America's Cheerleader For Italian Cinema

The Best Italian Directors of the 21st Century – Paolo Sorrentino

Paolo Sorrentino with Sean Penn

You know those people that haven’t been inside a movie theater in twenty years except for maybe an occasional Orson Welles retrospective? It’s elitist to say that there are no good modern American films, and it’s no different with Italian ones.

We can watch The Bicycle Thief and La Dolce Vita over and over and mourn the death of Italy’s “golden” film era with Fellini and De Sica movie marathons or we can can venture into the 21st century and see what’s happening now in Italian cinema. For the next few days, I’m going to be talking about the directors that are changing the face of Italian movie making.

Paolo Sorrentino

Paolo Sorrentino’s got a closet full of awards including 2 wins and 4 more nominations at Cannes, and the Nastro d’argento for best director for the 2011 This Must Be The Place, a movie that in many ways changes the way the world thinks of Italian cinema.

In 2008 he gave us the very slick and smart Il Divo, and now 42-year-old Paolo Sorrentino is on the verge of something really big with his English language This Must Be The Place. Set to be released in the US in November, strategically  just in time for the Academy Awards, there is already Oscar buzz around this film.

This Must Be The Place stars Sean Penn and Frances McDormand and is the story of an aging rock star that leaves his home in Ireland to go on a Nazi hunt in the US. Sorrentino, who came up with the story and wrote the screenplay,got the dialogue and American references so perfectly that you’d never guess that English was not his first language. With a super cool soundtrack by David Byrne and expert cinematography from the very accomplished Luca Bigazzi (Il Divo, Kryptonite Nella Borsa, Giulia Non Esce La Sera, La Siciliana, just to name a few) This Must Be The Place is a movie that will get noticed all over the world.

Remember, even with American actors speaking English in a decidedly American road trip backdrop, this is an Italian movie, written, directed, produced by Italians with an Italian crew, and a movie that Italy should be very proud of.

Up next for Sorrentino is La Grande Bellezza,a portrait of today’s Rome and the story of an aging journalist, bitterly remembering his lost youth and starring Toni Servillo and Carlo Verdone. 

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