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Arrêtez-moi (2013)
9/10
A very poignant movie, skillfully directed and superbly acted.
3 October 2015
A very poignant movie with a harsh subject and a claustrophobic setting. For me it was a riveting experience. Most of the film is deployed against the background of a French police station of the province. The gist of the story is communicated by the interaction between the two female leads, Sophie Marceau, the guilty woman that after ten years of the facts, comes to denounce herself for the assassination of her abusive husband, and Miou-Miou, the old hand and weary lieutenant of police that, due to her bad luck, was on duty filling the night shift. At first, I was very doubtful about seeing this kind of film. I hate to spend time watching appalling crimes in the news media . Lately one of the most commons is that of beat up women, poor human beings that has to endure a very hell in earth, trapped in the intimacy of a relationship that went very wrong. But cinema is art and in my opinion, Jean-Paul Lilienfeld, the director and the script writer of the film, was very skillful in the way that he presented the flashback scenes, those that show us the awful violence that the character of Sophie Marceau must suffer. If he would used a more graphical approach, the emotional charge of the viewer would be impossible to bear and the taste of the entire film would be put in doubt. But the technical approach was impeccable, and the spectator empathizes with the protagonist without loosing her/his mind and the attention to the plot. And of course, kudos for the leading ladies. Sophie Marceau, the guilty one, and also the victim, was right in the money all the time. A great piece of acting in a long and solid career beginning at the age of thirteen in the successful film La Boum. And Miou-Miou, another wonderful trouper of the French cinema with 89 titles under her belt, was a perfect unmovable object for the irresistible force of the stubborn Sophie Marceau. It's a clash of two strongly determined women, that in the end, learn to respect each other. In conclusion, an stirring story of a very much mistreated woman, seeking to put an end to her suffering that it has not ceased with the death of her nasty husband, and of a very cynical and weary police officer that learned something about herself in the process.
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8/10
Pozzeto style of humor with an added message.
6 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Guerrino (Renato Pozzetto) is a premature widower that owns a grape farmland and elaborates his own brand of wine. But his life is incomplete. He was very fond of his late wife and now he continues living under the leash of his ex mother in law, even they share the conjugal bed to the scorn of his town friends. A very kinky situation. But in a trip to Milan all that way of life goes to pieces. In front of the emblematic Duomo, he sees a beautiful girl, dressed in a traditional wedding gown, doing a photo session because she, evidently, works as a model. Guerrino can't help to hear the siren call of that girl (Ornella Muti), a haunting vision born in a romantic fairy tale, and without thinking, he follows her to the hotel where she is living. But he notes that something is wrong with her. She is very sad, drinking alone in a table and he seeks courage to talk to her, also making a libation of his own. Due to the fogginess caused for the booze, both characters, end up in the same hotel room and Guerrino by mistake, drinks a great dose of barbiturate that Chantal (the name of the model) has prepared to commit suicide. He winds up in a hospital and she falls in love with her savior. All is romantic and perfect. Guerrino doesn't want to believe in his luck. His gorgeous new wife is the envy and the coveted object of his old buddies. His ex mother in law is resentful and rambles around the mansion peeping through keyholes and putting her ears against the walls with the hope of finding a crack in the matrimonial bliss of Guerrino and Chantal. All goes well until some fateful day an strange woman with a kid are visiting an embarrassed Chantal. The woman brings with her a trunk, apparently with personal effects of the, now very annoyed Chantal. The trunk is a veritable Pandora Box. Once opened, a shocking revelation will put to the test the love of the starring couple. Renato Pozzetto has a very personal style of humor. Someone says it is surreal. He is absurdly serious. He confronts the ridicule and the absurd with enormous dignity. He has a good manly voice and a prosperous tummy. He is a great Italian character very popular in the cinema of late 1970s, 1980s and beyond. In front of him, in this movie, he has Ornella Muti. It's true what the title says: Nobody is Perfect. But Ornella is better than perfect. Her features have made her an icon of beauty because she is a natural cinema actress. She is not a simple model in a magazine. A beautiful and lifeless image. She is vibrant, magnetic, charming and intense. All in all this is a very interesting picture, with sense of humor (Pozzetto Style) and a message against the intolerance. The film boasts a catchy musical score at charge of Riz Ortolani and a very precise direction in the hands of Pasquale Festa Campanile who was a very experienced and gifted man. For example, he co-wrote the script of the legendary film "Il Gattopardo aka The Leopard" (1963) and also penned the novel "La Ragazza Di Trieste" upon which is based the movie with the same title (1982) starring Ben Gazzara and Ornella Muti and directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile himself.
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9/10
This story is melancholic and rings true.
