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    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema At Lincoln Center 2014

    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema At Lincoln Center June 6-12, 2014



    Daniele Luchetti's Those Happy Years. Photo: Emanuela Scarpa

    Filmleaf forum thread here.

    Reviews.

    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, June 5-12, 2014

    Thumbnail reviews and links to my longer ones of some of the Open Roads 2014 public screenings on the website Filmleaf will be found below. That coverage begins here.

    Fifth Wheel, The/L'ultima ruota del carro (Giovanni Veronesi 2013)
    A genial and appealing if unremarkable life story about a Roman everyman born in the Sixties and living on through Berlusconi.

    Human Factor, The/Il variabile umano (Bruno Oliviero 2013
    A downbeat police procedural about a murder in Milan's seedy nightclub-drug milieu that turns out to involve a police inspector's family. The director previously has made documentaries. He tries to combine noir with a commentary/meditation on the current state of Italy's moral climate, but the combination is mired in gloom and the action has so little momentum the 83-minute run-time feels longish.

    Lonely Hero, A/L'Intrepido (Gianni Amelio 2013)
    Gianni Amelio is a great director (his LAMERICA and THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE, among others, are heart-rending and powerful works), but sometimes he seems to be treading water. This is a meandering fantasy about a man who practices the non-existent job of "il rimpiazzo" or "filling in," taking any job at random every day and working at it for only a few hours. Amelio means to provide a meditation on the value of work, or having a job, and the pain of unemployment, but the film seems to make itself up as it goes along, varying wildly in tone. Partly it's clear this was meant by Amelio as a vehicle for the soulful, appealing actor Antonio Albanese, but one winds up wondering: what was he thinking?

    Long Live Freedom/Viva la libertÓ (Roberto And˛: 2013)
    The Italian opposition party leader goes into hiding in Paris and is replaced by his mentally unhinged twin brother, a philosophy prof who's been in a mental institution. The new version is a great success. Both are played by the great Toni Servillo of GOMORRAH, IL DIVO, and THE GREAT BEAUTY, and if this fantasy-satire doesn't live up to all its possibilities, Servillo is always fun to watch in action.

    Those Happy Years/Anni felici (Daniele Luchetti 2013)
    A buoyant loosely autobiographical account of growing up in an artistic, bohemian (but evidently well-off) family in Italy in the Seventies. There is fun and emotion, though this seems less original in its overall outlines than Luchetti's more historically rich 2007 MY BROTHER WAS AN ONLY CHILD. A good cast is highlighted by the charismatic Kim Rossi Stewart as the would-be genius artist dad Guido, with a warm Micaela Ramazzotti as mom Serena, who turns out to be more unconventional than he is. Two cute little boys include an older one who is the budding filmmaker. The series opening night film.

    I Can Quit Whenever I Want/Smetto quando voglio (Sydney Sibilia 2014)
    A group of seven university specialists who can't find good jobs manufacture and sell a drug like Ecstasy in dance clubs in this loud, colorful, profane social comedy from a first-time director wildly enamored of American movies and TV series like Breaking Bad." A big success in Italy, but it makes you miss the great Italian comedies of the late Fifties into the Seventies, like BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET.

    The Mafia Only Kills in Summer/La Mafia uccide solo d'estate (Pierfrancesco Filiberto/PIf 2013)
    On the surface a charming coming of age rom-com, set also in Palermo, but underneath a statement against the way the city is dominated by Mafia violence. Arturo, the young protagonist, comes in contact, Forest Gump-like, with a series of anti-Mob leaders who one by one are assassinated. When the action jumps to adult Arturo, indifferently played by the director, it degenerates somewhat into episodic TV comedy stuff, though the underlying message and some of the initial charm remain.

    Quiet Bliss/In grazia di Dio (Edoardo Winspeare 2013)
    A drama about a family that gets into legal and economic problems when their small clothing factory fails. Two men go to jail for a dumb money-making venture and four women, who are often at odds, to put it mildly, move out to a small farm with an olive grove overlooking the sea. This all happens in the stark, sun-drenched Salento region of Lecce, Publia, where the director grew up, at the tip of the heel of the "boot" of Italy within sight of the Greek coast, and it was shot with non-actors, including Winspeare's wife and stepdaughter in the two main roles, and using ecological methods. All that is more interesting than the turbulent but center-less and only intermittently involving action, marred by an unappealing protagonist who overwhelms the other characters. Debut at the Berlinasle this year and praise in Italy don't add up to much international potential.

