Tag: Italian

The Life Ahead

December 23rd, 2020 — 6:52am

The Life Ahead (Netflix)

This is an Italian movie, based on a novel by Romain Gary, starring the great actress Sophia Loren who is now in her mid 80s. She does a great job as an aging woman who is a Holocaust survivor and takes care of young children of prostitutes. There are two other outstanding stars in this film. One is the young black boy who plays Momo and appears to be between 12 and 14 and is taken in by Ms. Loren’s character. He is played magnificently by Ibrahima Gueye. The other outstanding star is the director of the film, Eduardo Ponti. Mr. Ponti, who is Sophia Loren’s son, did an absolutely fantastic job directing Mr. Gueye as Momo. Speech (although in Italian) appeared to have perfect intonation and the young boy’s expressions and emotional reactions were unbelievable. We see Momo come into a completely new living environment for him, but he adapts very well. On one hand, he becomes a drug messenger to make money. He relates well to the other children and is tender and caring for Ms. Loren’s character. It is this amazing emotional performance created by Mr. Ponti and his young actor that makes this film unforgettable.

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Foreign

A Five Star Life

August 17th, 2014 — 6:54pm

*** Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 10.39.28 PM

A Five Star Life-rm   – Can you picture a woman in her 40s who feels that she pretty much has things going very well in her life? She has a dream job where she travels and gets treated extremely well. Although she broke up with her boyfriend, they are best friends and frequently spend time together. She seemingly has a great relationship with her sister who is married with two kids who she sees quite a lot. She is quite attractive and she appears ready to have another relationship with a man. That is the situation with Irene Lorenzi (Margherita Buy) who has the unique job to travel to the world’s most luxurious hotels as the “mysterious guest” and evaluate and report to the management every aspect of their supposedly immaculate service for their guests. This is an Italian film directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi who also shared in the writing credits. The setting is the most beautiful parts of the world and the comfortable life style that exists for certain travelers. It shows us a view of the top of the line service that is offered in these 5 star hotels. Not only is your suitcase delivered to your room, but the bellboy will unpack it and put things away for you. For some reason you don’t even seem to tip them at least for each individual service. If you are living in such a pampered life style what would it require for you to do a self evaluation. In this case, it is a brief chance meeting with an author Kate Sherman (Leslie Manville) who is making some television appearances to talk about her views about intimacy, shortly before she departs and leaves the hotel. This limited encounter, and the circumstances surrounding it, bring about a self reassessment of the main character. If this film is successful you will question if things are always what they seem to be and even more important, is it possible to change? (2014)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign


March 8th, 2013 — 3:09am


Reality sp –  To fully appreciate this film, you have to suspend any tendency that you might have to diagnose significant mental illness, which is somewhat difficult for us to do. This Italian Fellinisque film is directed and co written by Matteo Garrone and it won second prize behind Amour at the Cannes Film Festival. It supposedly is based on a true story which happened to a relative of the Director who became obsessed with the Italian version of the TV reality show Big Brother . He is initially urged by his friends and family to try out to audition for the show where participants become avidly followed as heros  by the mass viewing audience as they live in a beautiful luxurious house and frolic with the others on the show. The main character Luciano (Aniello Arena) is married with two children and has a fish store in Napoli. He becomes convinced that he is on the verge of being chosen for this show and is being checked out by the producers who may be secretly observing him.  In what appears to be a paranoid delusion he begins to give away many of his possessions to people who are down and out,  to the consternation of his loving wife (Loredana Simioli) and other family members.  As he spirals deeper and deeper into this fantasy, if we can put aside our desire to put him into a psychiatric hospital, we perhaps can understand that we are being presented with a satiric  social commentary on the power of mass media, in particular, reality TV, on contemporary life. The background score by veteran movie composer Alexandre Desplat helps to create the mood which may help you lose your reality and appreciate the message of this film. (2013)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Foreign

