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Archive for the ‘SUBTITLES: In Italian With English Subtitles’ Category

My Mother’s Smile

25 Jun

My Mother’s Smile –– directed by Marco Bellocchio. Drama A renown painter faces the prospect of his dead mother being made a saint by the Vatican. 105 minutes Color 2002.

★★★★★

This remarkable drama perhaps depends upon its performance by any one of the principal actors, but the entire film really seems to gather its value together under the dark black hair of the beautiful child who is the six year old son of the main character. He is the one worth saving from the grotesque farrago of sanctification. But each character is played without remorse.

The aunt of the father desires the sanctification to gain social status, and her arguments are convincing. So are those of the pious cardinal in charge of the process and two of the painter’s three brothers. So really are the plans of the reprobate miraculously cured by her.

The question raised is how are we to be loved for what we are. And how are we to know that unless we stand our ground, right or wrong. So the artist is challenged and humiliated by a haughty nobleman who at the point of death reduces him in his manhood and humanity. And he is also offered the fair distraction of a beautiful young woman of mysterious provenance. Whose side, if any side, is she on?

But it is the third brother whose seal of approval is besought with insane resolve by all but the artist. For this third brother is insane and has also killed the mother.

This is a fascinating and usual picture, highly watchable and highly engrossing. And a great demonstration of the power of film to deal with immense moral issues without ever having to preach to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

Intervista

25 Aug

Intervista – Directed by Federico Fellini. Back Soundstage Movie Comedy. The comic story of shooting a film by Felinni about the first time Felinni came to a movie set when he was young. 102 minutes Color 1987.

* * * * *

Fellini is the Alexander Calder of film. Enchanting. Surprising. Fun. Here he gives us a film about how humans delight in what is made-up, artificial, fabricated. Not just but also in being those things. In being what is created, devised, imagined. In making themselves into those things. Not made up just by themselves but by someone else as well. Not just alone but as a group. And how they will endure folly, delay, uncertainty, rejection, and having their whole parade rained on in order that they have this privilege of concoction. Sacred and Exalted. Thrilling. Unifying. Hilarious. Natural. And forgiving.

And so we have one of the greatest and most unusual statements of human soul-reality ever made. And made how? Without ever coming out and saying so. It’s all done with a lot of people talking, shouting, carrying on, in the midst of every distraction and vituperation. And in all of this a story emerges which is coherent and which is told solely in film terms, in the rubric of film. Not just in narrative and entrancement but in felt content.

Emerging into this as though from the sky we have Marcello Mastroianni as a seedy magician. The crew all traipse in little cars to the villa of whom? She won’t let them in. She doesn’t believe it’s Felinni. When she does she sets her dogs on them. Anita Ekberg in orange towels. And this glorious Vercingetorix continues to appear in towels as though she had never quite dried off from that fountain all those years ago. Her reunion here takes my breath away, not because I am sentimental about the famous scene but because she and Mastroianni are 25 years older and look it and are beautiful and it’s just wonderful.

It’s a beautifully shaped picture. Like Singing In The Rain, it is a picture about pictures about pictures. Our happiness with fraud. Our envy of the freedom it confers. About the human energy it releases and the curious democracy which is its milieu and profound and delightful artifact.

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La Notte

13 Aug

La Notte – Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Drama. A couple married for some years accompany one another in three places during one 12-hour period in Rome. 115 minutes Black and White. 1961.

* * * *

Movies that start with two people getting out of a car and walking up to a door make my heart sink. It means the director is desperately in want of imagination for the merest resources in establishing a locale. What if the movie had opened on the face of the dying hospital patient? What if one of them had be in the room already? Anything but a car stopping, parking, people getting out, going up to a door. And the film suffers from just such a want of imagination. The couple wander through the boredom of their marriage and their company with one another, rich, heedless, unfeeling. Marcello Mastroianni and Jean Moreau – two more watery, affectless actors could not have been cast in these roles. They are not “bad” actors, but they are actors devoid of temperament, and so are the characters they play, and I would have found it tiresome to accompany them, but that things unfold: from the hospital, they separate, and the wife wanders through the slums of her newly-wed days (although somehow she has got a lot of money), and he is drawn in to have sex with a certifiable nut. She seems to be a mere adjunct of her marriage, which is all the more apparent when they go together to a publication party for him, and then to the shindig of a billionaire, with a lot of folks drifting through the luxe. The billionaire wanted what he’s got, but he wanted it when he was twenty. He forgot he would be old by the time he got it. His 18 year-old daughter is played by Monica Viti, a wonderful actress, whose bones Mastroianni tries to jump, but you sense he doesn’t have the juice, nor does his wife for a bloke who drives off with her for a hot screw. The party scenes are marvelous, as is the depiction of the inert ennui at the heart of every marriage. And the film ends with a scene on the billionaire’s golf course, with Marcello lying on top of Jean and trying to make it with her, while she keeps saying to tell her that he no longer loves her. It’s a great scene; it must be a famous one.  But don’t tell me all the world is like this.  No, only that small slice of caviar pizza that Antonioni knows only, though sometimes he sure does know how to serve it well.

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Saturn In Opposition

07 May

Saturn in Opposition – directed by Ferzan Ozpetek. Drama. A family of family and friends entangles and disentangles like roots in the earth. 110 minutes Color 2007.

* * * * *

I should think that anyone whose prejudices have ever posed themselves against homosexuality would want to see this film.  For if a prejudice ever existed internally in one, it will always remain lodged there like a boulder under water. It’s just natural. Changes of attitude and behavior are to be lauded, and they are vital to the ethos of culture and democracy and civil society, and no law is moral which upholds bigotry. But this film places the matter right in the lap of the viewer, and it is a tonic. As I watched I stepped back at one point and asked myself the question: Why is this a good movie, and I could not answer it, although the evidence was before my eyes. It’s beautifully directed by the same director who brought us the well-known His Secret Life.  It brings us Pierfrancesco Favino (“brother” to Javier Barden) and Margharita Buy, but the cast is an ensemble, as is the customary case with this director’s pieces. I recommending this film without telling you a thing about it, except that everything about it is excellent. There is nothing else I can do, and you will know why that is as you watch it.

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