Hate subtitles? You can still explore some great films by Italian filmmakers.
Check out two from director Paolo Sorrentino, Youth, and This Must Be The Place.
Two aging buddies, Mick, a director, played by Harvey Keitel, and Fred, a composer played by Michael Cane, on holiday together. Both understand that their time on earth is limited, but they are handling their old age in different ways; Fred seems indifferent and lethargic, facing each day with a weary resignation. Mick, however, is working on his masterpiece, his “testament”, with a group of young screenwriters with the enthusiasm of a younger man. In an ironic twist, there’s a third rewrite of the script and everybody including the producers are happy, but the writers still can’t come up with a way to end the film, but Mick’s not worrying about it.
Youth is absolutely gorgeous, but not just visually. The dialogue is sensual overload for a conversation lover like me, and you get lost in the richness of the soundtrack . I watched the film three times in a row and each time I heard something new, a word or phrase that made me stop and consider its meaning for me.
Sorrentino is a master at castings his complicated stories, and here, he adds Rachel Weisz as Fred’s daughter and Jane Fonda, in a role that only the bravest of aging actresses would agree to. Keitel, Cane, and Dano are so natural and believable in their roles, and Sorrentino has given humor to their characters, rescuing the film from becoming just one more brooding film searching for the meaning of life.
This Must Be The Place
Cheyenne, played by Sean Penn, is a bored, aging rock star that lives off his royalties in a mansion outside Dublin. When he learns that his father is dying he travels to America (on a cruise ship – he’s afraid to fly) but he arrives too late; his father has died. He hadn’t talked to his father in thirty years because he, years ago, decided that his father didn’t love him. He’s told what his father had been doing with himself all that time, hunting the nazi war criminal that had humiliated him at Auschwitz. With little apparent thought to what he will do if he finds this Nazi, Cheyenne sets out on a road trip across America to finish his father’s work.
The road trip itself is very entertaining, and I would have enjoyed it even if it had been only just a random vacation that Cheyenne was taking with no mission driving him. His interactions with the old lady school teacher, the waitress, and all of the others that he comes across (the ones that aren’t afraid to talk to him with his vintage “The Cure” hair, makeup, goth clothes and black painted toenails) are important to him and to us, even if the reason for the importance is unclear. It may have been more than enough – the story of an estranged son on a Nazi hunt on his father’s behalf, but it almost surely has as much to do with the son’s last-ditch effort for his father’s approval and his own validation. After a few days on his American adventure Cheyenne begins to wake up from his semi-comatose existence and says:
“You have to choose a moment in your life not to be afraid”.
“And have you chosen that moment?”, he’s asked.
“Yes. This one.”
La Migliore Offerta (The Best Offer) is available now, but we’ll have to wait for Giuseppe Tornatore’s ‘The Correspondence.’
Il Migliore Offerta (The Best Offer)
Geoffrey Rush plays Virgil Oldman, a rich, famous, talented, and unscrupulous art auctioneer and collector whose elitism combined with OCD tendencies make for a solitary but apparently satisfying existence. His joy in life is his secret stash of portraits, women’s portraits from every era and genre. He’s acquired them dishonestly with no apparent remorse; his narcissism leaves no room for the sympathy he should be feeling for the people he’s cheated in the world in which he is so respected.
When he’s contacted by an heiress with some art that she’s interested in selling he’s at first annoyed that she’ll only talk to him on the phone, then intrigued, and finally infatuated with the mystery surrounding her. In Oldman’s eyes, she’s the perfect woman; beautiful, contained, and something to acquire. His relationship with her and two other new friends change his world and open it up in ways he never could have imagined.
La Corrispondenza (The Correspondence), coming soon to the US, stars Jeremy Irons.
Il Racconto Dei Racconti (Tale of Tales)
Five things you should know about Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales:
It 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.
It is oddly relevant to today’s society, with plenty of morals to the stories, the ones our parents wanted to get when they read us to us as children.
Naomi is a beautiful young Japanese woman who has lost custody of Ken, her six-year-old son and she’s been given four days aboard her ex-husband’s luxurious yacht “to say goodbye”. But right away we can see that without visitation rights, this is more than just a goodbye, it’s meant to expunge her from her son’s life and to nobody is on her side, no one pities her, and her feelings are of no consequence. Everyone aboard (including little Ken, unfortunately), as been informed that she’s not to be trusted.
From director Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli ,watch for this one at film festivals.