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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; 06-08-2015 at 11:01 PM.

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