Happy As Lazzaro (Lazzaro felice) (2018)

ALICE ROHRWACHER Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.  Italy/Switzerland/France/Germany, 2018.  Tempesta, Amka Films Productions, Ad Vitam Production, Pola Pandora Filmproduktions, Rai Cinema, RSI-Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Arte France, Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Regione Lazio, Office Fédéral de la Culture, Fonds Eurimages du Conseil de l’Europe.  Screenplay by…

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Tale Of Tales (Il Racconto Dei Racconti)

BB.5 (out of 5) Matteo Garrone turns away from the harsh contemporary realities of his recent films and applies his dark style to an adaptation of three fairy tales by seventeenth century storyteller Giambattista Basile. Salma Hayek is a queen who will do anything to have a child and must deal with the consequences of her determination, two aged sisters…

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Youth

BBBB (out of 5) Famous composer and conductor Michael Caine and filmmaker Harvey Keitel are old friends staying at a luxurious resort in Switzerland, Caine retired from conducting music and Keitel working on his latest film with his screenwriting team. Surrounding them are bodies old and young that spin them off into contemplations of their…

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My Mother (Mia Madre)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Nanni Moretti combines humour with sentiment in this semi-autobiographical tale of a filmmaker (Margherita Buy, filling in for Moretti himself) who is trying to make a politically-minded film with an exasperating Italian-American movie star (John Turturro) while dealing with her mother’s decline in health.  Filming all day and visiting her former Latin…

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Leopardi (Il Giovane Favoloso)

BB (out of 5) One of Italy’s most celebrated poets is given a bloated biopic in this dull film, describing but barely exploring the life of Giacomo Leopardi.  He was raised the eldest son of early nineteenth-century aristocrats whose overly protective father and wrought-iron mother kept him and his siblings confined to their home for…

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Twice Born

BB (out of 5) The ineptitude of Sergio Castellitto to make movies about women without despising them is even more painfully felt here than it was in Don’t Move, particularly given the grossly melodramatic nature of the screenplay and the abysmal lack of chemistry between the leads.  Penelope Cruz is fantastic as a middle-aged Italian woman…

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The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza)

BBBB (out of 5) Paolo Sorrentino turns his camera on the ritzy citizens of Rome’s high society for an update of La Dolce Vita that begins where Fellini’s film ended off:  rather than a soul degraded by the discovery of banality beneath a world that was originally so seductive, we start with a journalist (Toni…

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Reality

BBB (out of 5) Matteo Garrone follows Gomorrah with another unsparing look at contemporary life, this time examining the madness of celebrity culture.  Luciano is a Neapolitan fish merchant with an unwavering devotion to his family who auditions for the Italian version of the reality series Big Brother at a shopping mall to make his…

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