast: Anna Bonaiuto, Gianni Di Gregorio, Camilla Filippi, Valentina Gebbia

87min   Comedy  Italian with subtitles

Best know for his recent drama, Mid August Lunch, Gianni Di Gregorio plays himself in this light-hearted comedy that follows the trials and tribulations of an elderly civil servant in Rome. Kafkaesque in the extreme it never takes itself too seriously, driving home the message that it never pays to be too kind or flexible in work or in play.

On the brink of his retirement, Gianni discovers he is going to be working another three years due to a change in Government policy. And that isn’t all. His office is re-locating outside Rome, adding another hour to his leisurely morning commute via the local Coffee Bar. Can it get any worse? Apparently, yes. In the new office location, a toxic brew of politics puts a further dampener on his working life in the shape buxom Cinzia (Valentina Lodovini) and his new boss (Anna Bonaiuto) and her willing side-kick (Gianfelice Imparato). Luckily, Marco (Marco Marzocca) seems to be the only decent employee, joining forces with Gianni on the daily grind and even offering to work on his birthday. Just when he is re-adjusting to his new situation, Gianni’s daughter (Camilla Filippi) decides to take over his flat in the centre of Rome. All this stress sends Gianni into orbit and his blood pressure suffers as a result. But his doctor advises him to treat them mean to keep them keen. All very well when decency is your default position as a human being.

Well-acted and watchable throughout its running time of just over an hour, GOOD FOR NOTHING is pleasant, light-hearted fare that doesn’t outstay its welcome and occasionally puts a smile on your face, especially if you’re a fan of Gianni Di Gregorio and his charming brand of Italian humour. MT

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY IS BACK IN LONDON FROM 5-9 MARCH 2015. TICKETS HERE

 

Cinema Made in Italy | Cine Lumiere London | 5-9 March 2015

LackCINEMA MADE IN ITALY is back in London with a five-day mini festival showcasing the latest in Italian features and documentaries from new and established directing talent.

There will be plenty of opportunities for a lively exchange of views during the packed programme of screenings, Q&As and discussions with the filmmakers themselves. The 2015 line-up offers a variety of titles drawn from arthouse cinema, comedy and documentary fare. Ermanno Olmi’s wartime drama  GREENERY WILL BLOOM AGAIN (Torneranno I Prati) will open this year’s festival and there will be a chance to see Gianni Di Gregorio’s witty comedy GOOD FOR NOTHING (Buoni a Nulla). Have a look at the full screening programme here:

1394926442551GREENERY WILL BLOOM AGAIN (Torneranno i Prati) **** a finely-tuned wartime drama;

Quiet BlissQUIET BLISS (In Grazia a Dio) a family goes back to the countryside after suffering great loss in this tender and beautifully-crafted drama.

THE LACK a sumptuous exploration of female suffering, separation and loss set in Iceland and Sicily.

THE MAFIA KILLS ONLY IN SUMMER (La Mafia Uccide solo d’Estate) charismatic and upbeat, “Pif’s” dark comedy follows the history of the ‘anti-Mafia’ seen through the eyes of a Sicilian boy.

SO FAR SO GOOD (Fino a qui, tutto bene) a comedy about a group twentysomethings on the cusp of real life

Mafia_Kills_Only_in_Summer-01THE ICE FOREST (La Foresta di Ghiaccio) Claudio Noce’s icebound thriller stars Bosnian actor/director Emir Kusturica

9×10 NOVANTA Documentary shorts from a selection of directors

So Far So GoodPERFIDIA – drama centering on one man’s fight to motivate his aimless son

DARKER THAN MIDNIGHT (Piu Buio di Mezzanotte) a young man’s journey into poverty on the streets of Catania

GOOD FOR NOTHING (Buoni a Nulla) comedy from Gianni Di Gregorio

CINEMA MADE IN ITALY TAKES PLACE AT THE CINE LUMIERE LONDON SW7 FROM 5 – 9 MARCH 2015

Greenery Will Bloom Again | Torneranno i prati (2014) | Cinema Made in Italy

Writer/Director Ermanno Olmi

Cast:Claudio Santamaria, Camillo Grassi, Niccolò Senni,

80min   Italian   Drama

English translations of subtitles and films titles leave a great deal to be desired. Are they all being churned out from a trailer park in deepest Albania by teenagers googling internet translation sites? Not that I have anything against either but the English in the subtitles simply does not do these arthouse and independent films any favours – it does not reflect the tone or content accurately. The English translation of TORNERANNO I PRATI is GREENERY WILL BLOOM AGAIN. Surely MEADOWS WILL BLOOM AGAIN would more evocatively conjure up the hope of Peace and renewed prosperity after the grim hardship of War in this starkly drawn First World War drama by one of Italy’s most talented contemporary filmmakers, Ermanno Olmi.

Shot in a sombre palette of gunmetal and taupe by cinematographer (and son) Fabio Olmi, the anti-War story unfolds in the desolate mountains of North Eastern Italy near the Austrian border, where a winter landscape envelopes a group of exhausted and grimy soldiers, chilled to the bone despite being swaddled by heavy (and sodden) uniforms. Led by a strong performance from Claudio Santamaria as The Major, who arrives with a dispatch that can only lead to tragedy for all concerned in the bunker of death. In the meltdown that follows, soldiers lose their lives and are interred in the heavy snow.

The strength of Olmi’s drama lies in his stark depiction of the miserable drudgery of combat: an uneasy tension builds as the platoon waits in appalling conditions for certain death either from the elements or the enemy. TORNERANNO I PRATI is a gruelling mood piece that fails to match the complex narrative of his previous outings THE PROFESSION OF ARMS or TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS but nonetheless conveys the pity and futility of war. This is war that affects ordinary working men equally – there are no good or bad characters here, just simple farmers or tradesmen forced to fight in a senseless battle where no one is ultimately a winner, Olmi’s tragedy delivers its message simple and soberly.MT

Reviewed at Berlinale 2015 and screening at the CINEMA MADE IN ITALY festival here in March.

Cinema Made In Italy 2013 Cine Lumiere London 6-10 March 2013

 

Cinema Made in Italy 2013 kicks off on 6 March at Ciné Lumière, celebrating its third edition. The event offers lovers of Italian cinema, TEN BRAND NEW ITALIAN FILMS showing over  a 5-day mini-festival. Four of these films are French-Italian co-productions, highlighting the long history of fruitful cinematic collaboration between France and Italy. The screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with directors and actors. This is a unique chance to see Italian films that have not yet had exposure in the UK and a rare opportunity to catch up with brand new, cutting edge Italian cinema at the CINE LUMIERE in South Kensington, London SW7 from  6-10 MARCH 2013.

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