    A Street in Palermo/Via Castellana Bendiera (Emma Dante 2013)
    A standoff in a little street in the named Sicilian capital between two women whose cars face each other. Neither will back up. On one side, a lesbian couple. On the other, a local family whose boss may want his Albanian mother-in-law to stand her ground so he can take bets on who will give in first. It's funny, specific to the region, and perhaps a metaphor for a blocked country. But it can also be pretty tedious, and the whole business seems inexplicable. Based on Emma Dante's own novel. This is her first film. She is a well-known theater director and she also plays one of the lesbians, the driver.

    Tir (Alberto Fasulo 2013)
    This docudrama depicts the plight of Eastern European big rig drivers in western Europe who settle for a kind of servitude far from their homes and families and original jobs in exchange for making three or four times as much as they could at home. The director, with his first feature, did years of research, and his main actor, a well-known Croatian star, got a trucker's license and was hired by the shipping company before enacting his role for the four-month shoot. The authenticity and significent socio-economic message of the resulting film, which tends to capture the boredom of the long haul a little too well, nonetheless won Fasulo the top prize at the Rome Film Festival in November 2013.

    Not reviewed here but also included in the 2014 Lincoln Center series: The Administrator, Happy to Be Different, Small Homeland, Sacra, and The Referee.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-09-2015 at 12:01 AM.

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    Film Society Unveils 13th Open Roads: New Italian Cinema Series Lineup

    The Italians are returning to Film Society this June with the 13th edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, an annual showcase of contemporary Italian cinema. This year's lineup includes the latest work from established veteran, top award winners, as well as new talent. The U.S. Premiere of Daniele Luchetti's Those Happy Years will open the series June 5. Overall, the lineup includes 16 features, with over a dozen screening Stateside for the first time.

    Those Happy Years is one of several selections that explore the evolution of Italy's political transformation. The film is a coming-of-age autobiographical tale of the director's childhood as a budding filmmaker growing up in Rome in the '70s, coinciding with a radical, transformative period in Italy. The Fifth Wheel by Giovanni Versonesi also falls in this group. It is a humorous tale that takes audiences on a journey of a half-century of pivotal political events through the eyes of actor and screenwriter Ernesto Fioretti.

    Documentaries and hybrid combinations of nonfiction and narrative work factor heavily into this year's roster. Highlights include Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA, the first documentary to win the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. The feature explores Rome’s 43.5-mile highway Grande Raccordo Anulare that encircles the city, focusing on areas drivers pass through but never see, revealing a different side of the bustling city’s inhabitants. Alberto Fasulo’s docudrama debut Tir won the top prize at the Rome Film Festival and follows a former teacher from Bosnia who takes a job driving a tractor trailer (“tir”) through Europe. The film uses both professional actors and real truck drivers to create a story about what life is really like on the road.

    Other documentaries include Vincenzo Marra’s Naples-set The Administrator, which looks at a building administrator’s dealings with his larger-than-life tenants, providing a tough-minded yet affectionate portrait of an Italy mired in crisis. Gianni Amelio’s Happy to Be Different, meanwhile, is a moving work of oral history of gay life in Italy from the fall of fascism through the early 1980s.

    Politics and social issues facing Italians also play a role in Gianni Amelio’s A Lonely Hero, starring comedian and actor Antonio Albanese, whose character learns to reinvent and adapt himself to any job as a professional substitute (train conductor, fishmonger, tailor, etc.), as a result of the country’s unstable unemployment crisis. Roberto And˛’s Long Live Freedom is a scathing critique of Italian political dynamics and stars Toni Servillo as a seasoned politician navigating the decline of his party by fleeing to Paris and hiding out at the home of his ex-girlfriend.

    Renowned TV host and political comedian Pierfrancesco Diliberto wrote, directed, and stars in The Mafia Only Kills in Summer, his feature debut about a young boy and his obsession with the Mafia’s presence in his city and a beautiful schoolmate who remains his love interest until adulthood. The love story is set against a backdrop of some of Italy’s most tragic past criminal events. Edoardo Winspeare’s Quiet Bliss follows three generations of women who seek refuge in their family’s olive grove after their small textile business collapses and their efforts to revive their lives in the wake of economic catastrophe and the recession.

    "We are pleased to welcome some familiar faces back to Open Roads—including Daniele Luchetti for Opening Night and Gianni Amelio with his two latest films—and also to introduce so many promising emerging filmmakers," commented Film Society of Lincoln Center Director of Programming Dennis Lim. "This year’s rich and diverse program, which ranges from sober drama to irreverent comedy, includes films from all across Italy, continuing the strong regionalist trend of recent years. With exemplary new work by Gianfranco Rosi and Vincenzo Marra, it also underscores the emergence of documentary as a breeding ground for some of the most exciting developments in contemporary Italian cinema."

