Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man

Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man
December 5–30, 2018
The Museum of Modern Art

The great Italian actor, director, and screenwriter Ugo Tognazzi (1922–1990) was among the inimitable quintet of actors from Italian cinema’s golden age—Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, and Nino Manfredi—who invented and popularized commedia dell’Italia, that tragicomic admixture of folly and melancholy, and commanded the lion’s share of Italy’s box-office receipts in the 1960s and ’70s. Tognazzi’s career began opposite Raimondo Vianello in satirical sketch comedies of fledgling 1950s Italian television—his gifts of impersonation and improvisation are hilariously on display in films like Dino Risi’s I mostri (1963) and Luigi Zampa’s A Question of Honor (1965)—and deepened as his roles in later years became more acidic and introspective. If a typical Tognazzi character was virile and dissolute, sweet-talking his way into beds, executive offices, and corridors of power, he was also confronted with the sinking awareness of his own mortality. One witnesses in this retrospective, then, a man’s seemingly inexorable passage from brash ambition to bitter regret, a man seeking to preserve his dignity in the face of diminishing prowess.

In collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, MoMA celebrates Tognazzi with a retrospective that spans his four-decade career. The series features 25 of his nearly 150 films, including his unforgettable, award-winning performances in Luciano Salce’s The Fascist (1961), Carlo Lizzani’s La Vita agra (1964), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Porcile (1969), Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe (1973), Elio Petri’s Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973), Mario Monicelli’s Amici miei (1975), Édouard Molinaro’s La Cage aux folles (1978) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981).

Click here for more information.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Filmatique Dedicates the Month of November to Contemporary Italian Cinema

Gli Asteroidi
During the month of November and as a continuation of last year's Opera Prima Italiana, Filmatique will host Opera Prima Italiana II, a collection of first films from some of the most exciting new directors in Italian cinema.

Gli Asteroidi from Germano Maccioni traces the antics of three teenagers amid the inevitable end of mankind, while Gabriele Mainetti mines similar anxieties of extinction and ecological disaster as the backdrop for his breakout superhero picture Lo Chiamavano Jeeg Robot (They Call Me Jeeg). Two portraits of adolescence provide disparate visions of gender and freedom amid marginal landscapes of Northern Italy and Naples, respectively— observational techniques and stunning cinematography evoke a voyeuristic atmosphere of boyhood in Fabio Bobbio's I Cormorani (The Cormorants), while Luca Bellino & Silvia Luzi's Il Cratere reveals the discord between a father's ambition and his young daughter's impossible dreams. Antonio Napoli's Così Parlo De Crescenzo chronicles the life and work of Luciano de Crescenzo, an intellectual icon of Naples' illustrious bygone past.

Il Cratere
Featuring a blend of fiction, documentary and hybrid works, Filmatique's Opera Prima Italiana II Series excavates dystopian visions of a nation post-crisis vis-à-vis the glimmer of adolescence and the galvanizing force of art.

Click here for more information.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Edoardo De Angelis Wins Peoples Choice Award at the Rome Film Fest

Il vizio della speranza (The Vice of Hope) by Edoardo De Angelis is the winner of the "BNL People's Choice Award" at the 13th Rome Film Fest. The "BNL People's Choice Award", in collaboration with BNL Group BNP Paribas, Main Partner of Rome Film Fest, was awarded by the viewers. The audience cast its vote for the films in the Official Selection using myCicero, the official app "RomeFilmFest"  and on the website

The film follows Maria, played by actress Pina Turco. Her existence streams from day to day, with no dreams or desires, taking care of her mother and working at the service of a bejewelled madam. With her courageous pitbull by her side, Maria ferries pregnant women across the river, in what seems like an endless purgatory. This woman will soon be visited by hope, in its most powerful and ancestral form, as miraculous as life itself. Because to stay human has always been the greatest of revolutions. “No one will ever kill me”

