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Thread: Open Roads: New Italian Cinema at Lincoln Center 2018

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    Pure Hearts/Cuori puri

    Open Roads: New Italian Cinema schedule

    Thursday, May 31, 1:00 pm, Sicilian Ghost Story
    Thursday, May 31, 3:30pm, The Place
    Thursday, May 31, 6:00pm, Sicilian Ghost Story, Q&A with Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza
    Thursday, May 31, 9:00pm, The Place, Q&A with Paolo Genovese
    Friday, June 1, 2:00pm, A Private Affair / Una questione privata
    Friday, June 1, 4:00pm, Diva!, Francesco Q&A with Patierno
    Friday, June 1, 6:15pm, Fortunata, Q&A with Jasmine Trinca
    Friday, June 1, 8:45pm, Pure Hearts / Cuori puri, Q&A with Roberto De Paolis
    Saturday, June 2, 1:00pm, Crater / Il cratere, Q&A with Silvia Luzi & Luca Bellino
    Saturday, June 2, 3:30pm, Nome di donna, Q&A with Marco Tullio Giordana
    Saturday, June 2, 6:00pm, Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World / Amori che non sanno stare al mondo, Q&A with Lucia Mascino
    Saturday, June 2, 8:30pm, Naples in Veils / Napoli velata, Q&A with Ferzan Ozpetek
    Sunday, June 3, 1:00pm, Equilibrium / L'equilibrio, V Q&A with Vincenzo Marra
    Sunday, June 3, 3:30pm, Boys Cry / La terra dell'abbastanza, Q&A with Damiano & Fabio D'Innocenzo
    Sunday, June 3, 8:30pm, Look Up / Guarda in alto
    Sunday, June 3, 6:00pm, Beautiful Things , Q&A with Giorgio Ferrero
    Monday, June 4, 2:00pm, Lucky / Fortunata
    Monday, June 4, 4:15pm, Crater / Il cratere
    Monday, June 4, 6:30pm, A Private Affair / Una questione privata
    Monday, June 4, 8:45pm, The Night of the Shooting Stars / La Notte di San Lorenzo
    Tuesday, June 5, 2:30pm, Boys Cry / La terra dell'abbastanza
    Tuesday, June 5, 4:30pm, Nome di donna
    Tuesday, June 5, 6:30pm, Dangerous but Necessary / La lucida follia di Marco Ferreri
    Tuesday, June 5, 8:45pm, The Ape Woman / La donna scimmia
    Wednesday, June 6, 2:00pm, Pure Hearts / Cuori puri
    Wednesday, June 6, 4:30pm, Equilibrium / L'equilibrio
    Wednesday, June 6, 6:30pm, Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World / Amori che non sanno stare al mondo
    Wednesday, June 6, 8:30pm, Diva!
    This year's Lincoln Center Italian series, jointly organized by the Film Sociey of Lincoln Center and Itstituto Cineluce, its 18th edition (and my fifth), is another elegant and varied collection. It includes some homages to Italian cinematic greats, the actress Valentina Cortese, filmmaker Marco Ferreri, and the iconic Taviani brothers, Paolo and his late brother Vittorio.

    Here are my preview-summaries. I expect to see most of the films and will report on them in more detail later. Already I have been devastated in advance by Boys Cry, mesmerized and turned on by Naples in Veils, horrified and then reassured by the #Me Too-Italian style courtroom drama Nome di Donna, and puzzled and thought-provoked by The Place. There will also be films by Marco Ferreri and the Taviani brothers.




    BEAUTIFUL THINGS by Giorgio Ferrero
    The title, I assure you, is ironic. This is a film about consumerism. (Venice 2017.) A rather high-toned and intentionally off-putting documentary composed in four parts, with good music and images. It focuses on four men in different worlds and connects them abstractly.



    BOYS CRY by Damiano D'Innocenzo, Fabio D'Innocenzo
    Twin brothers wrote and directed this film about two best friends still in high school who get drawn into the Italian underground by accident. A "muscular first feature," Boyd van Hoeij said, "A knockout." Well received at the Berlinale, a post-Gomorrah piece on what Jay Weissberg thought an overdone subject of amoral youths. Both have a point. It's stylishly shot, fresh, beautifully acted. These young Italian toughs' criminal lives fill Hobbes' definition: "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."



    CRATER by Silvia Luzi, Luca Bellino
    About a fairgrounds huckster who grooms his daughter to become a pop diva. Won the Special Jury Prize at Tokyo 2017. By former documentarians and based on fact.