    ]

    Opening Night - included in press screenings
    U.S. Premiere
    Those Happy Years (Anni felici)
    Daniele Luchetti, Italy, 2013, DCP, 100m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Luchetti’s warm-hearted, bittersweet autobiographical account of his childhood as a budding filmmaker growing up in Rome in the ’70s stars Kim Rossi Stuart and Micaela Ramazotti as unconventional parents caught up in turbulent times. He’s an avant-garde artist and she’s wrestling with gender roles as she discovers feminism and free love. Luchetti (My Brother Is an Only Child) brilliantly re-creates the atmosphere of urgency and rapid change surrounding the family. He also poignantly conveys his own coming-of-age perspective, that of a boy grappling with radical transformations inside his family and on the street, capturing it all with his brand-new Super-8 camera.
    Thursday, June 5, 1:00pm (Q&A with Daniele Luchetti)
    Thursday, June 5, 6:30pm (Q&A with Daniele Luchetti)




    U.S. Premiere
    The Administrator (L’amministratore)
    Vincenzo Marra, Italy, 2013, 83m
    Italian with English subtitles

    In the lively and absorbing fifth installment in a series of docs celebrating his native Naples, Marra turns a spotlight on the life of Umberto Montella, a building administrator whose job seems to demand skills in management as much as in therapy. An effortless arbiter of the passionate conflicts that arise among tenants, the Quixotic Montella leads us in and out of the homes of his larger-than-life clients, rich and poor Neapolitans whose lives illuminate the city’s volatile moods. Sometimes funny and always poignant, these profoundly human stories flow in and out of one another following a natural rhythm. However specific the tales, characters, and places, the immersion into these entangled lives is also a tough-minded yet affectionate look at an Italy mired in crisis.
    Monday, June 9, 6:30pm
    Tuesday, June 10, 1:30pm




    U.S. Premiere
    The Fifth Wheel (L’ultima ruota del carro)
    Giovanni Veronesi, Italy, 2013, DCP, 113m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Veronesi’s irresistible romantic comedy takes a journey through pivotal events in four decades of recent Italian history, as seen through the lens of Ernesto Fioretti’s unexceptional life. Played with charm and a disarming sense of humor by Elio Germano, Ernesto is a good-hearted, honest middle-class guy who struggles to keep up with changes and is always a step behind. His father disparaged Ernesto by likening him to the “fifth wheel of the wagon,” and his aspirations and involvement through the rise and fall of Socialism and the Berlusconi era are accordingly modest. But his protagonist’s apparent simplicity is precisely one of the strengths of this Tuscan director’s fifteenth feature, which opened the Rome Film Festival last year to great acclaim. Rich in emotions, its ups and downs coinciding with those of the country, Ernesto’s life serves as the perfect platform for abundant laughter and tears.
    Friday, June 6, 6:30pm (Q&A with Giovanni Veronesi)
    Wednesday, June 11, 1:00pm (Q&A with Giovanni Veronesi)




    Happy to Be Different (Felice chi Ŕ diverso)
    Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2014, 93m
    In Italian with English subtitles

    A moving and enlightening work of oral history, Gianni Amelio’s new documentary is a chronicle of gay life in Italy from the fall of Fascism through the early 1980s. Amelio combines interviews with a wide range of older gay Italian men (including Pasolini muse Ninetto Davoli), newsreel footage, and clips from “educational” films warning against homosexuality, and in the process reveals a profound gap between the subjects’ firsthand experiences and the Italian media’s representations of them. The resulting film is a deeply personal account of the advent of gay culture amid the ruins of Mussolini’s Italy and the eternally poignant story of how persecuted individuals developed pragmatic ways to attain everyday happiness.
    Tuesday, June 10, 9:00pm
    Wednesday, June 11, 4:00pm




    U.S. Premiere
    The Human Factor (La variabile umana)
    Bruno Oliviero, Italy, 2013, DCP, 82m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Matters get very complicated for chief inspector Monaco (Silvio Orlando) after the murder of a high-profile member of Milan’s seedy nightlife. He is a widower with a teenage daughter, and, one night, all his neglected personal issues seem to catch up with him, forcing him out of the slump he’s been in since the death of his wife. Rendered darkly beautiful as a noir setting, Milan is the electric backdrop for this detective story that delves as much into the intimate life of one man and his daughter as into this elegant city’s underworlds. In his fiction debut, Olivierio’s extensive documentary experience is palpable in his portrait of Milan—a character in itself—as well as in the vivid and telling details with which he characterize its inhabitants.
    Thursday, June 5, 4:00pm
    Friday, June 6, 9:30pm




