Archive for November, 2010


Noi credevamo, We Believed

by Marianne Wi

Director: Mario Martone, is known in Italy for his many theatre productions and although he has been involved as a Director and Screenwriter in a number of productions, he is little known outside Italy. I know him from the wonderful film L’odore del sangue, The Sent of Blood staring Fanny Ardant and Michele Placido a grat film. I was very much looking forward to this film.

Cast : Luigi lo Cascio, Valerio Binasco, Francesca Inaudi, Guido Caprino, Felice Orsini, Toni Servillo, Luca Zingaretti and many others.

Best moment : The first view of Paris, beautiful colour and clear shots also the return to Calabria was a joy to watch. The dancing scene too was beautiful shot.

Worst moment : The white screen, it was white for a long time with only sound and shadows. It really did not work for me at all.

I understand this film was originally  3 hours 24 minutes  before being cut to 2 hours and 50 minutes, it should perhaps have been shown in its full format on TV over 2 evenings. I was very disappointed and struggled throughout the film to identify the characters, as most scenes were shot with little light and often lacking focus, in fact I think 2 hours were shot in that manner leaving me with a headache from squinting and straining to make out the actors as they aged during the shooting of the film. Domenico (Luigi lo Cascio) changed for a young man with black hair, black eyebrows and black moustache  to an old man with grey hair, eyebrows and beard only to play the final scenes with grey hair, jet black eyebrows and grey beard.  A good understanding of Italy’s fight for unification will also be helpful. I sat next to 4 Italian film buffs, who after the first hour started to SMS on they iPhone 4’s and only one remained to the end.

Synopsis : Three young friends from the south of  Italy, take on the Europe. The film is separated into 4 acts and centres on Italy’s  fight for Unification. There is blood, sweat and tears, as we battle through the result of the Bourbon war, revolutions, betrayals with the resulting death by guns, mini bombs made to look like chestnuts and decapitations, blood is  flowing freely throughout. It sets off  in 1828, when the 3 friends join Giuseppe Mazzino (Toni Servillo) we follow their struggle, not just with the outside world but also their struggle against each other and themselves, often failing all three.

Perhaps best watched on DVD when it is released, 3 hours is a long time in a cinema seat .


La scuola e finita, School is over.

by Marianne Wi

Director: Valerio Jalogo, well know in the UK for his documentary Di me cosa ne sai, What do you know about me, shown at the London Film Festival 2009. Jalogo also took part in a Q & A with special interest  in Italian cinema and the effect of multiplexes on the Italian Film industry, together with Domenico Procaci, Giuseppe Piccioni and Giorgio Diritti , they did an informative , heart warming  session all in English leaving  you feeling that there are some hope for the Italian Film Industry.

Cast:Vincenzo Amato, Cicilia Broggini, Luciano de Luca, Valeria Golino, Fulvio Forti and Marcello Mazzarella.

Best moment: A number of dialogues between Daria ( Valeria Golina) and Alex ( Fulvio Forti)

Moment I could have done without: Not so much moments, more too many moving camara shots lacking focus.

Synopsis: The film is shot in The Pestralozzi Institute in Rome, the much adored, bored teenage student Alex starts by taking a drug induced free fall from the 5th floor of the school , by surviving without a scratch becomes an idol for his peers all equally bored. The teachers have little control over their class,  also look bored and uninterested. Daria ( played exceptionally well by Valeria Golino) together with her ex-husband  Aldo ( Vincenzo Amato) that is I think they were married at some point, deduced from their continuous  bickering throughout the film, both in their own way try to influence Alex in a positive and constructive way . Alex finds escape through music , helped by  Aldo insuring the usual mayhem.

I am not sure how this film would fare outside Italy, it left me feeling quite depressed and very happy not to have school aged children.


Casa del Cinema (Rome)

by Marianne Wi

A beautiful setting for this shining star among “Free” cinemas, yes gratis, hard to believe in 2010, where prices in the UK are hitting 12 to 15 pounds for just one ticket. Casa del Cinema is found in Villa Borghese at the Via Veneto entrance , a delightful building dating back to 1833 with a colourful past. It was restored in 2001 and has for the past 5 years been show-casing many foreign film festivals and is often the only place in Italy, where you will find the old black and white movies screened.

