The Great BeautyAnne Murphy
Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, and now it is his 65th birthday.
Interesting characters litter "The Great Beauty" and Rome has a leading role. The ancient and venerated city is the perfect backdrop for a lifetime's reminiscences in a visually exhilarating movie piecing together one man's memories. This wildly creative piece of film-making is a stylish cinematic achievement to be experienced rather than watched. Simply stunning and unmistakably Italian, a contemplation on life, love and meaning that's as intoxicating as an operatic aria. Be seduced.
To Rome with LoveAnthony Macali
The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.
"To Rome with Love" is light-hearted and fun, despite the silliness of it all. As is to be expected, the Italian backdrop is wonderful to marvel at and provides the perfect setting for the numerous story-lines that share the historic locale. Exploring themes of fame, culture and of course... love, there is never a dull moment, continuously shifting between narratives, and finding laughs in the outrageous characters and situations everybody seems to find themselves in. Make the trip, fall in love.
The Ages of LoveAnne Murphy
Three chapters tell three interconnected love stories that illustrate the three ages of man, Youth Maturity and Beyond.
A rom-com is that bit more enjoyable for being Italian, the stories and characters are less stereotypical than their Hollywood counterparts. The content ripens and matures as the movie progresses through the ages of man, each delivering more depth than the previous story. None are too deep, all deliver some fun and are refreshing for their European sophistication. The comedy is it is light and agreeable, there’s nothing to tax an audience in the storylines. Ti amo.
A Quiet LifeAnne Murphy
The story of a man with a dark past, that inevitably catches up with him.
Mystery is slowly brewed as the story behind the main character is revealed. Initially the plot is vague, and the viewer must sit with some uncertainty as to what is happening on the screen. The lack of story structure is a clever device that adds to the mounting suspense. Tension is maintained amid a seemingly routine domestic situation, and there are ominous hints that all is not as it seems as the violence starts to escalate. "A Quiet Life" is a well-constructed, gripping movie experience... shhh.
Lost KissesAnne Murphy
A girl in the deprived outskirts of a Sicilian city becomes a local celebrity to her community when word spreads that she just might be able to perform miracles.
"Lost Kisses" uses cynicism to explore our faith in the inexplicable, and satirically mocks our need to keep up appearances. While not taking an overt stance on one side or the other of religious belief and our desire for miracles, there's a lot going on under the surface-line of the story. It's a pleasure to be allowed to draw your own meaning. A peck on the cheek.
Corpo CelesteAnne Murphy
Thirteen year-old Marta restlessly tests the boundaries of the catechism of the Catholic Church when her family move from Switzerland to a city in southern Italy.
The protagonist is a stranger in a strange land as she prepares for her confirmation ceremony. A naive view of the Church and the various characters that support the institution are used to question the traditions and rites of its teachings. "Corpo Celeste" gently mocks using symbolism and religious iconography rather than overtly criticising any practice. The movie is effective in that it does plant questions about socially accepted values. You'll never get to heaven...
20 CigarettesAnne Murphy
An assistant film director working in Iraq finds himself caught up in a suicide attack.
This movie tells the autobiographical story of its director with a lighter touch than a documentary might have allowed. Iraq is shown as a place where soldiers and peace-keepers are wondering what they were doing there. Injury is graphically depicted, providing a palpable experience of the horror of war. A strong but very watchable political statement is made by bringing a personal story to the big screen. The cigarettes provide an interesting device to contrast everyday life with a day in a war zone. Smoking.
Escort in LoveAnne Murphy
When her husband dies in a car accident, Alice is left with a massive debt and the risk of losing her son so she turns to the oldest profession in the world.
Working as an escort is sometimes painted as an overly rosy career choice when portrayed in a movie. Thankfully, the annoyance of that plot hook is diffused in "Escort in Love" by the comic scenes it generates. There is also a couple of interesting side themes around social inclusion and diversity which compensate. This film is easy to like and enjoy, thanks to the congenial characters. Love the escort.
Sorelle MaiAnne Murphy
The director's family is filmed over a 10 year period acting in film roles rather than biographic depictions to create an experimental and dramatic work.
"Sorelle Mai" is an interesting movie that follows the hopes and mostly thwarted dreams of a brother and sister. What makes it really interesting is knowing what the director attempted and the scope of the project. For those sitting in a cinema it's not obvious how ambitious the film-making is, and for the average viewer the slight narrative may be insufficient to captivate. Appreciate this one for being well crafted. Sisters are doin' it...
The Man Who Will ComeAnne Murphy
In the winter of 1943, Italian peasant families in an Italian village carry on with life while Nazi soldiers seek to wreak revenge on partisan fighters.
