Italian Cinema

The Best of Youth, 2003

After having missed the first hour of The Best of Youth when it screened at the 2003 New York Film Festival, I had constructed a mental scenario of what happened in that first hour that would have reconciled the way the film eventually unfolded. I had thought that Giorgia, the institutionalized young woman, was Nicola… read more »

Views from the Avant-Garde: Paolo Gioli

Images Disturbed by an Intense Parasite (Immagini disturbate da un intenso parassita), 1970 Paolo Gioli’s frenetic, delirious, and curiously transfixing magnum opus Images Disturbed by an Intense Parasite is an invigorating, confounding, and ultimately mind-blowing visual study in redefining the bounds of human cognitive saturation – a complex, multilayered juxtaposition of bifurcating and intersecting aural… read more »

Seduced and Abandoned, 1964

A young woman dressed in somber clothing named Agnese (Stefania Sandrelli) impassively, but determinedly, navigates her way through a provincial Sicilian town on her way to confession trailed by a lumbering, but accommodating chaperone (Rosetta Urzì). A less than nurturing audience with the attending priest at the confessional soon reveals the reason for her seeming… read more »

Mafioso, 1962

Alberto Lattuada irreverently – and uproariously – explores the nurtured regionalisms, preconceptions, and ethnic stereotypes between the more progressive, industrialized north and more conservative, old world traditions of southern Italy – and in particular, Sicily – that continue to pervade and shape the social attitudes between the two divergent cultures of contemporary Italian society in… read more »

The Overcoat, 1952

In an early sequence in Alberto Lattuada’s The Overcoat, the mayor (Giulio Stival) relishes the idea of history having to be rewritten as a result of an archaeologist’s discovery of ancient artifacts that had been unearthed during the groundbreaking of his commissioned, large-scale urbanization project. Designed to transform the landscape of the town’s main square… read more »

Crime Novel, 2005

It is nearly impossible to characterize Michele Placido’s sprawling, ambitious, and elliptical gangster film, Crime Novel without raising the specter of Francesco Rosi’s seminal cinema on the murky atmosphere of corruption, nebulous alliances, terrorism, and widespread violence that defined the sociopolitical landscape of 1970s Italy. However, while Rosi’s disorienting ellipticism served to illustrate the power… read more »

Three Brothers, 1981

Three Brothers opens to an oddly sterile medium shot of a building wall (made even colder and more impersonal by the black and white photography) as the amplified sound of a heartbeat discordantly accompanies an elegiac melody, before a jarring chromatic shift focuses the camera in extreme close-up at the center of a littered, derelict… read more »

Christ Stopped at Eboli, 1979

In 1935, a distinguished artist and intellectual turned escorted political prisoner from Turin named Carlo Levi (Gian Maria VolontĂ©) arrives at the railroad terminal station at Eboli for further transportation – first by a series of public buses, then by a waiting automobile dispatched by the regional mayor Don Luigi (Paolo Bonacelli) – into the… read more »

Exquisite Corpses, 1976

Perhaps Francesco Rosi’s most pointed and incisive social examination of the widespread instability, scandal, injustice, and corruption of (then) contemporary postwar politics, Exquisite Corpses opens to the image of a somber, elderly judge named Varga (Charles Vanel) as he walks pensively through the catacombs of a church, observing in painstaking detail the recesses and contours… read more »

Voyage in Italy, 1953

Voyage in Italy opens to a shot of a reserved British couple, Alex (George Sanders) and Katherine Joyce (Ingrid Bergman) traveling in silence down a long, empty, narrow road on the Italian countryside. They are awaiting the sale of an inherited villa in Naples, and have decided to seize the occasion and spend undivided time… read more »