Roberto Benigni

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To Rome With Love Review


Good
After Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen remains in a cheery European mode for another breezy comedy tinged with magical realism. This one's actually four separate stories that are very loosely interwoven as people struggle with the unpredictability of romance and fame. And like Midnight in Paris, it shows off Rome in the most beautiful light imaginable.

Baldwin plays an architect who returns to his student stomping grounds and meets Jack (Eisenberg), who seems to be living his old life, even as he falls for a friend (Page) of his girlfriend (Gerwig). Meanwhile, there's Leopoldo (Benigni), a dull businessman who suddenly becomes a celebrity for no reason he can see, is pursued everywhere by the paparazzi and starts to enjoy the high life. Across town, Jerry and Phyllis (Allen and Davis) arrive to meet the fiance (Parenti) of their daughter (Pill). Then Jerry pushes a future in-law (Armiliato) into becoming the latest opera sensation. Finally, a young couple arrives from the country to start a new life in the city, but the husband (Tiberi) ends up having a farcical day out with a sexy prostitute (Cruz) while the wife (Mastronardi) meets her favourite actor (Albanese).

Continue reading: To Rome With Love Review

To Rome With Love Trailer


Woody Allen takes us on a romp around yet another beautiful European city with his latest film To Rome With Love. Set in one of the most beautiful and romantic cites in the world (unsurprisingly) Rome, the film is broken down into four parts and the tale follows the escapades and relationships of holiday makers and local residents alike, each story individually unravels and gives us a glimpse into their -generally complicated & quirky- lives.

Continue: To Rome With Love Trailer

Video - Woody Allen and Robert Benigni Get Round Of Applause in Rome


Woody Allen and the comedian Roberto Benigni getting a warm round of applause after filming a scene from new movie 'Bop Decameron' in Rome, Italy. Woody and co were shooting in a local barber shop, before greeting fans on the street afterwards.

Allen's last movie, 'Midnight in Paris' opened the Cannes Film Festival in May 2011. The romantic-comedy followed a young engaged couple, played by OWEN WILSON and RACHEL MCADAMS, who travel to the French capital for business

Video - Woody Allen Shoots Bop Decameron On The Streets Of Rome


Woody Allen, the acclaimed American filmmaker, spotted shooting his new movie 'The Bop Decameron' on the streets of Rome. Wearing his trademark spectacles and bucket hat, Woody is seen chatting with actor Robert Benigni and other members of the cast.

The movie, thought to be a contemporary adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio's 'The Decameron', stars Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and Allen himself. It is the director's first acting role since the 2006 comedy/murder mystery 'Scoop', with Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman

Night on Earth Review


Good
Riding around five shaded cityscapes in four different countries, Jim Jarmusch's nocturnal delight Night on Earth has the esteem of being the auteur's most accessible exercise to date while also being his least seen. After its premiere at the 29th New York Film Festival, this set of through-the-windshield vignettes was picked up for a short theatrical run in May of 1992 before it was released on VHS and only released on DVD in foreign markets (Australia put out two separate editions). That was until those noblest practitioners of cinephilia over at Criterion took a special interest in Jarmusch, releasing both Earth and his 1984 opus Stranger Than Paradise, which also includes the director's fascinating debut feature Permanent Vacation.

Throughout the course of one night, we are driven around in five separate taxi cabs that range from familiar ports of L.A. and New York City to the echoing streets of Paris and Rome to the final ride through the frozen-over metropolis of Helsinki, right as the sun is rising. In Los Angeles, a big-time agent (Gena Rowlands) tries to seduce her rough-and-tumble cab driver (an insolent Winona Ryder) into becoming an actress. While in New York, a jerky Brooklynite (the superb Giancarlo Esposito) teaches his German cab driver (Armin Mueller-Stahl) how to drive, talk, and jive correctly while also trying to escort his sister-in-law (Rosie Perez) home.