In a director's statement, De Angelis had this to say about the film: “In the frame past present and future. No presentation of the characters, no distraction. The story of women and men is written on the body: the past in the scars, the present in the gestures, the future in the eyes. The body is the main instrument of the narration because its mobile material expresses the transformation of the characters; it is a thematic vehicle in that it reveals the injured beauty of human beings as they wait for something or someone, desperate people clinging to one last hope; finally, the body expresses the desire of the soul to subvert the order of desperation, through resistance, and at the right time, rebellion. Think of a cold winter, a time in which everything around us looks dead and we light a fire to find warmth, while we wait for things to change. The earth generates, the earth hosts, the earth lets us prosper then covers our dead body; the wind blows on the fire and pushes the water of the river towards the earth, to revive it. Life stubbornly fights death: the arc of the world is transformed through birth, death and rebirth. Everything that remains unchanged dies. What moves is alive. For those who have the strength to resist, the reward is the miracle of the world as it is born”.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Celebrate Halloween with Creepy Italian Vintage Films

While recently browsing public domain movie databases, I stumbled upon a few old, in some cases, really old Italian horror films. These movies take "creepy" to a whole new level. Some seem ridiculous in 2018 but in their day, were productions with cutting edge technology.
Whether you have these films  looped at your Halloween party or you actually sit down and watch them, you will be entertained, most likely having never seen anything like them before.

The descriptions of the films were taken from the sources of playback or the public domain movies site, where I originally found them. All of these movies are in the public domain, so you are free to download them.

For straight up horror, check these three out...

Bloody Pit of Horror (Il Boia Scarlatto) is a 1965 Italian gothic horror film based on the writings of Marquis de Sade and directed by Massimo Pupillo. The film, set in Italy, stars Mickey Hargitay, Walter Brandi, Luisa Baratto and Rita Klein, and tells the story of a group of women modeling for a photo shoot when the owner of the castle starts to become "The Crimson Executioner," who is bent on their deaths.

Watch Bloody Pit of Horror...

In the 1960 film, Atom Age Vampire, a stripper is horribly disfigured in a car accident. A brilliant scientist develops a treatment that restores her beauty and falls in love with her. To preserve her appearance, the doctor must give her additional treatments using glands taken from murdered women. His unexplained ability to turn into a hideous monster helps with this problem but does nothing to win her love. The doctor's woes multiply as the police and the girl's boyfriend begin to close in on him

Watch Atom Age Vampire...

In Abel Ferrara's 1979 film, The Driller Killer, an artist slowly loses his mind as he and his two female friends scrape to pay the bills. The punk band downstairs increasingly agitates him, his art dealer is demanding that he complete his big canvas painting as promised, and he gets into fights with his girlfriends. When the dealer laughs at his canvas, he snaps and begins taking it out on the people responsible for his pain and random transients in the manner suggested by the title. This is the uncut version.
Warning: Adult language and situations. Viewer discretion advised.

Watch Driller Killer-Uncut...

I found this 1911 version of Dante's Inferno, also known as the the world's oldest surviving feature-length film, just fascinating and super creepy. This version is silent. However, there are some versions on YouTube that have music accompaniments.

This 1922 silent film, Foolish Wives, is an American production but this version has Italian title charts. The costumes are magnificent, so for this reason, I consider it a great Halloween find. 

Distributed by Universal Pictures and written and directed by Erich von Stroheim, this1922 drama was the most expensive film made at that time, and billed by Universal Studios as the "first million-dollar movie" to come out of Hollywood. Originally, von Stroheim intended the film to run anywhere between 6 and 10 hours, and be shown over two evenings, but Universal executives opposed this idea. The studio bosses cut the film drastically before the release date.

Watch Foolish wives (Femmine folli)

Another great film for costumes and just plain intrigue is the 1921 Italian science fiction film, The Mechanical Man (Italian: L'uomo meccanico). Directed by André Deed, it is one of the first science fiction films produced in Italy, and the first film that showed a battle between two robots. The original film was about 80 minutes in length. However, only about 26 minutes of footage remains.

