Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: SFFS New Italian Cinema Nov. 13-17, 2013

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    SFFS New Italian Cinema Nov. 13-17, 2013




    San Francisco Film Society
    NEW ITALIAN CINEMA
    Nov. 13-17, 2013



    LINKS TO REVIEWS:
    Ali Blue Eyes (Claudio Giovannesi 2012)
    Balancing Act (Ivan De Matteo 2012)
    Cosimo and Nicole (Francesco Amato 2012)
    Garibaldi's Lovers (Silvio Soldini 2012)
    Great Beauty, The (Paolo Sorrentino 2013)
    Ideal City, The (Luigi Lo Cascio 2012)
    Interval, The (Leonardo Di Costanzo 2012)
    Out of the Blue (Edoardo Leo 2013)
    Steel (Stefano Mordini 2012)
    There Will Come a Day (Giorgio Diritti 2012)


    General Forum notification and comment thread for this series here. Links to the Filmleaf reviews also below.


    Garibaldi's Lovers
    Silvo Soldini (Il comandante e la cicogna, Italy/Switzerland 2012)

    The director of 2007’s hard-hitting Days and Clouds takes a more comedic, though similarly pointed and critical, look at contemporary Italian society with this dual story of a Genoan plumber trying to raise his two kids after the death of his wife and a starving artist who is hoping for a lucrative new commission.
    Wednesday, November 13, 6:15 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    Silvio Soldini's Days and Clouds I reviewed in the NYC Lincoln Center Open Roads New Italian Cinema series of 2008 here.

    Napoli 24
    Multiple Directors (Italy 2010)

    Over three years in the making and completed with great difficulty during the infamous garbage crisis, this omnibus film pays tribute to one of the world’s most magnificent and complicated metropolises.
    Wednesday, November 13, 9:00 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    Balancing Act
    Ivano De Matteo (Gli equilibristi, Italy 2012)

    The financial precariousness of middle-class life is thrown into dramatic relief in this powerful drama about life, love and family.
    Thursday, November 14, 6:30 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)


    There Will Come a Day
    Giorgio Diritti (Un giorno devi andare, Italy/France 2013)

    After a tragic personal event, a young woman named Augusta (Jasmine Trinca) flees Italy for the Brazilian Amazon to give medical assistance to the indigenous population and to try and restore meaning to her life.
    Thursday, November 14, 8:45 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)


    Steel
    Stefano Mordini (Acciaio, Italy 2012)

    With the downward-slanting economy as a backdrop and fraught sexual tensions in the forefront, Steel delves deeply and expertly into the vagaries of interpersonal, small-town relationships.
    Friday, November 15, 6:30 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    Cosimo and Nicole
    Francesco Amato (Cosimo e Nicole, Italy 2013)

    This drama about an obsessive relationship that takes a dark turn is grounded by two powerhouse performances by Riccardo Scamarcio and Clara Ponsot and directed with urgency by Francesco Amato.
    Friday, November 15, 9:00 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    We Believed
    Mario Martone (Noi credevamo, Italy/France 2010)

    Made to coincide with Italy’s 150th anniversary celebration, this epic 19th-century costume drama tells the story of the country’s path to independence.
    Saturday, November 16, 12:15 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    Ali Blue Eyes
    Claudio Giovannesi (Alì ha gli occhi azzurri, Italy 2012)

    Working with a non-professional cast using incidents from their lives, Claudio Giovannesi paints a revelatory picture of existence for the various cultures trying to live together in present-day Italy.
    Saturday, November 16, 4:15 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    Out of the Blue
    Edoardo Leo (Buongiorno papà, Italy 2013)

    A slick ladies’ man learns new responsibilities in this warm crowd-pleaser from the director of 18 Years Later (NIC 2010).
    Saturday, November 16, 6:30 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)


    The Interval
    Leonardo di Costanzo (L’intervallo, Italy/Switzerland/Germany 2012)

    Inside the walls of an abandoned Naples boarding school, a 17-year-old street vendor must spend the afternoon watching over a pretty 15-year-old who is being sequestered for reasons unknown to him.
    Saturday, November 16, 9:00 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    Gorbaciof
    Stefano Incerti (Italy 2010)

    Returning to film’s visual essence, cowriter/director Stefano Incerti depicts the life of a Neapolitan prison cashier named Marino with sparseness and immediacy, bolstered by Toni Servillo’s impeccable performance
    Sunday, November 17, 1:00 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    The Ideal City
    Luigi Lo Cascio (La città ideale, Italy 2012)

    Actor Luigi Lo Cascio’s (The Best of Youth) directorial debut is a wonderfully unclassifiable work, rich with philosophical ideas and punctuated by the increasing precariousness of his protagonist's situation.
    Sunday, November 17, 3:00 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)


    The Great Beauty
    Paolo Sorrentino (La grande bellezza, Italy/France 2013)

    Employing elegant cinematography and a brilliantly wide-ranging score, director Paolo Sorrentino has created a phantasmagoric feast for the senses, a tribute to the Eternal City that will surely have a long life of its own
    Sunday, November 17, 6:00 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    One Man Up
    Paolo Sorrentino (L'uomo in più, Italy 2001)

    With surreal dream sequences and potent ideas about destiny and morality, One Man Up is a dark and ambitious (and rarely screened) film that heralded the brilliant careers of director Paolo Sorrentino and star Toni Servillo that were to come.
    Sunday, November 17, 9:30 pm
    Landmark's Clay Theatre
    2261 Fillmore (Sacramento/Clay)

    I reviewed Paolo Sorrentino's 2012 This Must Be the Place here.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    GARIBALDI'S LOVERS (Silvio Soldini 2013)

    SILVIO SOLDINI: GARIBALDI'S LOVERS (2013)