I first visited this germ back in 2005 during the first Roman Film Festival , where for a period of 2 weeks all Marcello Mastroianni’s film and documentaries with this much-loved actor was shown for free, all you had to do was stand in line before each show. I was there an hour before hand expecting hundreds of people to show up…… NO I was on my tot untill 10 minutes before it was to start. There are 3 screening rooms seating 126 ,64 and a small 35 seater, the seating is very comfortable and it is a super place to spend a few hours relaxing . During the hot summer months there are open air screenings, again free of charge  and the best part ( nearly) is the DVD  library from which you can choose a film for your very own private screening. Recently there have been complaints about the lack of Independent films makers being able to show their work, I hope that will be rectified soon. There is a lovely Cinecafe with friendly staff and good house wine ,again both in and outdoor service. The shop with all things cinema is worth a visit ,many books and DVDs are on sale here together with posters, cards and cinema trinkets.

I always enjoy Casa del Cinema such a free luxury.

Do not miss the little green wooden cinema a stones throw away ( no, I am not advocating stone throwing , that would be fawned upon) Cinema dei Piccoli it is a delightful children’s cinema by day and a cool adult cinema by night. With only 63 seats it is in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest cinema in the world. See my separate blog entry.


La prima cosa bella, The First beautiful Thing.

by Marianne Wi

Director : Paolo Virzi at his very best, known outside Italy for Catarina va in citta, Catarina in the Big City and My Name is Tanino. When introducing Catarina in the Big City at the London Film Festival , he took his daughter on stage and thanked her for her help, we were promised a Q & A after the showing but alas Mr. Virzi did not come back for it and we sat all 150 members of the paying public waiting………. I am surprised to find this film as the Italian entry to this years Oscar for Best Foreign Film

, however it is a very warm wossy film, it effortlessly moves between 1971 and the present . The wonderful Ramazzotti as the young Anna and the equally wonderful Sandrelli playing the older and dying Anna are both acting superbly.  Will be watching on the 25th January 2011 to see if it is accepted by the Academy. The film won Mastandrea and Ramazzotti a David Donatello best actor/actress award 2010, well deserved.

Cast : Valerio Mastandrea, Micaela Ramazzotti, Stefania Sandrelli, Claudia Pandolfi, Marco Messeri, Fabrizia Sacchi, Sergio Albelli, Isabella Cecchi, Dario Ballantini ,Paolo Ruffini and Emanuele Barresi.

Best Moment: So many lovely moments to pick from….When Valerio danced with a dying mother before confronting a  group of laughing teenagers, being the first moment  Valerio showed real love for his mother. I also loved Anna on her death-bed singing with her children and commenting  ” What a life bimbi belli, we had fun my babies didn’t we ? “

Moment I could have done without : No film is that good right ?  I just cannot think of any right at this moment.

La prima cosa bella, well known song in Italy in 1970 song by Nicola di Bari

La prima cosa bella song by Nicola di Bari

Synopsis: Bruno (Valerio Mastandrea) a weak man with a tendency to dabble in mild illegal substances,  reluctantly  dragged back to his home town to deal with his dying mother (Sandrelli) by his sister. The film shifts effortlessly between 1971 and 2009, starting with the young Anna (played with great sensitivity by Ramazzotti) being voted Mum of the year, much to the horror of the young Bruno and the delight of her daughter. The violent husband is supported brilliantly by the angry little boy, the interaction between this young family is a delight to watch, Anna’s continual struggle though the early years keeping any unpleasantness away from the children is heart-warming. You are treated to great comedy and drama throughout this  delightful and touching  film. I think Virzi’s best films so far.

Already out on DVD with English subtitles.


Toni Servillo Best Actor

by Marianne Wi

Well done Toni Servillo for winning Best Actor at the Roman Film Festival for A Quiet Live ! He was superb in Gorbaciof ( see my blog under Drama) and is known outside Italy for his role in Il Divo.


