Thursday, August 19, 2010

Five on Focus - Italian Cinema

Five on Focus: American Expat Bloggers on Italian Movies

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.

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