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S Is for Stanley

A real gem!
This movie is a treat not just for all Stanley Kubrick's fans, who will be granted an insight into the personality and everyday life of one of the greatest movie directors of all times, but also a fantastic and moving tale of commitment and friendship that lasted thirty years, between Kubrick and his personal assistant, Emilio D'Alessandro. The documentary is following the success of a book made by Filippo Olivieri, who managed to convince the shy and private Emilio to tell him his extraordinary story. The documentary is very well made, without distracting excerpt from Kubrick's movies, focussing instead on the human relationship between the two characters, following Emilio story and his gradual involvement in taking care of Kubrick's everyday more demanding needs. I would strongly recommend this film to everyone: it is an interesting, sincere, touching and moving story of friendship that will leave its mark. A real gem!

The Danish Girl

Great story, good effort, but poor result
The story could have been very dramatic and deeply touching, as it is a true story of both the internal conflicts of a man and the deep love of a woman to her partner. Unfortunately the meticulous attention to image rather than screenplay (to me) resulted in a quite cold and un- engaging movie, where beautiful costumes, interiors and landscapes are the only highlights. I found that even the acting of the brilliant young Eddie Redmayne was not that good, as his constant smiles and shy blinking eyes after a while seem to be the only stratagem he has to portray such a complex character (and after the first dozen of them I couldn't stand it anymore). A more sophisticated psychological portrait of the main character and a more dramatic rendition of his/her troubled soul would have given more solidity to a movie which seems too superficial.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Pretentious self-indulging and boring
Yes, I do like Pirandello, Escher, Magritte, Philip Glass.... but surely not this pretentious nonsense movie. It is a very well shot and acted one, and Switzerland looks very nice, sometimes the movie seems to be almost a touristic advert to the natural beauties of that region. The main problem is the intellectually wanna-be-smart story, filled with weak parallels between fiction and reality, emotions shown and hidden, reality and game. Not only this kind of theme has been already told in great movies and works of art, but this time the whole thing appears to be leading nowhere and meaning nothing, making it another quite boring, very long, pretentious self indulging French movie (they seem to be very good at it). Ah, and the unnecessary nudity is Art obviously, how could I not get it? Avoid it.

Five Broken Cameras

More than 12 Years Slaves...
I think every one should watch this documentary. This is by far a more deserving effort, than the movie on slavery. It involved the life of its brave director and his close relatives, it should deserve more success, widespread diffusion and acknowledgement than the celebrated and triumphant 12 Years Slave. Only problem this is not a healed wound we can now look back with detached feelings and condemn it as we have done with the American slavery. This is happening right now. This is about Israeli becoming violent masters over the poor and helpless Palestinians in a small village which the extremists in power have decided to turn into a new Jewish settlement area. The story is just incredible and it is a real punch in your stomach. It is unbelievable that the once prosecuted are now the worst prosecutors. And the whole world just seems to turn his head away. All Israeli cultivated and reasonable people should watch it, because one day no one will be able to say: we didn't know... A must see.

12 Years a Slave

Not a masterpiece: a ride across violence and despair
It is one of those movies which tell you a terrible and sadly true story about injustice and despair, in this circumstance about slavery in America. You will feel anguish and sadness. You will be be thrown in the middle of a bleak story of violence and hopefully condemn any form of racism and understand how evil have been white men, at that time in that place. No questions the movie is well done, with beautiful scenarios, very good acting, a good script, etc... but at points I wondered why should one keep watching this kind of violent and depressing stories (is it for people who ignore such things happened? then I would say its target should be schools and young children, but this is definitely not a movie addressed to them). I cannot agree with reviews saying this is a masterpiece, as I cannot find particular reasons for that. Where is innovation, creativity, poetry? A good movie it is, but mainly due to the fact it rediscovers the story of an otherwise forgotten hero. Personally I would have probably enjoyed it more if the movie kept telling the story of its hero in his fight for justice over his white masters and against slavery (for his contribution over a wider problem). Ultimately I believe this might be the reason why the main character should not be forgotten today and can be seen as a hero: for his contribution in fighting for an equal world. But this is only quickly written in the end titles. The movie is mainly a ride across violence and despair. Not the main reason I enjoy to watch movies.