Manuale d’amore 3 , Manuel of Love 3

by Marianne Wi

So looking forward to this film directed by Giovanni Veronesi being released early February 2011. This 3rd serving from the Manual of love, romance, comedy and hilarity will include the following actors :Robert de Niro, Monica Bellucci, Laura Chiatti and yes you guessed it Ricardo Scamarcio , those two never seem to be too far apart ,also the loveable Carlo Verdone, who played the unforgettable Goffredo in Manuel of Love 1, Donatella Finocchiaro, Valeria Solarino and Emanuele Propizio have also got parts. Great Cast and I understand that Robert de Niro will play his role speaking Italian through out , a challenging adventure for an American speaking actor.


Cinema Dei Piccoli (Rome)

by Marianne Wi

I love this cinema and if in Rome do not miss this tiny germ in Largo Marcello Mastroianni, Villa Borghese by the Via Veneto entrance.It dates back to 1934 and is build entirely of wood, it has always been used as a cinema for children except for a brief period during the 2nd world war. The Guiness Book of Record has it recorded as the smallest cinema in the world, with only 63 seats, it is worth looking at just from that aspect alone. Was originally named Cinema Topolino ,predominately showing children comics and animations. Cinema dei Piccoli today has programmes showing from 10.30 in the morning until late afternoon followed by a more adult theme until midnight (with Adult movies I do of course not mean porn…., that would be so very wrong  in so many ways) it boast a small snack bar , run by the box office and projectionist a real one-man band.

You will also be only meters away from Casa del Cinema another  Roman germ, see separate blog, there you will also find a cinema shop and a lovely Restaurant/Bar for your pre and after show drinks, actually it is a great place to rest if you are walking around the beautiful Villa Borghese.


Mine Vaganti, Loose Cannons

by Marianne Wi

I always look forward to Ferzan Ozpeteks films and never missed one, Mine Vaganti, Loose Cannons is another great film that did not disappoint, well worth seeing when it turns up at an  Italian Film Festival near you .

Director : Ferzan Ozpetek other works includes: Le fate Ignorante, The Ignorant Fairies – Il bagno Turco, Steam: The Turkish Bath – La finestra di Fronte, Facing the window and  Cuore Sacro, Sacred Heart.

Cast : Riccardo Scamarcio, Nicole Grimaudo, Alessandro Preziosi, Lunetta Savino,Ennio Fantastichini,Elena Sofia Ricci, Daniele Pecci.

Best moment: Father with photo album, crying his eyes out wondering where it all went wrong , the shame, the lack of grand children, the family’s reputation………

Moment I could have easily done without: Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio) dancing in-front of the mirror. Cannot imagine why it was included in the official trailer.

Synopsis:  Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio) who has been  living in Rome away from his family, have been able to live openly as a homosexual. His return to southern Italy and his large traditional family will as can only be expected, be problematic . Tommaso  is expected together with his older bother Antonio (Alessandro Preziosi) to take over the management of the families industrial pasta making business.

On the eve of a family dinner, during which Tommaso has decided to tell his family of his sexuality , their lives are thrown into chaos by his elder bother Antonio. There are excellent acting from the grand mother (Ilaria Occhini) and Luciana (Elena Sofia Ricci) it would have been great to see those characters developed. Ferzan Ozpeteks chosen subject  is as always homosexuality, a subject not often covered by mainstream Italian film makers, Italy is of course still very much a strong-hold for the Roman Catholic Church where homosexuality is not an accepted life-style (only last year two men kissing in front of the Colosseum in Rome, were arrested and charged with indecent behaviour).  Ozpetek covers this subject with such flare and sensitivity that even though I feel Ricardo Scammacio was wrongly cast as  Tommaso, he just never looked comfortable playing the role and the dancing in front of the mirror was painful to watch, you cannot help but warm to the individual protagonists as the film shifts from comedy to drama and visa versa . Is it a comedy or a drama……., a bit of both, I have come down on the side of comedy as there were so many sweet and very funny moments .

It is also out on DVD one not to be missed this year.

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