    Luca DiRodi, Valerio Mastndrea and Derena Pinto in Garibaldi's Lovers

    Social commentary in a comedy that's a tad too whimsical

    "The director of 2007’s hard-hitting Days and Clouds takes a more comedic, though similarly pointed and critical, look at contemporary Italian society with this dual story of a Genoan plumber trying to raise his two kids after the death of his wife and a starving artist who is hoping for a lucrative new commission." So says the blurb. Yes and the skinny, bespectacled son of Leo (Valerio Mastandrea), the plumber, whose name is Elia (Luca Dirodi), has adopted a stork he has named Agostina (he calls her "Aga" for short), that he feeds stolen frogs to because he thinks she's eating polluted food. (Props to the filmmakers for crane-wrangling.) The "starving artist" is Diana (Alba Rohrwacher), who makes repeated appeals to get paid for a job for a bankrupt employer who's taken off by the cops, and then gets a new one to do a mural for a lawyer. Leo's daughter Maddalena (Serena Pinto) has a boyfriend who turns out to be a detective working for the city and investigating real estate fraud. Leo's deceased wife Teresa (Claudia Gerini) isn't completely gone: she appears to Leo in a bikini and rides with him in his truck sometimes.

    Going from his winningly whimsical love comedy Bread and Tulips (2000), which a lot of people saw, and his meandering but interesting 2007 social drama about upper middle class financial woes Days and Clouds, (NIC New York, 2008) which not as many saw but also got US distribution and good reviews, through several other films we haven't gotten to see for what may be obvious reasons, Soldini has turned ever more surreal and whimsical-- to the point that this one is so out there it makes you shake your head. The incomprehensible new English title seeks clumsily to make up for the somewhat head-scratching original Italian one, which means "The Commandant and the Crane."

    It actually makes sense when you see the m ovie. The Commandant is Garibaldi, the Italian 19th-century liberator, and a statue of him and one of Leonardo and another of the poet Leopardi (voiced successively by Pierfrancesco Favino, Neri Marcorè and Gigio Alberti) occasionally ruminate disapprovingly down upon their northern Italian cityscape when Elia is not running around after his crane, or the pompous landlord, Amanzio (Giuseppe Battiston), who shoplifts expired items from the supermarket, isn't lecturing people, or the starving artist (who's the landlord's tenant) isn't trying to raise her rent, or Leo, who has a Chinese helper called Fiorenzo (Yang Shi), isn't trying to keep his household together. Whether their frantic meanderings justify the noble dead Italians' disapproving generalizations about the sad state of Italy today is hard to say. It's not easy to see any connection, really. There are many indications that Soldini's writing on this film was ill coordinated with that of co-writer Doriana Leondeff (who collaborated on Bread and Tulips and Days and Clouds) and Marco Pettenello (who who penned Carlo Mazzacurati's 2010 The Passion).

    All this, though good natured, is so flighty, alternatively pretentious, or obviously made-up and silly that it starts to seem a prime example of why these days even Italians aren't going much to Italian movies and apart from exceptions like Divo and Gomorrah or this year's The Great Beauty they unfortunately are only sporadically making it into major festivals other than the ones devoted to Italian movies and co-run by Italian consulates.

    Swiss money was contributed for the funding of this picture, which explains why the crane flies off to the German part of Switzerland and has to be retrieved. Amanzio, the pompous, do-nothing landlord, who's quite a kindly sort when he chooses to be, and also a considerable linguist, helps Elia comunicate with the Swiss Germans on the phone, long distance, after the Germans have found Elia's cell phone number around "Aga's" neck. The sets are as willfully elaborate and quirky as the plot line.

    Il commandante e la cicogna, 105 mins., was released in Italy 18 Oct. 2012. Screened for this review as part of the New Italian Cinema series of the San Francisco Film Society, Nov. 2012.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:10 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    BALANCING ACT (Ivano de Matteo 2012)

    IVAN DE MATTEO: BALANCING ACT (2012)


    Valerio Mastrandrea and Barbora Bobulova in Balancing Act

    A thin margin for the urban middle class man: "Divorce is for the rich"

    Balancing Act (Gli equilibristi) is a sad one. Here is a hangdog side to the Italian male that foreigners may be surprised to see, having become accustomed to the fantasy of the dashing seductive charmer, the flashy dresser with the flashing eyes. But even Marcello Mastroianni had a hangdog side. Playing Giulio, Valerio Mastandrea, who won the Best Actor Davide, the Italian "Oscar" for this performance, is more of an average guy. He played the husband in Kim Rossi Stewart's fine and touching directing debut Anche libero va bene took so he's no stranger to difficult marriage dramas, though he's a comedian by trade. "The financial precariousness of middle-class life is thrown into dramatic relief in this powerful drama about life, love and family." Yes, this man has a brief infidelity, and his "northern" wife Elena (Barbora Bobulova) cannot learn to live with it, and so they must split, leaving the wife with the rocker girl daughter Camilla (the vibrant Rosabell Laurenti Sellers) and her little blond brother Luca (the sweet Lupo De Matteo) with the expensive retainer to correct his teeth.

    Giulio is a city worker and Elena is a receptionist and they live in Rome, whose tough, funny, sometimes disreputable side is shown with no touristic facades here. Balancing Act is a process film and the process is a devolution. Giulio is a nice, restrained man, but also the victim of his occasional impulses. First is his infidelity with Stefania (Grazia Schiavo), not really a girlfriend, it seems, just a lonely lady with a dog who he spent some time with. One evening he has pity on a pizza man who brings the wrong order and the anchovies Elena can't eat push her over the edge. This wrong decision, taking somebody else's pizzas, leads to his expulsion. He stays with a friend at first, a single man tyrannized by his ancient "mamma." He must flee to other lodgings and the only thing he can afford is a prison-like pensione. But he can't afford that and before long he is sleeping in his car and eating at welfare stations to pay the double set of bills he's saddled with. He suffers a hundred humiliations, yet cannot succeed, and he deteriorates psychologically.

