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Film Review: ‘The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer’

Film Review: ‘The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer’
Popular TV satirist Pierfrancesco Diliberto, known as Pif, does a remarkable job negotiating the delicate balance between humor and heartrending emotion in his terrific feature debut, “The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer.” Highlighting the mob’s pernicious influence over average Sicilians, the pic takes an Everyman from childhood to maturity, showing how complacency and willful blindness allowed the Cosa Nostra to flourish until high-profile killings finally opened people’s eyes. Familiarity with the real figures involved helps build tension, but isn’t a requirement for appreciating the clever comedy and powerful message. B.O. returns after two weeks have been respectable.

Offshore, Euro arthouses may be the best way to go, while Italo showcases worldwide should race to program this rare laffer from a peninsula not known in recent years for intelligent satires. Pif is cognizant of the discomfort that will arise from jokes about figures whose reign of terror hobbled a nation,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Quando Sei Nato, Non Puoi Piu Nasconderti (Once You Are Born, You Can No Longer Hide)

Quando Sei Nato, Non Puoi Piu Nasconderti (Once You Are Born, You Can No Longer Hide)
A triumvirate of screenwriters basing their script on a book of news reportage, not surprisingly, is a formula for story overload. Such is the case in Italian filmmaker Marco Tullio Giordana's ambitious attempt to address Italy's immigrant problem.

Essentially divided into two distinctly different parts -- a movie and a film, "Once You're Born You Can No Longer Hide" has grains of what one might dub Italian Neo-neo Realism with its focus on the influx of African and Eastern European illegal immigrants into Italy. However, the opus' first movement, the movie part, is a family thriller, akin to a movie-of-the week as a young Italian boy falls overboard on his father's yacht.

Buoyed with the dynamics of the child's family, a hard-charging father (Alessio Boni) and a traditional mother (Michela Cescon), it's rousing and very involving. Most importantly, young Matteo Gadola's vibrant performance as Sandro draws us in. His decent character is, seemingly, our touchstone with Italy. Indeed, throughout this first section, Giordana's directorial hand is firm and the technical contributions top cabin, especially Roberto Forza's involving mix of subjective/objective shots

It's when the boy falls into the sea one evening that the production literally and figuratively goes overboard. After a harrowing, hallucinatory night in which the swim-team Sandro manages to keep afloat, he is picked up by what appear to be pirates. Not so, it's a boatload of African and Eastern European immigrants headed toward Italy. Crammed into a vessel that could best be called a junk( but not in the Chinese sense), the immigrants are at the mercy of their transporters, brigands. Sandro quickly bonds with a brother and sister from Rumania (Vlad Elexandru Toma, Ester Hazan), seemingly, the only Caucasians on the shabby boat.

In short, the storyline has takked from one survival trek to another as the immigrants must survive dehydration and the sadism of their transporters. They are ultimately cast adrift on their own and "saved" by Italian maritime border patrol.

Essentially, the scriptwriters have prismed the immigrant story through the most accessible foreigners, the two white European kids. The story now takks back and forth from a swing through the governmental bureaucracy to the personal reactions of Sandro's parents who contemplate adopting the youths. Ultimately, it drifts off toward ... well, toward nothing really. The film just fizzles and stops at an almost arbitrary point: We suspect that is some kind of summary statement of the whole immigrant situation, it just goes on. Indeed, another movie might involve the Ukrainian kids struggle to survive in a foreighn land that does not want them. Mainstream audiences, and even festival audiences, may not be as generous and feel like they've been cast adrift themselves.

The Best of Youth

The Best of Youth
Toronto International Film Festival

Spanning four decades in late 20th century Italy, Marco Tullio Giordana's "The Best of Youth" (La Meglio Gioventu) focuses on the intimate lives of two brothers who take divergent paths, as well as those of friends, lovers and children whose ideals are challenged by events and tragedies in their lives.

Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli approach their screenplay in a novelistic manner, using a six-hour-plus running time to layer in the details of these lives. This recent Miramax acquisition was originally filmed for Italian television, which explains the length of a movie presented theatrically in two parts. The film proved a major theatrical hit in Italy, but its length limits North American boxoffice to dedicated cineastes and festivalgoers. They will be amply rewarded.

The film begins in 1966, the year of the flood in Florence that brought out legions of young people determined to save that city's heritage of art and literature. It ends in the present day, which contains the film's only hint of magic realism. These years encompass the political upheaval of 1968 in Western Europe, where young people felt they could change the world

the tragedy of terrorism in the 1970s

the ups and downs of the economy

the Falcone assassination in 1992

and diversion of many characters' energies into family life and coming to terms with feelings of alienation and regret.

Of the brothers we meet in 1966, Matteo (Alessio Boni) is the more withdrawn and sullen, a man sensitive to the wrongs of society but one prone to fits of temper and frustration when things don't go his way. Nicola Luigi Lo Cascio) is more open and loving, at ease with women but reserved, engaged with the world and a seeker of love.

At a job in a mental hospital, Matteo meets Giorgia (Jasmine Trinca), a severely disturbed young woman who is being given electroshock therapy, the barbarity of which outrages him. When he, his brother and two pals take off on a summer trip to Norway, Matteo kidnaps Giorgia with the vague idea of rescuing her and returning her to her family. Only the family doesn't want her, and police pick her up at a train station.

Discouraged, Matteo abandons Nicola to return to Rome and impulsively joins the army rather than continuing with his studies. Nicola makes his way to Norway, where, out of money, he takes work in a lumber mill. He returns home to help in the flood in Florence, where he meets Giulia (Sonia Bergamasco), a free-spirited woman who becomes his lover and mother of his child, Sara.

Perhaps inspired by his encounter with Giorgia, Nicola pursues a career in psychiatry in Turin. Meanwhile, Matteo's career in the army and police -- jobs he seeks because they have "rules" -- is often jeopardized by a rebellious streak and violent behavior.

While on duty in Sicily in the late '70s, Matteo meets Mirella (Maya Sansa), a young photographer he will later encounter in Rome. They have a brief affair before tragedy overtakes Matteo. Meanwhile, Giulia becomes increasingly radicalized and deserts Nicola and Sara to enter the shadowy world of terrorism. Eventually, Nicola is faced with the decision of whether to aid police in capturing his ex-lover before she kills someone.

Perhaps the strongest influence here is Francois Truffaut in his early "Jules et Jim" period. For Giordana is less interested in social and political history than in how people fall in and out of love, how families operate and the role friendships play in the characters' lives. Giordana moves beyond psychology, viewing characters' behavior without trying to fully understand or explain them.

Lo Cascio and Boni inhabit their roles with keen intellectual and emotional vigor. Bergamasco and Sansa deliver sensitive portraits of conflicted women who struggle to bridge the gap between personal desires and responsibilities to others.

Production designer Franco Ceraolo and cinematographer Roberto Forza, shooting in Super 16mm, ably convey the changing landscape of Italy. The film's soundtrack consists in large measure of terrific pop songs from different eras.

THE BEST OF YOUTH

Miramax Films

Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana presents a Rai Fiction production

Credits:

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana

Screenwriters: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli

Producer: Angelo Barbagallo

Director of photography: Roberto Forza

Production designer: Franco Ceraolo

Costume designer: Elisabetta Montaldo

Editor: Roberto Missiroli

Cast:

Nicola: Luigi Lo Cascio

Matteo: Alessio Boni

Giulia: Sonia Bergamasco

Carlo: Fabrizio

Mirella: Maya Sansa

Francesca: Valentina Carnelutti

Giorgia: Jasmine Trinca

Angelo: Andrea Tidona

Running time -- 373 minutes

No MPAA rating

The Best of Youth

The Best of Youth
Toronto International Film Festival

Spanning four decades in late 20th century Italy, Marco Tullio Giordana's "The Best of Youth" (La Meglio Gioventu) focuses on the intimate lives of two brothers who take divergent paths, as well as those of friends, lovers and children whose ideals are challenged by events and tragedies in their lives.

Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli approach their screenplay in a novelistic manner, using a six-hour-plus running time to layer in the details of these lives. This recent Miramax acquisition was originally filmed for Italian television, which explains the length of a movie presented theatrically in two parts. The film proved a major theatrical hit in Italy, but its length limits North American boxoffice to dedicated cineastes and festivalgoers. They will be amply rewarded.

The film begins in 1966, the year of the flood in Florence that brought out legions of young people determined to save that city's heritage of art and literature. It ends in the present day, which contains the film's only hint of magic realism. These years encompass the political upheaval of 1968 in Western Europe, where young people felt they could change the world

the tragedy of terrorism in the 1970s

the ups and downs of the economy

the Falcone assassination in 1992

and diversion of many characters' energies into family life and coming to terms with feelings of alienation and regret.

Of the brothers we meet in 1966, Matteo (Alessio Boni) is the more withdrawn and sullen, a man sensitive to the wrongs of society but one prone to fits of temper and frustration when things don't go his way. Nicola Luigi Lo Cascio) is more open and loving, at ease with women but reserved, engaged with the world and a seeker of love.

At a job in a mental hospital, Matteo meets Giorgia (Jasmine Trinca), a severely disturbed young woman who is being given electroshock therapy, the barbarity of which outrages him. When he, his brother and two pals take off on a summer trip to Norway, Matteo kidnaps Giorgia with the vague idea of rescuing her and returning her to her family. Only the family doesn't want her, and police pick her up at a train station.

Discouraged, Matteo abandons Nicola to return to Rome and impulsively joins the army rather than continuing with his studies. Nicola makes his way to Norway, where, out of money, he takes work in a lumber mill. He returns home to help in the flood in Florence, where he meets Giulia (Sonia Bergamasco), a free-spirited woman who becomes his lover and mother of his child, Sara.

Perhaps inspired by his encounter with Giorgia, Nicola pursues a career in psychiatry in Turin. Meanwhile, Matteo's career in the army and police -- jobs he seeks because they have "rules" -- is often jeopardized by a rebellious streak and violent behavior.

While on duty in Sicily in the late '70s, Matteo meets Mirella (Maya Sansa), a young photographer he will later encounter in Rome. They have a brief affair before tragedy overtakes Matteo. Meanwhile, Giulia becomes increasingly radicalized and deserts Nicola and Sara to enter the shadowy world of terrorism. Eventually, Nicola is faced with the decision of whether to aid police in capturing his ex-lover before she kills someone.

Perhaps the strongest influence here is Francois Truffaut in his early "Jules et Jim" period. For Giordana is less interested in social and political history than in how people fall in and out of love, how families operate and the role friendships play in the characters' lives. Giordana moves beyond psychology, viewing characters' behavior without trying to fully understand or explain them.

Lo Cascio and Boni inhabit their roles with keen intellectual and emotional vigor. Bergamasco and Sansa deliver sensitive portraits of conflicted women who struggle to bridge the gap between personal desires and responsibilities to others.

Production designer Franco Ceraolo and cinematographer Roberto Forza, shooting in Super 16mm, ably convey the changing landscape of Italy. The film's soundtrack consists in large measure of terrific pop songs from different eras.

THE BEST OF YOUTH

Miramax Films

Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana presents a Rai Fiction production

Credits:

Director: Marco Tullio Giordana

Screenwriters: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli

Producer: Angelo Barbagallo

Director of photography: Roberto Forza

Production designer: Franco Ceraolo

Costume designer: Elisabetta Montaldo

Editor: Roberto Missiroli

Cast:

Nicola: Luigi Lo Cascio

Matteo: Alessio Boni

Giulia: Sonia Bergamasco

Carlo: Fabrizio

Mirella: Maya Sansa

Francesca: Valentina Carnelutti

Giorgia: Jasmine Trinca

Angelo: Andrea Tidona

Running time -- 373 minutes

No MPAA rating

See also

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