Live Action (Short Subject) Nominees

Currently browsing the "Italian" category.

Mia Madre

This is not a film you will enjoy, but you may relate. The main character Margherita (Margherita Buy) is a film director whose life is falling apart around her. Her relationship with her significant other is over, the film she is directing is being ruined by an actor (John Turturro) who can’t remember his lines, and to top it off her mother is in the hospital dying. Apparently, the film is autobiographical as Nanni Moretti, the writer/director and actor playing the director’s brother Giovanni, lost his mother while shooting his last film. Mia Madre balances the quiet drama of watching the mother go downhill with the silly comedy of Turturro’s Barry Huggins, who has a rich fantasy life including having worked for Kubrick and dreaming that Kevin Spacey is trying to kill him. Unfortunately, the wacky actor from America really steals the show.

Me and You (Io e te)

There are a handful of directors whose names lead me to expect greatness. Bertolucci is definitely one of them. He has written and directed some of the most successful and critically acclaimed films of the last 50 years. From The Conformist to 1900 to The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky, his movies have frequently been political and sweeping in scope. His latest by contrast is a small film adaptation of a popular young adult novel with no big name actors and it takes place mostly in a very dingy basement. But it just goes to show how good a director he really is. It is a slight piece, but entertaining and assured filmmaking.

The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza)

One of the five films nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, The Great Beauty is an amazingly wonderful dip into the pool of modern Roman decadence. The story is told from the perspective of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a journalist who turns 65 at the beginning of the film, and who despite being known for his great first novel decades earlier, is still searching for his inspiration for a second. The film owes a great debt to Fellini. You cannot help but think of La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, but Jep is much more world weary than Marcello, and the movie is much more than mere homage. It has some of the most striking imagery of any recent film. And if you love Rome, this is a must see!

Certified Copy

There are some movies that are nearly impossible to review because to tell the story is to give away (ruin) the experience of watching it. Certified Copy is one of those films. Directed by Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry) and starring the luminous Juliette Binoche who won the Best Actress Award at Cannes for her role in this film, it is about the most confusing 106 minutes I have spent in a long time. Not a bad confusion, but a well planned, edge of your seat waiting and wondering when it is all going to make sense confusion. The central question, which pops up about 20 minutes in, has you questioning what is true and what isn’t right up until the end. And in addition to the twisting plot, the film alternates between English, French and Italian.

The American

It’s no big secret that the Chickflix chicks all love George Clooney and not just for his, ahem, acting skills. But rather – perhaps even more so- for his genuine passion and compassion for global justice and humanity. For that reason alone, I urge everyone (over 18) to go see The American to support Clooney… even if this movie does feature a much darker George than we’ve generally come to expect.

I am Love (Io sono l’amore)

Unless you watch a lot of Italian television, you are unlikely to know anyone in this film except for Tilda Swinton. But I have often found that to be a wonderful situation since without stars, you cannot decide as a film goes along who is “important” and so you pay attention to everyone in case they become a key to the story. Clearly Tilda’s character Emma is the center, but all the members of her family and their circle have important parts to play in this involving melodrama.