La grande bellezza

Great and inventive movie masterpiece
I was totally blown away by this movie. I'd say that this is a new classic movie, a true masterpiece, making a great new addition to (Italian) cinema history. It could sound a little too much, but there has rarely been a movie portraying its time, people and place in a more inventive, fun, clever and aesthetic way. Obvious parallels can be made to La Dolce Vita, which is an obvious model throughout the movie (some scenes are clear homage to the Fellini masterpiece), but the incredible thing is that this movie is not diminished by this parallel, it is a great new / updated interpretation of that same idea of cinema. Actors are superb as the cinematography. At times surreal, at times very funny, at times cynic, ironic, dramatic and in the end poetical and incredibly enjoyable and inventive. How could Cannes Film Festival not award such a masterpiece remains a mystery. If you love cinema go watch this movie.

Educazione siberiana

Friendship in Siberia
**contains spoilers** I just came out of the cinema and believe this movie is a really good one! In all Salvatores' movies there is a common thread, this is the subject of friendship. This time it is dealt in a very though way. It is possibly about a friend demanding attention up to the extreme gesture of being killed by the hand of his only friend. the whole story is developed in a non linear way, with continuous jumps in their childhood, but the plot is always very understandable and the storytelling captivating. Didn't read the book, so cannot make judgements on how well the director translated it into a movie, but actors, images, music, all seems to me to be working pretty well. It contains violent scenes and may not be your best choice for a romantic date, but I believe it deserves a better rating than it has now.

Napoli, Napoli, Napoli

The portrait of a doomed city
I just saw this "documentary" at the London International Documentary Festival, presented by Abel Ferrara himself.

It is both a documentary and a fictional piece. The documentary part is the more interesting one. It mainly gives a portrait of the dark side of the city through a series of interviews to people in jail (mainly women) mixed with interviews to some locals that seemed quite randomly picked up (journalists, lawyers, activists, and even an incredibly naive, irresponsible and admittedly incapable lady Mayor). The result is not quite a precise statement, but more a chaotic and overall bitter portrait of the place.

Unfortunately the narrative of such documentary is fragmented by two fictional reconstructions of true stories of "ordinary" brutality not so well acted or significant, and possibly a bad copy of what has already been done in Gomorrah (which is a very good movie).

During the Q&A a few young people from the ghetto areas of the boroughs of Naples (the ones described as "mao-mao") challenged the director and the Neapolitan crew (the whole movie is written and produced in Naples) apparently because they could not understand the point of giving away such a gloomy and partial portrait of their native place by the hand of a US director. Abel tried his best to communicate his artistic aims. Sounds strange, but the movie is financed also by the Regional Tourist Bureau... maybe not a very smart investment! 6/10


Once Upon a Time in Sicily
This is Tornatore's biggest effort in trying to produce a great epic movie the way Sergio Leone could have done. But Tornatore's epic is mixed with his own personal memories and feelings rather than being a more detached study and portrait of an age and a specific place, circumstance that has made some people compare this movie with Fellini's Amarcord. Given the generous parallels, I believe this is a really good movie, I enjoyed every frame of it, but the sensation is that it could have been even better! This may be due to the fact he tries to say too many things at once and such things are not necessarily all that well linked together, resulting in a weak plot. Morricone does as usual a good work, but not a great one, as no theme was in my head at the end of the movie (while watching it I completely forgot he was the composer).

Anyway I really hope this movie will win some deserved awards as it is a great effort from a great master of cinema and, as Once Upon a Time in America, they both end with a laughter and leave the impression the whole story may be just a dream... this is ultimately what cinema is all about. 8/10


Very disappointing!
I really cannot understand all the positive reviews on this movie. To start with, everything is unrealistic/not believable, but not to the point of being metaphorical or theatrical, no! just to the point that it becomes very irritating. I will not go into the details, but to quote a few problems: the bunch of soldiers are not trained at all (is this the efficient Israeli army or what?), they all show very human feelings and cannot obey to their orders (how many times we've seen this already? who performed all the terrible deeds that happened in that war??)... the zoom lenses from the tank can do miracles and every target looks pitifully straight into the lenses/camera (totally unbearable)... the idea that they (the Israeli Army represented by the silly bunch) do not understand what their allied falangists say and ingenuously support them is quite outrageous and possibly, a way to call itself out from any responsibility of the Sabra and Shatila massacre... unacceptable! Finally everyone access the tank as if it was an hotel. Nothing really noticeable about the score, camera work or screenplay. Another very overrated (propaganda) movie. The worst movie ever to win in Venice. be nice to yourself, AVOID IT!!!

