REVIEW: Le notti del terrore [Burial Ground] [1981]

“It’s a walking corpse!” The earth trembles and graves open just like Ragno Nero (Black Spider) foretold when talking about a non-descript “they” joining the living as messengers of death. A professor (Raimondo Barbieri) catalyzes this event when an underground discovery releases a horde of zombies onto him and the three couples he had already […]

REVIEW: Lazzaro felice [Happy as Lazzaro] [2018]

“He’s staring into the void again” Writer/director Alice Rohrwacher asks an interesting question with Lazzaro felice [Happy as Lazzaro]. How would we treat a saint? Would we acknowledge his/her goodness and understand their grace to be something to mirror? Or would we scoff at their innocence to call them naive, their loyalty to call them […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Il vizio della speranza [The Vice of Hope] [2018]

“Remember, misery isn’t the only thing that exists” Less than an hour from Naples, Italy is Castel Volturno, a place marred by newspaper headlines like “Forsaken Village” and “Sex, Drugs, and the Mafia.” It shouldn’t surprise then that director Edoardo De Angelis would use it as the setting for his latest film Il vizio della […]

TIFF REVIEW: Loro [2018]

“Him, Him?” If you watch “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” you know Silvio Berlisconi. The Italian tycoon turned politician is mired in scandals, controversy, and populist excitement to the point of having a bizarre theme song declaring, “Thank Goodness for Silvio.” He smiles and waves, refuses to divest business interests while in office, and […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Fiore Gemello [Twin Flower] [2018]

“Shall we go?” Two strangers running from personal demons collide at the start of Laura Luchetti‘s Sardinia-set Fiore gemello [Twin Flower]. He (Kallil Kone’s Basim) is an Ivory Coast immigrant desperate for money yet unequipped with the correct paperwork to earn gainful employment. She (Anastasiya Bogach’s Anna) is desperate to escape a pursuer (Aniello Arena‘s […]

REVIEW: Incubo sulla città contaminata [Nightmare City] [1980]

“That sounds like science fiction” There’s a scene between Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife Anna (Laura Trotter) about two-thirds of the way through Umberto Lenzi‘s Incubo sulla città contaminate [Nightmare City] where they speak about the perils of technology. After an hour of murder, death, and exposed breasts, suddenly the screenwriters decide to […]

REVIEW: Il conformista [The Conformist] [1970]

“Slaughter and melancholy” At one point towards the end of Bernardo Bertolucci‘s Il conformist [The Conformist], Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) turns to Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) and relays a brief synopsis of a dream. He talks about how he was a blind man who needed an operation that only his former professor (Enzo Tarascio‘s Quadri) could […]

REVIEW: Zombi 2 [Zombie] [1979]

“It never pays to ignore native superstitions” While Zombie may be known as a horror classic, its origins are almost farcical. Helmed by “Godfather of Gore” Lucio Fulci, the Italian-produced project was already in development (from a script by Dardano Sacchetti before wife Elisa Briganti took over) when the European release for George Romero‘s Dawn […]

REVIEW: Fuocoammare [Fire at Sea] [2016]

“The mountains couldn’t hide us” The story within Fuocoammare [Fire at Sea] is a personal one for director Gianfranco Rosi, himself a refugee from Eritrea during its war for independence at thirteen. He left his parents behind, arriving in Italy on a military plane. So to see statistics about 400,000 men, women, and children leaving […]

REVIEW: Rocco e i suoi fratelli [Rocco and His Brothers] [1960]

“But you mustn’t always forgive” More than a story about immigrants building a new life for themselves away from the home they wished could have been theirs forever, Luchino Visconti‘s Rocco e i suoi fratelli [Rocco and His Brothers] is an epic journey of hubris, love, and grand dreams falling short. In three hours we […]

REVIEW: L’ultimo bacio [The Last Kiss] [2001]

“With pounds of cellulite and all your insecurities” I really want to love Gabriele Muccino‘s Italian blockbuster of a rom-com L’ultimo bacio [The Last Kiss] because it is funny, charming, complicated, and hopeful. My issue lies in the fact that it’s also awful in its depictions of selfish ego and weak indifference. Maybe this is […]