“Happy as Lazzaro” Review

Happy as Lazzaro Poster

Happy as Lazzaro (Lazzaro Felice) (2018)

Alice Rohrwacher may only have three major feature films under her belt (Corpo Celeste (2011), The Wonders (2014) and Happy as Lazzaro (2018)), but this Fiesole-born director proves to be the one to be reckoned with. Happy as Lazzaro is an unusual, surreal and imaginative drama which stretches the limits of belief, and makes one ponder and wonder about the significance of leading an unselfish, innocent and open life in the modern age which, in turn, is geared primarily towards ruthless money-making and twisted concepts of success. Philosophical, enigmatic and moving, Happy as Lazzaro may start as this great drama about one family’s dominion over poor working people in Italy, but, by the end, it proves to be so much more than just a tale about the swindling and corruption of the innocent. From the hardship of a simple village life in Italy to the exploration of the metaphysical, Happy as Lazzaro covers much ground and is an ambitious, multifaceted film that, amazingly, succeeds on all fronts.  Continue reading ““Happy as Lazzaro” Review”

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Rome: 10 “Must-See” Films set in the City

Being a cultural and historical centre for centuries, Rome has always attracted leading cinematographers. In the 1950s and 1960s, Rome was considered the European “Hollywood”, embodied in the famous Cinecittà film studio that produced such epic films as “Ben-Hur” (1959) and “Cleopatra” (1963). To this day, this historic city remains the one to which filmmakers flock to: (i) showcase its main beauties and cultural delights, as is the case with “Roman Holiday” (1953), ““Plein Soleil” (1961), “My Own Private Idaho” (1991) and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999); (ii) to ridicule Rome’s high society and decadent lifestyle, as in “La Dolce Vita” (1960) and “The Great Beauty” (2013); or (iii) to provide a setting for a grim, chaotic, (post-)war, almost apocalyptic scenario, as embodied in such films as “Rome, Open City” (1945), “Bicycle Thieves” (1948), “L’Eclisse” (1962) and “Il Conformista” (1970). 

I. Roman Holiday (1953)Hot-Sale-Roman-Holiday-Metal-Tin-Sign-20-30cm-Vintage-Metal-Art-Poster-Retro-Special-Bar

Directed by William Wyler (“Ben-Hur“), this tale about a princess who escapes from her tiresomely busy daily duties while in Rome only to meet and have a romantic connection with a journalist is fascinating, recalling in plot “It Happened One Night” (1934). In Rome, Princess Ann and Joe Bradley (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in their respective leading roles), go through the famous sights of Rome, including: meeting at the Roman Forum (more precisely at the Temple of Saturn and the Arch of Septimus Severus), where the Princess falls asleep; trying their luck at the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita) at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin; going past on a scooter by the Colosseum; having breakfast near the Pantheon; taking in the sun on the Spanish Steps; and attending the interview at the Palazzo Colonna.

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“Tale of Tales” Mini-Review

Tale of Tales Poster

Tale of Tales (2015)

**SPOILER ALERT**

Directed by Matteo Garrone, best known for his raw crime drama Gomorrah (2008), “Tale of Tales” or “Il Racconto dei Racconti” is a fantasy horror film which comprises three main stories seemingly running in parallel. The first story starts with the Queen (Salma Hayek) and King (John C. Reilly) of the kingdom Longtrellis, desperately wanting a child but who are unable to have one, thereby resorting to extreme clandestine measures of killing a sea monster and consuming its heart to have a son, whose identical twin is also the son of a servant woman. Another story tells of the King of the kingdom Highhills (Toby Jones) arranging a tournament to wed his only daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) by making participants guess the large creature whose skin is on the display – the skin is that of a flea. The third story centers on two elderly sisters who live calmly away from the public eye only for their peace to be shuttered when one of the sisters becomes bewitched and transformed into a young beauty (Stacy Martin) who, in turn, becomes the centre of affection for the lustful King of the kingdom Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel).

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20 “Must-See” Italian-Language Films

In no particular order:

1) Cinema Paradiso (1988)

2) Life is Beautiful (1997)

3) Facing Windows (2003)

4) L’Eclisse (1962)

5) Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Continue reading “20 “Must-See” Italian-Language Films”