    U.S. Premiere
    I Can Quit Whenever I Want (Smetto quando voglio)
    Sydney Sibilia, Italy, 2014, 100m
    Italian with English subtitles

    A band of brilliant unemployed and underemployed academics—two Latinists, a chemist, a neurobiologist, an anthropologist, and an economist—turn to a life of crime in order to survive. Deftly assimilating such influences as Breaking Bad and Trainspotting, this biting parody on the plight of the Italian middle class in the aftermath of the economic crisis boasts a fast pace, witty dialogue, and a terrific cast. A debut to watch from Salerno-native Sibilia, the film was a resounding commercial and critical hit when released in Italy earlier this year.
    Friday, June 6, 3:30pm (Q&A with actress Valeria Solarino)
    Sunday, June 8, 9:00pm (Q&A with actress Valeria Solarino)




    U.S. Premiere
    A Lonely Hero (L'intrepido)

    Gianni Amelio, Italy, 2013, DCP, 104m

    Italian with English Subtitles



    Amelio follows his 2011 Camus adaptation, The First Man, with a deadpan parable about a small everyday hero from Milan who contends with the unemployment crisis in a very particular way: he’s a “professional” substitute worker, skilled and knowledgeable enough to replace anyone in any job. True to his name, Antonio Pane is as good and essential as bread. Whether working as a train conductor, fishmonger, tailor, street sweeper, or bricklayer, he approaches the country’s instability with a deep moral consistency as he reinvents himself everyday. Amelio wrote this film especially for actor Antonio Albanese, who personifies the film’s dark humor and underlying sense of hope. An Emerging Pictures release.
    Monday, June 5, 9:15pm
    Tuesday, June 10, 6:30pm




    U.S. Premiere
    Long Live Freedom (Viva la libertÓ)
    Roberto And˛, Italy, 2013, DCP, 93m
    Italian with English Subtitles

    Enrico Oliveri (a brilliant Toni Servillo) is a seasoned center-left politician and president of the opposition who realizes that the decline of his party is inevitable. As the polls announce he will lose dramatically in the upcoming elections, he falls into a profound existential crisis and disappears. We later learn that he has fled to Paris and is hiding out at the home of his ex-girlfriend Danielle (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). While his colleagues panic, his top aide (Valerio Mastandrea) discovers that Enrico has a twin brother living in a psychiatric institution. What at first seems like a crazy plan soon proves to be their only solution. A scathing critique of Italian political dynamics, And˛’s film is also a pulsating thriller with great comic moments that brings together some of the most talented actors working in Italy today.
    Friday, June 6, 1:00pm (Q&A with Roberto And˛)
    Saturday, June 7, 9:00pm (Q&A with Roberto And˛)




    U.S. Premiere - included in press screenings
    The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (La mafia uccide solo d’estate)
    Pierfrancesco Diliberto, Italy, 2013, DCP, 89m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Pierfrancesco Diliberto (a renowned TV host and political comedian, better known as Pif) wrote, directed, and stars in this subversive, irreverent feature debut about Arturo, a young boy whose obsession with the Mafia’s casual presence in his city surpasses even his passion for Flora, the beautiful schoolmate who remains his main love interest until adulthood. Pif uses Arturo’s unrequited love story as the vehicle to narrate the most tragic events in Italy’s recent history, starting with the Cosa Nostra’s criminal actions in Sicily in the ’70s, which soon spread through the country (encompassing the barbaric murder of judges Falcone and Borsellino, an event that Pif handles with astounding boldness). Winner of the Audience Award at the Torino Film Festival, Mafia is a brave and intelligent dark comedy with a powerful message.
    Saturday, June 7, 3:30pm (Q&A with Pierfrancesco Diliberto aka Pif)
    Thursday, June 12, 4:00pm (Q&A with Pierfrancesco Diliberto aka Pif)




    Quiet Bliss (In grazia di Dio)
    Edoardo Winspeare, Italy, 2014, 127m
    In Italian with English subtitles

