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Filmmaker Martin Scorsese interviews his mother and father about their life in New York and the family history back in Sicily. These are two people who have lived together for a long time ... See full summary »
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"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
An extremely intimate view of Italian Cinema of 50's & 60's
This is less a documentary than a visual diary of one man's selective view of Italian Cinema of the 50's & 60's. Of course, when that man is Martin Scorsese, it demands the attention of cineastes worldwide. In the introduction, one could assume that Scorsese will give a general view of the Italian films he saw as a child and as a young adult. But soon, he plunges into a hour plus mini-documentary of Roberto Rossellini. This is certainly understandable not only because Rossellini was a seminal Italian filmmaker, but because Scorsese in fact married into the family (via his ex Isabella). From there it's on to Visconti, De Sica, Fellini and Antonioni. And, that's about all. A few other filmmakers are touched upon briefly, but those five comprise the heart of the nearly 4 hour long film. Of course, rarely has a country given the world cinema a quintet as gifted as these five men. Still, it would have been illustrative if Scorsese had donated perhaps half and hour of the picture to a survey of the other Italian filmmakers of the era. These are mere quibbles, however. For no world class filmmaker (with the possible exception of Truffuat) has ever poured out so much emotion and depth of understanding for other directors as Scorsese has here. The portrayal of Rossellini in particular will be hard-pressed to ever be equaled - let alone surpassed. A demanding, yet essential film history.
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