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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

Son of the Pink Panther Review


Terrible
As unmemorable as Ted Wass was in Curse of the Pink Panther, Roberto Benigni is positively awful as the lead in this even-iller-advised sequel. It's hard to believe that Benigni would be snagging an Oscar a mere four years later. Here he shows no trace of any depth or sincerity, or really any talent of any kind.

You can guess from the title what's up here: Clouseau is long gone, and Maria Gambrelli (from A Shot in the Dark) has moved on with her life. Add in a kidnapped princess and police commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom, impossibly still alive) who stumble into Maria's world. Then throw in Clouseau's long-lost son, the idiotic Jacques Cambrelli, who is, yes, Maria's offspring.

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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

Coffee And Cigarettes Review


Weak
Coffee and cigarettes. What is it about this magical combination of caffeine and cancer that's so irresistible to millions of café and pub patrons around the world? Despite its title, don't go looking to Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes for the answer. A series of vignettes populated by an all-star cast of actors and musicians, the film has the laid-back attitude of its tobacco-smoking, java-gulping protagonists, each of whom spends his screen time ruminating on a host of arbitrary issues involving class, race, and physics. However, like its central delicacy, Jarmusch's comedy is apt to provide a slight, delectable buzz but little nutritional value.

Jarmusch enlists a diverse cast of indie stars and former colleagues for this modest ensemble, but his uncharacteristically wheezy writing frequently undermines the film's wry humor. Cate Blanchett, in a dual performance, plays an arrogant version of herself as well as her skuzzy, jealous cousin, but the piece's portrait of jealousy and resentment loses steam after you become accustomed to seeing the actress talk to herself. Similarly, The White Stripes' Meg and Jack White provide a brief lesson on inventor Nikola Tesla's Tesla Coil, but save for the creepy, Mao Tse-tung-inspired portrait of Lee Marvin hanging on the wall behind them, the skit is nothing more than an overly long non sequitur. And even a brief appearance by Steve Buscemi can't rescue an insipid bit about two argumentative African-American twins talking racial politics in a Memphis diner.

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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.

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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.

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Fellini: I'm A Born Liar Review


Good
Damian Pettigrew's Fellini: I'm a Born Liar is a good documentary that features a terrific firsthand interview with the great Italian director Federico Fellini and a good number of other interviews with those who worked with him to create some of the best films of his career.

It is structured mainly to give us Fellini's philosophical take on making movies and the psychology of the creative process. Fellini provides a ton of great quotes, such as, "The instant I begin to work, a mysterious invader that I don't know takes over the whole show," and, "The greatest danger for an artists is total freedom." And, more to the point of his method perhaps, "Psychologically the artist is an offender. He has a childish need to offend. And to be able to offend you need a parent, a headmaster, a high priest, the police..."

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Coffee & Cigarettes Review


OK

Not unlike his cigar-shop patter with Harvey Keitel in "Blue in the Face," the great American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch has now released a feature length collection of café-style conversation. It consists of eleven semi-fictional segments, the first three of which were released as short films in 1986, 1989 and 1993 respectively. In each, various agents of cool meet at cafes for the title beverage and its symbiotic smokes.

The participants can be as well known as Stephen Wright, Roberto Benigni, Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Cinque and Joie Lee, Steve Buscemi, Steve Coogan, Alfred Molina, Bill Murray, the RZA and the GZA, or, like the gorgeous Renee French, they can be unknown to everyone except Jarmusch and a small cache of insiders. No less a talent than Cate Blanchett appears opposite herself, playing both a movie star and the movie star's lesser-known cousin.

Nothing much holds the eleven segments together, other than their luscious black-and-white photography -- shot by several different cinematographers over the years -- that only emphasizes the eternal coolness of smart people sitting around and talking about nothing. Certain lines of dialogue pop up more than once, and more often than not the talkers don't really connect on either a verbal or spiritual level; most of the conversations are lively disagreements. None of the world's problems gets solved.

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Roberto Benigni

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