    DIVA! by Francesco Patierno
    An inventive bio-doc about Italian star Valentina Cortese, Oscar-nominated for her turn in Truffaut's Day for Night, has different actresses play segments of her life, as in Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan film, I'm Not There. Van Hoeij (again) calls it "inventive."



    EQUILIBRIUM by Vincenzo Marra

    The director's fourth feature follows a priest who returns to his native Campania and gets into a conflict with the Camorra over their waste exploitation, premiered at Venice in its "Days" series. Another documentarian driven to fiction. Shot modestly with non-actors like his successful Land Wind (2004).



    FORTUNATA by Sergio Castellitto
    A working class hairdresser plans to open her own hair salon, but hooking up with her kid's shrink distracts her. Castellitto (in Muccino's The Last Kiss, Rivette's Va Savoir and Nettlebeck's Mostly Martha, all in 2001) is best known as an adept and prolific actor, a consummate pro. This is his seventh film as director, a field of action where colorful melos like the hyperventilating medical drama Don't Move/Non ti muovere are what often tempt him.



    LOOK UP by Fulvio Risuleo
    A bizarre trip across the rooftops of Rome. "Only Fulvio Risuleo could make such a bizarre and original movie like Look Up and only Giacomo Ferrara could interpret its leading role". Rolling Stone



    MARCO FERRERI: DANGEROUS BUT NECESSARY by Anselma Dell'Olio
    Documentary about an important but intentionally low-profile Italian director.



    NAPLES IN VEILS/NAPOLI VELATA by Ferzan Ozpetek
    At once an immersion in Neopolitan arts and culture and a mystery-shrouded thriller-romance. Enjoyably sensuous and beautiful, with surprisingly vivid sex scenes, lots of atmosphere, a little bit inconclusive and, no doubt intentionally, apolitical.



    NOME DI DONNA by Marco Tullio Giordana
    Not at all apolitical, this unexpectedly timely sexual harassment drama. The director is known internationally for his involving 2003 generational saga, The Best of Youth. In this one, star Cristiana Capotondi gives a rich performance. A slow-burning courtroom drama where the male abusers, slick and slimy, get theirs in the end of a long, painstaking sequence of events meticulously set out by the director in a style both low-keyed and grand.



    THE PLACE by Paolo Genovese
    Davide di Donatello-nominated film about a sad-sack mystery man who grants wishes to eleven strangers, in return for carrying out an often extreme and criminal task. Closely based on Christopher Kubasik's US FX cable TV series "The Booth at the End." Genovese's Italian dialogue is simple and natural. . His 2014 Blame Freud was in Italian series but I missed it. This one has stars like Alba Rohrwacher, Silvio Muccino, Rocco Papaleo, and the hot young actor Alessandro Borghi, who also has key roles in Fortunata and Naples in Veils - everybody wants him!



    PURE HEARTS/CUORI PURI by Roberto De Paolis
    This was shown at Cannes 2017 Directors' Fortnight, about a teenage girl in Rome who takes a vow of chastity, then spots a working-class boy eight years older who catches her eye. Touches on themes of class difference and Christian fundamentalism.



    RAINBOW - A PRIVATE AFFAIR by Paolo Taviani
    Based on Beppe Fenoglio’s 1963 novel set during Italy’s mid-1940's civil war when partisans and fascists were fighting, but this arouses mixed reactions. Is it only a "bland literary adaptation" (according to Variety's Jay Weissberg)- or "a quiet classic," as Deborah Young says in Hollywood Reporter? Perhaps somewhere in between.



    SICILIAN GHOST STORY by Antonio Piazza, Fabio Grassadonia
    The Cannes 2017 Critics Week opener, based on a true story of the Mafia kidnapping of a youth to silence his father, with touches of Romeo and Juliet and the Brothers Grimm. This sounds like a winner. TRAILER.



    STORIES OF LOVE THAT CANNOT BELONG TO THIS WORLD by Francesca Comencini
    I reviewed her TV documentary In the Factory/In fabbrica in the 2008 Open Roads. This is something quite different, an adult romantic comedy, based on her own novel, about an academic couple who have to reassess after seven years together. And we will have to reassess Francesca Comencini.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-09-2018 at 09:32 PM.

