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Will Netflix’s English-Language ‘Medici: Masters of Florence’ Rescue Italy’s TV Biz?

Will Netflix’s English-Language ‘Medici: Masters of Florence’ Rescue Italy’s TV Biz?
During the early 15th century the Medici family helped foster a cultural revolution that took Italy out of the dark ages. Cut to the present. The English-language “Medici: Masters of Florence” TV series, which Frank Spotnitz is showrunning on a $28 million budget co-financed by Netflix, is considered a harbinger of change within the Italian TV industry.

The first eight-episode season, in which Dustin Hoffman played Giovanni de’ Medici, the Florentine family’s patriarch, scored an average primetime share of more than 25% in 2016 on Italian pubcaster Rai and traveled widely.

The second installment, “Medici: Masters of Florence. The Magnificent,” will instead feature Daniel Sharman (“Teen Wolf”) as Lorenzo de’ Medici and Sean Bean (“Game of Thrones”) as Jacopo de’ Pazzi, head of a rival banking family who plotted to kill the Florentine ruler known as The Magnificent.

Co-produced by Rome’s Lux Vide with Rai Fiction, Altice Group and Spotnitz’s Big Light Prods., the show — which
See full article at Variety - TV News »

‘Christ the Lord’ Movie Arriving for Easter 2016 in U.S.

Focus Features has set an Easter 2016 release for “Christ the Lord,” which goes into production in September in Italy.

The project, which has been in development since 2011, will open on March 23, 2016.

Ocean Blue Entertainment, Cj Entertainment, Echo Lake and Ingenious Media are financing.

Cyrus Nowrasteh, who directed and wrote “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” is directing the project from a script that he wrote with his spouse Betsy Nowrasteh. The story follows young Jesus as he comes to discover his real identity and the truth surrounding his birth.

“Christ the Lord” is based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.” Published in 2005, the book takes place while Jesus is 7 and 8.

Enzo Sisti is executive producing and Francesco Frigeri, who worked with Sisti on “Passion of the Christ,” is the production designer. The movie will be shot at Cinecitta Studios in Rome and on location in Matera,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

The Passion of the Christ

Opens

Wednesday, Feb. 25


"The Passion of the Christ" is the work of a Christian traditonalist. In depicting the last dozen hours in the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth, Mel Gibson, who directs a script he wrote with Benedict Fitzgerald, takes the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as literal truth. There is no allowance for metaphor or myth, no hint of contemporary interpretation. This is not "The Last Temptation of Christ", Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel that speculates on the torments and self-doubts of Jesus. This movie is an act of faith.

And that is a two-edged sword. People will see what they want to see in a movie shorn of any point of view not in literal accord with the gospels. True believers will bear witness to holy writ. Others -- nonbelievers or even less literal-minded Christians -- will be troubled by the film's staunch adherence to a story line and characters that have been used by bigots to fuel hatred for centuries.

As the film arrives swathed in controversy over its near-pornographic violence and concerns about its potential to incite anti-Semitism, the opening weekend's boxoffice should surpass its reported $25 million cost. That combination of controversy, curiosity and conviction could continue the movie's good fortune for weeks to come.

The problem with focusing narrowly on the "passion" of Christ -- meaning the suffering and ultimate redemption in the final moments of Jesus' life -- instead of his ministry, in which he preached love of God and mankind, is that the context for these events is lost. The Crucifixion was not only the culmination of several years of religious teachings but the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to die for the sins of mankind.

True, many viewers know this "back story." Pity anyone though who comes to this movie without a knowledge of the New Testament. For them, a handful of brief flashbacks to earlier days will fail to do the trick. Yet even a Bible student might wonder why Gibson would choose to downplay the self-sacrifice and love that went into Jesus' submission to torture and death. The spiritual significance of the Crucifixion gets swamped in an orgy of violence visited upon Jesus' body. Indeed, it's doubtful any human being could remain conscious for his own execution were he to endure the level of physical abuse graphically depicted here.

