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Entries in Italy (37)

Tuesday
Jun282016

Olivia @ 100: Light in the Piazza

For Olivia de Havilland's Centennial (July 1st) we're hitting classics and curios in her career. Here's Chris Feil on a forgotten film that became a new classic musical...

I came to Olivia de Havilland's work in Light in the Piazza thanks to a (still enduring) obsession with the Adam Guettel musical, both adapted from Elizabeth Spencer's novella. While it's not surprising that the film hasn't endured (it lacks the stage version's soaring emotional heights), de Havilland's performance deserves a better place in her legacy. Even with a youthful love story as its center and gorgeous Florence as backdrop, you can't take your eyes off of the concerned mother - and not just because she spends the entire film drenched in custom Christian Dior!

As Meg Johnson, de Havilland is spending a holiday with her young daughter Clara, who falls in love with a charming Italian boy. The reason for her overbearing concern is the secret of Clara's developmental disability that freezes her to a childlike disposition - something the musical uses as an Act Two reveal that the film never hides. By addressing this conflict early on we understand Meg from the outset, especially thanks to the actress's relatability. De Havilland's real prowess in the role is her deep emotional access and intelligence; she keeps the film from stooping to the cheap sentimentality that's all too common in films about disability.

Her Meg is not simply a foil to Clara's love story. De Havilland is telling her own fading romance with her husband, projecting the aches and heartbreaks of their lifetime together in a very specific struggle of weathered marriage. Her dissent against her husband in regards to Clara's care could cause the end of her marriage or may be its only hope, but she plays it solely as selfless motherly affection. Meg's final "I did the right thing" would be hokey final note in the hands of a less soulful actress, de Havilland makes it a hard-won personal triumph with her pure connection to character.

Victoria Clark may have taken the character to glorious Tony winning vocal heights on stage, but this performance is emotionally transformative in its own way. The film may have been forgotten in the broader de Havilland filmography, but the star is in top form and as accessible as ever.

Previously: The Heiress (1949), The Dark Mirror (1946), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and It's Love I'm After (1937).

Friday
Apr292016

New Directors: Banana, Transpecos, Spa Night, and The Fits

One day I will figure out to keep up with the cinematic madness but April contained none of those days. A week ago the Nashville Film Festival wrapped and I have yet to share with you the prizes my jury bestowed! Not that you've been clamoring to read about films you've never heard of but one of the joys of film festivals is in the discoveries. Hence my great thrill to be asked to sit on the "New Directors Jury". Let's survey a handful of the competitors starting with the two winners, both of which made one step closer to theaters this week.

HONORABLE MENTION The Fits (2016)
I'm starting with this one because it's out very soon (June 3rd in NYC / June 10th in Los Angeles) and you absolutely shouldn't miss it. I'm already eager to see it again. We need directors with fresh voices and a unique gaze and we've got one in Anna Rose Helmer. The Fits follows a young girl named Toni (Royalty Hightower, pretty great) who spends her days helping her older brother with his job cleaning a boxing gym. She's fascinated by the boy rituals and the girl rituals which are happening just down the hall where a local dance squad rehearses in another gymnasium. Just when you think you've figured out the film's theme (there's certainly much to ponder in its gender dynamics) one of the dancers has a violent fit and faints and you realize Helmer has a lot more yet on her mind. There's no easy allegories here and maybe it's a little opaque but there's much to ponder in its metaphysical poetry, thoughtful camera work and editing and, above all else, its persistent fly-on-the-wall curiosity, the camera a soulful twin to Toni's ever-searching eyes. B+ (A-?)

Breaking News: The Fits got a poster (left) and a perfect moody trailer this week from Oscilloscope Pictures. 

More after the jump including an awards magnet which keeps winning festivals... 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar212016

La Dolce Linka

The New Yorker Richard Brody discusses the films he saw at SXSW as part of the narrative jury
Tracking Board has the audience award winners from SXSW
Spotify is now streaming the entire Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice score by Hans Zimmer & Junkie XL 
Fandor celebrates great female film editors in a new 5 minute video
Film School Rejects celebrates Mary Elizabeth Winstead's compelling humanity across multiple genres
Towleroad Sally Field on parents and gay kids

 

Vulture new Must Read column from Mark Harris on the Academy's diversification efforts
Deadline Teen Wolf star Dylan O'Brien has been severely injured on set of the new Maze Runner film. Production is shutting down for the near future...
Variety ...and director Wes Ball tweets and open letter to fans about the injury and Dylan's recovery
Guardian a biopic about Michael Jackson's chimp (no really) will be a stop motion animated feature
And So It Begins names 10 bad scenes in great movies: Carrie, Cape Fear, The Godfather Part II and more

Off Cinema
Boy Culture Madonna crosses $1B mark in touring, 3rd of all time now (after the Rolling Stones and U2) and #1 among solo artists
Gothamist Amy Schumer leaves massive tip for bartender at Hamilton on Broadway
EW You can now stream the full London Cast Recording of American Psycho (The Musical) starring Matt Smith free of charge. Benjamin Walker plays Patrick Bateman in the Broadway cast, which has yet to record a cast album since they're still in previews
Playbill Sunset Blvd, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicalization of the 1950 classic is getting a semi staged revival starring Glenn Close in London. It starts on April 1st so if you're a London reader, please report back.  