    Balancing Act is a more downscale version of the story Silvio Soldini told in Days and Clouds -- how even well off middle class people can have their livelihoods kicked out from under them and slip into a marginal working class existence. This could be soap opera, melodrama, but what holds it, precariously, above that level are all the excellent performances and the writing that is precise about each social detail, in particular the personalities of salty Romans.

    But though this film avoids becoming a soap or melo it's also certainly no neorealist masterpiece. Despite the good acting, the specific writing, nuanced mise-en-scène, and Vittorio Omodei Zorini’s subtle and inventive but not obtrusive camera, something seems missing, too monotonous. There is too little emotion, too much repression. This was released in France in February 2013, and the Paris critics were only mildly impressed (Alloociné's press rating is 3.0). One French critic felt we merely become voyeurs of a sadistic process of humiliation. Several suggested that Balancing Act, falls into a kind of miserabilism and finally does not go enough beyond the documentary, illustrative limits of its sociological tale. I feel this too: that there is too much detail and not enough art.

    Gli equilibristi/Balancing Act, 107 mins., debuted at Venice 2012 and opened theatrically in Italy Sept. 2013 and France Feb. 2013. Screened for this review as part of the New Italian Cinema series of the San Francisco Film Society presented at the Clay Theater in San Francisco 14 Nov. 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-16-2016 at 05:14 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    THERE WILL COME A DAY (Giorgio Diritti 2012)

    GIORGIO DIRITTI: THERE WILL COME A DAY (2012)


    Jasmine Trinca in There Will Come a Day

    Artful "Eat Play Love," Italian style

    Giorgio Diritti's previous film, his sophomore effort, told a wartime story of a German massacre of Italian peasants. The Man Who Will Come/L'uomo che verra (SFIFF 2010), used authentic locals from the Appenine mountains near Bologna talking in impenetrable dialect. And again in this new more ambitious effort set in the present and largely filmed in Brazil Diritti makes much use of documentary material and a meandering non-structure. The Man Who Will Come won the Grand Jury Prize at Rome in 2009 despite a lack of narrative drive. I frankly find Diritti's style in both films original, but showy, self-indulgent and aimless; others are entranced and see this new film as a beautiful meditation and a visual poem depicting a profound spiritual and human journey. It does contain some very interesting footage. But it seems to me ultimately much too pretentious and full of itself.

    What we can all agree on is that Diritti's one constant point of reference, apart from the authentic Amazon locations and indigenous people, is the beautiful young Italian woman, Augusta (Jasmine Trinca), who's running from a trauma. She's recently lost a child and learned she can't have another and at the news her husband has chosen to leave her. (Rumor has it that Diritti is basing this film partly on a previous journey here in flight from a trauma of his own, when he shot a documentary.)

    Augusta's mother Anna (Anne Alvaro) in Bologna has apparently arranged for her to join an old friend of hers, a Catholic nun, Suor Franca (Pia Engleberth), who travels, gives medical help, and teachers. For a while, in a succession of authentic scenes, we see Augusta and the no-nonsense sister cruise the Amazon in a boat visiting and helping the Indios. But the liaison of the two women doesn't last. Augusta likes helping the Indios, but sees no point in inculcating in them as Suor Franca does Christian doctrines like sin and the divinity of Jesus. Besides, there are other problems. Evangelicals are driving the Catholics out, while the Catholics, including Suor Franca, are hand-in-glove with hotel developers who blatantly exploit the indigenous people for their own commercial ends. Another issue that will come up later is that there is a traffic in children, who disappear when they're sold for foreigners to adopt them.

    I find Augusta selfish, and this film a more highfalutin, art house Italian version of Eat Play Love. Augusta isn't doing a job, however in part dubious, like Suor Franca. She's finding herself.

    Leaving Suor Franca and rarely bothering to communicate with her concerned mamma back in Italy, Augusta winds up with a family in a favela in Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas,whose inhabitants live in houses on stilts over stagnant water. Again Diritti provides much documentary detail using non-actors but has little use for narrative. This film moves by bits of information rather than events and jumps between Italy and Brazil with a maddening casualness that others take as a poetic meditation heightened by Jasmine Trinca's pretty, inward-looking face. In many ways this is another Eat Pray Love, but the taciturn Jasmine Trinca is no Julia Roberts, and doesn't do much eating or praying. She does read a book by the French Christian mystic Simone Weil (this is a French-Italian co-production).

    With the extended family in Manaus, which seems to have no trouble taking her in, Augusta is happy, and they treat her like a cross between a sister and a princess. She attaches herself to pretty young mother Janaina (Amanda Fonseca Galvao), and her heart seems to flutter for the chubby, naive João (Paulo De Souza), the young breadwinner, who has a brilliant smile and stylish hair. The conversations often seem improvised, not scripted, though the scenario is attributed to Giorgio Diritti, Fredo Valla, and Tania Pedroni. The sometimes gorgeous cinematography is by Roberto Cimatti. The Manaus sequence, which has much sociological as well as emotional content, is more original than the earlier material. But it oscillates between interesting and merely aimless. At some point the film begins to feel bloated, even though it has accomplished a lot in the first fifty minutes, and in Manaus there is amazing footage of the start of the rainy season. Meanwhile we still have to deal with constant suddenly recurrent short scenes of Augusta's sad-sack mamma back in Italy, who's caring for her mother (Sonia Gessner). And then a predictable tragedy happens to Janaina, leading to more and more back-and-forth cutting.

    Un giorno devi andare/A Day Will Come (literally "One day you must go"), 109 mins., debuted at Sundance Jan. 2013, opened theatrically in Italy in March; Karlovy, Vancouver, Chicago festivals. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Film Society's New Italian Cinema series, Nov. 14 at the series venue, Landmark's Clay Theatre at 2261 Fillmore St.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:16 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    THE GREAT BEAUTY (Paolo Sorrentino 2013)

    PAOLO SORRENTINO: THE GREAT BEAUTY (2013)



    Sorrentino and Servillo's tremendous Roman trifle

    "The movie is a masterpiece, a grand swooning epic, lush to the point of insanity, Fellini turned up to 11," says The Guardian's Catherine Shoard of Sorrentino's triumphant new collaboration with the great Toni Servillo, La grande bellezza, perhaps the best, certainly the grandest, thing Sorrentino has done and the best thing he and Servillo have done together.