This, then, is a medieval Passion Play with much better effects. Flesh is flayed in grotesque detail. Body fluids spurt in exquisite patterns. Slow motion captures any action or glance Gibson deems significant.

All the characters are portrayed in the extreme. Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov) is a weak and frightened political operative in a lonely outpost of the Roman Empire. His soldiers are half-witted sadists and buffoons. King Herod Luca De Dominicis) is a foppish decadent. The Jews are a bloodthirsty rabble easily manipulated by the high priest Caiphas (Mattia Sbragia) and other Pharisees, jealous of their political power and social control. (Gibson has removed a line, reportedly in an earlier version, in which one Jew shouts, "May his blood be on us".)

The two Marys, the mother of Jesus (Maia Morgenstern) and Mary Magdalene (Monica Bellucci), are reduced to tearful onlookers. And, hard to imagine, the key figure here, Jesus himself (a game, blood-crusted Jim Caviezel), is such a punching bag for most of the movie that the filmmakers lose sight of his message. In early scenes and the flashback, Caviezel has the look and gravity to portray the warm and compassionate rabbi that Jesus was. But we get only these snippets of his humanity. (One bizarre flashback focuses solely on his former occupation, that of a carpenter.) More troubling is Gibson's decision to make Jesus into a victim of political intrigue, thus denying him his martyrdom.

Why do so many disciples follow this man? What does his promise of eternal life mean in the context of these events? Gibson's intense concentration on the scourging and whipping of the physical body virtually denies any metaphysical significance to the most famous half-day in history.

Technically, the film is a beauty. After a false start with music more befitting a horror film, John Debney's score acquires a chorus and builds brilliantly to the climax. Inspired by Caravaggio, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and costume designer Maurizio Millenotti hew to a strict earthen palette of grays, browns, white, beige and burgundy. The play of shadow and light, especially the use of torches in interior scenes, presents stunning tableaus. Francesco Frigeri's sets on the Cinecitta Studios lot and the use of the 2,000-year-old city of Matera beautifully capture the Middle Eastern world of that epoch without calling attention to the design itself.

Gibson's insistence that his actors learn the language of the period works very well. Using Aramaic for Jewish characters and street Latin for Romans, the movie puts us at a necessary remove to witness the biblical story. If only Gibson had chosen to highlight spiritual truth rather than physical realism.

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

Newmarket Films

Icon Prods.

Credits:

Director: Mel Gibson

Screenwriters: Mel Gibson, Benedict Fitzgerald

Producers: Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey, Steve McEveety

Executive producer: Enzo Sisti

Director of photography: Caleb Deschanel

Production designer: Francesco Frigeri

Music: John Debney

Special effects makeup: Keith Vanderlaan

Costume designer: Maurizio Millenotti

Editor: John Wright

Cast:

Jesus: Jim Caviezel

Mary: Maia Morgenstern

Mary Magdalene: Monica Bellucci

Satan: Rosalinda Celantano

Caiphas, the High Priest: Mattia Sbragia

Pontius Pilate: Hristo Naumov Shopov

Claudia Procles: Claudia Gerini

Judas Iscariot: Luca Lionello

Running time -- 126 minutes

MPAA rating: R

The Passion of the Christ

Opens

Wednesday, Feb. 25


"The Passion of the Christ" is the work of a Christian traditonalist. In depicting the last dozen hours in the earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth, Mel Gibson, who directs a script he wrote with Benedict Fitzgerald, takes the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as literal truth. There is no allowance for metaphor or myth, no hint of contemporary interpretation. This is not "The Last Temptation of Christ", Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel that speculates on the torments and self-doubts of Jesus. This movie is an act of faith.

And that is a two-edged sword. People will see what they want to see in a movie shorn of any point of view not in literal accord with the gospels. True believers will bear witness to holy writ. Others -- nonbelievers or even less literal-minded Christians -- will be troubled by the film's staunch adherence to a story line and characters that have been used by bigots to fuel hatred for centuries.

