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Entries in Italy (42)

Sunday
Jun112017

Q&A: Best Musicals, Pick of Ensemble Litter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Etc...

I promised a round of reader questions a couple of weeks back and here's the first round of answers. Ready? Let's go.

JAMES FROM AMES: Thoughts on the four musicals up for the Tony this year (editors note: TONIGHT)? What's your favorite musical from this century? 

Alas, I cannot answer part one of this question as I've only seen one of them (Groundhog Day) which I thought was very well staged with a sensational lead performance by Andy Karl but the best score nomination feels... let's say "generous". But we have reviewed a few of the nominated productions right here. Funds have been terribly tight this year so not much theater. The other part of the question is (slightly) easier to answer. The best new musicals of the new century... don't make me pick just one. My top 12 in alpha order since I couldn't decide which to jettison. I wish they could all be movies... or most of them, that is. If they already have a film adaptation they're marked with an asterisk.

The list and questions about Gosford Park, color vs black and white cinema, and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May242017

Missing Italy

by Eric Blume

We’re not far from crowning a new Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, and part of the fun and excitement for international film lovers is seeing which country takes the top prize.  The last ten years has marked three winners from France (The Class, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Dheepan), and in fact France has won ten times since 1955 when the prize has been named the Palme d’Or (there was a ten year gap in 1964-74 where the top prize had a different name, for those into these technicalities).   

Winning just under that number, with nine trophies, remains Italy.  Once a mighty force on the international film scene, Italy seems to have fewer major filmmakers emerging.  The last Italian film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes was Nanni Moretti’s film The Son’s Room in 2001...   

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar292017

Cannes Poster Unveiled

Claudia Cardinale is this poster girl for the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (May 17th-28th)

The Italian star, whose credits include classics like 8½, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Leopard, Big Deal on Madonna Street, and Rocco and His Brothers is 78 now. She's still a regular on film festival red carpets. This photo of her was taken in 1959 when she was just 21 (and people are not happy that it's been reportedly airbrushed to make her thighs smaller.)

More news: Another Italian goddess Monica Bellucci has been named the Mistress of Ceremonies; Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu (4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days,  Beyond the Hills) will preside over the Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury; and the Main Competition Jury president is Spain's Pedro Almodóvar. We don't yet know what the films he'll be judging are (and who will be on his jury) but speculated titles include Alexander Payne's Downsizing, Todd Haynes Wonderstruck, Michael Haneke's Happy End, and Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled

Friday
Oct212016

Interview: 'Fire at Sea' Director Gianfranco Rosi on Blurring the Line Between Documentaries and Fiction

Jose here. Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, takes a look at the migrant crisis with completely new eyes. He creates a parallel narrative in which the dangerous journeys of migrants trying to arrive in Europe seem to go almost unnoticed by the people of the island of Lampedusa, where many of them meet their fates. The island vignettes, which pay tribute to the Sicilian lifestyle, mainly focus on the misadventures of Samuele, a little boy who spends his days playing with his slingshot, worrying about diseases he’s much too young to have, and admiring the sea, perhaps unaware of the nightmare it represents to the migrants’ struggle. Rosi doesn’t create a story of ironic contrast, instead he offers a snapshot of the world we live in, and invites us to reexamine our role in the world. The documentary won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival where Jury President Meryl Streep called it “urgent, necessary filmmaking”, it also went on to be selected as Italy’s entry for the Foreign Film Oscar.

As the film opens in New York, I sat down with Rosi to talk about his views on documentaries, storytelling and how the worlds of his films are interconnected.


JOSE: You spend years working on your films and shooting. How do you know when you have a story?

GIANFRANCO ROSI: When I start the film I never know which story I’ll end up doing. I start from something a very simple structure, there’s an island, migrants, this is what happens when migrants arrive, this is where they come from. I have a geometrical idea of what’s going on - when I have this idea of the place I look for elements and people who will become my protagonists...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep262016

Foreign Oscar Watch: Can "Elle" Slay the Competition?

Verhoeven & Huppert at Cannes this summer

France, as ever, was spoiled with options when it came to selecting their film for Oscar competition this year. Frantz (reviewed) from François Ozon would likely have appealed to Oscar voters but the selection committee went with the controversial Elle (reviewed at TIFF). It's a brave choice but we think a smart one; even if its divisive within initial voting, it will likely be a candidate to benefit under the Executive Committee 'saves' rule. Plus those who love it will love it passionately meaning it could even have a dark horse shot at a win. Not only does it have a high profile auteur and star (Paul Verhoeven and Isabelle Huppert) but it's got sensational reviews, a US release on the table in the thick of Oscar traction season (November 11th), and an outside shot at a Best Actress nomination. France has not won the category since Indochine (1992) despite numerous nominations.

Trivia: Paul Verhoeven has had one previous film nominated in this category for his home country The Netherlands with Turkish Delight (1973). If Elle is nominated it would not be the first time a director has competed for multiple countries: Akira Kurosawa, who competed many times for Japan, won the prize for the Soviet Union with Dersu Uzala (1975); Luis Buñuel who won the Oscar for France with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) was also nominated twice for Spain, his home country; and Michael Haneke won for Austria with Amour (2012) and also competed for Germany with The White Ribbon (2009) 

More News:
Oscar's other favorite country Italy has selected the Golden Bear winner, Fire at Sea (reviewed at Berlinale), a documentary about the European migrant crisis. To my knowledge only two documentaries have ever been nominated in this category (Waltz With Bashir from Israel and The Missing Picture from Cambodia) but both of those were in the past eight years so perhaps Oscar votings are loosening up about these distinctions. Among countries who have not yet announced their submissions (with a week left) Poland and Argentina are the most formidable, statistically speaking, with Oscar.

Foreign Film Oscar Charts
Predictions - 15 films that could have the best chance at the finals?
Afghanistan to Finland - 22 submissions thus far
George to Morocco - 23 submissions thus far
Nepal to Venezuela - 28 submissions thus far 

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).