The first thing I do when get to Italy is buy the newspaper – I want to see what’s playing.
I’ll go see anything, even if it’s a terrible American movie that’s been dubbed, and I see as many as I can. I saw Avatar in Milan, The Polar Express in Florence, and Richard Gere in “Shall We Dance”, in Rome – in fact I saw him on the street in Rome.( I guess he was there to promote the movie.) We literally bumped into each other on Via del Corso and he looked at me with a huge smile. I didn’t recognize him right away and I remember thinking, “What’s your problem, you weirdo.” When I realized it was him, I figured he’s just used to people getting excited to see him and he was, like, “Yes dear, it really is me!”
I’ve gone to American movies and wasn’t sure what they were until they started. They poster said, “www.partnerperfetto.com” and I saw that John Cusack was in it. I was stumped. It turned out to be the extremely stupid “Must Love Dogs”. I was looking in vain for “The Sound of Music on DVD and just about had given up when somebody told me that Italy had changed the name to “Tutti insieme appassionatamente” which means “Everybody thrillingly together” or something like that.
For awhile when I went to the movies in Italy I tried to blend in and do as the natives did – but I really want my diet coke while I’m watching a movie. Italians don’t snack as much as we do in a movie theater. There’s a snack bar in the lobby but you’re not going to find nachos there. There’s candy and popcorn and usually bottles of soda – I like mine “alla spina” (fountain drink) and unless it’s a really big theater they won’t have it. Most people seem to wait for the “intervallo” – the intermission – which they still have in Italian movie theaters. In the middle of the movie, the movie usually stops and a guy with a tray of snacks comes out and stands in the corner of the theater – you can go over and buy something from him but he usually doesn’t seem to sell very much. Anyway, now I carry my diet coke in with me and everybody looks at me funny – I keep thinking that somebody is going to come over me to say, “You aren’t from these parts; are you?”
Seats are assigned – it took me a long time to figure this out and I no doubt made a lot of people angry sitting in their seats by accident. Your ticket has a seat number and that’s where you are supposed to sit, so if I want to sit down front (and that’s where I like to sit) you have to ask. But you’ll be alone down there. Everybody else is clumped all together in the middle of the theater. There could be 16 people in the whole place and they will all be in rows L and M, seats 5-12. They seem to like it that way. As my Italian teacher once told me, there’s no word for “privacy” in Italian and Italians don’t seem to expect much of it. So if you find me at the movies, I’ll be the one lonely soul in row B, while everybody else is at least 10 rows behind me.
Of course I’ll choose an Italian movie over an American one, but sometimes I don’t have a choice. Last time I was in Milan there was an really sweet and romantic Italian movie called “Dieci Inverni” (10 winters) playing and I liked it so much that I saw it twice. Both times I was one of three in the theater. C’mon Italy! What were you guys doing crowding into ‘Nights in Rodanthe‘ and ignoring ‘Dieci Inverni’? I really don’t get it. The Italian film industry is government subsidized and the government is making cuts this year and I’m afraid for the future of Italian movies if the Italian people don’t start supporting their own films.
No use supporting what you don’t like, but I really think that Italy should take another look at its own movies. I’m finding plenty to like and I think they would too if they stopped looking towards Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts and instead at Sergio Castellito and Giovanna Mezzogiorno for their entertainment.