The story begins with a scientist creating a device shaped like a man that can be remote-controlled by a machine. The mechanical man possess super-human speed and strength. The scientist is killed however by a gang of criminals, led by a woman named Mado, who wishes to get the instructions for building the mechanical man. The criminals are captured before they are able to get them and are brought to trial and condemned. Mado manages to escape and kidnaps the scientist's niece whom she forces to give her the instructions which she uses to build a mechanical man.

The mechanical man is used for a variety of crimes, controlled by Mado. The scientist's brother however is successful in creating a second mechanical man which he uses to combat the original. The two mechanical men fight each other in an opera house, which leads to the dramatic ending.

Buona visione and Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Conversation with Documentary Filmmaker Luigi Di Gianni

His documentary films have given voice to a people who would have otherwise been forgotten while preserving rituals and traditions no longer practiced. Visually stunning and emotionally moving, they reflect an Italy we’re not used to seeing in cinema.

Born in Naples in 1926, Luigi Di Gianni captured a dimension of Italy that people outside the South didn’t even know existed. He began his career working in the region of Basilicata, which back then was referred to as Lucania. He first visited the region with his parents when he was a boy. His father, being from the Lucanian village of Pescopagano, wanted to show his son his homeland. 

That trip made an impression on the 9-year-old and created a deep affection that would one day inspire him to return. “I always remained very emotional about returning to this part of my homeland of Lucania,” he says. “It seemed like a different planet compared to Rome, where I lived. The tiring journey, the unpaved roads, the difficulties in getting there by bus: Everything remained etched in my memory and in my heart.”

With the help of author Ernesto de Martino, who was traveling to the region on an archeological study of magic rites, Di Gianni made his first documentary in 1958. Magia Lucana went on to win Best Documentary at the 19th Venice Film Festival.

Watch Magia Lucana...

Through the medium of cinema, Di Gianni explored and documented the extreme poverty that existed in the ’50s and ’60s. The rarity of his subject matter works in concert with his dramatic, slightly dark musical soundtracks to create a truly unique cinematic experience.

His films show a strong, resilient people who somehow managed to endure “una stanchezza senza speranza” (an exhaustion without hope). In the first few films he shot in Lucania, we’re immersed in a desolate landscape whose denizens tirelessly work the land against the strong, silent backdrop of mountains, sea and olive trees. But as physically spent as they are, these people have a sense of determination that you can see in their eyes as well as their actions as they work with their neighbors, families and beasts of burden to scratch out a living and make Basilicata the treasure it is today.

Di Gianni also ventured with his crews into neighboring Campania, Puglia and Calabria, where he documented the traditions and hardships of those regions, drawing attention to the plight of the Southerners and preserving their culture on film.

Among the many documentaries Di Gianni shot in the region of Campania is the fascinating 1962 film Grazia e numeri, which explores the relationship between the citizens of Naples and the “anime pezzentelle” interred in the Fontanelle Cemetery. For the most part, the corpses contained in the cemetery belonged to the victims of a plague that swept across Italy in 1656 and a cholera epidemic that struck in 1836. With their remains abandoned and their souls trapped between heaven and earth, they were piled in large numbers into an underground graveyard. These bones eventually attracted the compassion of the living, who descended into the cemetery to establish a relationship with the souls who once animated them. Di Gianni takes us into this subterranean world, where the faithful recite prayers and visit with their adoptive spirits. This unique phenomenon is simultaneously creepy and loving: bodies abandoned in death due to disease that are cared for by the living through prayer. Outside these crypts, we make our way through the streets of 1962 Naples as the locals go about their lives. Grazia e numeri is a stirring and insightful glimpse into the soul of the South, both present and past, during that period.

Watch Grazia e numeri...

Di Gianni’s 1967 Tempo di raccolta (Harvest Time) documents a day in the life of Calabrese women as they work in the olive groves of the region. The simple but stunning beauty of those majestic centuries-old trees, Di Gianni’s choice of traditional music, and the play of sun and shadow during those autumn days turn the film into a visual and aural symphony. The generations of women working together, with the older ones filling the baskets and the younger ones lifting them atop their heads and carrying them off, present a picture of contentment. At lunch, they feast on bread, tomatoes, olive oil and wine before heading back to the groves, baskets in hand. A manned lift arrives to shake the tree loose of its fruits, and the morning routine repeats itself. The women return home in the evening to enjoy dinner as the family gathers around the table for spaghetti. They tuck the children into bed, the dawn returns, and they head back out to do it all over again.

