We’re getting Laura Bispuri’s Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin), Alberto Caviglia’s Pecore In Erba (Burning Love), and Piero Messina’s L’Attesa (The Wait), and…GREAT! But I want to see these ones here as well.
1.Senza Nessuna Pietà
Starring Pierfrancesco Favino as Mimmo, the self-loathing mafia debt collector who moonlights as a respectable mechanic. When his boss asks him to deliver Tania (Greta Scarano), the young call girl, his patience with his profession reaches a breaking point. America loves a good mafia story; this one would go over big here.
2. Italian Gangsters
Minus the obnoxious bravado and the specious celebrity status in many American Gangster stories, all that is left are guys who entered a life of crime, for the most part without any real intent or plan to so. One man’s first crime happened when he ended up robbing a store when a clerk mistakenly believed he was being robbed. “Is that how easy it is?”
You “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, and these bad guys don’t blame anyone but themselves for their misfortunes. A fatalistic outlook leaves them from longing from a life they could, or should have had.
3. La Bella Gente
La Bella Gente (Beautiful People) premiered during the Venice Days portion of the 2008 Venice Film Festival but due to distribution problems that I don’t understand and clearly had De Matteo at wit’s end, wasn’t released in Italy until 2015.
Privileged Alfredo and Susanna are on their way to their summer home in the Umbrian countryside and spot a young prostitute along the side of the road who is getting slapped around by her pimp. Susanna, a counselor for abused women, is determined to help Nadja, a teenager from Ukraine, and asks Alfredo to, basically, kidnap her and bring her back to the house.
Nadja is initially (understandably) freaked out, and tries to call her pimp for help, but as one does with a feral kitten found in the back yard, Alfredo and Susanna gently make her feel comfortable with them and convince her to stay. A bath, a civilized meal, and some new clothes magically and quickly transform her into a sweet and welcome house guest and the whole thing seems too good to be true.
4. Io E Lei
Starring Margherita Buy and Sabrina Ferilli, this is Italy’s first film about a lesbian couple.
5. Sangue Del Mio Sangue
This latest film from the master, Marco Bellocchio is spectacular in its ambiguity; it’s creepy, gorgeous, horrifying and funny all at once in both of the (parallel and yet not so parallel) stories that Bellocchio tells in it. For me, it’s his best ever.
6. Anything from Checco Zalone
Here me out. He’s clearly the most successful thing in Italian cinema today (I didn’t say BEST, I said SUCCESSFUL), and I would love to see what Americans thought of him. Would the humor translate? Let’s bring over Che Bella Giorata and find out.
When Checco starts his job as a security guard for the Duomo in Milan he causes big problems for the church turning away Buddhist monks and Muslims for dressing too weird – he tells them they can come back when they get a proper jacket and tie. But Checco’s not really the racist, misogynistic homophobe he seems to be – he just doesn’t know any better, and he’s willing to learn.
7. Latin Lover
My favorite from director Christine Comecini, Latin Lover is an absolutely adorable ensemble film, the best I’ve seen in a long time. Golden era film star Saverio Crispo has been dead for 10 years and his eclectic and complicated family has planned a memorial for him in his Puglian hometown. Crispo, who “left a lot outside of the scene”, collected wives, lovers, and children from all of his movies. Two widows and five daughters (six?) gathered for an uncomfortable family reunion in the family estate, rehashing old grievances and uncovering secrets.
8. Noi E La Giulia
It’s the Comedy of the Year according to the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists (Nastro D’Argento Best Comedy) and the foreign press (Italian Golden Globes, Best Comedy) and I’m not going to argue with them. Noi e la Giulia (The Giulia and us) deserves the accolades, but it isn’t laugh out loud, “rolling in the aisle” funny; in its own way it is inspirational, and a call to action for all of us who need to stand up and stand for something.
9. Anything from Paola Cortellesi
How can the most adorable comic actress in the world be so unknown in the United States? From Aldo Giovanni and Giacomo’s Tu La Conosci Claudia to Riccardo Milani’s Scusate Se Esisto, Italy’s sweetheart would be America’s too if we ever got to see any of her movies here!
10. Benvenuti Al Sud
I haven’t given up on this hilarious comedy from 2011 coming to the US. In it, Alberto is reluctantly heading for his new job near Naples. Because of the perceived crime, poverty and squalor he leaves Silvia and his son at home and tells them he’ll be back to visit every couple of weeks, but what he finds in his new home is not what he expected, of course, and his perceptions are challenged and changed.