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    SICILIAN GHOST STORY (Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza 2017)

    Opening Night Film
    FABIO GRASSADONIA, ANTONIO PIAZZA: SICILIAN GHOST STORY (2017)


    JULIA JEDLIKOWSKA IN SICILIAN GHOST STORY

    Bad magic

    Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza’s Lincoln Center 2018 Open Roads: New Italian Cinema opener clearly has links with their feature of four years earlier, Salvo. Both feature romance, a prisoner killed by mafiosi, supernatural elements, and a Sicilian setting. I admired Salvo (featured in ND/NF 2014) for its suspenseful and thrilling single-take sequence early on, and forgave a less effective second half. Perhaps the sophomore film is more unified and more richly layered, yet for me, certain elements made it off-putting. I am not the best customer for magic realism. It is sometimes wasted on me, which has made me not the best audience for the movies of Guillermo del Toro.

    Here, it felt grating to see the way Ghost Story wove a dreamy web of fable and magic around a fundamentally ugly and evil event. The fact is that in the nineties a 12-year-old boy in Sicily was kidnapped by the mafia, held for two years, and then strangled and dissolved in acid. The boy's father had been a mafia assassin, and when he fell into police custody the boy was held to keep his father from turning police informer. (Presumably it didn't work.) This story recalls the Getty kidnapping recently dramatized in the film All the Money in the World, but this time there are more horrific glimpses of the brutal treatment to the boy.

    For the film young Giuseppe (Gaetano Fernandez) is made a couple years older, old enough to have a romance with an invented girlfriend, a schoolmate called Luna (Julia Jedlikowska). It's something of a Romeo and Juliet story. Giuseppe's family don't welcome Luna after he disappears, not wanting to reveal he is gone. Luna's severe (and implausibly stylized) Swiss mother (Sabine Timoteo) continually objects to the headstrong girl's obsession with the boy. Whether this is because omertŕ requires closing ranks against an informer or because she doesn't want her daughter to date a gangster's son, we don't know. In fact despite Ghost Story winning a Davide di Donatello for Best Screenplay Adaptation (from a story by Marco Mancassola), the writing is vague on numerous points. The film slips endlessly into open-ended riffs involving dreams or magical nature that could have used more edits. The anamorphic/widescreen lens work of cinematographer Luca Bigazzi (a longtime collaborator with Paolo Sorrentino, recently on "The Young Pope") is certainly striking but it calls attention to itself and to the strangeness of things to a distracting extent. The style here is baroque.

    Again the filmmakers seem at their best early on, this time particularly in several cute scenes between the boy and girl, especially one where Giuseppe takes Luna to see his horse, which he rides in classic equestrian gear, including a velvet cap and white-on-white shirt and tie. Rather than the son of a gangster assassin, he seems like a young prince, or at least a well off upper class boy. One wishes the film had explored actual social aspects such a romance might have. But this isn't what Piazza and Grassadonia are looking for. They're more interested in weaving a spell with a bird, a weasel, a ferocious black dog, an owl, streams, and a forest of trees that are gnarly, yet slim and manicured-looking. The actors convey a sense of sweet, playful teenagers, but the film wants to make Giuseppe a prince charming. A fable-like feel and teenage sensuality can be blended successfully, as is shown in Manuel Pradal's 1997 classic Marie Baie des Anges, but here, the fantasy tries to hog the screen - alternating with Luna's plucky efforts to find the boy or push authorities to look. But in the end those meld into sequences of magical nature and Luna's dreams, and Giuseppe's.

    After the idyl of the horse, Giuseppe disappears. From then on, the movie mixes dreams of Luna's reunion with him with grimly realistic scenes of his captivity. It is even more painful to witness the boy dirt-covered, in chains, and bloodied in the light of the memorable earlier images of him pristine and smiling, in elegant riding gear. The film is replete with loud, shocking sounds and images. More than a ghost story it's a horror movie. There are scenes of Luna's class at school, which was also Giuseppe's, mostly doing mathematics. Also mixed in are sequences between Luna and her older friend Loredana (Corinne Musallari). The two girlfriends signal each other at night in Morse code with bright lights, and dye their hair the same bright blue, then cut it off. In later scenes they have their hair again. What all this is about is anybody's guess.

    The filmmakers are not concerned to specify what's going on, though it would be mistaken to think there is any mystery around the kidnapping, since it's clear enough amid the elaborate filler.

    Sicilian Ghost Story, 121 mins., debuted as the opening film of Critics Week at Cannes May 2017, opening theatrically in Italy the same day; 8 international festivals; slated for French release 13 Jun. 2018. Screened for this review as part of the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series at Lincoln Center, 31 May-6 Jun. 2018. It has been acquired by Strand Releasing for coming US distribution.