    Warning: it's long (142 minues) and you may be bored, or feel overfed. "Lush to the point of insanity" means the images and scenes are over-rich, their ancient Roman gilded gorgeousness mitigated only by the dry urbanity of Jep Gambardella, Servillo's character and the film's urbane protagonist. Jep is originally from Naples, like the director himself (and slips in and out of a Neopolitan accent), but has lived in Rome long enough to know everyone in its society worth knowing. He's a well-known but lazy and snobbish journalist who once, forty years ago, wrote a novella that was much admired and is still sometimes remembered. Why has he done nothing like that since? Ah, yes: good question.

    Most of Jep's energy seems to go into dressing impeccably -- the pleasure of observing his succession of elegantly casual, impeccably tailored jackets and suits and ties and shoes is itself worth the price of admission -- and partying till the wee hours every night with tough, middle-aged, a bit too tan, perfectly botoxed models of mondanità," society life, of which Jep himself long ago decided to be a prime exemplar. Jep is a modern Marcello Mastroianni and this is a stylized, technicolor La Dolce Vita. But this is not what Pauline Kael called the "sick soul of Europe." Rather it's Italy, as they like to say now, "in a very difficult period of transition." In other words, in a prolonged state of spiritual, moral, and aesthetic exhaustion of which Berlusconi (not mentioned here--this isn't a Nanni Moretti film) may be highly symbolic. It's a country stifled by its cultural history, with so much beauty, it lacks the energy to make anything new any more.

    And so, exemplifying the state of Italian affairs -- and Sorrentino has taken on no lesser task, though this is far too beautiful, witty, and inventive a film to editorialize or document -- this movie can't really, and doesn't, go anywhere. But it's a very lovely, cinematically splendid and surprisingly graceful and pleasurable ride. I watched it with a smile on my face, because a beautifully made film makes me happy.

    There is no spiritual crisis, as in Fellini's classic, and Sorrentino does wide panning shots but not long rambling takes. He does a succession of short scenes with Jep in all those outfits and at all those parties. The opening one is a carnivalesque disco celebration of his sixty-fifth birthday. There are various moments, including a magician at the Colosseum who makes a giraffe disappear and a 104-year-old Mother Teresa-surrogate at a dinner party. But the decisive one for Jep is when he's informed that an old girlfriend he's been in touch with for decades but who married another man has died. Flashbacks to that early love may suggest why Jep has lost himself in lazy urbane pleasures and never really "done" anything.

    But it's also suggested that Jep's pleasurable otium (and Jep's urbane smiles are another of the film's distinctive, memorable pleasures) is in the nature of the city of Rome itself. The city is too culturally rich and beautiful and lazy to allow its inhabitants the space to do anything. (Factually, remember Turin and Milan are where Italian industry and fashion happen, and Rome's Cinecittà doesn't seem to be a mine of energetic accomplishment these days.)

    There is much else one could describe, including Jep's best friend, the explicitly named Romano (Carlo Verdone, by trade a comedian, and a quintessentially Roman one), who's an aspiring playwright; and the literary references to Proust, Céline, Dostoyevsky, and Sartre -- partly mocking the self-importance of the Fellini-esque model. But one can't encompass this cornucopia of scenes and celebrations in a review. All one can say is, if you love lush and impeccably stylish cinematic excess, and have the patience, and if you wish to be up on the latest and best in Italian filmmaking, you should see La grande bellezza at your earliest convenience in a cinema with a nice big screen. It is a great beauty of a film, right down to the last slow gliding moments of the end credits.

    La grande bellezza, 142 mins., debuted in competition at Cannes May 2013 (and was nominated for the Palme d'Or). Released in various European countries; other international festival showings. Metacritic (English and American reviews): 82; Allociné (French critics): only 3.4 (the Cahiers critic hates Sorrentino). US release by Janus Films. Screened for this review at a preview at Landmark's Embarcadero Cinemas in a renovated auditorium with posh new seats and a nice big screen in San Francisco 12 Nov. and included in the SF Film Society's New Italian Cinema series Sunday, November 17, 6:00 pm at Landmark's Clay Theatre. Landmark Theater showings of the film begin 29 Nov.

    See Mike D'Angelo's AV Club Cannes report on the film's editing, opening scene, and camera style.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:20 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    STEEL (Stefano Mordini 2012)

    STEFANO MORDINI: STEEL (2012)


    Anna Bellezza and Batilde Giannini in Steel

    Coming of age by the steel mill, and by the Mediterranean

    Steel (Accaio), a feature by Stefano Mordini, formerly a documentary filmmaker, centers upon the small industrial town of Piombino, along the coast, southwest of Siena, in view of the island of Elba. Vacationers pass through but don't stop. In the foreground are two sexy 14-year-old girls, Anna (Matilde Giannini) and Francesca (Anna Bellezza), best friends, who study at school and dream of escaping, while finishing their last summer after middle school and before entering the liceo. Anna's older brother Alessio (an excellent Michele Riondino) not only works at the Lucchini steel mill but at night steals electrical cable to earn extra money, whose source he hides from his mother. The father, apparently a drunk, is off somewhere seeking his fortune away from the factory and no longer in touch. A declining economy and technological unemployment trouble the area's longtime source of livelihood.

