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Amarcord Review


Extraordinary
The problem with puberty, above all the sexual frustration and general malaise, is that you become an unavoidable know-it-all. It's an element of discovery: Whenever you discover something for the first time, you automatically think you have it over on everyone else, until you finally realize that everyone else figured it out before you or exactly when you did. Federico Fellini's Amarcord has a deep love for that feeling of discovery, of that brash cockiness, and realizes that nothing can really subdue this feeling. Not even World War II.

In a strange little town in Italy, a pack of boys, led by Titta (Bruno Zanin) live in the eccentric world of sex, family and war. Titta's ant-fascist parents are only the tip of the Iceberg. His uncle lodges himself in a tree and cries out to the heavens and anyone listening "I want a woman!" while his friends and him pee through tubes for pranks, take part in circle jerks, and fantasize about the local beauty, Gradisca. His father gets interrogated by Mussolini's soldiers to the point where he defecates himself, and the local shopkeeper, with a bust the size of most family sedans, gives him his first sexual encounter (presumably also the strangest he'll ever encounter). I'm leaving out the peacock, the speed racers, the nympho who lives by the sea, and the plucky narrator.

Continue reading: Amarcord Review

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.

Continue reading: Cinema Paradiso Review

Amarcord Review


Good
Fellini's Amarcord is a loving portrayal of small-town life in 1930s Rimini, Italy just as he remembered it, from the perspective of a delinquent teenager. The film is full of oddball characters, busty shopkeepers, creepy schoolteachers, pompous priests, crazy family members, a trashy hooker, and of course, Il Duce. Our young hero and his friends rake the muck, naive of an impending WWII and without a care in the world. As such, it's the more fanciful and lighthearted first half of the film (obviously a big inspiration for some of Woody Allen's work) that works the best. By the time Fellini has a dwarf nun chasing an uncle up a tree, a fog-shrounded city, and a weeding reception in the middle of nowhere, the charm has worn off considerably.

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.

Continue reading: Cinema Paradiso Review

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