Italian Movies Have Never Been Better

La Doppia Ora

Thank goodness Brian called me and told me that “La Doppia Ora” – The Double Hour – was playing at The Lincoln Plaza Theaters. I’m in New York visiting Lauren so I quick got online and bought a ticket and then I scooted up there for the 1:45 show.

New York’s Lincoln Plaza Theater is great – it shows all the foreign movies that we never get to see in Hudson, Ohio, but it is not your usual theater experience. The guy who manages it treats the patrons as if we were children who have not behaved in the past and have lost all of our privileges (this might not be far from the truth). He was very firm (but fair) with everyone who wanted to get in line before their movie was being called, shouting, “I told you “no”! You must sit down and wait!” when people tried to enter the theaters precipitously. Obviously he’s been there awhile and has seen how things go when he doesn’t take charge.

When it was my turn to get in line I thought I’d spark up a conversation with ladies around me who, I supposed, must have loved Italian movies as did I. I asked them if they’d planned to see “La Prima Cosa Bella” at the Angelika Film Center and they looked at me like I’d just asked them if they wanted to get high. “That’s downtown”, one of them said like that explained everything.

Actually it did, but I wanted to hear them say it so I gave them my best, “whatever do you mean?” expression and they told me, “We don’t go downtown.” Even though it was clear that they weren’t interested in chatting about Italian movies I kept going and told them I was excited because I couldn’t watch these kind of movies in theaters in Ohio and at this point they all looked very alarmed and one of them said, “You don’t have movie theaters where you live?”. I almost told them that we didn’t – that we all had to travel to Columbus to see a movie. I should have, because hearing that I meant italian movies and not all movies disappointed them a little. For a minute they thought they’d encountered an honest to goodness Ohio hillbilly.

I know – I’m rambling.

La Doppia Ora is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It has something that not many modern Italian movies have – a fear factor! There were a few things that made me jump right out of my seat, and I found myself covering my eyes. And it was done in the best kind of way; the threat was hidden in the shadows, waiting to jump out and say “boo” at any given moment.

It stars someone I’ve just recently written about, Kseniya Rappoport from “La Sconosciuta”. In this movie, as in that one, she plays a kind of “unknown woman”, one that has secrets. Her character, Sonia, meets Guido (Filippo Timi from “Vincere” and “The American”) speed dating and at first they appear to be a couple of poor damaged souls that gets lucky at another chance at love. It doesn’t take long to realize that in this movie, appearances are always deceiving.

“The Girl By The Lake” is billed as a thriller, but I’d like to say to the filmmakers who made that movie and to all Italian movie makers – THIS movie, La Doppia Ora, THIS is what you call a thriller. It has all the mayhem, menace, and edge of your seat suspense that a good thriller should have. I know that I want to see it again – it’s just one of those movies that you know you missed clues the first time and need to go back and see what they are.

I don’t want to give away too much but the focus, which is on Sonia, becomes blurred between dream and reality, and I may never be sure of her no matter how many times I see it.

If you are in the New York are – see it! And I’ll keep my eye out for showings in other parts of the country.

Director: Giuseppe Capotondi
Writers: Alessandro Fabbri, Ludovica Rampoldi
Stars: Kseniya Rappoport, Filippo Timi and Antonia Truppo

6 Responses to “La Doppia Ora”

  1. Laura

    Incredibly, this jewel of a movie made it to Dallas, Texas. It was beautifully filmed, the characters so finely drawn, and the story, interstitial yet not frustrating. The film itself is so engaging, even aside from the plot, that it’s easy to miss some of the clues that suggest all is not as it appears.

    My Italian teacher recommended it to our class, and I can’t wait to see it again. if you liked Ne Dite Personne (Tell No One) or Spanish Prisoner, don’t miss this!

    Reply
  2. Nigel M

    You are indeed right when you point out that giallo are (often whodunnit) type thrillers and not slasher/horror movies. I would guess the confusion arose from a time when Italy was producing hell of a lot of films and the intense competition resulting in the ramping up of sensational aspects of the film (true of other genres also), so sex and violence coming increasingly to the fore. Fans of giallo would no doubt recognise that genre offers far more- with complex mysteries.

    The closest to this classic genre that I have seen in recent times is not a slasher horror, nor a stylistic attempt at homage. Girl By The Lake is very much the heir to the 1970s giallo.

    Reply
    • Cheri

      I had wondered if you liked ‘The Girl By The Lake” – that one didn’t seem all that “thrilling” to me.

      Reply
  3. Nigel M

    What I liked was the procedural elements- police procedural themes are common to both italian giallo and eurocrime movies. Indeed some of the better giallo begin with a murder and the bulk of the remainder of the movie is centred around an investigation. If memory serves What Have You Done To Solange and its sequel takes this format, though it has been quite a while since I have seen either.

    These genre films are not for everyone but I think for those who are willing to look there are some pretty pleasant surprises. One is the use of guerilla filmmaking techniques in location work- ie shooting the film without permit- the result is how the films are able to capture a moment on a street in almost documentary detail, also for those interested in politcal history and cinema there is the addressing of political and social themes of the time. For thrill seekers there are the almost suicidal car chases and stunts as the motoring public become accidental extras as stuntmen hurtle through traffic in fiats and alpha romeos! Within genres there is also the constant bidding up to what the critical may describe as excess, though I prefer the term uncompromising :) There is also the fun game of J and B spotting as the famous yellow labelled green bottles are product placed in many hundreds of films- in some movies they appear enough times to warrant a drinking game- each time they appear, take a shot!

    God, I love these movies.

    Reply
  4. jim elkind

    Where can I find an available copy of the easy life with vittorrio gassman (with subtitles)

    Reply

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