La morte ha fatto l'uovo

As crazy (and good) as its title!
I wouldn't label this as a "giallo", there is no particular suspense or scary moments, so don't expect anything like that... it mainly is a criticism on capitalism, mass production and industrial society, within a good story which involves obviously a murder. It may sound a bit Marxist as a statement, and maybe that was Giulio Questi's political view, but seen today it results in a naive but quite original and experimental movie from the seventies. Some moments (the best ones) are truly grotesque and surreal... some very nice actresses and lots of beautiful advertising posters from the time in the background, the actors are very good and generally speaking it is a good and entertaining movie. The only major problem I had was with the music, which is over-used and not pleasant at all... it could work conceptually, but the truth is, after a while you cannot stand it anymore. An interesting movie, surely not to everybody's taste. 7/10

Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave

Only average to me....
After watching Martino's previous brilliant giallo: "The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh" and reading the positive posts about this effort I had some pretty good expectations... The story is very simple (despite a few twists at the end) and the way it develops is not particularly credible, but the most irritating thing was to hear a "MEAOWWW" every now and then with supposedly scary intentions (bloody hell!). Not to mention the racist and sexist dialogues which seemed a bit too unnecessary and stupid even in a B-movie such this one. On the bright side Fenech as usual gets undressed as most of the other "actresses" do; the locations are nice and the direction quite clean but surely not inventive. In other words, unless you're a fanatic of the genre, avoid this one, it is totally average and flat at best.

Lo strano vizio della signora Wardh

Simply Fantastico!
The beginning of the seventies saw the full spread of the "Giallo" genre mainly thanks to the works of Mario Bava (who started it in the mid-sixties), Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. Nevertheless a few other directors left a mark: one to remember was Aldo Lado with his amazing "Short Night of the Glass Dolls" and another was Sergio Martino with "Lo Strano Vizio...". Anyone interested in those nicely aged Italian B movies where settings, screenplay, direction, music... all seem to work very easily in perfect harmony, should definitely not miss this movie! Thrill, violence, stylish interiors, smart dialogues, a memorable score, and a very inventive plot together with some awesome (often naked) actresses, will capture your attention all the way through... contributing once again to leave us a visually stunning portrait of the Seventies like no other movie genre was able to do. A fantastic and recommended movie, also for non-giallo fanatics. Really enjoyable!

Banditi a Milano

Natural Born Killers 30 years earlier
Inspired by some shocking criminal events of the time, this is a great and very ingenious piece of cinematography. Shot between a crime flick and a documentary it is extraordinary to see how long before Oliver Stone made his movie this one already had it all: the craziness, the character's excessive performances, the mix of footages (documentary, news, acting), the gratuitous violence... If in the 60's Italy produced some of the most important masterpieces, in the 70's Italy became extraordinarily experimental producing some incredible innovative movies and movie genres (the poliziottesco, Damiani's mafia movies, Argento's gialli, Bava's horrors, the soft porn comedies, Rosi's movie-inchiesta, to name the more famous) This movie has not dated and is still to be recommended to anyone interested in experimental movie-making. A tribute should be dedicated to that supreme actor named Gian Maria Volonte' here in top form.

La moglie più bella

The Great Damiani
Starting from the surprisingly excellent "I am not scared" (strongly recommended), I started to become interested in Damiano Damani's movies and I was stunned to discover what a great and socially committed director he was! This movie surely ranks among his best. It deals with the condition of women in the regions of mafia, where mentality is so narrow and ignorant to become almost hilarious when not dramatic. The character played by the beautiful and very young Ornella Muti is a real marvel. In her village she is one of its kind: she is intelligent, sensible, has a strong temper, sense of justice and anti-conformist views. In other words she cannot easily merge in the social context she is growing in. The plot develops slowly and little by little one is sucked into the story thanks to a group of very good actors, a nice score by Morricone and mainly Damiani's masterful screenplay. The end is very touching, as the tears in the sensitive young girl represent the tragic but necessary result of a chain of events that it was impossible to stop. This movie, together with "L'istruttoria e' chiusa: dimentichi"; "Pizza Connection"; "Confessions of a Police Captain" and "Un uomo in ginocchio" should constantly pass through the Italian national TV schedules, as the lesson(s) is still far from being learnt.

