Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018
Series runs through June 6, 2018
The Tavianis' Rainbow: A Private Affair
With the recent death of Ermanno Olmi, Italian cinema lost one of its true masters. As part of the 17th annual Open Roads: New Italian Cinema, another recent casualty, Vittorio Taviani, is represented by his and his brother Paolo’s last collaboration, Rainbow: A Private Affair, an intimate chronicle of love and politics amid Turin anti-fascists in 1944. Bolstered by the appealing Valentina Belle—who plays the woman both protagonists want—it’s not the final masterpiece its directors’ fans hoped for, but has the Tavianis’ characteristic humanity in abundance. (The brothers’ 1982 WWII classic, The Night of the Shooting Stars, is also showing during the series.)
Valentina Cortese—a luminous actress in films by Fellini, Antonioni and Truffaut (for whose Day for Night she got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar)—is remembered in Diva!, Francesco Patierno’s hodgepodge of a valentine that cheekily has several actresses playing her at different times in her career as well as film clips and actual archival footage. Another noted director is feted in Marco Ferreri: Dangerous but Necessary, Anselma Dell’Olio’s sympathetic portrait of Italy’s enfant terrible who paraded crudely vicious satires like The Grand Bouffe, The Last Woman and The Ape Woman (the latter of which is showing during this series) during the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Sergio Castellitto's Fortunata
Sergio Castellitto—a sensitive actor from noteworthy films by Marco Bellocchio, among others—returns with his latest directorial project, Fortunata. Again written by his wife Margaret Mazzantini and centering on Fortunata, a single mother dealing with her rambunctious young daughter, overbearing ex-husband and her kid’s therapist whom she falls for. Castellitto and Mazzantini take their ironically-named heroine’s woes and shove them down our throats, but Jasmine Trinca’s full-throttle performance in the title role makes this rather diffuse melodrama more than a bumpy ride.
In Boys Cry, another brother directing team, Damiano and Favio D’Innocenzo, presents a compelling if familiar look at Rome’s lower-class denizens and organized crime as a couple of friends who begin to relish their new assignment as mob hit men. The Place, Paolo Genovese’s stylish-looking but irredeemably shallow Twilight Zone-ish drama about a stranger who sits in a restaurant day after day and the desperate people who come looking for a way out of their miserable lives, starts out divertingly, then falls prey to a claustrophobic, mind-numbing sameness.
As a priest who dangerously butts heads with local criminals in his hometown, Mimmo Borelli gives a forceful but restrained performance that centers Vincenzo Marra’s insightful character study Equilibrium. Similarly, in Francesca Comencini’s soggy romantic dramedy Stories of Love That Cannot Belong to This World—in which Lucia Mascino and Thomas Trabacci play mismatched lovers who meet cute, fight cute and break up not-so-cute—Valentina Belle, as in Rainbow, captivates as the new (younger) woman in the man’s life.
Ferzan Ozpetek's Naples in Veils
Finally, Naples in Veils is another of Ferzan Ozpetek’s elegant but empty dramas, as mysterious Naples co-stars in this weird tale of a medical examiner—after an amazing one-night stand with a young stud—discovers that not only might he be the corpse she’s conducting an autopsy on, but that he may have a twin brother, whom she (naturally) begins to fall for. As always, Giovanna Mezzogiorno invests the heroine with as much humanity, honesty and charm as she can, but Ozpetek’s too busy being cutesy and slippery to allow anything original to seep through.
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema 2018
Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, NY