Entries tagged with “Paolo Sorrentino”.


Is the fact that I immensely liked ‘Youth’ a sign that I am getting old? I can tell you (and I will tell you) a few good reasons ‘Youth’ is not a masterpiece, and yet, I resonated and was really moved at several moments while watching this film.

Take for example the scene when the emissary of Her Majesty comes for a second time to invite retired composer and conductor Fred Ballinger () to perform at the anniversary of Prince Phillip a famous composition of his called ‘Simple Songs’ (‘it’s the only music he likes’). The daughter of the musician, Lena () is present and the camera moves so that she turns from background to close-up. We will understand the scene by her emotions. The old musician has refused firmly the invitation ‘for personal reasons’. The emissary royally insists and asks details about the reasons. The daughter understands, she is on the verge of breaking into tears. The old man answers ‘my wife was the only one who was performing it perfectly and she cannot do it any longer’. Close up on the daughter crying. One of the most beautiful declarations of love that I have seen on screens for many years.

 

source http://watchonlinehd.me/videos/fullmovies/watch-youth-online-2016-british-movie.html

source http://watchonlinehd.me/videos/fullmovies/watch-youth-online-2016-british-movie.html

 

The location of the story is a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, a place of relaxation and recovery for the ultra-riches of the world. Some of the scenes that describe the daily life of the place look like a tourism promo, but there is enough irony to balance the super-aesthetic view. In the mid of the hinted celebrities, in between a cinema star that can be a Matt Daemon or a Leonardo DiCaprio refueling and a Maradona at the pick of his overweight decline, we meet the two old friends – the musician and film director who tries to find an ending to his ‘testament movie’ together with a team of yuppies script-writers. The two share memories – remembered and forgotten – as well as an attitude that tries to cope with their own personal decay. Is this a symbol of a broader decay, the one of the society they come from, the falling in oblivion of a way of life, but also of a way of making art and relating to art? This is one of the possible messages that I read in this film.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The acting of the two old masters – Caine and Keitel is superb. makes one apparition that is worth waiting for. There are a lot of funny moments in this film, there is melodrama, and real drama. A feeling of melancholy envelops all the story, the same type of melancholy that I sensed in The Great Beauty (which I liked less) and to some extent in This Must Be the Place which was one of the most original Holocaust stories that I have seen. Overall, ‘Youth’ confirms the huge talent of in making films with emotional stories and characters that are both special and sometimes eccentric, but also deeply human.

 

A few days from now ‘La Grande Belleza’ will probably get the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language picture so it’s probably a daring act on my part to share the opinion that this film is over-rated and that it’s not – in my humble opinion – the best film of Paolo Sorrentino. I actually like a lot the work of the Italian director, but I liked more the sharp critic of the Italian political system in the biographical Il Divo and especially the very original approach to the Holocaust in ‘This Must Be the Place’ - one of the best and unusual films in the Holocaust genre.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2358891/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2358891/

 

There is certainly a lot of charm and visual beauty in this ‘Great Beauty’. If this was a documentary I could have enjoyed the views of Rome and the film is a declaration of love for the Eternal City, a poem dedicated to it’s magnetism and power to corrupt.  If it was a study of characters I would have first  admired the aristocratic spleen of the principal hero in the story, as well as the collection of characters from the debauched and corrupt, and yet so fascinating high society and artistic media the characters come from. The film however also tries to draw a moral about the ephemeral nature of life and love, and about the vanity of beauty and emptiness of the extreme sensations – and this moral core is too thin for the fabulous wrapping it is enveloped in.

 

(video source TIFF)

 

Of course, one can admire the exquisite cinematography and splendid performance by Tony Servillo, the preferred lead actor of Sorrentino. Just by seeing him here, in a film and a role so different from the one in Il Divo one can appreciate what a great actor he is and how he identifies with the character and melds in each role he undertakes. The disappointment is however with the director approach. Sorrentino used us that each new film is different than the previous one – strong and original, unexpected in vision and inventive in means. In La Grande Belleza he seems to have decided to quote Fellini – does Fellini need to be quoted, and did he really need to quote him? I love Fellini but I know that he died a while ago and I did not go to see a film of Fellini, but a film by Sorrentino, hence my disappointment.

