Just like here in America sometimes a movie comes out and I love it, but I feel like I’m the only one. While everybody is going on about other movies I’m thinking, “Why doesn’t everybody see how great this one is?”
I was most surprised by Gianni di Gregorio’s Gianni e le Donne, or as they have renamed it in English, The Salt of Life. Di Gregorio, who co-wrote the screenplay for Gomorrah and wrote, directed and starred in the celebrated Pranzo di ferragosto, Mid-August Lunch, came out early in 2011 with this other really good one, but nobody seemed to care. About a retired guy trying to “get some”, a movie like this might have fallen flat in the US because we are so obsessed with youth and if old people are having sex in a movie it’s usually part of a punchline. Italy isn’t so unreasonable – there, love is love and sex is for everybody, not just the youngsters. In Gianne e le Donne, a retired and bored out of his mind Gianni is advised by his buddies to take a lover, and when he sees even the most decrepid of his contemporaries with young women on the side, he decides to give it a shot, but it’s not as easy as it looks.
Di Gregorio is a natural, a genius, actually. He’s in his 60s and was nominated for “best new director”, so I think that there were some wasted years, but I’d love to see what else he comes up with. His screenplays are smart, poignant, and funny, and nobody does “slice of life” better than he does. Zeitgeist Films has bought the US rights so hopefully we’ll get a chance to see if the US likes it – maybe, ironically, we’ll be the ones to take to the story about love among the AARP generation. Why didn’t Italy love it? You tell me. Take a look at the trailer, and watch for it in the US:
When I saw Paola Randi’s Into Paradiso I was equally excited and equally disappointed. I thought, “Now, this one’s a winner”, but it didn’t win much of anything. And it’s got everything you’d want in a movie – a big name actor ( Gianfelice Imparato from Gomorrah and Il Divo), an interesting and current subject matter (immigration), the mafia, and lots of laughs. In it, Imparato plays lfonso D’Onofrio, a Napolitano who has lost his job as a scientist and decides to go to some friends in high places to get it back. Since the mafia always wants a favor in return, Imparato finds himself having to do something that results in him hiding out, indefinitely, in an apartment building inhabited by Sri Lankan immigrants.
This is Paola Randi’s first feature film and I hope she doesn’t get discouraged. Into Paradiso is better – much funnier – than the movies that got credit for being funny this year (think: nessuno mi può giudicare) and I am at a loss for why it didn’t do better.