    Mordini is interested in family and friend relationships and undercurrents of discontent. But a certain working class grimness of surroundings is offset by the eye candy of the girls and the young men, with breathless closeups of faces and bodies that Ken Loach or the Dardennes would not have bothered with and which spoil what could be a truly authentic setting by introducing a soapy flavor. There are even softcore porn undressing scenes and sexy semi-nude men and the girls kissing to lend a light lesbian touch. We may be in a community dependent on a steel mill, but the girls wander around in the sexy outfits of the day, booties, loose T's, tiny jean shorts, and strip to swim in the Mediterranean. Things for them aren't so bad, except, like all teenagers, they're bored. They lounge around lazily and sexily on their beds, or exchange blank looks.

    Clearly Mordini is seeking to combine a moody coming-of-ager with realistic semi-documentary depictions of the working class milieu, but he seriously undercuts it with the desultory unfolding of scenes and the come-hither photography of attractive young male and female flesh -- which, however, does not conceal the diagrammatic, expository nature of the fragmentary dialogue.

    The most ambitiously shot and edited sequence in a skating rink, when the two girls betray and desert each other and follow different attractions, achieves a brief sense of complexity and urgency, and then typically is suddenly dropped, the next scene in the light of day of the girls' housing unit, as if nothing had happened. Later, a trip to Elba for the two girls is cancelled in favor of Anna's birthday sexual debut with a returned friend of Alessio's, Mattia (Francesco Turbanti) who now works at the factory. There's also Alessio's super-pretty blonde ex-girlfriend, Elena (Vittoria Puccini), who returns to join the factory's management staff and can't understand Alessio's contentment with the steel mill worker life. These are quickly sketched events. They can seem superficial, but Mordini also can surprise with his rapid jump cutting, as when he suddenly shows Anna in school studying Latin. All this complexity is interesting and the film despite its visual missteps has delicacy, but it fails to tell a compelling story -- as Ken Loach or the Dardennes definitely would have done.

    Steell is an adaptation of the novel by the same name by Silvia Avallone, which won the Italian Campiello prize in 2010 and readers' prizes from the French magazines L'Express and Elle in 2011 and 2012. From the novel, judging by comments from those who've read it, little remains here of its real in-depth focus on the factory life. Scenes of the foundry are pasted in, with Alessio occasionally there wearing the Lucchini factory uniform and interacting with secondary characters, but otherwise there's little integration of the factory's gritty dirt and swing-shift exhaustion into the scenes of home life. The oscillation between the depressing factory setting and its depressed social world and the sensuality of the young girls in bloom weakens both and confounds the viewer. The over-intimate photography, good at other times, is by Marco Onorato.

    Accaio, 95 mins., debuted at the Authors' Week at Venice, Sept. 2012. It opened in Italy 15 Nov. 2012, and in France (as D'Acier 5 June 2013 (Allociné press rating: 3.2). Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Film Society's New Italian Cinema series, November 2013, in which is shows Friday, November 15, at 6:30 pm at Landmark's Clay Theatre.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    COSIMO AND NICOLE (Francesco Amato 2012)

    FRANCESCO AMATO: COSIMO AND NICOLE (2012)


    Riccardo Scarmarcio and Clara Ponsot in Cosimo and Nicole (2013)

    Interrupted passion recalled

    Blue-eyed Italian heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio (My Brother Is an Only Child, Loose Canons, Eden Is West ) and young French firebrand Clara Ponsot (who's had many TV series and TV movie roles) give their all as the volatile young lovers in this film told as flashbacks framed by "interviews" and ending with a celebration of African political exile they've "helped." But these actors, for all their enthusiasm, are the victims of a screenplay that tries to say too much, and may be blind to its political insensitivity.

    Cosimo (Scarmarcio) and Nicole (Ponsot) meet as young activists at the famous 2001 Genoa G8 riots and immediately fall in love, or in lust. She is only 17; many commentators fail to note that he's shown to be more in love than she, and that despite talk of obsessive passion, Amato never conveys the mad hot attraction Katell Quillévéré memorably shows in her criminal couple in Suzanne (FCN 2013). Talking to the framing "interview" camera Cosimo says Genoa was the only place where this French girl and Italian boy didn't feel "like strangers." So, taking up residence in a romantic rustic shack, the couple finds work for big local music impresario Paolo (Paolo Sassanelli, who was in Amato's debut feature What the Hell Am I Doing Here?), who trains Cosimo up to be his sound man (Nicole never goes beyond selling drinks). Then Alioune (Souleymane Sow), an illegal African fleeing war in Guinea in Southern Senegal, who worms his way into the crew against Paolo's will, has a serious accident and appears dead. Cosimo, who was standing by when the man fell off the scaffolding, helps Paolo cover it up, just dumping the body off somewhere. The repercussions from this action take up the rest of the film, arousing so much guilt and concern in Cosimo and Nicole that their sex life suffers markedly.

    The situation seems like a sort of weird version of what happens in the Dardennes' La Promesse, with Paolo unwillingly thrust into the position of Olivier Gourmet's immigrant-exploiting father. Paolo is doubtless already guilty of various infractions of the law in his rough and wild concert business. But needless to say, Riccardo Scarmarcio is no Jérémie Renier, and Cosimo is slow to develop a conscience. It's Nicole who takes action first.

    Unlike La Promesse's dishonest, mean dad, Paolo, the rock concert impresario, is the kind of rough engaging type whose misbehavior you want to forgive, and the movie seems to let him off easy -- a little too easy. He may be glamorous with his frantic energy and his ponytail and glasses, but he still seems like the ultimate bad buy in this. Yet when Cosimo and Nicole go on the run, he simply disappears from the story. The movie never clearly defines its moral issues or comes to terms with them. It's not even clear why the lovers have to go on the run except that it fulfills the movie's agendas.

    It was nonetheless a pleasure to watch this movie in the New Italian Cinema series right after Stefano Mordini's desultory and inexplicable Steel, because Amtao's film, though its plot may be full of holes, still has strong focus and forward thrust -- and during the Paolo section, some entertaining and varied concert scenes with real live music. In its first half at least, Cosimo and Nicole is alive and bursting with action.

