Lina Wertmüller – Notte d’Estate Con Profilo Greco, Occhi a Mandorla, e Odore di Basilico AKA Summer Night (1986)

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Synopsis:
Fulvia is a wealthy industrialist whose made her money as part of a rich conglomerate that supposedly supports the environment. She and her cohorts are sick and tired of a boorish Sicilian renegade named Beppe. He has been behind a recent string of kidnappings and has cost the elite almost $100 million. Fulvia decides to get even. She hires a CIA super spy to snatch Beppe, and when he succeeds, the rogue is taken to Fulvia’s secluded island estate. There he is held for ransom, and taunted by Fulvia for being a brute. When Beppe demands sex as part of his sentence, things go from simple to complex in this crazy criminal scenario. Continue reading

Michelangelo Antonioni – Le amiche AKA The Girlfriends (1955)

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Quote:
Michelangelo Antonioni’s Le Amiche opens with an aerial shot of Turin, Italy that, in the moment, could easily be mistaken as simply a cheery, picturesque backdrop for the credits sequence. Retroactively, though, the image proves deceptive and even misleading in its suggestion of peace and tranquility. Antonioni’s 1955 film interrogates the detrimental socio-economic dimensions of modernity in Turin by moving an assortment of characters through confrontations and conversations in drawing rooms and cafés, and outside on beaches and in alleyways, so that a character’s elation or devastation must be understood in relation to the place where it occurs. Le Amiche is filled with characters asking one another “why” something is happening, but for the director, “where” is always the most optimal question. Continue reading

Ettore Scola – C’eravamo tanto amati AKA We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974)

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Quote:
C’eravamo tanto amati, a tribute to Vittorio De Sica, is not only about the difficult, frustrating post-World War II years of three men whose class differences overwhelm the close bond they formed while fighting for the Resistance. It is also a complex survey of thirty years of Italian cinema and its relationship to Italian history, photographed in various appropriate cinematic styles.
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Gianfranco Rosi – Fuocoammare (2016)

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Storyline
Situated some 200km off Italy’s southern coast, Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe. Rosi spent months living on the Mediterranean island, capturing its history, culture and the current everyday reality of its 6,000-strong local population as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis. The resulting documentary focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local boy who loves to hunt with his slingshot and spend time on land even though he hails from a culture steeped in the sea. Continue reading

Mauro Bolognini – Per le antiche scale AKA Down the Ancient Stairs (1975)

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Quote:
A mental hospital somewhere in Tuscany during the thirties. Far away from fascism, this closed world is ruled over by Dr. Bonaccorsi, a passionate and benevolent psychiatrist whose dream is to isolate the germ of madness. He’s also a very active womanizer and three women benefit from his sexual itch: Francesca, the hospital manager’s wife, Bianca, his devoted nurse and Carla, the nymphomaniac wife of a doctor. His well-ordered universe starts to be challenged with the coming of Anna, a trainee psychiatrist, who disapproves of his theory on the origin of madness. Worse, she resists his advances. Since Bonaccorsi is more insecure than he looks, what will become of him? Continue reading

Elio Petri – La classe operaia va in paradiso AKA The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971)

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Quote:
“Lulu the Tool” is no more descriptive a title for Elio Petri’s Italian social drama that opened yesterday at the D. W. Griffith Cinema than “La Classe Operaia Va in Paradiso” (“The Working Class Goes to Heaven”), the title under which it shared (with “The Mattei Affair”) the grand prize of the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. But if neither tag is memorable, there is little doubt that the director-writer, whose convictions are Communist, has projected a cynical view of the worker’s lot that is both fascinating and sobering.

Mr. Petri, who scored with his 1970 dissection of police authority in “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” has again joined Ugo Pirro in writing the script. With Gian Maria Volonte, the top cop in “Investigation,” he points up the Kafkalike condition of “Lulu.” Continue reading