Watch Tempo di raccolta...

The 1965 film Il male di San Donato (The Evil of San Donato) was shot during the month of August in a village near the southern tip of Puglia. The opening shots of the whitewashed buildings and empty streets capture the tranquility of a scorching summer day in southern Italy. Then, suddenly, we are faced with the “evil” referenced in the title. “The film takes place during the ceremony of the Feast of San Donato, protector of the village of Montesano in Salento, which back then was a part of Lecce,” Di Gianni explains. “During the event, people were seized by restlessness, epilepsy, powers of madness, because the saint, San Donato, is the protector of madmen and epileptics, and the village was invaded by this evil.” The film focuses on a number of possessed villagers who, with the help of their neighbors, overcome the powers that have taken hold of them. The phenomenon featured in the film no longer occurs today, so the film is now of great historical value. The village showed its appreciation by recently granting Di Gianni honorary citizenship.

Watch Il male di San Donato...

Now in his 90s, Di Gianni is enthusiastic about the South and talks about shooting these films in great detail with vivid recollections and precious memories. Regarding his unintentional historic contribution, he says, “I am not a director who operated in a scientific sense. I saw scientific opportunities and then went with my imagination, and I felt those worlds with my participation. I shot a documentary about the Madonna del Pollino that concerns Calabria and Lucania, and I lived great emotional moments. I witnessed some very particular behaviors as people were crawling on the ground with their tongue out and when they carried their animals into the church in front of the Madonna. There was an incredible relationship, a very strong bond with this Madonna. I don’t consider myself a believer or a non-believer, but there were moments in which these episodes deeply touched me and sometimes I participated. Sometimes I cried with them.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Italian Cinema's Match Made in Heaven

The professional collaboration and friendship between actors Marco Giallini and Valerio Mastandrea goes back decades. The two began working together more than 20 years ago on the television show Infiltrato.  More recently, director Paolo Genovese has paired the actors in his last two feature films, Perfetti Sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers) and The Place, both of which have screened in the United States to great reviews. I caught up with Genovese in June while he was presenting The Place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual film series Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. I asked him about this most magical collaboration of two immense talents of contemporary Italian cinema.

Watch his response (in Italian with English subtitles)...

He mentions at the end that he would like to make a movie just with them. Apparently, he is not the only director with that idea. Simone Spada is at work on his second feature film Domani è un altro giorno (Tomorrow is Another Day) with a cast of two- Marco Giallini and Valerio Mastandrea. The film is currently listed as shooting, with the screenplay adapted from the movie Truman by Cesc Gay.

After listening to Genovese's personal account of the two, check out the clips below and watch them work together beginning from the most recent collaboration to the oldest.

Since I added scenes from Genovese's 2017 The Place and 2016 Perfetti Sconosciuti to his response, lets's begin with the 2009 television show Buttafuori.

Here is the complete filmography (let me know if there is anything I missed) and clips from a few of their films and television appearances...

Il grande salto (2018)
Director: Giorgio Tirabassi

Ogni maldetti Natale (2014)
Directors: Giacomo Ciarrapico, Mattia Torre, Luca Vendruscolo

Buttafuori (2009)
Television series

Basette (short film, 2008)
Director: Gabriele Mainetti

Amatemi! (2005)
Director: Renato De Maria

Il Ragno La Mosca (short film, 2005)
Directed by Emanuele Scaringi

Odore della notte (1998)
Director: Claudio Caligari

Infiltrato (1995)
Director: Claudio Sestieri

For more information on Paolo Genovese, Marco Giallini and Valerio Mastandrea, check out a few of my previously published articles on them:

Marco Giallini (Profile)

Valerio Mastandrea (Interview)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Martin Scorsese Backs Alice Rohrwacher's 'Lazzaro Felice'