Caos calmo

enjoyable but not great
The story is surely a good one and the actors all pretty good. The problem I had, and apparently it is a shared view, is that this movie has many unnecessary scenes and superficially shot details which make the result not quite as good as it could have been. A few examples? The first scene with the drowning women is just unbelievable (the sea seems totally calm, it is almost hilarious); the shots in Venice (the only reason I can see is that the film troupe wanted a little break there); the erotic scene between two not so young/not so beautiful actors (pity this scene wasn't between the gorgeous young girl and the brother of the main character, that might have been not necessary either, but at least enjoyable!) the cloying bits with the handicapped; the idealised and quite stereotypical depiction of the Roman school piazza as a nice and friendly environment; the beautiful young girl with the dog so interested in Moretti; even the end titles, with the pelouche monkey name listed... finally the music choice was quite cheesy. Anyway I would lie to say I was not entertained watching it. 6,5/10

Il successo

Successful "Commedia all'Italiana"
Mauro Morassi best movie il SUCCESSO, was also his last of a short career, as he died in a car accident when he was only 40. I believe this one to be one of the most overlooked Italian comedies of the sixties and surely needs to be watched and appreciated again (hopefully they will release a DVD). It tells the story of a 38 years old married man who is living the "Boom" years, when many people at his age were already making a fortune and living (showing off) at the highest standards. His frustration keeps growing as he desperately looks for some money to be able to secure a deal he became aware while at work in his office. Dialogues, acting, characters, music, photography, everything works perfectly well. The ending is a bitter one, but also the only one the main character was inevitably aiming for. Nowadays we are not living in an economic "Boom" as it was back in the post war period, but sadly enough the superficiality of the main character and his desperate need to become rich and show off has boomed in Italy thanks to some well known rich media tycoon whose fortunes and mentality has become the example to follow... A Great movie to rediscover, still effective today as it was at his release!

Confessione di un commissario di polizia al procuratore della repubblica

30 years later things are even worse...
Damiano Damiani was an excellent, not fully appreciated, movie director. Most of his works share to some extent the same commitment Francesco Rosi's highly regarded movies did. They may be less an artistic achievement for they probably didn't share the same originality in style, but they are equally effective in communicating and shaking the audience with messages of social and ethical nature. This particular one again (after the excellent "L'Istruttoria è chiusa: dimentichi" and before my favorite "Io ho Paura") deals with the impossibility of fighting for Justice: organized criminality and its higher level allied (politicians, ministers, judges, etc.) create an invincible corrupted system. In his movies usually the conclusion is a bitter one, not much is left to hope. This time though, a brave policeman (Martin Balsam) decides to break the rules in order to achieve the goal, while district attorney (Franco Nero) leave us with an open end and some hope... In today's Italian political and social panorama (Berlusconi is the prime minister...), Damiano Damiani would have probably lost also that little faith. Sad times indeed (great movie though!).

L'istruttoria è chiusa: dimentichi

how we easily become conformists
This may not be Damiano Damiani finest work, but I still believe it is a very good movie. In line with his pessimistic beliefs on the possibility that Justice prevails, Damiani's plot develops this time within a prison (it is not a poliziottesco, but rather a prison drama) where an innocent man is held on suspicion of murder and where he gradually will be forced to change his beliefs and his moral in order to survive the brutal laws of the place. This is on a different level a metaphor on our society, where choices to act according to the moral come often at a price which we may not be ready to pay. Easier is to "forget". Inevitably the few brave who choose the straight way forward, find themselves lonely and pay the consequences. Recommended.

There Will Be Blood

Great acting, but not moving
I will be very quick and only confirm that: 1) Daniel Day Lewis gives an extraordinary performance, he fully deserves an Oscar. 2) the music score is brilliant in the sense that it perfectly highlights and accompany the movie in its development, helping to create a continuous tension throughout. (although by itself it would be quite a weird listening experience). 3) the main weakness of this movie is (and possibly that was a precise strategy) that it it is not involving the audience feelings. Even in the most desperate moments (= the abandoning of his son / the abandoning of his father), the main character's solitude and desperation are portrayed in a very dry and cold way, the audience (at least me) is not moved. 4) The plot has major holes which remain unexplained. 5) the character of the young priest does not show signs of becoming old later in the movie, when everyone else does. 6) This movie has been compared to Kubrick's 2001 Space Odissey, or to Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West for its epic, but such comparisons are nonsense. Those two movies rank among the masterpieces. This is a good movie, time will tell.

