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My Brother Is An Only Child Review


OK
Scripted by Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia, the duo behind 2005's commendable The Best of Youth, Italian director Daniele Luchetti's awkwardly-titled My Brother Is an Only Child starts off in a very odd place before being coaxed back to familiar environs. In telling the story of two brothers on feuding sides of the political spectrum in 1960s Italy, Luchetti begins on the side of pro-Il Duce fascism before getting wrapped up in his own tempered version of post-collegiate radicalism.

Young Accio (Vittorio Emanuele Propizio) yearns for the priesthood, but not as much as his young body yearns for the bodies of Italian movie actresses, whom he discovers through small photos. When he can't get a straight cure from the clerics, Accio goes secular and takes up a kindred cause: fascism. His older brother Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) is celebrated by their parents for causing a riot at work under the banner of communism and unionization, but a teenaged Accio, played by the talented Elio Germano, takes chastisement at every turn for his loyalty to the ways of Mussolini.

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Don't Move Review


Unbearable
In the pantheon of ludicrous, offensive, and idiotic dramatic ideas, few can rival the narrative axis of Sergio Castellitto's Don't Move, in which heart-stopping romance and chest-heaving passion spring from deliberate, violent rape. Preposterous whenever it's not embarrassingly mawkish and manipulative, this Italian import concerns Timoteo (Castellitto), an unhappily married surgeon, and the budding affair he begins with filthy, impoverished cocktail waitress Italia (Penélope Cruz) after he - believe it or not - repeatedly sexually assaults her over the course of a few weeks. Yet love blossoms from such brutality because, as Castellitto's film would somehow have us believe, Timoteo's crime - not exactly romanticized, but nonetheless presented with something less than condemnation - is just a cry for help, a cathartic expulsion of the anger and anguish created by his loveless life. Thus, when he physically forces himself upon the innocent Italia (her name simply one of many instances of unsubtle symbolism), he's not a cretinous predator to be loathed or vilified but, rather, a pitiful man trying to find himself.

Turned off yet? If not, then Castellitto's wealth of ostentatious slow-motion shots, employment of cheesy pop songs, and disgusting, exploitive use of a critically wounded young girl for his film's framing story, will undoubtedly do the trick. Adapted from Margaret Mazzantini's novel, Don't Move layers on cheap sentiment and shamelessly calculating plot twists without even a sidewise glance toward rationality. Timoteo's teenage daughter suffers serious head trauma in a motorcycle accident, and while waiting to hear word of her grave condition, Timoteo spies a mysterious figure on the hospital promenade who conjures memories of his beloved Italia, whom he not only loved and planned to run away with (wife and brand new baby be damned), but whom he credits for having healed his tortured soul. As embodied by Castellitto, Timoteo is the kind of misery-relishing sad-sack who enjoys prolonged, empty stares into nothingness, and his behavior is so ridiculous - including one screamingly silly moment when he writes "I Raped A Woman" in the sand while his wife ignorantly saunters by - that it's hard to envisage him as anything less than an absurdly overblown fictional creation. Watching him act forlornly in a dreary bar (in slow-motion, naturally) while Europe's "The Final Countdown" blares from the jukebox is to witness the eye-rolling height of bizarre unintentional comedy.

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Tea With Mussolini Review


Excellent
When I walked into the theater to see this film, I thought to myself, "Why am I seeing this movie? I have no interest in seeing it and I won't like it." Surly enough during the first ten minutes of the film, my preconceived notion was correct. It was a 'chick flick', case closed. But then the movie turned and started to appeal to me. I was really getting into it, and really absorbing the true story it was unfolding.

Tea with Mussolini focuses on the life of a boy named Luca, who is director Franco Zefferelli's alter ego. In Florence 1935, young Luca's mother is dead, and he is an orphan. Although Lucas wealthy father lives near by, he has no time for children. The father's English secretary Mary Wallace (Joan Plowright) sees the unjust way Luca is being raised in the orphanage. As a result she takes him in. Along with Mary's group of English tea time friends known as The Scorpioni, Luca is taught many things. He learns to appreciate art through the nutty, yet lovable artist Arabella (Dame Judi Dench). He learns of Shakespeare and culture from his guardian Mary, and learns how to behave as a gentleman through the other members of The Scorpioni.

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Ripley's Game Review


Good
Did this movie ever come out theatrically? I would have at least thought it would have found its way here on video, but no, I discovered Ripley's Game on IFC, of all places. This follow-up to The Talented Mr. Ripley (no cast or crew involved, but it's based on another Patricia Highsmith book (the third of five) about Tom Ripley) stars John Malkovich in the role of the older Ripley, this time working as a forged art dealer and relatively callous, spare-time murderer. Ripley convinces a dying man (Dougray Scott) to commit a murder for him, after which all hell breaks loose. Malkovich steals the show and director Liliana Cavani (The Night Porter) does a perfectly serviceable job. See also The American Friend -- Malkovich makes a way better Ripley than Dennis Hopper.

I'm Not Scared Review


Excellent
From the moment the phrase Io Non Ho Paura (I'm Not Scared) appears, scrawled on a rock wall during the opening credits, until the final indelible fade-to-black when it appears once more, Italian director Gabriele Salvatores presents an eloquent coming-of-age tale about a young boy with uncommon courage.

The boy is Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano), a creative, inquisitive youngster who lives with his parents and kid sister in a rural rundown village on the outskirts of nowhere. He roams the gorgeous arid fields with his friends, and then rushes home to eat dinner and arm-wrestle his father. It appears that Dad is away for chunks of time, but neither Michele nor the audience gets enough information to fill in the blanks.

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