It’s not that I don’t understand a mediocre movie that is very popular – that stuff happens all the time. I could not wait to watch The Hangover because so many people had told me that it was hilarious, and it was OK, but it wasn’t going to win any academy awards and everybody knew that. It’s what we in the US call “fluff”.
But in Italy they don’t seem to be able to separate the serious from the fluff, and they nominate mediocre movies for awards , giving the impression that these mediocre movies are the best the country has to offer.
Exhibit A: Nessuno mi può giudicare. It got ten award nominations and won five of them, including a best comedy award from the Italian National Syndicate of FIlm Journalists and a David di Donatello best actress award for Paola Cortellesi, so I when my DVD finally arrived from Italy it was The Hangover all over again. This time, however, it wasn’t a bunch of friends and coworkers with low movie standards telling me “You gotta watch this movie!” , it was the National Syndicate of Film Journalists and the Accademia del Cinema Italiano that had misled me. This movie is just OK – how was it so celebrated? Starring Raoul Bova and Cortellesi, two extremely attractive actors, it’s the story of a mom whose husband dies and has to turn to prostitution to pay off some big debts her husband left her with and to make ends meet. They gave it the English title “Escort in Love” and almost sent it to Hollywood as Italy’s submission for best foreign language film – thank god they settled on Terraferma instead!
The thing I don’t understand is this: So Cristina Comencini gets a “no children allowed” rating for her film Quando La Notte because it puts mothers in a bad light (the mom is postpartum depressed and in danger of hurting her child) – but Nessuno mi può giudicare’s OK? It’s not OK to show a normal, mom with a normal problem but a “comedy” about a mom hooker is just fine?
It’s a lightweight comedy with a kind of depressing concept – I don’t understand all the praise it got.
Another film that I could not wait to come out on DVD – Notizie degli scavi. It stars Giuseppe Battiston, one of my favorites from Pane e Tulipani, and everybody was raving about it. It won two Italian Golden Globe awards, for best screenplay and best director and – your honor, I object! The screenplay is maddeningly tedious and the direction is sluggish and obtuse.
The thing that annoys me the most about this movie is that it had so much potential and director Emidio Greco wrecked it – he took Battiston, one of Italy’s finest actors and a good story (guy with developmental problems living in a whore house doing odd jobs becomes friends with a suicidal prostitute) and makes a big mess. And then Italy applauds the mess. Go figure. This one was being considered to be sent to the Academy Awards too.
I’m not telling Italians what to like – I didn’t tell my friends in America that they were stupid for liking The Hangover. It’s when movies like The Hangover start getting academy award nominations, that’s when I’ll start complaining.