Asia Argento – Incompresa (2014)

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Misunderstood (Italian: Incompresa) is a 2014 Italian drama film directed by Asia Argento. It was selected to compete in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Imdb wrote:
Rome, 1984, Aria is nine-year-old girl. On the verge of divorce, Aria’s infantile and selfish parents are too preoccupied with their careers and extra-marital affairs to properly tend to any of Aria’s needs. While her two older sisters are pampered, Aria is treated with cold indifference. Yet she yearns to love and to be loved. At school, Aria excels academically but is considered a misfit by everyone. She is misunderstood. Aria finds comfort in her cat – Dac and in her best friend – Angelica. Thrown out of both parents’ homes, abandoned by all, even her best friend, Aria finally reaches the limit of what she can bear. She makes an unexpected decision in her life. Continue reading

Roberto Rossellini – Francesco, giullare di Dio AKA The Flowers of St. Francis [+Extras] (1950)

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Quote:
The Flowers of St. Francis—or, Francesco, giullare di Dio (Francis, God’s Jester), to give it its full title in Italian—is a delicate, fascinating hybrid, a film that is self-consciously, almost militantly, naive, and, as such, something of an anomaly in Rossellini’s body of work. Never again would his films attain the directness, simplicity, even purity that is so gloriously on display here, a work poised between the theological and the historical, between the Rossellini who emerged from neorealism into the full-blown spiritual crisis manifested in The Miracle, Stromboli, and Europa ’51, all set in postwar Italy, and the latter-day director whose abiding interest was in the depiction of history. Those later works often took religious subjects, but unlike in Acts of the Apostles, Augustine of Hippo, and The Messiah, Rossellini in The Flowers of St. Francis is less concerned with creating a portrait of a particular historical figure than he is with exploring the nature of spirituality, specifically, of “Franciscanism” itself and its impact on the medieval world. Continue reading

Gualtiero Jacopetti – Addio zio Tom aka Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971)

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Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E. Prosperi, best-known for the groundbreaking shockumentary Mondo Cane, directed this bizarre and shocking look at slavery in America. Set in the deep South prior to the Civil War, Zio Tom finds Jacopetti and Prosperi travelling back in time aboard a helicopter to investigate the nuts and bolts of slavery as it happened in the United States prior to abolition. Along the way, the filmmakers go aboard a slave ship as frightened Africans are brought to America under inhuman conditions; they witness the dangerous and degrading process by which slaves were made ready for market; and they visit a “breeding farm” for slaves after laws prohibit the importation of slaves from abroad. Also included is a sermon from a preacher who argues for the moral and spiritual necessity of slavery (while another man speaks out against it strictly on grounds of economics and practicality); the contrasting thoughts of men and women on the matter of miscegenation; and an interview with an educated slave who feels his circumstances are better for him than conventional employment. Also shown is the brutal torture and punishment of slaves for any number of real or imagined grievances. Re-creating both the opulence and the ugliness of the Old South on a grand scale, Zio Tom concludes with present-day African-Americans reading The Confession of Nat Turner and contemplating violent overthrow of the white-dominated culture. Understandably controversial, Zio Tom received a very brief theatrical release in the United States under the title Farewell Uncle Tom, where it received an X rating from the MPAA despite being trimmed by approximately 20 minutes from its original Italian running time. Continue reading

Amleto Palermi – Cavalleria rusticana (1939)

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PLOT & Review:
(Contains some spoilers)

Quote:
This film was not based on the famous one-act opera of Pietro Mascagni but rather on the original story by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga. It’s the story of Santuzza, her love Turiddu, and his passion for the married Lola that leads to his death in a duel when Lola’s husband Alfio exacts satisfaction. Santuzza’s curse leveled at unfaithful Turiddu, “A te la mala Pasqua!” (“Hope you have a bad Easter!”) is a memorable moment… as it was in Mascagni’s opera.

All Sicilian passion and emotion, the film is shot against authentic Sicilian backgrounds. There are wonderful colorful sequences of villagers riding in decorated traditionally decorated carts. Those scenes are so vivid you almost don’t notice the absence of color in this black and white film. Mount Etna looms in the background, suggestive of the smoking volcanic passions of some of the characters we see living near it.

Isa Pola is a sweet Santuzza, Leonardo Cortese is a convincingly reckless Turiddu, Carlo Ninchi is properly dour as the quasi-cuckolded husband, and legendary diva Doris Duranti captures our attention as the Carmen-esquire Lola. The music employed in this version consists of Sicilian folk songs and other traditional music…often accompanied by Jew’s harp. Amleto Palermi directed with a great deal of skill, a feeling for actors and a true sense of locale. In a 1939 poll, Italian moviegoers voted this their favorite film of the 1930s decade.
(Gerald A. DeLuca @IMDb) Continue reading

Stavros Tornes – Addio Anatolia (1976)

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Synopsis :
Stavros Tornes’ first non-fiction short combines a beautifully poetic text with a series of tracking shots in the streets of Rome, set to music by Charlotte Van Gelder. Somewhere between documentary and poetic essay, this film was born out of Tornes’ love for Africa and the Orients, his never-ending agony over bloody revolutions and his passionate use of cinema to approach the Other. Continue reading

Cinzia Th. Torrini – Caramelle AKA Sweeties (1995)

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Synopsis
Anna is not so very young any more, but still a voluptuous woman and full of desire. Unlike her husband, who prefers to watch television instead of making love to his wife. Diets and aerobics fail to revive his sexual interest, and Anna turns to a fortune-teller for help. Unfortunately, the love potions also have dissatisfying side-effects and surprising results. Finally, a proper solution is found in some magic sweets: each sweet will make Anna seven years younger. Which might be rather tricky for a compulsive eater … Continue reading

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Fortini / Cani (1976)

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Synopsis :
The film is a sort of presentation of Franco Fortini’s book ‘I Cani del Sinai’. Fortini, an Italian Jew, reads excerpts from the book about his alienation from Judaism and from the social relations around him, the rise of Fascism in Italy, the anti-Arab attitude of European culture. The images, mostly a series of Italian landscape shots, provide a backdrop that highlights the meaning of the text. Continue reading