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Entries in Italy (55)

Tuesday
Sep102019

The New Classics: I Am Love

Michael Cusumano here to discuss a film that never fails to floor me.

Scene: Prawns
The story of Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love pivots on a life-changing plate of prawns. It sounds ridiculous until you pause and remember that life is actually like that. One moment you’re having a routine day and the next a flood of emotions is precipitated by an unexpected trigger. These instances are difficult to explain in words, but what are movies for if not the moments when language fails?

Tilda Swinton’s character Emma Recchi doesn’t realize it, but she is primed for such a moment. A Russian who married into an Italian family of great power, she lives a life of comfort and wealth. She is not unhappy, exactly, nor is she mistreated, but her is existence is a cloistered one and she is expected to play the role assigned to her. In the film’s lengthy opening act she oversees a family birthday party that has the coldness of a modern art exhibition...  

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Thursday
Aug082019

Intermission/Posterized: Dino De Laurentiis 100th

Today in showbiz history the famous and sometimes infamous producer Dino de Laurentiis was born in a province of Naples, Italy. We'll take an intermission on our five or six part celebration today but we hope you've enjoyed the write-ups on Bitter Rice (1949) and the Fellini years, the creation of Dinocitta and its famous high-grossing but also-flopping The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), and his early years in America with gritty dramas like Serpico (1973) and Death Wish (1974). We resume tomorrow evening with the much-derided but very successful King Kong (1976) which just so happened to be the film debut of Jessica Lange.

Until then which of these 18 early De Laurentiis' productions have you seen? Do you have a favourite?He produced hundreds of his films in his career, starting at the age of 20, so this is just a small sample of his work in the first 30+ decades of his career...

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Tuesday
Aug062019

De Laurentiis pt 2: The '60s epics of Dinocittà

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  Here's Tim Brayton...

Yesterday, Eric took us on a tour of the first phase of Dino De Laurentiis's one-of-a-kind career as a producer, the era when he and Carlo Ponti helped usher a number of major works of late Neorealism into the world, introducing the first wave of international art cinema masterpieces. We now arrive at the 1960s, when De Laurenteiis was emboldened by those early successes to indulge himself in the first of his many flights of staggering, ill-advised ambition. Near the start of the decade, De Laurentiis opened a movie studio on the outskirts of Rome, an enormous playground for moviemaking nicknamed Dinocittà (after the famous Cinecittà, then and now the heart of the Italian film industry).

The Dinocittà experiment perfectly describes De Laurentiis's singular personality. A visionary producer can tell what is going to be popular in the future, and thus can jump in on trends at the moment of their inception. The hacks who make up the bulk of commercial producers know what was popular a year ago, and thus crank out movies that feel like uninspired cash-grabs and knock-offs. De Laurentiis had the gift and curse of knowing what's popular right this instant, and so his biggest swings – and too often, his biggest misses – came out just barely on the back side of the historical moment when they could live up to his extravagant hopes...

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Monday
Aug052019

De Laurentiis pt 1: "Bitter Rice" and the Fellini Years

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  We’ll start with three of his key influential early films. Here's Eric Blume...

Bitter Rice was De Laurentiis breakthrough international hit. He married its star

De Laurentiis, born outside of Naples, set up his own company in 1946 when he was just 27 years old. He produced four smaller films before making a huge splash onto the international scene with 1949’s Bitter Rice, a film currently available through the Criterion Collection.  Bitter Rice serves up an arresting and hypnotic blend of melodrama, sexuality, and social commentary. The film is set in northern Italy during a typical spring where hundreds of poor women travel to the rice fields to work to the bone for forty days.  There are workers with a legal contract and then the “illegals” who come in hopes of getting an opportunity. Within this sociopolitical context, our story finds two thieves (Doris Dowling and Victoria Gassman) hiding amongst the farm, intertwined in love stories with an impulsive young peasant girl (Silvana Mangano) and a soldier from the nearby station (Raf Vallone)... 

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Thursday
Jul252019

Venice Lineup Announced

by Nathaniel R

Hirokazu Kore-eda is back quickly after "Shoplifters" with "The Truth" starring Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Ethan Hawke

Since we never get to go to Venice *sniffle* we can't grant them as much time as we do TIFF each year but here's a quick check in with their lineup of films. The festival kicks off on Wednesday August 28th and wraps on Saturday September 7th, just as TIFF's first weekend is in full swing. Telluride happens during all that, too --it's a busy time for cinephiles, critics, stars, and filmmakers... 

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Wednesday
Jul102019

Goodbye, Valentina

We regret to inform you that the headscarf-loving Italian actress Valentina Cortese has passed away at 96 years of age. She first came to international fame playing Fantine & Cosette in an Italian take on the oft-adapted Les Misérables (1948). After that picture European directors came calling and so did Hollywood (including the Academy)...

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