    Three generations of women seek refuge in their family’s Salento olive grove after their small textile business collapses in Winspeare’s warm and vibrant drama. Against the backdrop of a radiant southern Italian landscape, Winspeare’s characters—serene Salvatrice (Anna Boccadamo), hardened Adele (Celeste Casciaro), loudmouthed Ina (Laura Licchetta), and aspiring thespian Maria Conchetta (Barbara De Matteis)—revive their lives in the wake of economic catastrophe. Turning to a back-to-basics existence as a means of healing the wounds wrought by the recession, they undergo transformations that the director renders with equal parts pathos, insight, and humor.
    Saturday, June 7, 6:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo Winspeare)
    Monday, June 9, 1:00pm (Q&A with Edoardo Winspeare
    )



    U.S. Premiere
    The Referee (L’arbitro)
    Paolo Zucca, Italy/Argentina, 2013, 96m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Sardinian third-league soccer team Atletico Pabarile is suddenly winning every match of the season, after years of losing consistently to Montecrastu, the team led by cocky and abusive landowner Brai. The return of soccer wizard Matzutzi from a sojourn in Argentina has turned the team of farmers into unexpected champions—and now it feels like anything is possible. Enter Cruciani (a great Stefano Accorsi), a young referee greedily climbing his way to the top, and two cousins playing for Montecrastu who are involved in an escalating conflict about archaic sheep-breeding codes in Sardinia. These disparate plots come together explosively in the lush black-and-white world of Zucca’s slyly funny and utterly distinctive first feature.
    Tuesday, June 10, 4:00pm
    Wednesday, June 11, 9:00pm




    U.S. Premiere--shown in press screenings
    Sacro GRA
    Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France, 2013, DCP, 93m
    Italian with English subtitles

    The first documentary to win the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, the latest from Gianfranco Rosi (El Sicario, Room 164 and Below Sea Level), reveals the sheer diversity of life bubbling around the margins of Rome’s Grande Raccordo Anulare, the 43.5-mile highway that encircles the city, the longest in all of Italy. The absorbing and often moving individual portraits that emerge—an ambulance driver caring for his ailing mother, a scientist studying palm trees ravaged by beetles, an eel fisherman nostalgic for old traditions—give visibility and a human face to the places Sacro GRA drivers pass through but never see, while exposing the city’s striking contradictions. Inspired in part by Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, Rosi’s captivating chorale plunges the viewer into this paradoxical reality, allowing us a more direct, even sensorial experience of life in the shadow of progress.
    Sunday, June 8, 6:30pm Q&A with Gianfranco Rosi)
    Monday, June 9, 4:00pm (Q&A with Gianfranco Rosi)




    U.S. Premiere - included in press screenings
    Small Homeland (Piccola Patria)
    Alessandro Rossetto, Italy, 2013, DCP, 111m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Best friends Luisa and Renata long above all else to leave their stifling provincial town in northeastern Italy, where tensions between locals and immigrants are forever threatening to boil over. They work as maids in a hotel but supplement their income with sexual trysts, sometimes assisted by Luisa’s Albanian boyfriend, and hatch a blackmail scheme that fails to play out as expected. The rhythms of daily life in this border zone—where city meets countryside—are captured in vivid detail in the highly promising fiction debut by Rossetto, an experienced documentarian working mainly with nonprofessional actors.
    Sunday, June 8, 3:30pm (Q&A with Alessandro Rossetto)
    Thursday, June 12, 8:45pm




    U.S. Premiere
    South Is Nothing (Il Sud e niente)-reviewed in SFIFF
    Fabio Mollo, Italy, 2013, DCP, 86m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Grazia was 12 years old when she was told by her widower father that her beloved older brother Pietro had died, and never spoken a word since. Now a tomboyish 18, after one of her regular arguments with her father, Grazia flees to the seaside and into the water, where she has an otherworldly experience and thinks she sees her brother. Thus begins her quest to discover another truth, not only about her lost sibling but also about herself. This poised and striking debut by the young Mollo, who shot this film in the Reggio Calabria village where he grew up, features a remarkable central performance by the young Miriam Karlkvist.
    Sunday, June 8, 1:00pm
    Monday, June 9, 9:00pm




    U.S. Premiere - included in press screenings
    A Street in Palermo (Via Castellana Bandiera)
    Emma Dante, Italy, 2013, DCP, 92m
    Italian with English subtitles

