Film Society of Lincoln Center and Istituto Luce Cinecittà's always wonderful and thankfully annual Open Roads series, which this year begins this coming Thursday, June 2, and continues through Wednesday, June 8. TrustMovies used to view every single one of the Open Roads selections, and he greatly misses this annual opportunity now that he lives in Florida. But thanks to the good work of a certain excellent PR firm, he's been able to view a few of this year's films that, as usual, prove (mostly) a delight.
here -- includes all kinds of genres, from arthouse and experimental to utterly mainstream (but intelligent, enjoyable examples of the latter), plus one tribute film, Ugly, Dirty, and Bad, a mid-period work from the lately departed and dearly missed Italian master, Ettore Scola. Of the three films I've so far seen, my favorite is the charming and often very funny comedy about faith and family, GOD WILLING, starring that just-keeps-getting-better actor Alessandro Gassman (on poster, right, and above left) along with another actor I've seen previously but never really appreciated until now, Marco Giallini (at left on the poster; above, right; and below, center).
FIRST LIGHT (La prima luce) from Vincenzo Marra starring the popular, talented and very attractive actor Riccardo Scamarcio (on poster, left, and below, right), who has been seen in copious Italian films and at Open Roads for some years now. Here, Scamarcio plays Marco, an Italian lawyer married to a Spanish (or maybe South American) woman who has had a child by him. Now, with their relationship tanking, she wants to return home -- and bring their son with her, permanently.
Angelo Carbone), Signore Marra has had the good sense not to make either parent a villain. Both he and she are flawed, difficult people, but both appear to love their child. "There's no future here," notes the mother (Daniela Ramirez, below right), and the line resonates -- not just about Italy but most of Europe (and, hey, the Western world) these days. Marra has also made very clear how difficult it is for a parent to fight against a spouse in a foreign country.
Daniele Luchetti is attached to a movie (he gave us the fine Ginger and Cinnamon and My Brother Is an Only Child some years back), I expect something special. Unfortunately, that is not the case with his newest movie, a standard-issue bio-pic of our new Pope titled CALL ME FRANCESCO (Chiamatemi Francesco). Those interested in the current Pope but who have not bothered to learn much about him may appreciate this pretty much by-the-numbers look at his life (with particular attention paid to the military dictatorship in Argentina under which he served). Soon after the announcement was made concerning this Pope's appointment, questions were raised about his conduct during this horrendous period of Argentina's history. Try as it may, the biopic does not lay them to rest
Rodrigo de la Serna, above), and while I certainly cannot gainsay this theory, and I am impressed with how progressive this Pope does seem in comparison with all the Popes in my lifetime who've come before him (with the exception of John XXIII), I still expected a little more rigor and probing from the filmmaker, who no doubt was advised to give us a mainstream and laudatory movie. He has.
THE COMPLEXITY OF HAPPINESS (La felicità è un sistema complesso), a film about everything from Socialism, Capitalism and Globalization to employment, family and responsibility. As co-written and directed by Gianni Zanasi, this is a tale of a "responsible" fellow (played by Italy's favorite "everyman," Valerio Mastandrea) who fixes things for the wealthy and corporate -- and must suddenly come to grips with a small family crisis in his own life that, of course, begins to change just about everything else.
Giuseppe Battiston (at right, below), here playing a business friend of our hero whose grace and humor masks something sadder and darker.
ALASKA, the new film from Claudio Cupellini, might fill the bill nicely. This tale of a young woman induced to attend a Parisian modeling audition and the ambitious-if-hot-tempered hotel employee she encounters begins like a house afire, as this pair meet and quickly bond -- only to have their not-quite-affair nipped in the bud by his sudden, violent actions.
Elio Germano (an Open Roads regular, shown just above) and French star Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (shown two photos above), the movie could hardly ask for two more sexy and compelling leads. Germano always seems to manage to look quite different from role to role, and he does this without make-up, simply by virtue of attitude, talent and maybe haircut, too. Ms Bergès-Frisbey, while not possessing quite the talent (yet) of Germano, keeps up her part of the bargain well enough. Also, her character has not been given the depth that Germano's receives, a typical result, I fear, of what often happens when a male writer/director tackles the female psyche.
film directed by Laura Morante.(above) or the one from Maria Sole Tognazzi (below). Well, next time.... Meanwhile, those of you in the tri-state area can view the work of both these female directors, along with the rest of the movies in this year's Opens Road. Don't miss out!