The Double Hour

April 23rd, 2011 — 9:28pm


The Double Hour sp– This Italian film with English subtitles is billed as a romance, a robbery and a mystery and the movie itself is given a subtitle of “nothing is what it seems” That about sums up this well done thriller. You are not sure what is real.  Is it a dream? Is it the main character ‘s mind playing tricks on her or is something else going on here? This reminds us a little bit of the outstanding French film Tell No One which we saw a couple years back. Director Giuseppe Capotondi in his first full feature film initially establishes the story through the eyes of Sonia (Ksenia Rappaort) an attractive hotel chamber maid who is shown connecting with Giudo ( Filippo Timi) after a session of speed dating although you may have some doubts as to what your eyes are really seeing. In the second half of movie we realize we are seeing things from Guido’s point of view as he thinks that he understands the reality of things. While the storyline will dip into the unconscious in more than one way, it doesn’t really give us any Freudian psychodynamics. Needless to say this is the kind of a movie that you will probably understand better the second time you see it but we think once is a enough if you pay close attention. The movie was chosen for distribution by Samuel Goldwyn Films at the Toronto Film Festival by Head of Acquisitions Peter Goldwyn ( grandson of Sam )  who is betting that word of mouth will move this film around the art houses and boutique theatres that show the best of the foreign films. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Crime, Drama, Foreign

The Bicycle Thief

September 23rd, 2010 — 7:26am


The Bicycle Thief- nf- We decided that we would use Netflix to reach back more than 60 years ago and view this classic award winning (a special Oscar) Italian film made by legendary filmmaker Vittorio De Sica. When it was made in 1948, it was originally more aptly titled Bicycle Thieves. Antonio Ricci played by Lamberto Maddiorani was one of the many unemployed in post war Rome, however he is luckily chosen for a job hanging posters around town (such as those with Rita Hayworth’s picture on them). He desperately needs the job and it requires that he have a bicycle but his is in the pawnshop. His wife sells their sheets and pillowcases from their little apartment so he can get back his bike. We meet his son Bruno played by seven year old Enzo Staiola who was literally plucked from the streets for this role. The bicycle is stolen before Antonio’s eyes and despite a chase he sadly doesn’t catch the thief. He embarks on a search for the bicycle accompanied by his young son through the back alleys and busy streets of Rome. The movie is shot in black and white, which enhances the depression, and poverty, which the film conveys. Credit must go, as it did, to De Sica for the great performances of his two main stars who were both in their first movie. You see and feel the desperation of Maddiorani’s character as well of that of the entire city. The young son despite his age is shown working in a gas station but joins his Dad in their futile search. Bruno who is wise beyond his years but yet clearly looks up to his father and depends on him. This is what leads Antonio to his fateful decision. When “ Fini” comes up on the screen, we realize we have had a realistic but poignant glimpse into a piece of European history which we will not forget. (1948)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign

I Am Love

September 9th, 2010 — 1:35am

I Am Love* * * *
I Am Love
– rm – This Italian film with English subtitles is unusual in several respects. It is beautifully photographed with each frame seemingly magnificently painted. Director and screenwriter Luca Guadagnino takes his time in setting the scene. The film maker seems to respect the audience to be able to understand very subtle points throughout the movie. The story also takes on a sexual relationship which we usually do not see depicted on the screen. The movie is a modern film set Milan, Italy where we are introduced to a wealthy family who live in a grandiose home with servants who are an important part of their everyday life. We meet the family during a leisurely birthday party for the grandfather patriarch who announces he is turning over the industrial manufacturing company to his son and oldest grandson. We also meet the grandmother, wife of the son who is a transplant from Russia, and their three grown children (two boys and a girl). Early in the story we see the fleeting attraction of the wife to her son’s close friend who is planning to open a beautiful restaurant in the countryside with him. Perhaps more likely in Europe than in the US, this quickly develops into a passionate sexual relationship without us seeing any other reason for them to be drawn to each other. Their hidden liaison continues and we also learn of another secret relationship which the daughter reveals. Food is also a player in this movie as it adds to sensory pleasures which are being depicted. There is much passion and beautifully photographed sexual encounters, tension and fear of discovery and then a tragic confrontation. Tilda Swinton who plays the wife is superb as she creates this sexually obsessed woman who also demonstrated some of the most painful emotions a person might ever feel. 2010

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Foreign

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