Martin Scorsese interviews his mother and father about their life in New York City and the family history back in Sicily. These are two people who have lived together for a long time and ... See full summary »
A feature-length documentary starring Fran Lebowitz, a writer known for her unique take on modern life. The film weaves together extemporaneous monologues with archival footage and the ... See full summary »
William F. Buckley,
"I saw these movies. They had a powerful effect on me. You should see them." That's Martin Scorsese's message for this documentary. We meet his family on Elizabeth Street in New York; he's a third generation Italian with Sicilian roots. Starting in 1949, they watched movies on TV as well as in theaters, lots of Italian imports. Scorsese, with his narration giving a personal as well as a public context, shows extended clips of these movies. Films of Rossellini and De Sica fill part one; those of Visconti, Fellini, and Antonioni comprise part two. Scorsese takes time with emotion, style, staging, technique, political context, and cinematic influence. It's his movie family. Written by
A Master Crash-Course On Post-War Neo-Realist Italian Cinema
Instead of doing commentary on the DVDs of his favorite Italian films, which he probably could do better than anyone else alive, being a masterfully adept teacher as well as the greatest working American director, Scorsese has decided to make his own film about them so he could relate them to his own development as a director. He relates how in the late '40s and early '50s, early Neo-Realist masterworks such as "Paisa" were shown often on New York area TV because of the large Italian-American population there, and what an indelible mark they made on him, a kid used to escapist Hollywood films. The films Scorsese's talking about, of course, are those of Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti, and Antonioni. He leaves out some of the lesser known master directors such as Valerio Zurlini and Francesco Rossi, but does drop in a fascinating little visit to the beautifully dreamlike and nearly forgotten films of Alessandro Blasetti (1860, Fabiola) in his discussion of the common elements, born of a 2000 year old tradition, of Italian-made fantasy films and neo-realist films, as opposed to most Hollywood films.
Scorsese's sense of humor and eye for bizarre detail and the hilariously nuanced absurdities of some of these films are in top form throughout, and it's quite obvious from the get-go that he knows these films like the back of his hand. He's so passionate about these films that often his voice falters a little as you can hear him audibly moved to the point of tears in the voice-over!
The films he goes into in considerable detail are "ROME, OPEN CITY," "PAISA," "GERMANY: YEAR ZERO," "STROMBOLI," "AMORE," "ST. FRANCIS OF THE FLOWERS," "EUROPA 51," "VOYAGE TO ITALY," "SHOESHINE," "BICYCLE THIEF," "GOLD OF NAPLES," "OSSESSIONE," "LA TERRA TREMA," "SENSO" (Scorsese uses a breathtakingly beautiful restored print when discussing this technicolor Visconti film), "I VITELLONI" (the direct inspiration for "Mean Streets," as well as George Lucas' "American Graffitti"), "LA DOLCE VITA," "L'AVVENTURA," "THE ECLIPSE," and then closes the nearly 4 and half hour discussion with a brilliantly wide-scoped dissection of his favorite Italian film: "8-1/2."
24 of 27 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?