Signore & signori

(All'italiana) Comedy Masterpiece
The Italian Comedy of the Sixties has been internationally recognised as one of the most innovative and original cinema genres produced in that decade. This forgotten movie stands as one of the best examples of such genre. Three stories from the same bunch of middle aged guys from the North of Italy (the nice location is Treviso) are portrayed in this very enjoyable comedy. It is an almost Fellinesque movie, in the sense that it is grotesque, funny and clever at the same time. It mainly is a satire on the human relationships and the hypocrisy of people. Obviously all of this is depicted in a totally hilarious "Italian way". The actresses are simply irresistible (Virna Lisi looks awesome!), the actors very convincing, the story simply too good compared to nowadays scripts, while music, photography and direction are almost perfect. It won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival together with "Un homme une famme". To be rediscovered. a convinced 10/10.

Io ho paura

Cult Movie!!!
"Io ho paura" means "I am scared"... It is a terrific movie which tries to summarize some of the totally real (despite the disclaimer at the titles end, significantly put below the main title "I am scared"...) links between secret services, criminality & politics. This link we now know, has been real throughout the 70's and is not just alive now, but more complex, as it appears that it now includes also banks, mafia and masonry. Gian Maria Volonte' gives one of his best performances, playing the scared policeman who unwillingly becomes aware of secrets which he perfectly knows might lead him to his death. Riz Ortolani's score is as usual perfect. Damiano Damiani direction is secure as the movie never drops its rhythm and the ending is tough, but a great one. Damiani will later direct the serial on mafia called "PIOVRA", a huge success in Italy and abroad in the 80s. "Io ho paura" is a fantastic and unknown movie with tension, great acting, a perfect score and an alarming accusation message, still real, on the deviation of our society. 10/10


Mossad portrayed as humane....
I think this was one of the best late Spielberg movies: it has an interesting plot, suspense, action, it is less cheesy than usual... you are led into the picture from the beginning and cannot get out till the end... Obviously being made by a Jewish director we cannot expect a complete balance in the portrayal of such delicate situations and reasons behind them, but we can all see he must have made quite an effort to try and be impartial. In the end, contrarily to the old and unfortunately (for some, because Biblical) still valid saying "an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth" the quite simple message is that violence leads to more violence and this is not the way to follow... Beyond Spielberg's usual nice and moral messages (which I cannot digest easily anymore), still a few things didn't convince me in this movie. Who can really believe that Mossad (Israel's very efficient secret services) are so humane and have the conflictual thoughts of most of the components of that gang in the movie? If that was the case I doubt they were so efficient in killing and retaliate, as it happen-ed/s in real life... Can we possibly believe that all information came from a source which we never get to understand who they really are or work for (seems quite a dangerous and unconvincing part of the story)?? Why do we keep seeing Eric Bana having the nightmare of what happened in the airport (even when he has sex!!) if he wasn't there that night? Shouldn't he (especially if he is so humane...) have nightmares of the people he actually kill himself??? And, as usual, the Palestinians seem to be some kind of poor and dirty desperate fanatics, while Mossad have reasons to eventually do even worse things and then, being so enlightened and humane, to have conflictual feelings... Come on Steven!

De fem benspænd

The Perfect Director?
I have a lot of respect for Von Trier's work and find most of his movies clever and stimulating. Having said that I wonder why Lars as a person seems to be so arrogant and un-sympathetic and as a director so self indulgent... The strongest message I could get from this movie was "Ooh, I'm so bloody cool!". It's a pity because a style exercise in cinema could have been a great new idea, something comparable - in literary terms - to what Queneau did, or to Italo Calvino's famous "Se una Notte d'Inverno un Viaggiatore". But it soon becomes a rather boring and self centered exercise. Those are the risks of becoming famous and celebrated... you loose the plot! What a waste of talent.

Garden State

What a disappointing waste of time & money!
Having to decide which movie to see at cinema this weekend, I had a look to the IMDb to check for comments on this one... The average vote was 8.something... the comments very encouraging... I decided it was worth watching it. What a big mistake... a couple of hours wasted! Was it supposed to be funny? or maybe clever?? or possibly well acted??? None of this my friends... it was a real nonsense, silly (actually totally idiot) waste of my money and my time. The worst movie seen in the 2004 so far (and we're in December). Unless there was some sort of Jewish sense of humor I am not familiar with, to catch, I couldn't feel any sort of emotion. Actually, the only one was to punch the face of this ugly main actor, who probably believes he can act very well in making weird facial expressions... bloody hell! AVOID IT CAREFULLY.

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