Winner of DocLisboa’s 2015 Best International Film Award, Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis’s documentary explores the life of Mario de Marcella, a man who lived alone in a cave for over 60 years, nicknamed “Il Solengo” (the lone boar that’s been cut off from his pack). No one knows for certain why he decided to become a hermit. Still, hunters from his home village (who would occasionally encounter him in the wilderness) offer conflicting reasons about his solitude through elaborate stories. The negative space created by his absence is filled with gorgeous imagery of the Italian countryside. Continue reading
In keeping with his previous film Il generale Della Rovere, filmmaker Roberto Rossellini pursues a wartime theme in this “personal epic” Era notte a Roma.
The film is set in Rome during the German occupation after the armistice on 8 September 1943.
The story concerns three Allied POWS, who escape from their camp and hide out in Rome. The trio is given shelter and aid by a beautiful young woman who deals with black market disguised as a nun, her partisan boyfriend and several other people.
The three prisoners (one is Russian, one English, one American) display a genuine warmth towards each other that probably is meant to reflect the three countries’ joint effort against Nazi Germany.
Just as the variety of Italians involved in their protection as well as in their pursuit seems to be meant to reflect the chaos and mistrust reigning in those dark days. Acts of courage alternate with acts of treachery.
For reasons that remain obscure, Era Notte a Roma was never initially given a widespread American release. Continue reading
Three Brothers opens to an oddly sterile medium shot of a building wall (made even colder and more impersonal by the black and white photography) as the amplified sound of a heartbeat discordantly accompanies an elegiac melody, before a jarring chromatic shift focuses the camera in extreme close-up at the center of a littered, derelict vacant lot amid a pack of rats scavenging for food. The strangely primal image serves to wake the pensive and introverted Rocco (Vittorio Mezzogiorno) from his discomforting sleep, who then subsequently opens his door to reveal the bustling sight of rambunctious, troubled adolescents in their sleeping quarters at a juvenile reformatory facility in Naples. An early morning visit from the local police seemingly reinforces his own sense of crisis over the efficacy of his selfless efforts to rescue the children entrusted to his care as their investigation into a series of petty thefts has been traced back to several unidentified young delinquents who have devised a means to scale the walls of the institute at night to sneak into town, then return to the facility unobserved by morning, and have asked Rocco for his assistance in identifying the perpetrators. The theme of protective and isolating walls carries through to the image of Rocco’s elderly father Donato (Charles Vanel) as he leaves the gates of his remote mountainside villa in southern Italy and, while walking through an open field, has a surreal encounter with his wife Catalina as she attempts to recapture an errant rabbit that had escaped from the kitchen. Continue reading
Jacques Audiard’s decent Dheepan may have won the top prize at Cannes, but another drama about the experience of illegal immigrants in Europe deserves its fair share of the limelight. Screened in the festival’s Critics’ Week, Jonas Carpignano’s debut feature Mediterranea follows a Burkina Faso man as he takes a treacherous land and sea journey, then gets a foothold in Calabria, Italy. With an intimate naturalism that at times evokes a tag-along documentary, Carpignano’s matter-of-fact approach, leavened with the humor of engaging side characters, produces the ring of truth without strain. Continue reading
At a college in Rome, a professor, nicknamed “Dodo” is in a deep depression. His stunningly beautiful wife has just left him for another man. Dodo wants her back very badly and has erotic daydreams about her. A beautiful young student in his class asks him for a ride home and seduces the lucky man, but still he wonders about his wife and her lover. Wile visiting his father he meets his dad’s very sexy live-in nurse who takes care of much more then his broken leg. She tells Dodo of a beautiful young woman whose been having a sexual relationship with his father? Continue reading
This time, Italian soft-core maestro Tinto Brass doesn’t even try to masquerade his opus as a political drama or social criticism. A young country girl (Debora Caprioglio) comes to town and works in a brothel in order to help her fiance get the money to start his own business. “Paprika” is the name given to her by the madam. Continue reading
Luchino Visconti’s “Il Gattopardo” is an epic on the grandest possible scale. The film recreates, with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento, when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, “Il Gattopardo” translates Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece. Continue reading