The enigmatic B. Traven is certainly one of the most amazing figures in modern literature, as to this date his true identity remains an unsolved mystery. Better known for having written the novel “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (the basis for John Huston’s film), the mysterious writer who claimed to be American (although clues point out to he being German) traveled to Mexico where he became fascinated with the country’s rich culture and difficult social situations. “Macario” (or “Der Dritte Gast”, literally, “The Third Guest”) is probably one of his best known works (after the afore mentioned “Treasure of the Sierra Madre”), and the source novel of one of Mexico’s most fascinating and beautiful films. Continue reading
Written by Boyd van Hoeij
Thursday, 20 April 2006
Nothing less than a double suicide from a dazzling height initiates the fifth and by far best film of Italo-Turkish director Ferzan Ozpetek. With an equally dazzling central performance by another foreigner settled in Italy, Slovakian actress Barbora Bobulova, Cuore sacro (Sacred Heart) could very well win Ozpetek new fans at home and abroad as he forsakes his overly sentimental style for something both more subtle and more resonant.
Co-written and directed by Ozpetek, Cuore sacro is an exploration of goodness and religion and how they interact (and more often than not fail to interact) in Italian society in particular and the world at large. Unlike the director’s previous efforts (such as much laurelled La finestra di fronte/Facing window) there are no homosexual or otherwise marginalised or penniless protagonists; in Cuore sacro it is in fact fundamental that the main character is rich, at least at the start of the story.
Giovanna is a bookeeper in a company which packs chickens. She is married to a man who has a precarious job. First she starts being curious about a young man who lives in the block opposite hers, and then she falls in love with him. The relationship between the two becomes much stronger when she starts to find out more about him from an old man who bursts into their lives. The old man, obsessed with the memories of some things that happened n the long past autumn of 1943, has lost his memory and finds refuge in Giovanna.
“Facing Windows (La Finestra di fronte)” is like a very European and more sophisticated take on “The Notebook,” as it shifts between romantic and culinary past and present through the in-and-out consciousness of an elderly man. The “Rear Window” eroticism is just one element that accidentally brings together tangled, stymied lives swirling around lovely, exhausted, frustrated chef, wife and mother Giovanna Mezzogiorno, where each child, man, woman, friend and neighbor has separate priorities and fantasies that annoying real life interferes with, from the practical to the political. Continue reading
Plot: Lina, Giovanni and Carlo take the Roma-Orvieto train for a trip to the countryside.
One of the beacon films of the European cinema of the Thirties. Celebrating the sound film as a rebirth of cinema, Treno popolare combines and harmonises, with genius, several characteristics of the cinema of the period. Talking pictures, of which it is too often said that they rendered cinema theatrical, also accentuated and stimulated realism. (…) This realism, born from sound and the possibility to make characters speak in their own langauage and with their true voices, here extends to a unanimist depiction of Italian society, and notably of the petite bourgeoisie of the time, portrayed with great veracity in its daily activity and behaviour. And the fact that the film is entirely staged in exteriors makes it possible to assign it its place – it precedes Renoir’s Toni by a year – as the first neo-realist work. Continue reading
DVD Verdict Review :
After a weak effort at an English-language film (A Night Full of Rain, with a miscast Candice Bergen), Wertmüller needed to reclaim her reputation. Hence, Summer Night, a recapitulation of Swept Away with fancier dress.
Signora Bolk (Mariangela Melato), a rich woman who fancies herself an ecological activist, hires a former intelligence operative (Roberto Herlitzka, camping it up with an eyepatch and plastic hand, as if he had walked out of a ’60s spy farce) to help her kidnap an eco-terrorist (Michele Placido, because, well, maybe Giannini was busy that week). She chains her prize up in a room, then seduces him. It is all supposed to be funny, I suppose. Continue reading
The brutal worlds of murder and dance school competitions are thrown together in yet another lurid Lucio Fulci giallo. When an insane hatpin murderer terrorizes a prestigious New York dance school, mercilessly poking nubile young women deep into their competitive little hearts. Is it one of the students, jealous of competitive placement? Is it the voyeuristic headmaster, who watches the students through his many lurid security cameras? Perhaps it’s even a jealous boyfriend? (DVDActive) Continue reading
Plot Synopsis by Robert Firsching
A minor comedy from Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci (Zombi 2; L’Aldila), this anthology is of interest primarily to cult devotees for marking the notorious director’s only collaboration with legendary “scream queen” Barbara Steele (La Maschera del Demonio). Lushly photographed and filled with popular comedians of the era (including Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia, who made several of their “Franco and Ciccio” comedies with Fulci), the film’s sketches spotlight various manias. As might be expected, nymphomania gets an extended treatment, with all the requisite mugging, leering, and smarmy asides common to Italian comedies of the period, as well as a lengthy parade of songs, many scored by Ennio Morricone, and some international burlesque performers. Enrico Maria Salerno and Walter Chiari lead a cast which includes Lisa Gastoni, Gaia Germani, Umberto d’Orsi, and Raimondo Vianello. Continue reading