    Based on her own novel, Emma Dante’s first feature is set in Palermo and shot almost entirely in a narrow alleyway in a run-down neighborhood. On a hot Sunday afternoon, three women are caught in what turns out to be a tragic confrontation. Rosa (Dante) and her partner, Clara (Alba Rohrwacher), have just driven in from Milan and are on their way to a friend’s wedding. As they turn onto Via Castellana Bandiera, they find the Calafiore family jammed into a car driven by Samira (Elena Cotta), a mule-headed Sicilian of Albanian descent. Both drivers stubbornly refuse to back up, as tensions escalate and the neighborhood looks on. An accomplished theater director, Dante includes some knowing nods to spaghetti Westerns and genre conventions in her ambitious film debut, and coaxes formidable performances from her skilled cast (Cotta won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival).
    Wednesday, June 11, 6:30pm
    Thursday, June 12, 1:30pm




    U.S. Premiere
    Tir
    Alberto Fasulo, Italy/Croatia, 2013, 83m
    Italian with English Subtitles

    The first Italian film to win the top prize at the Rome Film Festival, Fasulo’s striking fiction debut follows Branko (played by Branko Zavrsan, from the Oscar-winning No Man’s Land), a former teacher from Bosnia who takes a job driving a tractor trailer (“tir”) through Europe. A native of Friuli with a documentary background, Fasulo immerses the viewer in the experience of the trucker on the road—the sounds, the landscape, and the longing for company (Branko’s phone conversations with his wife are particularly poignant). Part of a growing movement of Italian filmmakers exploring hybrid combinations of documentary and fiction, Fasulo uses both professional actors and real truck drivers, and his approach yields both an intimate connection to his characters and an evocative sense of place.
    Saturday, June 7, 1:00pm
    Thursday, June 12, 6:30pm (Q&A with Alberto Fasulo)


    ____________________________________

    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema takes place June 5-12, 2014.

    Public Screening Schedule

    Screening Venues:
    The Film Society of Lincoln Center
    Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam

    Thursday, June 5
    1:00PM Those Happy Years (100m)
    4:00PM The Human Factor (82m)
    6:30PM Those Happy Years (100m)
    9:15PM A Lonely Hero (104m)

    Friday, June 6
    1:00PM Long Live Freedom (93m)
    3:30PM I Can Quit Whenever I Want (100m)
    6:30PM The Fifth Wheel (113m)
    9:30PM The Human Factor (82m)

    Saturday, June 7
    1:00PM Tir (83m)
    3:30PM The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (89m)
    6:00PM Quiet Bliss (127m)
    9:00PM Long Live Freedom (93m)

    Sunday, June 8
    1:00PM South Is Nothing (86m)
    3:30PM Small Homeland (111m)
    6:30PM Sacro GRA (93m)
    9:00PM I Can Quit Whenever I Want (100m)

    Monday, June 9
    1:00PM Quiet Bliss (127m)
    4:00PM Sacro GRA (93m)
    6:30PM The Administrator (83m)
    9:00PM South Is Nothing (86m)

    Tuesday, June 10
    1:30PM The Administrator (83m)
    4:00PM The Referee (96m)
    6:30PM A Lonely Hero (104m)
    9:00PM Happy to Be Different (93m)

    Wednesday, June 11
    1:00PM The Fifth Wheel (113m)
    4:00PM Happy to Be Different (93m)
    6:30PM A Street in Palermo (92m)
    9:00PM The Referee (96m)

    Thursday, June 12
    1:30PM A Street in Palermo (92m)
    4:00PM The Mafia Only Kills in Summer (89m)
    6:30PM Tir (83m)
    8:45PM Small Homeland (111m)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-09-2015 at 12:05 AM.

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    THE HUMAN FACTOR (Bruno Oliviero 2013)

    BRUNO OLIVIERO: THE HUMAN FACTOR/IL VARIABILE UMANO (2013)



    A police inspector who finds out more than he might like to

    The Human Factor attempts to blend police procedural with a mood piece that ruminates on the putative moral decay of contemporary Italy. This scheme doesn't succeed, though. Unlike Elio Petri's tour de force Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970), which does something similar with brilliance and triumphant irony, Oliviero's film founders from the get-go, never developing momentum or making us care about its concerns or its unresolved plotline. This is the filmmaker's feature debut after a history of documentaries. Yet Olivierio's approach, with his use of hermetic settings and glossy cinematography, is highly cinematic. Except for a hi-tech modern room for post-mortems, Oliviero doesn't strive for documentary realism. Here, the chief police inspector, Monaco (Silvio Orlando), assigned to investigate the death of a German notorious for his involvement in Milan's druggy nightlife finds out his own young daughter is not above suspicion. Whether he is going to be overly judgmental or overly indulgent remains undecided; and this vagueness is what the filmmaker intends, though it contributes to the general blurry, unfocused effect. Due to this film's lack of momentum it seemed long even though it's well under an hour and a half. Newcomer Alice Raffaelli, in real life an aspiring dancer, is interesting as the inspector's daughter, and as Monaco's associate the oddly named Carlo Levi (that's the name of one of Italy's most famous modern writers), the very large Giuseppe Battiston, resembling a young version of the mature Orson Welles, is interesting and appealing, but underused. The cinematography by Renaud Personnaz is elegant and atmospheric but, like the action, uninvolving.

