Good news, Italian film lovers: 2015 has been the best year ever, but 2016 looks equally promising.
L’Attesa (The Wait)
Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired the U.S. rights.
Director Piero Messina is the definition of prodigy; he started making films when he was 16, was assistant producer to the master, Paolo Sorrentino, when he was in his twenties, and managed to snag Juliette Binoche and Lou de Laage for his directorial debut.
There was no choice, he told me, he wanted Binoche for his first film, desiring “the best”. It wasn’t until she agreed to be in the film that Piero said to himself, “F*ck! She’s French! She’s a problem!” But as the Laotian proverb says, If you like things easy, you’ll have difficulties; if you like problems, you’ll succeed.” Messina knew full well that if Binoche was a problem, she was a happy, gorgeous one.
In the exquisitely tragic L’Attesa, Binoche plays Anna, a mother in mourning who receives an unexpected guest; Jeanne (Lou de Laâge), Anna’s son’s girlfriend, arrives for the Easter holiday and hasn’t heard the news. She enters the darkened Sicilian villa; mirrors are covered and everybody’s in black. She’s clearly confused and concerned, but she’s told that Anna’s brother has died.
Why the lie? Anna stubbornly keeps up the ruse in a desperate attempt to pretend that it isn’t true. As she assures Jeanne that her son will arrive soon, she can put off the horrifying days the lie ahead, the worst nightmare for any mother. Binoche, though a French actress playing a woman born in France, is, here, a Sicilian Mamma to the core, and her stoic intensity pairs with the film’s, at times, dizzyingly strung-out tone.
Il Racconto Dei Racconti (Tale of Tales) will be released in the US by IFC Films on April 22.
Of all the great Italian films that came out in 2015, and it has been by far the best year since I’ve started keeping track, Matteo Garrone’s English language ‘Tale of Tales’ was probably the most fun. I only wish I could have seen it in a movie theater, with popcorn and my traditional diet coke but no matter, it was still an incredibly satisfying movie experience.
I’d forgotten how much I loved being told a good fairy tale, and this one is GORGEOUS. The cinematography is dreamy and creepy, with wild bursts of color and imagination.It is exciting and even scary, with monsters. ogres, and witches popping out around every corner.
It has the most incredible cast, with Selma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, John C. Reilly, and Alba Rohrwacher.
Maraviglioso Boccaccio (Wondrous Boccaccio)
Available for members of Film Movement on February 1 (for members).
The Taviani brothers, Paolo and Vittorio, brings us tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron that they’ve taken and made their own. And just take a look at the cast! Lello Arena, Paola Cortellesi, Carolina Crescentini, Flavio Parenti, Vittoria Puccini, Michele Riondino, Kim Rossi Stuart, Riccardo Scamarcio, Kasia Smutniak, and Jasmine Trinca!
Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin)
Director Laura Bispuri has promised to tell us the date, but says it will be early 2016.
Hana (played by Alba Rohrwacher) is dictated by the tradition of her northern Albanian homeland. There, women can’t hold a man’s job, smoke, drink, or carry firearms, UNLESS, they give up their femininity. For a variety of different reasons (and I am guessing homosexuality is one of them) women can renounce their gender, and live as men, but they must swear to remain virgins.
This practice is clearly disappearing, because even Albanians I have spoken to haven’t heard of it, but it’s an actual thing. In Sworn Virgin, Hana isn’t a lesbian; she just wants to drink and shoot guns. More than that, she wants the right to do those things just like the boys can.