    Opening Night Film, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema.
    Showtimes:

    Thursday, May 31, 1:00pm & 6:00pm (Q&A with Fabio Grassadonia & Antonio Piazza at the 6:00pm screening) .


    GAETANO FERNANDEZ IN SICILIAN GHOST STORY
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-03-2018 at 06:18 AM.

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    THE PLACE (Paolo Genovese 2017)

    PAOLO GENOVESE: THE PLACE (2017)


    VALERIO MASTRANDREA IN THE PLACE

    Nest of snakes

    In the Davide di Donatello-nominated film The Place, a sad-sack mystery man (Valerio Mastrandrea) sits, seemingly continually, in the back of a cafe-diner with that name, receiving a constant stream of visitors. To each of them he grants wishes. In return, he gives them tasks to perform. These, in proportion to the difficulty or importance of what they request, are extreme or criminal. They must rob a bank to be prettier, kill a stranger's child to save a cancer-stricken son. Is this man an agent of God, or the Devil?

    This film is closely based on Christopher Kubasik's US FX cable TV series "The Booth at the End." It began as a web-only series in tiny segments, like "High Maintenance." In fact all or most of the stories and characters come from that series, except that we are in Italy. Genovese's Italian dialogue is simple and natural. Genovese likes choral, multi-story features. His 2014 Blame Freud/Tutta colpa di Freud was a simpler collection, three people, three stories, one shared psychiatrist. His 2016 Perfect Strangers/Perfetti sconosciuti ups the ante to six long-time friends, who assemble for a dinner and agree to share increasingly complicated and revealing secrets via text, email, and phone messages they receive.

    This time, another mixing up of personal stories occurs, and Genovese has upped the ante even further because now there are eleven "perfect strangers" (and they really are strangers, though they begin in some cases to find out about each other). The Place has enlisted the accomplished assistance of stars like Alba Rohrwacher, Silvio Muccino, Rocco Papaleo, and the hot young actor Alessandro Borghi, who also has key roles in Fortunata and Naples in Veils (everyone seems to want him these days). The stream of strangers approaching the mysterious man strike Faustian bargains with him. The most extreme example is the old lady, desiring to have her husband's Alzheimer's removed, who is assigned by the man to plant a bomb in a restaurant. Hardly less radical, a man must kill another child to save his own.

    Will they carry out their task? Can they? Repeat visits to the Man tease us with delays or changes of mind. The old lady goes back and forth numerous times, and then winds up with a real surprise. In fact surprises and twists are one of the story's main aims, which may seem to cheapen the solemnity of the old-fashioned focus on deep moral questions. But this is a structure we know from movies and short stories forever.

    As the visits begin to multiply and we begin to take in the personal stories and the tasks assigned, it develops that the people and their tasks are beginning to overlap, in dangerous ways. (Perhaps this God is a clumsy God?) Meanwhile a woman on the night shift at the cafe, Angela (Sabrina Ferilli), takes a growing interest in the mystery man, naturally enough, since he is always there when all other customers are gone. His world-weariness clearly attracts her, and also his mystery, as they do us. Ultimately despite his secret identity, he becomes the richest character, since we spend by far the most time with him.

    The Place is importantly different in effect from its TV series source in that it collapses many stories spread over time originally into only 105 minutes. There is no time for the viewer to absorb and contemplate. But of course this is no more than binge-watching, which is what many people do anyway. In this condensed form, it is the more obvious that the nameless, exhausted magus does not sleep, that he is mysteriously inexhaustible as well as always tired, and this is a process that never stops. The film is engaging, fascinating, challenging, ultimately a little bit too much to take in, and, given its lack of resolution, a little bit less than we may have expected, though its texture is finely honed.

    This film is plainly designed for adults, who would have the patience for its complications and repetitive structure and talky format, but the theme seems best designed for young people as a way of posing moral questions. The fundamental one: how far is it acceptable to go to achieve one's desire? If you could get what you wish for, would you do anything to get it? What desires really are worth pursuing? Is morality relative? This is an intensive look at the extremes of egocentrism, but also of the pain of living in the world, having, for example, a sick child.

    The Place is engaging and slick to the Nth degree, well shot and beautifully acted, directed, and filmed. Like much Italian cinema today, however, it takes no real chances, goes only so deep, and, being basically a remake, is fundamentally unoriginal. A great deal of talent has been used to satisfy us with much less than the masters provided during the great years of Italian cinema.