Apparently "The Man Who Will Come" is based on historic events, unfortunately that is not learned in the cinema watching the film. The film is lightly narrated leaving the viewer to piece together the story. We're not helped by the sparse dialogue or the fact that much of the action is viewed through the eyes of a child. The war atrocities depicted as the story builds are truly horrifying, stupefying the audience. Shame on mankind, whoever it is we're waiting for.
Ten WintersAnne Murphy
Timing is everything as friends who are drawn to each other miss opportunities to become a couple but keep connecting by chance during a decade.
Winter in Venice looks cold, the back drops are frosty, a stark contrast to the central characters who are warm and real. There is a good deal of restraint exercised, and love-lorn resignation experienced, by the friends as they fail to connect romantically over the ten year period covered by the movie. The unrequited attraction of the couple is understated and compelling to watch as each year passes and fate conspires to keep them apart. "Ten Winters" is one great story.
Marriage and other DisastersAnne Murphy
Disillusioned with romance, an unmarried woman finds herself organising her sister's wedding.
"Marriage and other Disasters" has all the elements of a romantic comedy, and then some. There is the likeable cast playing mismatched couples, then there are the requisite independent and romantically available parties, the ubiquitous hopeful parents, the comical disaster-dates, the looming wedding and a certain depth that's often lacking in the genre. This movie is also intelligent, with a sassy savvy woman in the lead, it's delightfully laced with irony and served with breathtaking Italian scenery. Look elsewhere for disasters.
Draqulia - Italy TremblesAnne Murphy
An investigation on the management of 2009 L'Aquila earthquake by the Berlusconi government.
"Draquila" is a political documentary using satire to present an astounding story of corruption and mismanagement. The film airs few voices other than that of the comical narrator, giving the impression of a potentially lopsided view. Too much is made of mocking the Prime Minister, and the nuances of the bureaucratic lampooning are a little lost on an audience outside of Italy. It becomes a little tiresome rather than rallying support for the people still homeless after the earthquake or exposing the ongoing calamity of government. Audiences tremble rather than quake.
La Nostra VitaAnne Murphy
When tragedy befalls a construction worker he leans on his boss to give him his own site to supervise.
"La Nostra Vita" shows a slice of life for a hard working and honest man in present day Italy. Everyday struggles to navigate dilemmas involving ethics, family and friends a system where corruption is rife and how difficult it can be to do the right thing. Filmed with a hand held camera, the choppiness of the screen images highlight the topical edginess of the story-line. The audience is propelled from moment to moment as the odds stack up against the lead good-guy. Astute, perceptive film making.
The First Beautiful ThingAnne Murphy
A misanthropic professor returns to his hometown to assist his dying mother.
A mother's life is recounted through the memories of her son, and the present viewed through his eyes. "The First Beautiful Thing" is about the everyday frustrations of family, the people closest to us who we never quite forgive for being themselves. The acting is engaging, warm, and vulnerable, as characters are authentically portrayed in this humorous and at times very moving story. The film moves seamlessly between past and the present, the scenes coloured with familial warmth. A truly beautiful thing.
Many Kisses LaterAnne Murphy
Follows the relationships of six couples between Christmas and Valentine's Day, exploring the various ways a former romantic partner or 'ex' can shape our lives.
"Many Kisses Later" is a capricious romantic comedy pastiche, more similar in style to English films of the genre than American offerings. The relationships are well observed, even if the ensemble of characters seems almost too congenial at times. As the storylines overlap and diverge, our attention is captivated, and laughter bellows forth with almost every scene. Effervescent and entertaining, don't wait until later, enjoy many kisses now.
Giovanna's FatherAnne Murphy
A protective father stands by his misfit daughter after she commits a terrible crime.
Complex reactions to tragedy are explored in this story of obsession. With war as the backdrop, relationships are ravaged while Bologna is bombed. "Giovanna's Father" is not easy viewing and interest is held by the unconventional story-line. The soundtrack maintains a steady rhythm, and the use of sepia tones aids in recreating a past era of hardship. Superb performances by the lead actors are convincing and avoid being melodramatic, with the spotlight firmly on Giovanna's Father rather than the dastardly deeds of his daughter.
Quiet ChaosAnne Murphy
A look at the strange bereavement behavior of an Italian executive.
The portrayal of loss in this film evokes W.H. Auden's poem that opens with the line "Stop all the clocks...". Everything is changed and pared back to essentials by an unexpected death. The everyday world continues on around the slowing of the central characters, drawing empathetic viewers into this well told tale. The movie is a subdued but sure-footed meditation on grieving as lives and priorities are reassessed. More contemplative than chaotic, and recommended for its heartfelt quiet.