    But as written by Francesco Amato, Giuliano Miniati and Daniela Gambaro, the screenplay seems unaware of its racially blind exploitation of the African as a mere backdrop for the torrid love affair of the white middle class European couple. Besides this criticism, which he states particularly forcefully, Variety reviewer Boyd van Hoeij points out that the Genoa G8 riots, where the titular couple meet, have already been used once too often for local color in Italian pictures. Von Hoelj isn't impressed at all by the film. He thinks Ponsot "too good for this material," and calls Scarmarcio "brooding monotonously as usual" (a devastating remark that is all too true: that sad face and those pale blue eyes don't have many variatious from film to film). Von Hoeij is so harsh as to suggest that the "supersaturated look and shallow emotional depth" of Federico Annicchiarico's cinematography is most likely "inspired by Instagram."

    But the camera often moves ably, garish look or not. Aside from the intensity of the two leads, a further strength is in the music, particularly when integrated as a [art pf concert scenes: Marlene Kuntz, Afterhours and Verdena in the Paolo section are intermingled with original background music by Francesco Cerasi.

    As Aurora Tamigio says on the website Silenzio in Sala, Amato seems to want to put everything he thinks about the world into this one film, as if nothing succeeds like excess -- and undermines his effort by using basically conventional materials: a by now cliché political event, rock music, an ordinary love story, a weighted, obvious reference to the immigrant problem. Alioune is pretty much a blank cliché, without anything fresh or individual about him, yet he's dragged out through the whole second half of the film, which feels much more dutiful and less organic than the first part. There's none of the Dardennes' ability to make us feel intensely about moral issues.

    Besides, it's hard even to credit a lot of this. The accident seems a bit contrived. So is the way Nicole cuts her hand and has to go to the hospital so she and Cosimo can spot that Alioune, who seemed dead, has been found in a coma and is being brought in just as they leave. So is the way Nicole keeps going back to visit Alioune, burning his valise as instructed but saving an unsent love letter to his girlfriend. Is Nicole romantic because she's French and young or is she just more Italian than the Italians? Anyway Alioune reappears as if risen from the dead at the music stage, and when Paolo wants to kill him, to cover up his cover-up, Cosimo and Nicole run off with Alioune to Belgium, where he has family.

    All this stops the romance, till the couple do time for illegally bringing an illegal into Belgium and are celebrated by Alioune's fellow countrymen in a new concert, this time a joyous African one, with dancing that Nicole ably joins along with. Then Cosimo dances close and it looks like she's not taking that train tonight.

    Cosimo e Nicole, 100 mins., debuted at Rome 16 Nov. 2012, and won several awards in Italy. It opened theatrically in Italy 29 Nov., RAI Trade is the distributor. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Film Society's New Italian Cinema series, showing Friday, November 15, 9:00 pm at Landmark's Clay Theatre.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:26 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    ALI BLUE EYES (Claudio Giovannesi 2012)

    CLAUDIO GIOVANNESI: ALI BLUE EYES (2012)


    Stefano Rabatti and Nader Sarhan in Ali Blue Eyes © Bellissima Films

    Intimate film about working class teenagers has the spirit of Italian neorealism

    Who the heck is Ali, who "has blue eyes" in the Italian title? This is about Nader, a boy of Arab descent who wears blue contacts in his eyes. The title comes from Pasolini’s poem “Prophesy,” and the protagonists of the film could be "Ragazzi di Vita." The neorealist tradition finally seems honestly and proficiently reflected in this film by Claudio Giovannesi about teenagers using non-actors who live and go to school in Rome's working-class suburb of Ostia. Sixteen-year-old Nader (Nader Sarhan) attaches himself to his friend Stefano (Stefano Rabatti) and at the outset Stefano steals a motorbike and robs a convenience store using a gun loaded with blanks. Nader was supposed to do it but chickens out. When they're done they go to their high school. At home, Nader and his family speak a mixture of Egyptian Arabic and Italian. The film has intertitles of the succession of days in Italian and Arabic -- marking time in a week that for the young Nader is very eventful. Nader's family is Egyptian and imposes Egyptian rules, but he considers himself Italian and stays out late with his Italian girlfriend Brigitte (Brigitte Apruzzesi). When he comes back home at two a.m. his mom won't let him in. They're Muslim and she can't stand his even being with a Christian girl.

    Nader wants assert his independence so he sleeps with a family friend, Mahmoud (Salah Ramadan) in a communal apartment where a bunch of immigrants sack out. His parents become terribly worried. Meanwhile another event heightens the excitement of the week. When the two pals are at a disco Stefano gets into a fight over his ex-girlfriend Eleonora (Elisa Geroni) and knifes a Romanian guy. Later he learns the guy's big brother is out to get revenge, and they know he has an Arab cohort. So Nader and Stefano have to move around carefully.

    The confusion of being an Italianized Muslim-Arab show in the contrast between Nader's insistence on free association and more with his Italian girlfriend, and the protective wall he maintains around his younger sister Laura (Yamina Kacemi) just as a conservative Egyptian would do back home.

    Giovannesi built this film out of a documentary featuring Nader Sarhan and the same people, called Brothers of Italy. He gambled on making a fiction, based on incidents from Nader's and Stefano's own lives, and using their own family members in the cast, and it has paid off brilliantly. It's not easy to play yourself but the director, with great assistance from the skillful, intimate handheld work of dp Daniele Ciprí (who shot Bellocchio's Vincere and Dormant Beauty), has woven an exciting and seamless film out of real materials, and skillfully avoided obvious plot devices or easy climaxes and resolutions, focusing mainly on situations and relationships. This is a good one, and profo that some Italian filmmakers can still reconnect with their powerful cinematic roots. Unfortunately, the local public isn't much interested in this kind of film. But the industry and European audience are. Hence the film won the handsome, tough yet tender Nader Sarhan the Jean Carment Award at the Angers First film Festival (heralding a possible pro career to come). Giovannesi and his editor Giuseppe Trepiccione and producer Fabrizio Mosca received a number of Italian nominations. Admiration came also from veteran Variety critic Jay Weissberg writes, who wrote that in this second feature Giovannesi "reinvigorates the [Italian neorealist] form with exacting honesty." This is a good one.