    The Human Factor/Il variabile umano, 83 mins., debuted at Locarno August 2013; a few other low-profile fests. In his Locarno review Jay Weissberg of Variety described the film as "too downbeat to make much of a splash at home" but perhaps able to "find larger auds via streaming sites and smallscreen airings." As a straight-to-DVD item, it's classy, but a disappointment. Screened for this review as part of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema at Lincoln Center, 6 June 2014. Surprisingly, considering the film's moody, ultra-downbeat tone, in the Q&A that followed director Oliviero proved lively and full of humor. He said he's like to do a comedy, but the next film he has planned and partly funded is not one.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 03:30 PM.

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    THOSE HAPPY YEARS (Daniele Luchetti 2013)

    DANIELE LUCHETTI: THOSE HAPPY YEARS/ANNI FELICI (2013)



    Growing up bohemian in the Seventies

    Luchetti's "most autobiographical movie yet" is however not a straightforward account but a riff on a set of characters drawn from his life growing up in the Seventies, which is reimagined conventionally, but with a certain emotion and charm, even if both those qualities are telegraphed operatically. There is the father who wants to be a groundbreaking conceptual artist but comes up only with conventional titillation, who keeps his wife at arm's length while cheating on her with nude "models." There is the artist's withholding, always-critical mother, part of an artistic and intellectual family; the wife's family of people successful in business. And there are the two cute little boys, the older of whom, Dario (Samuel Garofalo) gets a video camera and turns out to be a budding filmmaker, shooting the mother's feminist convocation in the Camargue with the boys and her husband's lesbian art dealer, with whom she has an affair and falls in love. Guido's two big conceptual pieces seem crudely conceived, and there is too much yelling at times. But the film is original for focusing mostly on women. A more mature, less pretty Kim Rossi Stuart is very watchable here as dad Guido, and Micaela Ramazotti is well cast as the well-meaning, tormented wife Serena, who turns out to be the really unconventional one. Whether it's healthy for a kid to having parents who carry out their sexual explorations openly is a question that's left open-eneded, but while director said in a Lincoln Center Q&A that the title is ironic, the narrator twice says he realized the years of his youth were happy, even though the family may not have known it at the time. On the other hand when Dario throws himself in the river after hearing his parents frankly declare their extramarital affairs, it's surely a cry for help. He's rescued and they all drive home, though. There is lots of drama, but nothing too deep here. Sure, this may be more autobiographical than My Brother Is an Only Child, or his 2010 Our Life, but its historical content is relatively vague and its overall shape more familiar. Luchetti remains a reliably entertaining but never very profound director; however, with Serena's lesbian affair he takes a conventional Italian movie in an unaccustomed direction.

    Those Happy Years/Anni felici, 106 mins., debuted at Toronto Sept. 2013 and showed at some other big festivals including London and Hong Kong. It opened in France 28 May 2014 under the title Ton absence (Your Absence), with only fair reviews (AllocinÚ press rating 3.1). Screened for this review as part of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema at Lincoln Center 6 June 2014, where it was presented as the opening night film.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-09-2015 at 12:33 AM.

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    A LONELY HERO (Gianni Amelio 2013)

    GIANNI AMELIO: A LONELY HERO/L'INTREPIDO (2013)


    GABRIELE RENDINA AND ANTONIO ALBANESE IN A LONELY HERO

    Parable or ramble?

    Amelio is a great director but sometimes he seems to be treading water. His concerns simply vary, though they are never far from social issues, and a tricky relationship between father and son is often present. Clearly L'Intrepido, which considers the beauty of work and the pain of unemployment, is meant as a vehicle for the appealing and soulful Antonio Albanese, and he stars in a fantasy about a 48-year-old divorced man with a grown son and an imaginary occupation, "il rimpiazzo," or "filling in," where the character, Antonio Pane, takes on any job, selling roses in restaurants, packing fish, taking apart wrecked cars, working in a restaurant, but each time only for a few hours. Amelio and cowriter Davide Lantieri seem to improvise the plot as they go along, reshaping the concept. At first Antonio seems charming, Chaplinesque, then a bit nutty, then sad, and so do the young woman he befriends and his saxophone-playing son Ivo (Gabriele Rendina), who first seems happy and accomplished and uncomplicated, then tormented by crippling panic attacks. Antonio's "job" turns out to be a coverup for being out of work. But as the film meanders from one angle to another, you begin to wonder about Amelio here: what was he thinking, making a full-length feature that is so meandering, random, and uneven in tone?

