Italian Cinema

The Sicilian Girl, 2009

Marco Amenta’s potent, yet understated, tightly crafted first feature film, The Sicilian Girl is a fictionalized account loosely based on the life and journals of Rita Atria, the determined, 17 year old daughter of a slain mob boss whose death after her denunciation of the mafia would lead to her martyrdom as a symbol of… read more »

Red Desert, 1964

A beautiful and distracted woman named Giuliana (Monica Vitti) wanders aimlessly through the grimy perimeter streets outside a power generation plant amidst the intermittent chaos of a workers’ strike, accompanied by her young son Valerio (Valerio Bartoleschi). Observing one of the striking workers eating his lunch, she instinctually begins to feel hungry, approaches him, and… read more »

Il Grido, 1957

A rugged, inexpressive refinery mechanic, Aldo (Steve Cochran), hurries home after being summoned by his married lover, Irma (Alida Valli). Irma has been informed of her husband’s death in Australia, and Aldo welcomes the tragic news as a resolution to their seven-year affair. However, Aldo is stunned by Irma’s opposition to marriage, and her subsequent… read more »

Vincere, 2009

Less a biography on the early life of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini than a dissection into creating (and sustaining) a cult of personality, Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere is a textured, operatic, and incisive historical fiction based on the fate of Mussolini’s secret first wife, Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) who, along with their son, Benito Albino, were… read more »

Good Morning, Night, 2003

Based on the real-life kidnapping of President Aldo Moro by members of a terrorist organization known as the Red Brigade in 1978, Good Morning, Night is a compelling, thoughtful, and understatedly powerful film that captures the turmoil and uncertainty caused by Moro’s (Roberto Herlitzka) brazen kidnapping and the subsequent 53 days of frustratingly stalled and… read more »

My Mother’s Smile, 2002

A young boy named Leonardo (Alberto Mondini) distractedly paces outside his home within view of his quizzical mother Irene (Jacqueline Lustig) as he seemingly conducts an impassioned conversation with himself. Distressed by the overwhelming concept of an omniscient God (an idea that he has recently learned during his religion study hour at school) from whom… read more »

Henry IV, 1984

A lone automobile makes its way through the Italian countryside early one morning en route to the remote medieval castle of an eccentric aristocrat (Marcello Mastroianni) who for years has lived an insular existence under the delusion that he is the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV. Twenty years earlier, an emotionally fragile young “Henry”… read more »

Fists in the Pocket, 1965

An off-screen male voice reads an anonymous note, meticulously assembled from clipped newsprint letters and addressed to a woman named Lucia (Jeannie MacNeil), bearing the scandalous information of a long-term affair between her fiancĂ© Augusto (Marino MasĂ©) and the note’s author in a possessive and desperate attempt to drive the unsuspecting young woman away. It… read more »

Private, 2004

The premise of a creating a film based on true events – particularly one for a deeply polarizing issue – can sometimes be a conveniently coded minefield for agitprop filmmaking, so it is particularly refreshing to see that Saverio Costanzo’s Private manages to strike a bracing, yet thoughtful and delicate balance between sympathy and outrage… read more »

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, 1970

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis opens with a series of striking images of nature: colorful leaves, towering trees, sunshine peering through the foliage. But these are the most unnatural of times. A momentary preface reveals the looming tragedy of this picturesque Italian village: the implementation of Mussollini’s racial laws between 1938 and 1943. Beyond the… read more »