Biographical films tend to be respectful to the historical figures that they describe. Even when they describe complex and controversial  characters they try to explain and to put in context the motivation of deeds which in the perspective of history seem evil. Paolo Sorrentino‘s ‘Il Divo’ is quite the contrary, it is a negative biography about a character who dominated the Italian politics for most of the second part of the 20th century, the leader of the Christian-Democratic Party and seven-times Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti. The film does not lack complexity – quite the contrary – and the historical context of the 80s and 90s is described in detail, but the effect is willingly opposite than in usual biographies. Even political actions which would have seen candid or neutral seem to catch a strong significance and are seen through the perspective of the corruption and Mafia-relations which seem to have dominated Italian political life of the period.

 

www.imdb.com/title/tt1023490/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1023490/

 

My knowledge about the Italian politics is too superficial to make a definite judgment about the correctness of the facts presented on screen. What I can say after seeing the film is that it does not seem to pretend to be objective. Even if there is no explicit statement, there is neither any positive angle we brought into the film or positive dimension that is not questioned. Even the relationship with his wife (‘I knew all these years what kind of man I married’) or helping the poor (which looks more like a political exercise deprived of sincerity). There are however many other scenes (like the repeated walk on empty streets surrounded by cohorts of security people, the reception after his last nomination as Prime Minister) which describe not only the outer-worldness of the man, but also of the whole system.

Even more amazing is the fact that Andreotti was alive when this film was made (he actually died about a month ago) and has seen at least part of the film, allegedly walking out after a while. So this is not only a biography, but a pamphlet directed against a living politician. Andreotti, by the way, was no stranger to the Italian cinema industry, he played an important role in establishing the rules that protected the local industry against foreign (especially Hollywood) imports in the 50s, but also the establishment of a de-facto censorship over the content of the productions which was in place for many decades. Is this film also kind of a revenge of the now free industry over this character? Maybe.

 

(video source Artificial Eye)

 

To a very large extent ‘Il DIvo’ relies on the extraordinary acting performance of Toni Servillo. He makes one of these creations which in time tend to superpose and replace the visual representation we have about the real-life person. Great acting indeed, but do we end by understanding better Giulio Andreotti the man? I doubt it. Paolo Sorrentino certainly knows how to construct complex characters which do not show easily their intense internal beings. Looking now retrospectively he did the same thing in This Must Be the Place (which he made later, but I saw it before). He does not however serve the viewers with ready prepared answers about the motivation of his heroes. I knew very little about Andreotti before seeing this film, I know many more facts now, but the man remains a mystery.

 

This Must Be the Place is one of the weirdest Holocaust movies ever made. So weird and so different that I doubt that it will find place in the usual re-programing of the TV stations on such commemorative moments as the Holocaust Day. Yet it is at the same time one of the most human and moving film on the theme of the second generation, the one of the children of the Holocaust survivors that I have ever seen.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440345/

 

Sean Penn‘s Cheyenne is an aging Gothic rocker, whose greatest success dates two decades back, but was enough to grant him a life of luxury for the rest of his days, and even some fame when walking the local Irish malls. No doubt, he looks like an aging rock star, and Penn’s creation makes me wonder how could the Oscar avoid him this year (and I am not a registered fan of Penn, believe it or not). Something happens and this is his father’s death, and the trip to the New York Jewish area meets him back with the family he left, maybe he ran of, the life he quit, and the history of the family. This history hides something he was not aware about – the suffering and the humiliation that his father experienced during the Holocaust. What makes out of Cheyenne a Nazi hunter, what causes him to engage in a trip that reminds Jim Jarmusch‘s Broken Flowers across America to catch and revenge his father’s tormentor remains a mystery. It is not the only mystery of the film, but all becomes credible and makes sense not on the logic but on the emotional plan. It’s more then just emotion, it is resonance. Penn’s character fills not only the screen, it follows you after the end credits, with his straight and naive logic and belief in truth, with his strange but yet so human way of talking and behaving.

 

(video source indieculturebox)

 

There are several beautiful and memorable scenes in this film. The relation of Cheyenne with the younger girl, older woman and her missing son which is never completely explained. The meeting with another old rocker and the concert by David Byrne (in a cameo appearance). The guitar piece with the kid he meets on the road. The confrontation with his father’s tormentor and the almost human justification of the later. Director Paolo Sorrentino, as well as his cinematography, sound, musical teams do a fine and discrete job. A film to search for and to watch.