Marco Bellocchio – Fai bei sogni AKA Sweet Dreams (2016)

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With the innocuously titled Sweet Dreams (Fai bei sogni), Italian director Marco Bellocchio stages a gentle, eminently watchable return to some of the key themes that have haunted his 50 years of filmmaking, particularly the scarring left by a dysfunctional family and maternal love gone awry. The story of a 9-year-old boy who loses his beloved mother is a much simpler, more direct film than the thematically rich My Mother’s Smile (2002), and has none of the churning family anger of Fists in His Pocket (1965). But based on journalist Massimo Gramellini’s best-selling autobiographical novel, it has an emotional unity and urgency that holds the attention, only flagging in the last innings of a surprisingly compact drama running well over two hours. Continue reading

Lina Wertmüller – Mimì metallurgico ferito nell’onore AKA The Seduction of Mimi (1972)

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Mimi is a Sicilian dockworker who loses his job when he votes against the Mafia candidate in what he thinks is a secret ballot. He leaves his wife behind and goes to Turin, where he meets and moves in with Fiore, a street vendor and Communist organizer. They have a child, he works non-union jobs, and again he comes to the Mafia’s attention. This time they’re impressed, promoting him to a supervisor’s job back in Sicily. He must keep Fiore and the child a secret, which is fine with Fiore, as long as he never makes love to his wife. He doesn’t, and when she becomes pregnant, he knows he’s a cuckold. His personal revenge and the Mafia’s tentacles then intertwine in tragicomic ways. (IMDb) Continue reading

Laura Bispuri – Vergine giurata AKA Sworn Virgin (2015)

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Hana Doda, still a girl, escapes from her destiny of being wife and servant which is imposed on the women in the inhospitable mountains in Albania. She appeals to the old law of the Kanun and swears her eternal virginity thus becoming a “sworn virgin”. She turns into a man, takes up a rifle and becomes Mark, Mark Doda. It is in exchange for this sacrifice that Hana is allowed to be considered at the same level as other men. Her battle does not only mean that she must rebel against what destiny has been writing on her body for centuries, but she must also reject, in name of this rebellion, every form of love. A refusal that becomes her prison. After more than ten years spent in solitude in the mountains as a man, she becomes brutish and she transforms to survive the hardship, the cold and misery, until something returns to awaken her again… Hana decides to change life and painstakingly regain her body. Continue reading

Sergio Corbucci – Totò, Peppino e la dolce vita (1961)

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Plot (Babelfish translation):
Antonio goes to Rome, the great city center of the ” dolce vita”, with the money collected from the fellow countrymen, in order to spend them on a project: To construct a freeway for the home town. But the countrymen do not have more news and they send Peppino to search for him. But when Peppino meet Antonio he is also dragged into metropolian habits and the sweet roman life, between beautiful actresses, cocaine exchanged for borotalco (?) and orgies. The town folks impatiently await news… Continue reading

Michelangelo Antonioni – La notte (1961)

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One of the masterworks of 1960s cinema, La notte [The Night] marked yet another development in the continuous stylistic evolution of its director, Michelangelo Antonioni — even as it solidified his reputation as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. La notte is Antonioni’s “Twilight of the Gods”, but composed in cinematic terms. Examined from a crane-shot, it’s a sprawling study of Italy’s upper middle-class; seen in close-up, it’s an x-ray of modern man’s psychic desolation. Two of the giants of film-acting come together as a married couple living in crisis: Marcello Mastroianni (La dolce vita, 8 1/2) and Jeanne Moreau (Jules et Jim, Bay of Angels). He is a renowned author and “public intellectual”; she is “the wife”. Over the course of one day and the night into which it inevitably bleeds, the pair will come to re-examine their emotional bonds, and grapple with the question of whether love and communication are even possible in a world built out of profligate idylls and sexual hysteria. Continue reading

Giovanni Pastrone – Cabiria (1914)

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Standing out from all the stumbling efforts toward a new expression of cinema, Giovanni Pastrone’s story of the Second Punic War, Cabiria , demands special attention. Compared to the other colossal Italian spectacles of its time, it had an integrity and sense of purpose. From the beginning it was regarded as something special, and its premiere at the Teatro Vittorio Emmanuele, Turin, on 18 April 1914 was a great occasion. The film’s accompanying score by Ildebrando Pizzetti, performed by an orchestra of 80 and a choir of 70, added to the excitement. Viewed today, the film has lost little of its epic poetry to the zeitgeist, though the acting performances may seem dated. Continue reading

Massimo Dallamano – Cosa avete fatto a Solange? AKA What Have They Done to Solange? (1972)

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SYNOPSIS
Enrico “Henry” Rossini (Fabio Testi), is a teacher in an all-girl Catholic school in London and he is having an affair with one of his students Elizabeth (Cristina Galbó). The two lovers are on a rowing boat floating down the river. When Elizabeth thinks she sees a young girl being chased by a mysterious figure wielding a knife in hand. Enrico later finds out that ones of his students has been murder and when more students fall victim in the same way Enrico becomes the police’s #1 suspect. Will Enrico solve these horrific crimes and clear his name and will he discover who is Solange and what have they done to her? Continue reading