As the film arrives swathed in controversy over its near-pornographic violence and concerns about its potential to incite anti-Semitism, the opening weekend's boxoffice should surpass its reported $25 million cost. That combination of controversy, curiosity and conviction could continue the movie's good fortune for weeks to come.

The problem with focusing narrowly on the "passion" of Christ -- meaning the suffering and ultimate redemption in the final moments of Jesus' life -- instead of his ministry, in which he preached love of God and mankind, is that the context for these events is lost. The Crucifixion was not only the culmination of several years of religious teachings but the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to die for the sins of mankind.

True, many viewers know this "back story." Pity anyone though who comes to this movie without a knowledge of the New Testament. For them, a handful of brief flashbacks to earlier days will fail to do the trick. Yet even a Bible student might wonder why Gibson would choose to downplay the self-sacrifice and love that went into Jesus' submission to torture and death. The spiritual significance of the Crucifixion gets swamped in an orgy of violence visited upon Jesus' body. Indeed, it's doubtful any human being could remain conscious for his own execution were he to endure the level of physical abuse graphically depicted here.

This, then, is a medieval Passion Play with much better effects. Flesh is flayed in grotesque detail. Body fluids spurt in exquisite patterns. Slow motion captures any action or glance Gibson deems significant.

All the characters are portrayed in the extreme. Pontius Pilate (Hristo Naumov Shopov) is a weak and frightened political operative in a lonely outpost of the Roman Empire. His soldiers are half-witted sadists and buffoons. King Herod Luca De Dominicis) is a foppish decadent. The Jews are a bloodthirsty rabble easily manipulated by the high priest Caiphas (Mattia Sbragia) and other Pharisees, jealous of their political power and social control. (Gibson has removed a line, reportedly in an earlier version, in which one Jew shouts, "May his blood be on us".)

The two Marys, the mother of Jesus (Maia Morgenstern) and Mary Magdalene (Monica Bellucci), are reduced to tearful onlookers. And, hard to imagine, the key figure here, Jesus himself (a game, blood-crusted Jim Caviezel), is such a punching bag for most of the movie that the filmmakers lose sight of his message. In early scenes and the flashback, Caviezel has the look and gravity to portray the warm and compassionate rabbi that Jesus was. But we get only these snippets of his humanity. (One bizarre flashback focuses solely on his former occupation, that of a carpenter.) More troubling is Gibson's decision to make Jesus into a victim of political intrigue, thus denying him his martyrdom.

Why do so many disciples follow this man? What does his promise of eternal life mean in the context of these events? Gibson's intense concentration on the scourging and whipping of the physical body virtually denies any metaphysical significance to the most famous half-day in history.

Technically, the film is a beauty. After a false start with music more befitting a horror film, John Debney's score acquires a chorus and builds brilliantly to the climax. Inspired by Caravaggio, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and costume designer Maurizio Millenotti hew to a strict earthen palette of grays, browns, white, beige and burgundy. The play of shadow and light, especially the use of torches in interior scenes, presents stunning tableaus. Francesco Frigeri's sets on the Cinecitta Studios lot and the use of the 2,000-year-old city of Matera beautifully capture the Middle Eastern world of that epoch without calling attention to the design itself.

Gibson's insistence that his actors learn the language of the period works very well. Using Aramaic for Jewish characters and street Latin for Romans, the movie puts us at a necessary remove to witness the biblical story. If only Gibson had chosen to highlight spiritual truth rather than physical realism.

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

Newmarket Films

Icon Prods.