    Alì ha gli occhi azzurri, 94 mins., debuted at Rome 10 Nov. 2012 and opened there theatrically five days later; various festivals, including Tribeca 2013. Scheduled for release in France Feb. 2014. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Film Society New Italian Cinema series, showing Sat. 16 Nov. 2014 at Landmark's Clay Theater. See the SFFS websit for details.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:28 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    OUT OF THE BLUE (Edoardo Leo 2013)

    EDOARDO LEO: OUT OF THE BLUE (2013)


    Raol Bova and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers in Out of the Blue

    Standard rom-com turns slick Italian ladies man into dutiful dad

    This insufferably good-natured and conventional Italian romantic comedy is very much an ensemble piece, which means that in the classic manner of comedies, pretty much everybody is hugging everybody else at the end. But its starting point is that standard Italian character, the preening, narcissistic ladies' man and unrepentant bachelor. Who in this case will warm our hearts by learning to be a loving dad. Meanwhile to entertain, or annoy, us, depending on your point of view, are: a girl's grandfather, an ex rock musician; the ladies' man's mother, who still, though he's forty-ish, regularly does his laundry; his father, who's not getting on so well with his mother; and his best friend-roommate, who has adopted the self-abnegating role of goofball because that of cool dude was already taken.

    Out of the Blue is sometimes slapstick or in pretty bad taste, which is to say it's Hollywood-friendly; or, as the blurb says, a "warm crowd-pleaser."

    The main actors are the handsome, hunky Raoul Bova as the self-centered seducer, Andrea; Paolo, his roommate, played by the writer-director Edoardo Leo (whose first film was NIC 2010's 18 Years Later); and the teenage girl, Layla, who arrives declaring she's Andrea's daughter. Layla is played by appealing young newcomer Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (we must have needed that middle name to know she's Italian). She's the daughter in another film in the current New Italian Cinema series, the relentlessly downbeat Balancing Act. She gets to relax and have fun here, but her dramatic skills are not shown to as much advantage. What's not predictable about this story? You've got me.

    To begin with, Andrea has a life. He works hard developing the product placements in movies, and he has done well. And he's an apologist for product placements, in one amusing moment explaining to Layla how they're to be found just as much in auteur films like Kubrick's 2001 and Spielberg's E.T. On the edge of forty, Andrea isn't that young any more, but won't admit it. It's all about looks for Andrea, tinted hair, in-shape physique, sporty clothes, raft of trendy sneakers and designer shades to choose from, flashy black sports car -- driven with the top down, of course. Poor Paolo, who sleeps on Andrea's couch, wants to be a party organizer and clown. He like kids. But he exists largely as Andrea's sidekick, a role that's swallowed up the rest of his life.

    Into this world the punkish but bright-eyed and pretty Layla arrives with her paternity news. Her mother has just died and she and her grandpa, the nutty ex-rock guitarist Enzo (Marco Giallini) are virtually homeless. Andrea isn't just saddled with a daughter: Enzo comes with the deal. At first Andrea pretends Layla's either scamming him or trying out for a movie role, but DNA testing proves otherwise. It was a summer indiscretion. Reluctantly, he starts paying attention to Layla. The truth is that though she's not without problems, she's pretty hard not to like. And she snaps his photo all the time, which flatters him. She's into photography, but she's also studying him. She genuinely wants to find out what he's like. "What you see is what I am," he says. Well, then the photos should work. But of course that's not the case. Deep inside are a heart of gold and parenting instincts waiting to be let out.

    The object of the plot is to turn Andrea around, make him into a mensch, and get everybody on good terms, so they can hug and the movie can end on an up note. Partly the romance of the usual rom-com is replaced by the father-daughter rapprochement. Enzo turns out to be a rock sage. He sleepwalks and says weird things, but he worms his way into the lives of Andrea's mother and father (Tiziana Cruciani, Mattia Sbragia) and by pretending to have an affair with his mother, or something, brings the parents back together. But Andrea is not to be deprived of a conventional romance either. When Layla enters the local high school and is tapped to join the track relay team, Andrea immediately takes a shine to the coach, Lorenza (Nicole Grimaudo). Lorenza strenuously resists, through several reels. But wouldn't you know? Andrea does something dramatic in front of a bunch of people to show his intentions, and Lorenza finally melts.

    I almost forgot: Layla gets a boyfriend.

    Out of the Blue may "avoid easy sentimentality," as the blurb declares. But it manages to spew standard clichés right and left. Of course they go down easy in this context. We don't expect profundities. One message to be drawn perhaps is that everybody gets to come of age now, the nearly-forties; the nearly-seventies; and the kids, though they seem to need growing up less than their seniors on the screen. Maybe Andrea is what will have become now to the characters in Gabriele Muccino's 2001 film of guys reaching thirty and unwilling to grow up, The Last Kiss. Or at least what might have happened to that movie's serial seducer, Alberto (Marco Cocci). It's funny how The Last Kiss seemed so annoyingly conventional, but how true it seems now, and how skillfully made, with artistic ambition this film totally lacks. And any Carlo Verdone comedy is funnier than this. But Out of the Blue does its job and is full of good will. It's just a little bit too square; hasn't got enough of a real angle. Its big box office success in Italy may say more about the state of Italian cinema than any of the other films in the 2013 New Italian Cinema series under review, all of which are more ambitious and inventive than this, even if their success varies.

