Tuesday, May 29, 2018

More OPENS ROADS 2018: Sergio Castellitto's FORTUNATA and Fulvio Risuleo's LOOK UP

The FSLC's series of new Italian films, OPENS ROADS, begins this Thursday, May 31. Here are two more movies very much worth your consideration:

TrustMovies has enjoyed the work of actor/filmmaker Sergio Castellitto for well over two decades now, and while I've appreciated him more as actor than filmmaker (he is shown below, center), I'm pleased to say how much I enjoyed his latest directorial endeavor, FORTUNATA, which was written by Castellitto's screenwriter wife Margaret Mazzantini. Or I should l say I enjoyed at least as much of this film -- about one-third -- as its screening link would allow me to view.

The link began stopping and starting over and over again 30 to 40 minutes into the film, until we finally had to give up watching entirely. These bum links -- which may very well be due to who-knows-what crap going on with our cable provider Comcast -- are perhaps the worst way to try to view a movie ever invented. Even the finest film, under this kind of duress, can begin to make the viewer hate it when access is given for maybe 30 seconds to one minute before it stops all over again. Though I am reviewing only what I could see, this was enough for me to want desperately to be able to finish the film -- which at this point seems not to have any U.S. distribution.

The title character, Fortunata, played with great strength and feeling by an actress we've enjoyed for some years now, Jasmine Trinca (above, right, who last year won Best Actress at Cannes for her performance), with a failed marriage to a nasty, abusive cop (Edoardo Pesce, above, left) only partially behind her, is trying desperately to take proper care of her little girl, even as she attempts to raise the finances needed to open her own beauty salon.

She's got a hunky, long-haired boyfriend (Alessandro Borghi, also seen in this year's Naples in Veils); a group of close caring and maybe-too-controlling friends; and soon she meets an especially kind and helpful psychotherapist (Opens Roads regular Stefano Accorsi, above). The dialog is succulent and strong, the direction and pacing smart and swift, and Ms Trinca (of Miele), as always, is a pleasure to watch in action. At least for those 30-or-so minutes.

Quite often in the yearly roster of Open Roads, an oddball little film crops up that you will not have heard of. Ditto the director, actors and almost anyone else concerned with it. This year's example is something called LOOK UP (Guarda in alto), and it's an absolute delight. (There is at least one actor involved here of whom you will have heard: Lou Castel, of Bellocchio's Fists in the Pocket.)  The story involves a young fellow working in a bakery in Rome, who, while taking a cigarette break with his co-workers on the bakery's rooftop, sees an odd-looking bird falling and goes to investigate.

What happens then moves from bizarre to more so, as our young hero, Teco -- played with a sweetness and naivete that is never for one moment unbelievable by a charmer named Giacomo Ferrara (shown above and below) -- becomes involved with everything and everyone from a very strange group of nuns to an even stranger group of children, a female parachutist (below), a pair of nudist twins (who play badminton), an old man who seems to live in a kind of garden paradise -- and lots more.

As directed and co-written (with Andrea Sorini) by Fulvio Risuleo (who clearly has an appreciation for the work of Lewis Carroll), the movie manages to be simultaneously utterly bizarre and completely real, thanks to Risuleo's use of details -- all of which add to the oddness and veracity of these goings-on. Unlike Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, there's nothing magical here. Instead the movie makes use of things we see and hear and experience daily, but the way in which they are put together beggars description (yet not quite belief).

The now pleasingly plump Mr. Castel (above, left) has a wonderful scene midway, and each of the other actors nails his or her moments, as well. Teco's advertures grow more wondrous, delightful, sweet, moving and memorable as the film unfurls, while the details -- from those birds to the bees to a baobob plant to the black cat that crosses our path -- are as lovely as you could want. In fact, only the nuns seems scary (which is as it should be), and even the latter scenes of gambling and naughtiness, while darker, do not seem really threatening.

As the "mute" leader of the children explains near the film's end, there are things in life that we can never understand, and yet they can change and even control us. Consequently, "we need wonders." Amen to that.

Look Up will screen only once at Open Roads -- this Sunday June 3, at 8:30pm -- and it's the kind of one-off movie that you may remember much longer than some of the more obvious choices in this series. So grab it while the opportunity presents. You can access the complete Open Roads series by clicking here.  More to come on this series later in the week...

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