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Thursday, December 31, 2020

30 Seconds of a Mega Movie-Watching Pandemic Year

I posted my first reel on Instagram today- 30 seconds of a few of my favorite films from this epic movie-watching pandemic year. The song I chose is Auld Lang Syne by Ingrid Michaelson because I felt the nostalgia of the song and images went together so well. 


We lost three of these beloveds in 2020. Rest in Peace… 

Lucia Bosè 1931-2020, Flavio Bucci 1947-2020, Franca Valeri 1920-2020 and Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020, as I edited in the spirit of the final scene from Cinema Paradiso.

Happy New Year, my friends. Buon Anno.. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021. 

Here are the films in order..

At the Edge of the City, Carlo Lizzani & Massimo Mida, 1952 

The Goddess of Fortune, Ferzan Ozpetek, 2019

Roma 11:00, Giuseppe De Santis, 1952 

Martin Eden, Pietro Marcello, 2019

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, Francesco Bruni, 2020

Il Generale delle Rovere, Roberto Rossellini, 1959

Citizens of the World, Gianni Di Gregorio, 2019

The Moralist, Giorgio Bianchi, 1959 

The Marquis of Grillo, Mario Monicelli, 1981 

Le Mosche, Edgardo Pistone, 2020

Sunflower, Vittorio De Sica, 1970

Roman Tales, Gianni Franciolini, 1955

Kidz, Giuseppe Bonito, 2020 

Below are those available online.


At the Edge of the City, Carlo Lizzani & Massimo Mida, 1952


 



Roma 11:00, Giuseppe De Santis, 1952 




Martin Eden, Pietro Marcello, 2019 https://virtual.filmlinc.org/film/martin-eden/



Il Generale delle Rovere, Roberto Rossellini, 1959

 

 



Citizens of the World, Gianni Di Gregorio, 2019 

https://distribfilmsusvirtual.vhx.tv/products/citizens-of-the-world-zinema-2



The Moralist, Giorgio Bianchi, 1959 




The Marquis of Grillo, Mario Monicelli, 1981 




Sunflower, Vittorio De Sica, 1970




Roman Tales, Gianni Franciolini, 1955



Buon visione!



Thursday, December 17, 2020

Francesco Bruni's Heart-Wrenching Story of Strength in the Face of Uncertainty

Today is the last day of Cinema Italian Style’s virtual film festival. Having already seen several of the films in other virtual festivals this year, there were just four left to see. I had a feeling that Francesco Bruni’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” was going to be heavy on the emotions, so I kept putting it off. Then today I watched it and wow, what a masterpiece. 

Bruni’s writing and direction brought to life this heart-wrenching story of a guy in his mid-40s diagnosed with leukemia and his journey with treatment. When you cry during the first five minutes of a film, you know you’re going to be emotionally invested. But I also laughed as much as I cried, thanks to Bruni’s sense of humor and sharp writing skills. The film’s perfect casting drove the story home. Kim Rossi Stuart in the lead role was at times unrecognizable as his character, Bruno, was undergoing treatment. He’s one of contemporary Italian cinema’s treasures. I remember seeing him in the Taviani Brothers’ 2015 “Wondrous Boccaccio” and not realizing it was him until reading the credits. He really has a talent for transforming himself into his characters. 


Bruni dedicated the film to Mattia Torre, a screenwriter and director who passed away last year at 47 after losing his battle with cancer. He wrote "Kidz," which is also in the lineup of this festival, and was a close friend of Valerio Mastandrea who starred in the film alongside Paola Cortellesi. He’s been outspoken in his admiration for Torre and has publicly mourned him with several tributes. 


Francesco Bruni attended the 2012 edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema where he presented his debut feature film, “Easy.” Before that, he worked as a screenwriter, often collaborating with Paolo Virzì. He has a genuine talent for storytelling. His films are consistent and move with a lot of ease. I think that’s hard to achieve as a writer.. but he has definitely mastered the ability to do so and has made it his art.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Story Behind the Film


The Criterion Channel is not only a great resource for streaming classic films but also offers in-depth essays written by cinema scholars. The essays offer analysis of classic films, examining their political and social themes as well as the relationships between iconic directors and their protagonists. Criterion recently released a restored version of Francesco Rosi's 1979 film "Christ Stopped at Eboli" and marked the occasion with a compelling essay by about author Carlo Levi and the film’s political themes. Other interesting essays include “Fellini Satyricon: Not Just Friends,” “L’eclisse: Antonioni and Vitti” and “Seeing Clearly Through Tears: On the Smart Sentiment of Umberto D.” just to name a few. 

In one recent essay, "Primary Sources," filmmaker Michael Almereyda sheds light on Federico Fellini's 1948 collaboration with Roberto Rossellini, "The Miracle." Fellini stars in the short along with Anna Magnani. Almereyda writes, "Among his collaborations with Rossellini, the most recognizable precursor of Fellini’s own films is The Miracle (1948), a forty-minute short in which Fellini himself appears as a vagabond—tall, bearded, gloomily handsome—who allows Anna Magnani’s simpleminded goatherd to confuse him with her celebrity crush: Saint Joseph. After enhancing this confusion with wine from his flask, the vagabond impregnates the woman, giving her the miraculous child of the title. Fellini supplied the story, a potentially sardonic premise that Rossellini treats with sincere dramatic intensity. Magnani’s credulous character bears a family resemblance to the wayward bride infatuated with the eponymous, turbaned fumetti idol in The White Sheik (1952; Fellini’s first solo-directed feature) and to the wonder-struck waifs played by Giulietta Masina in La strada and Nights of Cabiria (1957). These disenfranchised women are vulnerable yet fierce, and their subjective reality eventually takes on a transcendent power despite the chaos they’ve been plunged into by duplicitous men." 

Watch a clip from "The Miracle"...


Stream the complete film on Amazon..

Friday, December 11, 2020

Celebrate Nino Frassica's 70th Birthday by Streaming His Films


Sicilian-born actor Antonino "Nino" Frassica turns 70 today. Since so many of his works are available stateside through Amazon, why not celebrate by streaming his films and television shows? Below are direct links to them. 

I met him briefly last year at the Rome premiere of his film, "Tutti i colori," directed by Max Nardari. I remember that there was a mob outside the theater doors ready to greet him and he was so gracious with everyone, taking the time to pose for pictures. 

He is perhaps best known for the television series "Don Matteo," which unfortunately is not available in the United States. However, the series version of Pif's "The Mafia Only Kills in the Summer" is available to stream with subtitles on MHz through Amazon. Click here for more information. 

Enjoy this diverse collection of his films. Happy Birthday Nino!
 

In Conversation with Director Cecilia Pignocchi

Filmmakers Arthur Couvat and  Cecilia Pignocchi It’s unusual for a first-time filmmaker to be recognized by a high-profile, international fi...