She’s one of Italy’s most promising directors and now she is teaming up with Martin Scorsese to present her latest work on Netflix. 
The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 2016 artist in residence is the Tuscan native director Alice Rohrwacher. Born in Florence in 1981 to an Italian mother and German Father, she attended Torino University where she graduated with a degree in Classic Literature. Her first jobs after college included writing for theater and playing music. She entered the film industry as an editor of documentary films before directing her first feature, Corpo Celeste (Heavenly Body), the tale of a teenage girl painfully assimilating into the culture of southern Italy and the Roman Catholic Church. The film premiered in Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight in 2011, and was then selected for a number of international film festivals before being released in the United States. 
Rohrwacher’s second feature, Le meraviglie (The Wonders) centers on a family of beekeepers living in stark isolation in the Tuscan countryside. The dynamic of their overcrowded household is disrupted by the arrival of a silently troubled teenage boy taken in as a farmhand while a reality TV show (featuring a host played by Monica Bellucci) is intent on profiling the family. Both intrusions capture the attention of the eldest daughter, Gelsomina, who is struggling to find her purpose in the world. Rohrwacher gracefully conveys her adolescent sense of curiosity and confusion. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it premiered and features her sister. Italian A-lister Alba Rohrwacher.
In 2015 she directed The Djess, a short film commissioned by Prada as part of its women’s-only label Miu Miu. The ninth installement of the “Miu Miu Women’s Tales,” the film was shown in the Venice Days section of the Venice Film Festival. Also starring her sister Alba, “The Djess” features a stunning designer dress with crystal beads, which practically comes alive with emotion. The dialogue is presented as a made-up language and pokes a bit of fun at the world of high fashion with its temperamental models and hysteric paparazzi.

Watch The Djess on YouTube.. 

The common trait that Alice Rohrwacher’s films have in common is their sense of fantasy. Perhaps it’s the atmospheric lighting or the long, complicated silences between her characters. Whatever the process, she consistently succeeds in achieving a surreal atmosphere and this is the trademark and signature style of her work. She also tends to tell stories from the point-of-view of innocence, whether it be a child or teenager. In accepting her awards and talking about her work, she comes across as humble and grateful for the success she has had.
“I can’t imagine a better gift than to spend time in New York, take part in the events at the New York Film Festival, and to have the time to research in local archives and libraries for my next film,” said Rohrwacher upon being named the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Artist in Residence. The program was launched in 2013 by Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Film Society of Lincoln Center as an annual initiative designed to support filmmakers at an early stage in the creative process against the backdrop of New York City and the New York Film Festival. During her residency, Rohrwacher worked on writing her third feature, Happy as Lazzaro, about the adventures of a man living on the margins of his society who can seemingly travel through time. The Film Society of Lincoln Center Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez describes Rohrwacher as “a distinctive filmmaker with a warm, infectious spirit.”  
In addition to filmmaking, Alice Rohrwacher directed her first opera, a new version of La Traviata for Teatri di Reggio Emilia that premiered in November of 2016. Netflix will release Happy as Lazzaro in the U.S. on November 30. Click here to read the full story on IndieWire.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nanni Moretti's 'Santiago, Italy' Named Closing Film of 2018 Torino Film Festival

Photo by Storyboard Media
Nanni Moretti's new film, Santiago, Italia will close the 36th edition of the Torino Film Festival in November.

The docufilm, which features interviews and archival footage of the months following the coup of 11 September 1973 that ended the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile, focuses on the role played by the Italian embassy in Santiago, which gave shelter to hundreds of opponents of the regime of Pinochet, allowing them to reach Italy.

The film will be released in Italy on December 6. Click here for more information on the Torino Film Festival screening. The festival runs November 23 - December 1.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Luigi Comencini: A Master of Commedia all'italiana

He was one of the masters of the popular post-WWII genre of filmmaking, Commedia all’italiana. Now, his daughters are carrying on his legacy.

