Sharply well-made and powerfully performed, this Italian drama weaves together three perspectives to explore a mystery that's so involving that it pushes the central theme about the value of a human life into the background. Of course financial issues are far less interesting than personal drama, but even if the message is rather muddled, this is an involving low-key dramatic thriller that has a lot to say about human ambition.
The story is told in three chapters, as the same six months are seen through three perspectives. First, Dino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) is struggling financially when he realises that his daughter Serena (Matilde Gioli) is dating Massimiliano (Guglielmo Pinelli), son of noted hedge fund manager Giovanni (Fabrizio Gifuni). So Dino illicitly borrows cash to make an investment, then is shocked when the economy crashes just as his wife (Valeria Golino) gets pregnant. Second, Giovanni's wife Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) convinces her husband to let her restore an abandoned local theatre, then she has an unexpected spark of romance with her artistic director (Luigi Lo Cascio). And third, Serena doesn't actually want romance with Massimiliano, and after telling him she just wants to be friends she meets Luca (Giovanni Anzaldo), a poor guy who isn't the thug everyone thinks he is.
All of this builds up to a fateful event witnessed in the film's prologue (and settled in the epilogue), letting each of the three strands intersect and interact in surprising ways. As the story is revealed from different angles, new truths emerge about the interplay between people from the upper, middle and lower classes - from the obscenely privileged who can buy their way out of anything to those who never seem to get a break. And the complex script never draws moral lines in the expected places, allowing the characters to continually surprise us with their reactions.
Continue reading: Human Capital Review
Valeria Golino, Lucrezia Rovere, Riccardo Scamarcio and Paul Haggis Nastassja Kinski - Ischia Global Fest 2013 - Day 3 - at Gala Dinner at restaurant Rancio Fellone - Ischia, Italy - Monday 15th July 2013
A self-proclaimed thriller "in the tradition of The Spanish Prisoner and Reservoir Dogs," Spanish Judges is more akin to Death Wish 3 than either of the aforementioned films.
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It starts off bad enough. As the credits announce the four writer/directors (Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino), a cartoon sequence plays over them, in the tradition of cinematic masterpieces like Mannequin. This sets the stage: New Year's Eve at Hollywood's Mon Signor Hotel and only one bellhop (Tim Roth), and believe me, it's a rillyrilly wacky place. The film then launches into the first of four 30ish-minute shorts, one by each director.
Continue reading: Four Rooms Review
Why didn't this movie find more success? I dunno, maybe it has something to do with the fact that there are two scenes of women sitting on the toilet in the first 20 minutes. Or it could be that it's too chatty, too meandering, and too random to ever really engage the viewer. Whatever, I still don't know what I'm supposed to be able to tell, you know, just by looking at her.
Continue reading: Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Review
Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) is a "high level" autistic man living in a mental hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. When his father dies, he inherits $3 million, much to his brother's dismay. Raymond's brother, Charlie (Tom Cruise), never knew about him. He was very angry to hear that their estranged father left everything to Raymond except for a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. Charlie leaves his shaky car business in Los Angeles and travels to Ohio to find out where his father's estate went. When Charlie discovers Raymond, he decides to abduct him and bring him back to his home in L.A. until he gets his share of the money.
Continue reading: Rain Man Review
The story -- as it exists -- concerns a troupe of British actors who descend on Venice to shoot a film version of the play The Duchess of Malfi. We follow the production with Figgis's all-seeing camera (courtesy of a documentarian following the production) -- which has a tendency to dip into slow-motion, cut the sound out, and shoot using an ultraviolet filter in the dark -- and bear witness to all manner of strange goings-on, the description of which I can't even begin to fathom putting on paper.
Continue reading: Hotel Review
This wholly unnecessary sequel puts our beloved Pee-wee Herman in the circus, where he encounters the usual collection of oddballs (bearded lady, clowns, strongman, and mimes galore) plus manages to swing himself into a love triangle btween Penelope Ann Miller's Winnie and trapeze artist Gina (Valeria Golino). Both go ga-ga over Herman and, ignoring his talking pig sidekick, they duel over his affections, circus style. Kris Kristofferson leads the troupe with barely disguised shame.
Continue reading: Big Top Pee-Wee Review
Most movies about the lives of famous artists never provide a true sense of what drove the person's creativity. Even in a strongly acted, strongly directed biopic like 2000's "Pollock," for example, the closest it came to explaining why heavily splattered canvases were a breakthrough in modern art was when the painter's wife cryptically proclaimed, "You've done it, Pollock! You've cracked it wide open!"
But in "Frida," a transporting cinematic experience about the life and work of Mexican surrealist Frida Kahlo, director Julie Taymor captures the very essence of Kahlo's creative process through a wondrously rich, freeform visual language that fuses the events of her life with the imagery in her paintings so vividly that the artist's work may take on a striking new significance for anyone who sees the film.
Passionately played by Salma Hayek, who has been personally shepherding this project for seven years, Kahlo comes to life in this picture as a complicated, dynamic, proud and intelligent woman whose frequent hardships informed her art. Opening when she was a plucky high school girl (36-year-old Hayek passes for 16 with remarkable ease), Frida is established as a young woman with a spicy individuality even before the 1925 bus wreck that irreversibly altered her life.
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A grim yet hopeful, fablistic slice-of-life drama from Italian writer-director Emanuele Crialese ("Once We Were Strangers"), "Respiro" stars Valeria Golino (best known in the US for "Rain Man" and "Hot Shots!") as Grazia, a passionate, misunderstood, unstable young mother whose adoring husband and teenage son try to protect her from the scorn of their Mediterranean island fishing village.
It's a struggling but uncomplicated place of hard lives where the worst problem is rival gangs of bored, wayward, stray-dog-like boys. But the gossipy populace finds itself increasingly concerned with the bipolar behavior of the beautiful, stormy Grazia, who is unpredictable and prone to both acute joy and dangerous fits of melancholy.
But she takes comfort in the love of her fisherman husband (Vincenzo Amato), who defends her honor even when embarrassed by her, and in her special relationship with her teenage son Pasquale (Francesco Casisa). So devoted is the young man to his mother that he stays home to paint her toenails as a pick-me-up when she takes to her bed in a deep blue funk. So dependent on Pasquale is Grazia that she clings to him needily as he drives her around the village on his Vespa day after day.
Continue reading: Respiro Review