    The Place, 101 mins., opened in Italy in Nov. 2017 and in a dozen other countries in 2018; only three small festival showings. Screened for this review as part of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018 at Lincoln Center, at the Walter Reade Theater.
    Showtimes:
    Thursday, May 31, 3:30pm & 9:00pm (Q&A with Paolo Genovese at the 9:00pm screening)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-03-2018 at 06:33 AM.

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    RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR (Paolo Taviani 2017)

    PAOLO TAVIANI: RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR (2017)


    LUCA MARINELLI (RIGHT) IN RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR

    One man's war

    Sailing around the landscape is something tie Taviani brothers (who made films in tandem for 62 years) always excelled at: their 1982 Night of the Shooting Stars/La notte di San Lorenzo is full of that. And it happens here, in this feature completed by the 86-year-old Paolo in the absence of his brother Vittorio, who died in April at 88. Based on Beppe Fenoglio’s 1963 novel, this is a war story with a peculiarly Italian focus, Italy’s mid-1940's civil war between partisans and fascists. It's not about the outlines of the conflict but a personal struggle, a "private issue," as the Italian title says, Una questione privata .

    Roger Ebert wrote about La notte di San Lorenzo, which is impressive without being moving, that it was "[a] beautiful film, but it's a disappointment, a series of scenes in which peasants to wartime Italy seem to be posing for heroic post office murals." One can see Rainbow much the same way, only the tableaux are not so heroic. The focus is on the effort of Milton (Luca Marinelli), so nicknamed for his love of English literature, to find a fascist captive to trade for his partisan best friend, who has been caught by the other side.

    Luca Marinelli is tall and handsome in a soulful Italian way, dramatic features, big blue-grey eyes, though he's most notably played a crazy drug addict and a petty criminal in They Call Me Jeeg and Dn't Be Bad (both N.I.C. 2015). We spend a lot of time with him, but it's the captured best friend Giorgio (Lorenzo Richelmy) who's considered the handsome one. Flashbacks show they and the girl they both loved, Fulvia (Valentina Bellč). She is a thin, angular young woman who likes to dance. Valentina Bellč looks good in Forties clothes and hairdo. They loved the record of the Wizard of Oz song by Yip Harburg, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." A couple of years ago they spent an idyllic time at Fulvia's family villa, which Milton nostalgically revisits. It's empty now; Fulvia has gone to Turin.

    Milton is in dangerous situations, as he goes from one partisan base to another, but his obsession is finding a scarafaggio (roach) to exchange for his friend. Loyalty and jealousy war within him, as he fears Fulvia may not only prefer Giorgio, but even may have lost her virginity with him. He wants to know.

    Some vignettes stand out. Milton finds a crazy scarafaggio chanting and beating imaginary drums (Andrea Di Maria). He's a prisoner, but apparently he's so crazy no scarafaggi want him. He gets one scarafaggio (really, they use this term exclusively), but we know it's going to go badly when Milton asks the man what his name is and where he's from. Deborah Young in her Hollywood Reporter review notes with approval that all this is without the usual macho posturing and heroism of most war movies. True, but it is dominated not so much by excitement as a vague anxiety. Pursuing his own private project, Milton is among the partisans but not quite one of them.

    This film has a certain quiet grandeur about it. The Tavianis are on very familiar ground here, going back to the time their first films focused on and the moment that ushered in Neorealism, when Italian cinema had its period of greatness, its renaissance. But this movie arouses mixed reactions. Rather than a "bland literary adaptation" (according to Jay Weissberg's Variety review)- or "a quiet classic," as Deborah Young says in Hollywood Reporter, it's obviously somewhere in between, but Weissberg has a point when he says the fog flowing over the Piedmont hills in this movie symbolizes a "hoary artificiality" - fine cinematic tradition that this time has lost its vigor. But this does not detract from the Taviani's fine work in the past, and just six years ago their film of a prison drama production Caesar Must Die (NYFF 2012) was original and powerful.

    Rainbow: A Private Affair/Una questione privata, 84 mins., debuted at Toronto; seven other festivals including Busan, Rome, Tokyo and Belgrade. Screened for this review as part of the Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series 31 May-6 Jun. 2018 at Lincoln Center.

    Showtimes (Walter Reade Theater)
    Friday, June 1, 2:00pm
    Monday, June 4, 6:30pm
    f
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-01-2018 at 02:24 PM.