Release Date News
The Lobster which keeps getting shuffled around has a new US release date of May 13th via A24; Sundance hit and Oscar hopeful Manchester by the Sea is going with November 18th as a release date; One of the Zeéeeee's comeback projects Same Kind of Different as Me (starring Djimon Hounsou and Greg Kinnear) pushed back nearly a whole year, now opening in first quarter 2017. 

Video To Go
I somehow missed this recent news about 81 year old Italian legend Sophia Loren. She just starred in a new commercial for Dolce & Gabbana commanding a hunky team of men. The commercial is scored by another Oscar winning octogenerian Italian legend Ennio Morricone. Here it is:

 

Monday
Feb152016

Berlin: Fire at Sea

Amir Soltani is covering the Berlin International Film Festival for The Film Experience this year, our first time at Berlinale!. Tonight, previous Venice winner, Gianfranco Rosi's Fuocoammare.

Gianfranco Rosi shocked the film world with his Golden Lion win at Venice for Sacro GRA a few years ago. At Berlinale, the true shock would be for his latest film, Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare), to leave the festival empty-handed. The Italian maestro’s seamless hybrid of documentary and fiction is a self-reflexive and compassionate meditation on Italy’s crisis of cultural identity in the face of an unprecedented wave of refugee migration.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb132016

Valentine's - A Room With a View

Team Experience is celebrating Valentines Day with favorite love scenes. Here's Lynn Lee on an 80s classic

Everyone who loves this film remembers The Kiss.  It’s the moment proper Edwardian girl Lucy Honeychurch (a very young Helena Bonham-Carter), vacationing in Italy, discovers romantic passion for the first time.  She doesn’t know it yet, but the odd free-thinking young man she’s only recently met (Julian Sands) is her soulmate.  He knows it, though.

Besides being (literally) storybook-romantic—a sun-drenched poppy field in Italy! lush soprano aria in the background!—the kiss is also wreathed in comedy, as the film cuts back and forth between Lucy, wending her way uncertainly towards George, and her fussy chaperone Charlotte (Maggie Smith) bonding with another fellow tourist, a hacky romance novelist (Judi Dench), over scandalous love stories before she starts to worry about Lucy.  Meanwhile, the Italian driver who led Lucy to George looks on in amusement at what he has wrought.  He knows what’s up, his own public display of affection having been previously smacked down by these uptight Brits.  But the Kiss will not be denied.

 

It’s also the kiss that keeps on giving for the rest of the movie.  Its memory haunts Lucy during her utter failure of a first kiss with her fiancé, Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis, vying for comic MVP with Maggie Smith), in England.  It reappears again at a critical and exquisitely awkward moment as a passage in a terrible romance novel, penned by none other than Charlotte’s novelist friend, that the clueless Cecil just happens to read out loud to none other than Lucy and George.  The tension that was simmering since George’s reentry into Lucy’s life then comes to full boil, precipitating a chain of events that eventually forces out in the open what Lucy’s been denying for too long: she and George belong together. 

All thanks to one glorious kiss.

Our Valentine's Series
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Before Sunset (2004)
The Painted Veil (2006)
Love Songs (2007)
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Beyond the Lights (2014)

 

Friday
Dec112015

Interview: Valerio Mastandrea on Completing Italy's Oscar Submission After the Untimely Death of Its Director

Jose here. One could argue that most films go through an interesting trajectory, since it’s never easy to turn the initial pages on a script into moving images projected on a screen. However, few films in recent years have gone through the journey of Claudio Caligari’s Don’t Be Bad, which not only was the director’s third film in thirty years (take that Terrence Malick), but sadly turned out to be his last. Caligari, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, shot the film and had completed most of its editing, when he died at the age of 67 never seeing the final product. What followed was a true labor of love, as Caligari’s colleagues, led by actor Valerio Mastandrea who had starred in his second film, The Scent of the Night, completed the project and made sure it became available to audiences.

Don’t Be Bad made its debut at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and was subsequently selected as Italy’s submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. With a plot that seems inspired by Pasolini and Steinbeck, Don’t Be Bad, is a heartbreaking reminder that we won’t see any more films by Caligari, but it’s also a testament to his unique brand of sociopolitical filmmaking. I had the chance to attend a screening of the film in New York and listening to Mastandrea’s sincere admiration and love for Caligari and the film were awe-inspiring.

Read the interview after the jump...

Click to read more ...