    Buongiorno papà, 106 mins., written by Herbert Simone Paragnani, Massimiliano Bruno and Edoardo Leo, opened in Italy in March 2013 and opens in Hungary in December. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Film Society's New Italian Cinema series, playing Saturday, November 16, 2013 at Landmark's Clay Theatre..
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:29 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,276

    THE IDEAL CITY (Luigi Lo Cascio 2012)

    LUIGI LO CASCIO: THE IDEAL CITY (2012)


    Luigi Lo Cascio and Luigi Maria Burruano in The Ideal City

    Kafkaesque Italian film noir with a Hitchckian hero

    Luigi Lo Cascio, an actor known as one of the dual protagonists of the highly successful Italian historical mini-series The Best of Youth, and who also had a key role in Bellocchio's excellent Aldo Moro kidnapping film Good Morning, Night, has made his debut as a director. It's a quirky, conceptual Hitchcockisn film noir of an innocent man trapped in Kafkaesque legal proceedings, Kafka with an Italian accent. Playing his own protagonist, Lo Cascio who is small and ferret-like, has a furtive manner that contributes at once to the film's air of oddity and noirish unexpectedness. It's an interesting and worthy film. But unfortunately it fades toward the end into the puzzlement of its wry, dark ironies. High concept trumps pleasing suspense.

    Michele Grassadonia (Lo Cascio) is a talented architect who's a fervent environmentalist. He's also a semi-comical oddball, race-walking around Siena snapping photos of employees he spies smoking, abruptly gathering up cigarette buts from the street in paper hankies. Using his clout as a star at the firm, he keeps coworkers from using the heat or putting on the office lights till it gets dark. All this prissy obsessiveness about his no-smoking, zero carbon footprint rules of conduct alienates people. But he's a leading figure at the firm -- till his trouble comes.

    He transplanted from Palermo to Siena 18 years ago because he considers it the ideal city "for everything." In his bachelor apartment he's been carrying on an environmental experiment in his flat for over a year using various gadgets he's devised to use only rainwater. He generates electricity using a stationary bike. We see him shaving with an electric razor while peddling. He showers uncomfortably using a rigged bucket, and goes through other contortions. Environmentalism's lunatic fringes are clearly being satirized.

    With this well-meaning oddball well established as a character, the film plunges into Michele's ill-starred evening. His mentor and the firm's director has asked a favor of him, to take the latter's wife on a long drive to keep her from attending one of his raucous club meetings. To do this he must borrow a new electric car from a friend and fellow environmental activist -- they have a city program afoot. But he hasn't driven a car in eight years, it's a terribly rainy night, and things go awry. First Michele hits something -- he can't see a thing in the torrential rain -- and then, swerving to one side, he grazes a parked car. He leaves a note on the car's windshield -- whose writing immediately washes away, neglecting to note down the car's license number Then he passes a big bundle of something and, thinking it's abandoned garbage of some kind, one of his pet peeves, he stops and goes back to remove it. It turns out to be the body of a man, unconscious but breathing. He calls for help. When the police come and question him, he becomes a suspect.

    Little by little Michele becomes embroiled in an Italian style Kafkaesque legal and bureaucratic nightmare in which he is investigated under suspicion of of murder or manslaughter. A woman bailiff who comes for him in particular could come right out of Kafka's The Trial, and events have the same edge between comical , surreal, and menacing. Michele deals with three lawyers, a court-appointed one, the best one in town, and finally one from Palermo, the cynical Avvocato Scalici (Luigi Maria Burruano) who had something to do with his father when the latter was in serous trouble he only escaped from by dying. Michele's insistence of being honest gets him in deeper and deeper trouble.

    The man Michele has "saved," Sansoni, is an important (but perhaps not liked) city figure. There may have been those who wanted him left by the side of the road; who may have put him there (he remains in a coma). They therefore ma want to get Michele. Anyway, everyone seems angry at him. The most Italian parts of Michele's nightmare may be the undertone of political maneuvering, the quoting of Latin, the directions to stay silent and recognize that in court cases, the truth is immaterial. Events are a study in the vagaries and twists of the Italian legal system. Meanwhile his life crumbles when his boss removes his ability to carry out projects and he must give up his apartment. He rents it to the beautiful, artistic daughter of a former client, an ambassador's wife and they have an odd, twilight relationship. (Seeming to follow Michele's zero-electricity rules, the film is shot with natural light and scenes are often in deep shadow.) Nightmares quietly intermingle with nightmarish events. Michale's mother comes back and forth from Palermo. She is played by Lo Cascio's own mother, Aida Burruano; and Avvocato Scalici is played by her brother.

    The Ideal City is a original film with its own dark ironic tone. Boyd van Hoeij of Variety has a point, though, when he says, in his review that the fledgling director doesn't have a full control of tonal variations, and the comic and romantic bits don't quite fit with the rest. I also felt that the futility should lead to some kind of climax, which it doesn't. The music by Andrea Rocca, however, does a lot to pull things together. .

    La citta ideale, 105 mins, debuted at Venice in August 2012 and opened in Italian cinemas in April 2013. It was written by Luigi Lo Cascio, Massimo Gaudioso, Desideria Rayner and Virginia Borgi. The cast in order of presentation is: Luigi Lo Cascio, Alfonso Santagata, Catrinel Marlon, Aida Burruano, Franco Ravera, Amerigo Fontani, Angela Antonini, Michele Andrei, Giovanni Calcagno, Lorenzo Degli Innocenti, Valentina Sperli', Franco Massimo Gaudioso, Desideria Rayner, Virginia Borgi, Silvia Luzzi, Bettina Giovannini, Marcello Prayer, with Barbera Enrichi, with the participation of Vincenzo Pirrotta. Also: Luigi Maria Burruano, Massimo Foschi. Featuring Roberto Herlitzka. Edited by Desideria Rayner. Cinematography by Pasquale Mari. Sound recording by Fulgenzio Ceccon. Produced by Angelo Barbagallo. Rai Trade.

    Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco Film Society's New Italian Cinema series, November 13-17 2013.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 04:35 PM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •