Emanuele Crialese

Emanuele Crialese

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Golden Door Review


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The immigrant experience in the United States is typically viewed through two particularly rosy set of historical glasses. The first version pits strong-willed foreigners against the elements to hear freedom's sweet, sweet ring. The other offers gritty, no-nonsense realism highlighting the mighty struggles (both personal and logistical) of picking up ancestral stakes and starting a new life elsewhere. Somewhere in the middle of these competing conceits is Nuovomondo (translation: "New World," but now known as Golden Door), a fascinating if ultimately flawed film by Italian director Emanuele Crialese. By combining a dour portrait of migrant misadventures with flights of slightly surrealistic fantasy, we are supposed to see both sides of the issue. Instead, the battling approaches cancel each other out, resulting in an effort that fails to resonate emotionally.

When we first meet the Mancuso boys -- oldest son Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) and the younger Angelo -- they are climbing up the side of a Sicilian peak, their mouths laden with rocks. As part of some arcane, unexplained ritual, the brothers are seeking a sign as to whether to travel to America. When Salvatore's deaf mute son Pietro shows up, photos of the new world in hand, the images of gigantic produce and money-stocked trees settle the debate. Grabbing his resistant mother and a pair of promised brides, they make their way from the country to the sea, where they must endure the elaborate (and corrupt) process of finding passage. During their trials, Salvatore meets a proper English woman named Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Rumored to be anything from royalty to a prostitute, one thing is certain: The lady needs a husband to help her gain access at Ellis Island. After refusing the advances of a marriage broker (the late Vincent Schiavelli), she sets her sights on Salvatore.

Continue reading: Golden Door Review

Respiro Review


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We're meant to wonder if a brazen Valeria Golino is just eccentric or truly insane -- but Respiro is too slight to make us inquire too deeply. The film, which vaguely attacks tradition in rural Italy, focuses too much on Golino's nearly-naked kids and their antics than anything she does, to the detriment of our attention span, as the film takes an eternity to get going. Give it a whirl, but what might have been a sunny look at life on the rocky shores of Italy comes off as deeply depressing and a little confused.
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