A lot of good movies this week, so good, there’s not one but two picks of the week!
Nashville (1975) – 7 (IMDb 7.6) – Drama, Music (USA)
Robert Altman’s own Roma. Nashville is about the city of music. It’s a fascinating odyssey, where you meet a variety of characters, different stories and they’re all connected and intertwined, but not in a cheesy/forced way. It’s very organic and you get a good sense of who everyone is by the end of the film, although the film seems almost “detached”, for lack of a better word. There is also some political message, which is a bit annoying, but since it serves the story at least it’s not thrown in there just ’cause. All in all a good film, great performances, good music (and I’m not even into country music) and a lot of dialogue. By the way this has to be one of the most “American” films I’ve ever seen.
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex *But Were Afraid To Ask (1972) – 7 (IMDb 6.8) – Comedy (USA)
Hilarious sex-comedy by writer and director Woody Allen. This film is divided in a handful of sketches all trying to answer (one way or another) sex-related questions. Of course none of them are to be taken seriously, but Woody Allen just has fun with it. He stars in every other segment and it’s consistently funny (except for maybe one segment) and at times genius (the black & white TV bit). Certainly something lighthearted and slap-sticky, but it works for me. There’s even a creature-feature segment with a giant tit terrorizing a small town. I love how this film manages to be charming and fun without being vulgar. There’s no nudity and yet the film can remain poignant and topical, because Woody’s humor is not gross. Take notes contemporary comedians: This is how you do it!
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Before Midnight (2013) – 8 (IMDb 8.5) – Drama, Romance (USA)
The Shining (1980) – 8.5 (IMDb 8.5) – Horror (USA)
Raise Your Voice (2004) – 7 (IMDb 5.5) – Music, Romance (USA)
This was a favorite of mine when I was younger. I still like it today, but for totally different reasons. I think the drama in this film is exaggerated, but Sean McNamara’s crazy video-clip style is so committed that his vision is contagious. Sure, it’s over-the-top cheesy and campy, the romance clearly only exists in the context of this film, but there is a sense of honest joy and passion for filmmaking and loving hollywood films. I can’t deny that this would be a guilty pleasure of mine, but I don’t believe in the term. When I like something I don’t feel guilty, I feel good. This film is about a young girl (Hilary Duff) believing in her dreams. Of course we know it’s not as easy as in movies, but films are also here to make us dream a little. By the way, the Italian title for this film is (literally translated) Born to Win (Nata per vincere). Those who have seen the film will know it’s not that fitting.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Il Giardino Dei Finzi-Contini (1970) – 8 (IMDb 7.4) – Drama, Romance (Italy)
Yesterday they screened this film for free in Locarno (Switzerland) as part of the pre-festival. Arthur Cohn (producer) and Lino Capolicchio (actor) were present and shared a interesting stories on the film and working with Vittorio De Sica (before being brutally interrupted by rude hosts). The film is great. It’s about a Jewish family in Italy during WW2, so it’s very sad, but also very romantic, because it’s about these two young adults who are in love with each other ever since they were kids. However it doesn’t ever really seem to be working out for them. Great use of color cinematography (and I’m not a fan of the 70s aesthetic), fantastic performances, inspired great directors such as Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List) and Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums). It won awards (Oscar & Golden Bear), it’s historically relevant (as an Italian I feel like we tend to forget we helped the nazis) and it’s beautifully sad. It doesn’t use voice-over and knows when no words need to be spoken. The music is maybe a bit too sentimental, but other than that it’s just a great film, but clearly a depressing one, because what it’s showing is based on an autobiography by Giorgio Bassani.
Other than these films, I also managed to watch a great brand new short by Tim Buel called Summer Home. Without giving anything away: He shot and edited this film during his vacations, with his iPhone. It looks great, he keeps getting better and better visually. The title sequence reminds me of the new Evil Dead. The score, as he says, was inspired by Ennio Morricone’s work on The Thing (1982) and I actually thought it had giallo-esque tones, even before he confirmed my intuition on The Golden Briefcase podcast (excellent show). It’s a home invasion film (he loves the sub-genre and films like You’re Next). the only scene I want to mention is the beginning, because it feels very real, natural and true, and to me that is one of the highest thing you can achieve in cinema. Like Vittorio De Sica always said: You don’t famous or even professional actors to make a good film.
Without over-hyping it for you, check it out and also look for his 15 seconds Instagram shorts under #15secondsofhorror (genius idea) and join in on the fun making your own horror shorts!
That’s it for this week’s round-up on everything I’ve seen. Let me know if you enjoy these films. What you think of Tim’s short(s) or just what good movies you watched last week!
See you next time,
If you happen to be living in the Locarno area or are visiting the city located in southern Switzerland, I have a real treat for you.
Just today they announced the two free screenings preceding the official beginning of the 66th Locarno Film Festival.
On August 4th, Vittorio De Sica‘s Golden Bear and Academy Award winning The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) will be shown, with producer Arthur Cohn and protagonist Lino Capolicchio present. For the second soirée, August 6th, they’ll screen Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974). The film was nominated for eleven Oscars and won best original screenplay. A screening of Chinatown, makes sense, because aside from being a great film it stars Faye Dunaway, who will be honored with the Leopard Club Award during the festival (August 9th). If you happen to be at Spazio Cinema (Forum) on that day at 10:30 a.m., Faye will be attend a panel open to the public.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough, the pre-festival evenings are free, you have no excuse for not being there. Last year they even gave out free bottles of water and it’s the open-air experience and two excellent films from two of cinema’s best directors. Both films start at 9:30 p.m. Make it happen!