Nicoletta Braschi

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The Monster (1994) Review


OK
I suppose that the problem with subtitled films is one of being literary. Sure, you can watch intelligent films until the cows come home, but the passerby on CNN's Showbiz Today said it best when he said "I don't like to read when I go to movies."

The fact is that most people don't like to read anymore. I am highly unusual in my affinity for the written word (I not only read books, but write them as a hobby), in my love of conversation as an art form. A small percentage of America likes that. This is the latter half of the 20th century. The information age where the only things that we like to read anymore are web pages. Our stories are told to us through movies. Our book reports are done courtesy of Cliffs (who, don't ask me why, did Slaughterhouse-Five, one of the easiest reads ever).

Continue reading: The Monster (1994) Review

Life is Beautiful Review


Excellent
I've been putting off this review for a long time. I saw it at Waterworks Cinemas in Pittsburgh about three weeks ago and haven't gotten around to reviewing it until now: three days after it won several academy awards. Why? Like with Saving Private Ryan, I have an incredible difficulty having my words do justice to this film.Life is Beautiful centers around Guido (Roberto Benigni), a Jewish waiter. The first half, a hilarious and uplifting story, concerns his wooing of Dora (Nicoltette Bruschi, real-life wife of Benigni), an upper-class girl engaged to a man she does not love. The second half, both terribly sad and terribly joyous, concerns Guido's, Dora's, and their son Joshua's internment at a death camp during WWII, during which Joshua is told by his father that "it is all a game" in order to emotionally shield him from the holocaust.In the opening of the movie, Benigni lets his comedic talents shine: the first scene seems directly derived from the classic comic bit about the brakes of a car failing, with a twist put in. As the car speeds through a village expecting the king and as Benigni tries to wave people out of the way, they wave back, mistaking him for their ruler. Very quickly the actual plot appears, when Dora and Guido meet while they are fixing the car's brakes at a farm. Dora has been stung by a wasp on the leg and Guido gallantly offers to suck the poison out.Watching these first scenes, you almost forget that the film's plot concerns the holocaust. Schindler's List bombarded you from frame one with harsh imagery, giving you a generally depressed feeling about it, but Life is Beautiful opts to take a comedic approach (no small effort) and makes you feel good instead. I would think that approach number two is the better one (not to call judgment on a better film), for Schindler's List drowns you in pessimism until the end, where as Life is Beautiful gives you a fair mix of optimism and realistic pessimism.The first half showcases brilliant screenwriting as each joke is more well-placed than the last, and often just as funny. Benigni is willing to do kid's humor of broken eggs in a hat, the adult humor of sucking the wasp' s venom out, and the tongue-in-cheek humor that dots Benigni's conversations with his uncle (Giustino Durano). Benigni and Bruschi draw on past collaboration with The Monster and Johnny Toothpick in order to create a near-perfect bond between the two.When the film hits phase two it seems to take an abrupt turn to the serious: the third scene you are greeted with has Joshua asking his father why a sign says "No Jews or Dogs". Even then, Guido tries to shield his son from the world around him by telling him that they just don't want Jews in their shop or Dogs in their shop, promising to place a sign in his shop tomorrow that says: "No Spiders or Visigoths."The next day, Guido and Joshua are shipped off to the concentration camp. Dora, unwilling to leave her husband, demands to be put on the train with them. Even inside of the camp, Guido is unwilling to inform his son that anything bad is happening. He tells him instead that the camp is part of an elaborate game. The object is to get a thousand points and the winner gets a real tank.Life is Beautiful is a strange contrast to the pessimism often seen in movies. For one, you love the characters so much that you want everything good for them, despite the circumstances. For two, you are given a positive message to leave with instead of a negative one. For three, the movie has the ability to make you laugh, smile, and cry, both from tears of joy and grief. Make sure you see it. If you can't watch it in theatres, then rent it when it comes out, but see it. See it because, as the movie will tell you, life truly is beautiful.Aka La Vita E Bella.

The Monster Review


OK
I suppose that the problem with subtitled films is one of being literary. Sure, you can watch intelligent films until the cows come home, but the passerby on CNN's Showbiz Today said it best when he said "I don't like to read when I go to movies."

The fact is that most people don't like to read anymore. I am highly unusual in my affinity for the written word (I not only read books, but write them as a hobby), in my love of conversation as an art form. A small percentage of America likes that. This is the latter half of the 20th century. The information age where the only things that we like to read anymore are web pages. Our stories are told to us through movies. Our book reports are done courtesy of Cliffs (who, don't ask me why, did Slaughterhouse-Five, one of the easiest reads ever).

Continue reading: The Monster Review

Mystery Train Review


Weak
Another oddity odyssey courtesy of Jim Jarmusch, Mystery Train is actually his first color film and hardly his best work. Following a triptych of stories in a sleepy, run-down Memphis hotel (the train itself is considerably less important to the story), while the movie has a number of gigglish moments, on the whole it's a disappointment of squandered story ideas that plod on without much happening. Pretty typical of Jarmusch's characters' on-screen chattiness.

Pinocchio (2002) Review


Grim
It's been about 20 years and some 130 pounds since I saw Disney's cartoon version of Pinocchio (based on Carlo Collodi's book). Though much has happened in that time, I remember adoring that movie. I also remember the lovable puppet not having a receding hairline, as well as not feeling like I was watching a community theater production.

In 2003, multiplex-bound parents and their kids have to settle for Roberto Benigni as the wooden puppet who longs to be a little boy. And I do mean settle. Watching Pinocchio, you almost forget that this is the same guy behind the moving, wonderful Life is Beautiful.

Continue reading: Pinocchio (2002) Review

Down By Law Review


Excellent
American independent director Jim Jarmusch leaped onto the world cinema stage with the idiosyncratic deadpan road movie Stranger than Paradise in 1984 and then followed it up with the equally distinctive prison break movie Down by Law in 1986.

Down by Law became an immediate cult hit partly because of its pokey humor style but also because it starred musicians Tom Waits and John Lurie along side upstart Italian comedian Roberto Benigni - who is so over-the-top he really revs up the film's expressionless tempo.

Continue reading: Down By Law Review

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