    A Lonely Hero/L'Intrepido, 104 mins., debuted at Venice, August 2013, also showed at Toronto, London, and Hong Kong festivals. Screened for this review as part of the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series at Lincoln Center 5 June 2014.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-02-2015 at 03:37 PM.

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    LONG LIVE FREEDOM (Roberto And˛ 2013)

    ROBERTO ANDĎ: LONG LIVE FREEDOM/VIVA LA LIBERT└ (2013)


    TONI SERVILLO, MANIC, IN LONG LIVE FREEDOM

    Fooling the public some of the time in a quiet political satire anchored by Toni Servillo

    When Enrico Olivieri, the failing chief Italian opposition leader, goes walkabout in Paris with an old girlfriend after an especially depressing electoral defeat in Rome, his panicked political handlers, who don't know where he has gone, replace him temporarily (or permanently; it's left vague) by his literally crazy identical twin, pen name Giovanni Ermani, a philosophy professor whose unstable condition has led to a long sojourn in a mental institution. Welcoming a chance to pose as Enrico (a game they played in youth), Giovanni delivers odd pronouncements and erratic behavior that make the fake Ernrico a great success and rejuvenate his party. And˛'s Long Live Freedom is part fantasy, part rather obvious, but certainly welcome, political satire.

    The implication that even a guy just out of the nut house can govern, or at least enunciate policy principles, better than the men in power may be a bit heavy-handed, but And˛, whose own novel the screenplay is adapted from, gets in some good digs at the anti-Berlunsconi generation. Its not just an addition to the fun but an essential element that the two twin brothers are played by the brilliant technical actor Toni Servillo, famous for his work with Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo, The Great Beauty), and one may watch the film just for the pleasure of seeing Servillo at work. As the film oscillates between the fake Enrico in Rome and the real one hiding out in Paris quietly nursing his depression with Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (posing as a filmmaker, as in real life) and her famous Chinese filmmaker husband, Mung (the French-Vietnamese Eric Nguyen), And˛ provides good material for the crazy twin; but nothing worthy to balance it occurs in France, where the real Enrico's helping out with kids and a film production with Danielle (Bruni Tedeschi) is no substitute for soul-searching or moral development.

    This is material for madcap, fantastic comedy or ruthless satire, but in the event, both Servillo and And˛ deliver relatively staid performances -- though the restraint still can't make convincing the premise that the entire country would be deceived by an unhinged impostor, even an identical one, and not know Enrico had a twin. The idea somewhat resembles that of Hal Ashby's Being There, from the Jerzy Kosinski novel about a humble gardener whose utterances are taken as political wisdom by the US president. It's the fact that Chauncy Gardner (the Peter Sellars character) is out of touch that turns his words into seeming political punditry. The failure of the real Enrico highlights the left's failure at marketing. Jay Weissberg, writing about the film for Variety when it debuted in Italy in February 2013, observed that its merit is sufficient to get it out from under the shadow of Sorrentino," (thinking of Servillo's most famous role as the immortal politico in Il Divo,), but the "And˛ doesn’t quite manage to make the hoary conceit of identical twins feel fresh." Certainly as Weissberg noted Servillo as the crazy twin is fun, his manner always threatening to go over-the-top but remaining convincing. The actor's turn as the real politician twin is in the more familiar range of his buttoned down, overly staid characters, though Servillo is always a pleasure to watch. Roberto And˛, whose earlier film reviewed here (Open Roads 2007) was a show of beautiful style without much substance, delivers both classy looks and content this time, but in the development of the story there's a sense of various missed opportunities.

    Long Live Freedom/Viva la libertÓ, 93 mins U.S. Premiere. Screened for this review as part of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, at Lincoln Center, New York, where it played Friday, June 06 and 1:00pm Saturday, June 07. The film opened in Paris in Feb. 2014 to only so-so reviews (AllocinÚ 3.2). US theatrical release coming 7 November 2014 (2 January 2014 Bay Area).
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-30-2015 at 02:26 AM.

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