Born in 1916 in Salò, a town located near Lake Garda in northern Italy, Luigi Comencini studied architecture in Milan. He began his shift to filmmaking in the mid-1940s as a photojournalist  documenting the ruins and reconstruction of his native North and the Po Valley. Combining his architectural knowledge with his keen eye, he created telling photographs of the post-war years that chronicled the devastation of poverty on children in particular. 

He transitioned to filmmaking in the late 40s with his first feature film, Guaglio, which follows a young priest after his luggage is stolen in the Naples train station. The film was a hit, paving the way for some major talent to sign up for his second project, L'imperatore di Capri (The Emperor of Capri). Released in 1949, the comedy stars the beloved Neapolitan actor Antonio De Curtis better known as Totò and was produced by the iconic Carlo Ponti. The plot of the story centers around on a beautiful young woman who mistakes Totò’s character, a waiter, for an Arab prince.

Comencini’s next hit was his 1953 comedy Pane, amore e fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams) starring Vittorio De Sica, Gina Lollobrigida and Marisa Merlini. De Sica plays a veteran police officer charmed by two of the town’s women: a midwife closer to his age and a women old enough to be daughter. Gina Lollobrigida gives an explosive performance as a rebellious, free-spirited woman always on the move. Her simple yet extraordinary beauty is second only to her talent for acting as also for singing as she does in a couple scenes. Vittorio De Sica is also a sight to behold as he cannot help but generously show off his smile whenever he’s in Lollobrigida’s company. The film is interestingly considered a “neorealist pink” film, meaning the end of the neorealist period was approaching as a result of the improving conditions in Italy.

Comencini was very active in the 50s and 60s making a movie practically every year, sometimes two. He worked steadily through the 70s, utilizing the great actors of that decade, Nino Manfredi, Alberto Sordi and Ugo Tognazzi. One of those films being the 1974 comedy Lo Scopone Scientifico. Starring three legends of cinema: Bette Davis, Silvana Mangano and Alberto Sordi, the film was shot on location in the poor Borgata neighborhoods of Rome and follows an unlucky husband and wife team as they try to beat a millionairess at cards. Both Sordi and Mangano earned David di Donatello awards for their performances. The film is an example of Commedia all'Italiana at its best.

In the 80s, Comencini began to phase out of cinema. His 1984 television series Cuore was a big hit and featured his grandson, Carlo Calenda, son of Cristina, who is now a political star in Italy’s Democratic Party working in the Renzi and Gentiloni administrations. 

Luigi Comencini passed away in 2007 at the age of 90, but his cinematic legacy lives on in his daughters Francesca and Cristina. The two are prolific authors and filmmakers in their own rights, telling compelling stories from a woman’s point-of-view. Cristina’s 2005 film La bestia nel cuore (The Beast in the Heart) adapted from her own novel, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Both Cristina and Francesca have presented their films at festivals throughout the world, including Lincoln Center’s annual Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. 

Chatting with the Comencini sisters at MAXXI Museo in Rome
In 2016, Cristina and Francesca along with their sisters Paola and Eleonora participated in an exhibition honoring their father’s early photography. The photos were the subject of a book, Luigi Comencini. Italia 1945-1948, which features 50 photographs taken by the director during those years right before he ventured into filmmaking. Comencini’s daughters were the featured guests of an interesting discussion in which stories and memories alternated with sequences from their father's films personally chosen by each one of them. Francesca's comments and memories in particular were funny and endearing. She seems to have inherited his sense of humor.

Luigi Comencini’s Lo Scopone Scientific is available to stream on FilmStruck while Bread, Love and Fantasy is available on DVD through Amazon.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Matilde Gioli: Destined to Act

Matilde Gioli and Matteo Martari in a scene from 2Night
When she answered a casting call, Matilde Gioli’s just wanted to make a few extra bucks to support her university education. Months later, she was offered a starring role in one of Italy’s most successful contemporary films.

