Marco Leonardi

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Cinema Paradiso Trailer


Salvatore Di Vita is an Italian film director who has nursed a passion for film ever since he was a boy. As a youngster, he learned how to operate the projector at the movie house Cinema Paradiso from the paternal projectionist at the time, Alfredo. As time went on, he continued to spent every free moment there before meeting a girl, Elena, who he fell in love with. As the stars would have it, however, they were torn apart and Salvatore left his hometown to pursue his lifelong film ambition elsewhere. Having not had contact with Alfredo for several years, he hears news of his death and subsequently discovers a priceless gift left to him by Alfredo.

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Like Water for Chocolate Review


Good
Remember the furor in 1993 when Like Water for Chocolate hit American screens? It went on to be, at the time, one of the biggest foreign films ever, and nary a woman would be seen in public without a copy of Laura Esquivel's novel/cookbook under her arm.

Today, Chocolate seems virtually forgotten. Once-rising star Lumi Cavazos? Now faded into near-oblivion. Still, remembering the subtle power of the film and its, ahem, magic chef makes you realize this was a truly good flick for its time. On pure heart, Chocolate had a little bit for everybody. But what was it really all about? Damned if I can remember.

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Cinema Paradiso Review


Excellent
In one of the more puzzling DVD reissues ever comes Cinema Paradiso: The New Version (note it's not called "The Director's Cut" -- in fact this is really the "old version," as the cuts were made to make the film more palatable to U.S. audiences), which takes a sweet two hour production and turns it into an overwhelming three hour movie, which is far more paradiso than anyone really needs. Frankly, the cuts were understandable. And it won Best Foreign Film at the 1989 Oscars... what more do you want?

After all, what was wrong with the short version? Never saccharine, this love affair with the movies is a simple film. Poor, young boy befriends older (yet uneducated) projectionist in his small Sicilian town, learns the ropes, and grows older and wiser with his pal by his side. Eventually, there's romance (no, not between these two). There's war. There's departure. It's like three coming of age stories in one! They're all well produced, subtle, and tender. Unless you truly have no heart, you can't help but enjoy the film.

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Cinema Paradiso Review


OK

I've never seen a movie rereleased in a director's cut with as many alterations as "Cinema Paradiso -- The New Version."

An international box-office smash and a winner of an Oscar, a Cannes Special Jury Prize and literally dozens of other awards, you'd think nobody would want to mess with this sentimental favorite about the life of love and loss lived by movie-obsessed little boy who practically grew up in the projection booth of a Sicilian village cinema.

But writer-director Guiseppe Tornatore has 52 minutes of restored footage and an entirely different, mood-altering last act he'd like to show you.

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Once Upon A Time In Mexico Review


Grim

"Desperado," the second eye-poppingly stylish and unabashedly outlandish B-movie in Robert Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" shoot-'em-up trilogy, is one of my all-time favorite action movies, in part because it has its priorities straight: The plot was simple -- a nameless mariachi avenges his girlfriend's murder with a guitar case full of semi-automatic weapons and an endless supply of ammunition -- and the action was non-stop and over-the-top.

Antonio Banderas cut an imposing, mysterious, hell-bent, dangerous and dead sexy figure in his long hair, implacable glower and black suede bandito get-up -- complete with jangling spurs -- as he performed a limber slow-motion ballet of body-twisting, two-fisted gunfire while dodging hails of bullets from evil drug-runners. And all this was set to a steamy, dynamic south-of-the-border score by the great guitaristas of Los Lobos.

But in the new installment, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," writer-director-editor-composer Rodriguez pollutes the action -- which is uncharacteristically erratic, incongruous and over-edited -- with a needlessly convoluted plot involving 1) a thorny coup attempt against the Mexican president backed by a cartel kingpin (Willem Dafoe) and his turncoat henchman (Mickey Rourke), 2) a crooked and borderline-loco CIA agent (Johnny Depp) playing both sides against the middle, 3) a former FBI agent (Ruben Blades) frustrated with not nailing the kingpin before his retirement, 4) a curvaceous, gung-ho greenhorn federale (Eva Mendez) with ulterior motives, and 5) yet another murder, played out in fantasized-action flashbacks, that the mariachi is out to avenge.

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The Five Senses Review


OK

Canadian writer-director Jeremy Podeswa assigned himself a daunting task when he stepped behind the camera to make "The Five Senses": Create a five-dimensional world of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, in the two dimensional medium of film.

The resulting picture is penetrating metaphorical cinema that immerses the viewer in its characters' often internalized loneliness, anxiety, desire, shame and insecurity by watching them misunderstand, embrace and/or rediscover senses we often take for granted through five well-conceived, inter-connected narratives, one for each sense.

Richard (Philippe Volter) is a middle-aged French optometrist who has learned he is slowly going deaf. He makes a list of every sound he wants committed to memory before it's too late and sets out to record them in his mind. He calls his estranged wife's house just to hear his daughter answer the phone, and he becomes mesmerized while eavesdropping on a neighbor through heating ducts in his office floorboards.

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