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    DIVA! (Francesco Patierno 2017)

    FRANCESCO PATIERNO: DIVA! (2017)


    VALENTINA CORTESE IN DIVA!

    A virtuoso life in film

    What do we know about Valentina Cortese? Perhaps not a lot compared to contemporaries like Anna Magnani and Alida Valli. Begin with her supporting role, Oscar-nominated, of the alcoholic movie star in François Truffaut's Da for Night. Ingrid Bergman beat her for a performance in Murder on the orient Express and, properly, said in her acceptance speech that the Oscar should have gone to Cortese. Bergman's award was honorary, and for an insignificant part; Cortese's performance was striking and selfless. Truffaut acknowledged his debt when he got the Best Foreign Oscar: "It is easy to win an Oscar if Valentina Cortese is involved," he said. For a short review of highlights of Cortese's career see the biographical summery on IMDb. The filmography below covers a fifty-three-year period and also included work with Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Terry Gilliam, and William Dieterle. It was a theatrical career too, burnished by a romantic and professional relationship with Italian theatrical legend Giorgio Strehler.

    I watched this film at 4 pm on 1 June 2018, in the Lincoln Center series, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, with the director, Francesco Patierno, present. He said this was an idea suggested to him by the producer that started as "un film piccolo, piccolo, piccolo che č diventato grande, grande, grande," "a little, little movie that became a big, big one." And it is an enveloping experience to watch it with its mixture of elements. This is a phantasmagoric collage and immersive biography based on Cortese's own autobiography Quanti sono i domani passati ("How Many Are the Days Gone By”), but with the information rearranged. She began with the fact that she was born of someone wealthy and immediately given away to be raised by contadini, peasants or country people. She attributed to the orphan feeling this gave her her desire to become an actress and play glamorous parts.

    Patierno pointed at the screening to various instances when Cortese wound up playing roles that closely paralleled her own life.

    Central to the film, which skillfully blands clips from a mind-boggling list of movies Cortese played in, is Patierno's use of no fewer than eight beautiful contemporary Italian actresses, all dressed to the nines, to recount times from Cortese's life in her own words, impersonating her but not mimicking her. Note, they are speaking in her voice, not "enacting" the moments they describe. They are: Barbora Bobulova, Anita Caprioli, Carolina Crescentini, Silvia D’Amico, Isabella Ferrari, Anna Foglietta, Carlotta Natoli, Greta Scarano.

    Diva, which clearly is an exercise in inhabitation, a film that possesses and embodies its subject, skips around in time intentionally, partly to surprise the viewer and catch her off guard. It too begins with the performance of Cortese in Day for Night, which is so good it fools you into thinking it's clips of Truffaut trying to get a scene out of an alcoholic actress. The secret of the actress' abandonment as a baby, Patierno saves for late in his film, as a late bombshell. Before that are accounts of her experiences outside Italy, and especially with Jules Dassin (he and she were drawn to each other) and Darryl F. Zanuck (he played the Harvey Weinstein role).

    Patierno goes back from Dassin's Thieves' Highway and Robert Wise's House on Telegraph Hill and later in the great era of Italian film performances for Antonioni and Fellini, to earlier, more conventional Italian films. Often clips from these films serve to illustrate moments from Cortese's own life recounted by one of her on screen avatars. Sometimes the music is conventional, surging, sugary; sometimes it is modern and electronic.

    The latter recalls Patierno's biggest bombshell at the Lincoln Center screening Q&A: when asked if he had gotten to meet Valentina Cortese in person, he said Diva! just opened in Milan three days ago, and the 95-year-old Valentina Cortese had come for it. You can imagine the emotion, he said, for him and for her, to witness his film together - and if he could only project footage he shot that night on his iPhone, it would make an incredible supplement to Diva. This immersive film is so full of aural and visual information one should see it multiple times, preferably after reading Cortese's autobiography and other books about the directors she worked for. This is a rich gem of cinematic history, but it's greatest interest is in its inventive ways of recreating a film actor's life. It exists chiefly as a tour-de-force that may inspire similar efforts (as one can't help wondering of the multiple-voice narration wasn't inspired by Todd Haynes' inventive Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There) - while outside of specialized Italian cinephile circles its actual subject matter may not be of enormous interest. But it is on the whole a creditable and interesting effort.

    Diva, 75 mins., debuted at Venice,
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-09-2018 at 09:34 PM.

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