Credits:

Director: Mel Gibson

Screenwriters: Mel Gibson, Benedict Fitzgerald

Producers: Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey, Steve McEveety

Executive producer: Enzo Sisti

Director of photography: Caleb Deschanel

Production designer: Francesco Frigeri

Music: John Debney

Special effects makeup: Keith Vanderlaan

Costume designer: Maurizio Millenotti

Editor: John Wright

Cast:

Jesus: Jim Caviezel

Mary: Maia Morgenstern

Mary Magdalene: Monica Bellucci

Satan: Rosalinda Celantano

Caiphas, the High Priest: Mattia Sbragia

Pontius Pilate: Hristo Naumov Shopov

Claudia Procles: Claudia Gerini

Judas Iscariot: Luca Lionello

Running time -- 126 minutes

MPAA rating: R

Film review: 'Legend of 1900'

Film review: 'Legend of 1900'
This epic, poetical fable from director Giuseppe Tornatore ("Cinema Paradiso") has been cut by nearly an hour since its premiere last year, and it's easy to see why Fine Line, its American distributor, would approve the abridgement.

This tale of a legendary pianist who spends his entire life on board an ocean liner is at times indulgent and rambling. But the film is also that rarity, a true original, though in its current form it occasionally suffers from a choppiness that mars its overall impact.

Although it won't appeal to all tastes, "The Legend of 1900" is an audacious effort that bears commendation for its epic style and imagination. The film was recently included in the World Greats section of the Montreal World Film Festival.

Tim Roth, giving one of his best performances (and that's saying something), plays the title character, an abandoned newborn dubbed 1900 found at the turn of the century by the crew of the trans-Atlantic ocean liner Virginian. 1900 is adopted by genial crewman Danny (Bill Nunn), and the pair form a strong bond. Danny dies during the boy's childhood, but 1900 stays on board, grows up and becomes the pianist in the ship's orchestra. He is a brilliant player, and his reputation spreads throughout the world, even attracting the attention of the legendary Jell Roll Morton (Clarence Williams III).

1900 becomes best friends with Max Pruitt Taylor Vince), the band's trumpet player (and the film's narrator), who urges him repeatedly to leave the ship and see the world. 1900 continually resists his efforts, but when he has a brief but platonic encounter with a beautiful young woman (Melanie Thierry) who lives in New York, he musters the courage to make the attempt. The results are heartbreaking.

The film, taking the form of a story told by Max to an elderly pawnbroker (Peter Vaughan) who possesses 1900's only recording, details the arc of 1900's life aboard the ship. Adapted from a dramatic monologue by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco, it is an episodic but always involving tale that recalls John Irving in its fantastical imagination.

Although dragging a bit at times -- especially in some belabored dialogue sequences -- the film contains many magical scenes. The best of these is a long, beautifully rendered depiction of the piano duel between 1900 and Morton, resulting in a conclusion that will have audiences cheering. Also wonderful is the scene in which 1900 and Max first meet, as they cling to a piano that is being wildly buffeted about the ship by a ferocious storm.

Roth gives his unlikely character a remarkable degree of depth and charm, delivering a precisely calibrated performance as winning as it is eccentric. Vince, in his best turn since "Heavy", is highly appealing as Max, and Williams provides a fierce, effective turn as Morton. Tornatore has given the film a beautiful, not always realistic visual look that well conveys the majesty of the ship and which seems to replicate the dreamy quality of a vintage photograph.

Adding greatly to the film's romantic impact are the lavish production design by Francesco Frigeri and the score by the great Ennio Morricone, which imbues the proceedings with his trademark haunting mournfulness.

LEGEND OF 1900

Fine Line Features

Director-writer: Giuseppe Tornatore

Producer: Francesco Tornatore

Executive producer: Laura Fattori for Medusa Cinematografica

Director of photography: Lajos Koltai

Production design: Francesco Frigeri

Editor: Massimo Quaglia

Music: Ennio Morricone

Color/stereo

Cast:

1900: Tim Roth

Max: Pruitt Taylor Vince

Danny Boodmann: Bill Nunn

Jelly Roll Morton: Clarence Williams III

The Girl: Melanie Thierry

Running time -- 116 minutes

No MPAA rating

See also

Credited With | External Sites