Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Movies straight out of Italy


Margherita Buy (left) and Claudia Gerini (right) in Best Enemies Forever (Nemiche Per La Pelle), part of the New Italian Cinema series. Photo: Courtesy N.I.C.E.
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In the 1960s and 70s, foreign films were an important part of the cultural landscape, and people seeking cinematic literacy didn't whine about having to read subtitles. Part of the pleasure was hearing other languages spoken and feeling you might be able to pick up, say, Italian if you saw enough Fellini films. Certainly we learned intonation, or how to fake sentences in Italian, the musical phrasings of actors being so surprisingly sexy in descending scales. Those days will never come again, but for five nights, New Italian Cinema commandeers the Vogue Theatre to showcase features and documentaries, starting Wednesday, November 16.

Wed., 11/16, at 6:15 p.m., Second Spring (Seconda Primavera) centers on a middle-aged architect named Andrea, who falls for Hikma, a younger version of his wife, who died in mysterious circumstances. Hikma is in love with someone her own age, who is married to someone else. You get the idea. At 8:30 p.m., there's an opening night party at the Italian Athletic Club. Or you can stay put and at 9 p.m. see Best Enemies Forever (Nemiche Per La Pelle) . Two women, an animal psychologist and a realtor, who were in love with the same man, wind up caring for his son by a third woman who is literally out of the picture.

Thurs., 11/17, at 4:40 p.m., Afro-Napoli United (Loro Di Napoli) is a documentary about a soccer team composed of Italians and immigrants from Africa and South America that aims at the national championships. Of course, legal documents are just as important as skills on the pitch. At 6:30 p.m., Somewhere Amazing (In Un Posto Bellissimo) is a sentimental melodrama about a successful wife, mother and florist who discovers she's being cheated on by her husband. Then an immigrant named Ahmed comes into her life. At 9:10 p.m., The Invisible Player (Il Giocatore Invisibile) is a study in mistrust centering on a university professor in Pisa whose error in a paper about betrayal becomes public knowledge.

Them Who? (Loro Chi?), a comic bromance about two con men, plays the New Italian Cinema series. Photo: New Italian Cinema

Fri., 11/18, at 4:45 p.m., the documentary Street Opera covers 20 years of Italian rap through the careers of five singers with names like Damage and Torment. At 6:30 p.m., They Call Me Jeeg (Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot) is an improbable action flick featuring an ex-con who emerges from the polluted Tiber River with superpowers. Blurring the lines between extreme machismo and camp, Jeeg runs around bending car doors, falling from heights, and punching through metal. He's got a goofy gal pal, and the backdrops are picturesque. At 9 p.m., Don't Be Bad (Non Essere Cattivo) is a gritty bromance about two guys addicted to guns and cocaine who try to kick their habits.

Sat., 11/19, at 1:45 p.m., If Only I Were That Warrior is a documentary about a monument to a fascist general, Rodolfo Graziani, erected near Rome in 2012. This war hero, or criminal, in service of Mussolini's imperial ambitions serves as a locus for contemplating the lasting damage of colonialism in Ethiopia. At 4 p.m., Them Who? (Loro Chi?) is a comic bromance about two con men. At 6:10 p.m., The Beginners (Alaska), set in Paris, is an existential romance between an Italian waiter and a French fashionista. At 9:10 p.m., retro-escapist Latin Lover takes us back to the 1950s, where a male film star divided himself between several wives and their several daughters.

Sun., 11/20, at 1 p.m., Anna (Per Amor Vostro) is a cue-card writer on a soap opera who falls in love with the show's leading man in a seaside town. At 3:30 p.m., The Legendary Giulia and Other Miracles (Noi e la Giulia) is a screwball ensemble comedy featuring an assortment of guys trying to run a country inn for tourists. Worse than fixing the plumbing is dealing with the Mafia, haha. At 6 p.m., Like Crazy (La Pazza Gioia) is a road movie launched when two lovable lady lunatics escape from a mental institution looking for happiness.




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