Born in Milan in 1989, Gioli studied at Beccaria High School and then graduated in Philosophy at the State University. “I never thought of becoming an actress. When I was at university, I worked various jobs. I was 21 years old. One day my mother found an announcement: they were looking for extras for a film by Paolo Virzì. So I went to audition. I did not expect anything," she explained in a recent interview with Forbes Magazine in Italy. She didn’t hear anything for four months. Then one day, she received word that Virzì wanted to meet her for a another audition. “The following day, he offered me the role of Serena Ossola in the film Human Capital. From there my career started.”

Matilde Gioli and Giovanni Ansando in a scene from Human Capital
Virzì’s 2013 Human Capital begins at the end, as a cyclist is run off the road by an SUV. As details emerge of the events leading up to the accident, the lives of the privileged and detached Bernaschi family intertwine with the Ossolas, struggling to keep their comfortable middle-class life. Gioli’s character, Serena Ossola, a free-spirited, independent thinker, gets into trouble when she falls in love with a young man, Luca Ambrosini, played brilliantly by Giovanni Anzaldo, who is on probation for a crime he didn’t commit. As he is facing another injustice, Serena stays by his side. The adults that surround the two are so dysfunctional and immersed in their own self-created dramas, it is up to Serena and Luca to find their own solution. When the parents inevitably get wind of what’s going on, they only make matters worse, just as the two suspected.

Although the film is graced with veteran talent, the scenes between Anzaldo and Gioli are electrifying. The strong chemistry between the two young actors combined with Virzi’s articulate direction made stars out of both of them. Since that breakout role, Gioli has appeared in 10 films and has received numerous awards, including the “L'Oréal Paris Award for the Cinema” during the 73rdVenice Film Festival. 

Ivan Silvestrini’s 2016 film 2Night premiered at the Rome Film Festival in the Alice nella Città program, a series of films dedicated to young people. Cleverly scripted, the films has only three speaking roles: Him, Her and Her Ex. Gioli of course takes on the role of “Her,” one of two young strangers who meet at a nightclub in Rome. The couple is only interested in a one-night stand, but the logistical problems of contemporary Rome put a dent in their plan. Over the course of the seemingly never-ending night, the conversation deepens, revealing an intellectual intimacy that captivates them both and brings them close together on an emotional level. The film was a stepping stone for Gioli, proving she has the talent and capacity to carry a film in a starring role. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Only for the Weekend. Directed by Gianfranco Gaioni who goes by the alias Director Kobayashi, the films is a loud, action packed comedy. The director is not aiming for political correctness as he pokes fun at a few stereotypes Italians have for the American culture. The film opens with beautiful shots of the Las Vegas skyline, and then follows a heist in which a briefcase full of cash is stolen. Towards the end of the film, the thief turns up in Milan looking to capitalize on the stolen goods.  When a recently fired copywriter addicted to psychiatric drugs get dumped by his frustrated wife, he runs into an old bully from high school that gets him mixed up with some petty thieves way in over their heads with this professional from Las Vegas. Gioli’s character, a local dominatrix whose clients pay to do her housework, is called in to help. 

Gioli currently has two films in production, including Giovanni Veronesi's remake of the Three Musketeers.

Human Capital and Only for the Weekend are available on Amazon.

- Jeannine Guilyard

Monday, August 13, 2018

Basilicata Native Wins Top Prize at the Rhode Island Film Festival

London-based, Basilicata native Luca Nappa took the top prize at the Rhode Island Film Festival in the section "Voyages of Discovery" for his short film Warriors of Sanità.

Fresh off the Giffoni Film Festival where it won the Rai Cinema Channel Award, the film is set in the Sanità district of Naples and tells the story of two children, Francesco and Vincenzo, who believe they have found a mutant with magical powers. The main interpreters of the film are Francesco Capaldo, Vincenzo Quaranta, Loredana Simioli and Saeid Haselpour.

The Rhode Island Film Festival is one of the American festivals affiliated with the Academy Awards, which are among the prerequisites for an Oscar nomination.

The film was  produced by Diego D'Ambrosio for Uncoso Factory and London Film School.

- Jeannine Guilyard

Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man

Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man December 5–30, 2018 The Museum of Modern Art The great Italian actor, director,...