TIFF19 REVIEW: Love Me Tender [2019]

Don’t talk about her. Seconda (Barbara Giordano) is the second born child of Augusto (Maurizio Tabani) and Dominique (Anna Galante) and she cannot leave the house. Her agoraphobia might be at its most potent now at thirty-two years old, this latest stint of seclusion hitting the nine-month mark despite her parents imploring her to go outside. Sometimes zipping herself up in a blue hoodie provides the protection necessary to brave the world, but mostly Seconda would rather dance in her room and hiss at the family cat. Augusto and Dominique…

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REVIEW: Dogman [2018]

You’ve got to solve your own problem. Would anyone miss Simone (Edoardo Pesce) if he disappeared? No. He’s a heavy that possesses no positive impact on the impoverished Italian community in which he resides. Addicted to cocaine and wielding a temper that always keeps fresh cuts and bruises on his face despite everyone knowing you cannot get the best of him in a fight, those forced to be part of his social circle would rejoice if they never saw him again. It’s so bad that the disgruntled videogame casino owner…

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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 invited to share his findings. They don’t know where he’s gone upon arriving so they capitalize on his absence with a night of sex to supply director Andrea Bianchi‘s audience with some nudity and half-hearted…

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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 stupid, and their charity to call them a pushover? You’d like to think the former and yet it doesn’t take much of a history lesson to prove the latter. There’s a reason a majority of…

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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 speranza [The Vice of Hope] considering child trafficking and prostitution are prevalently at its back. These criminal enterprises are presented as this comune’s means for financial stability, everywhere we’re taken openly servicing one or both…

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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 worked to enact laws that helped him and his friends become wealthier while also staying out of jail (mostly). It’s no surprise then that many say he set the precedent for the political chaos Donald…

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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 Manfredi) seen in duress but no less determined to get his hands on her eventually. They’re both alone on the open road, unsure where to go besides knowing it must be anywhere but here. A…

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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 provide some semblance of meaning to the whole. Anna laments that the world would be a better place without creature comforts like instant coffee and more expansive means of infrastructure such as nuclear power. She…

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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 perform. The procedure is a success and ultimately he’s left with the doctor’s wife (Dominique Sanda‘s Anna) in his arms. This scene is perhaps two minutes long and yet proves to be the key to…

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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 of the Dead began its repackaging as Zombi. The latter was a re-edited cut by Dario Argento complete with new Goblin score, so its success screamed for a quick Italian follow-up. Suddenly Fulci’s film became…

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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 Africa and the Middle East for the tiny twenty-square km island of Lampedusa in twenty years isn’t to simply be wowed by the abstract numbers. He understands the struggle, hope, and uncertainty that go into…

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