Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Mostly by female bloggers living in what I would say benign parts of Italy (Florence, Rome, Venice). Which is not bad, only that one does get a certain point of view from the bloggers involved. I would have loved to see input from folks from the "other" industrial north (Turin or Genova) speak about films about the noisy dirty urban core, or from Naples talking about Southern Italians without talking about the mafia or the family (I know, it's almost impossible, but there a few movies for example about the African immigrant experience, something well outside of the Italian ideal). But the biggest surprise is the complete ommision of Fellini, as if there was a rule against mentioning the filmmaker most instrumental in developing our current ideas of Italian la dolce vita. Of his films, I would consider Amarcord to be the best because it fully illustrates that very Italian obsession with facade and impressions, without glossing over the limits of putting up a daily personal show (living with fascism is depicted as a daily farce akin to servicing impossible adolescent wet dreams). Another film that was also not mentioned which I think was instrumental in really romanticizing the idea of Italy to other Western viewers is David Lean's Summertime, about a woman's escape to Venice and her tryst with a merchant separated from his wife. It's a wonderful movie and may be the pinnacle of that sub-genre of movies about women finding themselves in Venice or some other Italian locale, without giving in to romantic notions of finding love in a place one does not even know is real. Despite these ommissions, the list are still great, if for nothing else to introduce you to some great contemporary Italian films and to the generally underrated Italian comedy.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
*This series is to introduce you to the various films that were either set in Italy or were made in Italy, discussing how we as outsiders view the country and how Italians view themselves, and how this is expressed and experienced through the art of cinema
The Talented Mr. Ripley is an all-around movie that you could relate to whatever it is that’s bugging you at the moment: the role of women in a patriarchal society as seen in Marge’s character; Tom’s shape-shifting but ultimately tragic homosexual; Dickie’s invincibility and invisibility afforded to him by his privilege; even the rift between classical and modern music representing the coming social rift represented by the 60s. But for me what appealed is the Italy portrayed, and how it represents the Italy most expect when they visit the country. I think the movie tries to parody the self-absorbed relationship that the upper-class visitors has to Italy, but only unconsciously. There’s drama ,conflict, murder, but all of which have nothing to do with Italy or its people. A side-story about a tragic love-affair with an Italian woman was the closest these characters had at actually perceiving the country beyond their rose-colored spectacles, but even then it was easily dismissed as an element that revealed Dickie’s true character, without regard to the largely perfunctory and silent female character. The film have a lot of village scenes and postcard-pretty shots of Rome, Venice, and Sanremo, but it’s so remote to the story that I often questioned if the scenes were set in a sound studio. It’s like the film crew was on vacation, and they just needed to prove that they were there. There was no direct way that the scenery was engaged, no efforts to make the obviously staged market and street scenes more believable, not even to make the obviously exotic locales more palpable in their alieness. It might as well have been just another serial killer story set in Cleveland.