29 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Known also as "Break up" I prefer the original Italian title, "Eutanasia Di Un Amore", that lends this movie more individuality. Based on the definition of Merrian-Webster Dictionary, euthanasia is the act or practice of killing someone very ill or injured, in order to prevent any more suffering. Place the words "a love relationship" instead of "someone" and the meaning of this reflexive, melancholic and realistic movie looms very clearly for all to see. The story revolves around an university professor and writer in his early forties, Paolo (Tony Musante) and is loosely structured in three episodes: The sudden and apparently baseless act of departing of his young lover and ex student Sena (Ornella Muti) that leaves him utterly hurt and baffled. He tries all kind of strategic moves to see her again and talks her out of her resolution. This part ends with a voyage to Paris, to the Sorbone, where Sena is, seemingly having a new affair with a mustachioed young man. Paolo collapses completely and get sick. He suffers a painful lumbago and the doctor prescribes him sea baths. The second part is the key to the picture. Sena is back. She accompanies him to the sea shore and the love is rekindled. But the problem that it separated them appears with stark clarity (I will not reveal this point). Now, Paolo understands. He is a very reflexive man, an authentic professor trying to comprehend the emotional life of men and women from an intellectual point of view. He has a very dark view about the humanity, their deeds and the future of the world. Senna, also, is sympathetic with the views of Paolo but she feels that the woman in her, is speaking louder than his ideas inside her mind. She has been in love with him and also she has been in awe and dominated by his stature as a professor and his unquestioned arguments. But he has been blind to her needs, too sure of his intellectual superiority that he ignored the simple feelings of his lover, a younger person in a different stage of her life. And thus, she sees the rupture, inevitable. The third part encounters Paolo fighting against his despair but with lesser conviction than before, because, now he knows what is it all about. He roams by the sea, flirts with a beautiful and sensible girl (interpreted by the young and attractive Monica Guerritore) and finally accepts his destiny: he will continue living without Sena. Tony Musante was a very skillful and versatile actor who worked very well in the cinema, the TV and the stage. I remember him like a fearsome sociopath in The Incident (1967) and the next year, in The Detective starring Frank Sinatra. And, of course, I admired his acting in the short life TV series Toma. In this film he doesn't disappoint and performs with conviction the nuances of his educated character. Ornella Muti is wonderful. Her beauty is breathtaking and her intense personality doesn't need many words to express her feelings. Certainly, she is a girl to fight for and I love each time she is in front of the camera. Behind the camera, the final responsibility was assumed by Enrico Maria Salerno, a very well known actor with 120 credits in this capacity but with only 6 as a director (I consulted the IMDb). I like very much his work in this film. The mood, the locations, the way he handles the leading actors and the situations. Another asset is the music, aptly romantic and melancholic (I thank the composer Daniele Patucchi). Well, it's no secret that I value this relatively unknown and forgotten picture. I desire that in a near future, this situation changes and that we see "Eutanasia Di Un Amore" in a really worthy copy.
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No Man's Land (1962)
6/10
A very forgotten film with the participation of Sir Roger before The Saint.
2 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A very rare film, shot in black and white and set during the German occupation of Italy in the year of 1943. Its cast is lead by French actress Pascale Petit and Roger Moore, but the story is rather a work of an ensemble than a vehicle for a protagonist. It is not a war picture but a drama behind the lines. A group of traveling persons end up as prisoners of a German sergeant and his squad, in an isolated and precarious cabin in the country. Let's list the principal characters in the story: Pascale Petit as Giuditta, is the orphan girl, beautiful and courageous. She has suffered a great bereavement due to the death of her little brother, an innocent child that was shot by a squad of German soldiers looking for escapees of a concentration camp. Her contempt to all German soldiers is erroneously interpreted by the sergeant who has a very sick notion of his self importance. He claims that he is not a Nazi monster but a German soldier. All the prisoners are at his mercy but he pretends that Giuditta goes to his room and makes love to him by her own choice. To that end, he coaxes all the others by threatening them, even to be shot if they don't cooperate in persuading the girl. All the group is under great stress. Roger Moore is Enzo, a soldier that fought in the fronts of Yuguslavia and Russia and he is going back to his home after being licensed. But the German sergeant thinks that he is lying and that he is instead a deserter. Enzo is the knight in a white horse and he is willing to take action in defense of Giuditta. But the others doesn't believe in the purity of his intentions because they notice that he has fallen in love with the girl. There is nothing to be ashame of, in the participation of Sir Roger in this humble film. As always, he is a strong hero and after completing this obligation, he would go back to England to initiate the filming of the TV series "The Saint", a great move in his career, indeed. The German sergeant was aptly acted by the Austrian actor Carl Schell, brother of Maria Schell (known in Hollywood for The Hanging Tree, The Karamazov Brothers and Cimarron) and also brother of Maximilian Schell (Academy Award Winning for Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961). He was good in being menacing without exaggerations. Another character was the Italian soldier tortured by the Gestapo acted by Renato De Carmine. He has no fear because he feels he is very sick and thinks that his end is near. He has a bad attitude, and his cynical remarks wind up annoying everyone. But also is the only one ready to fight along Enzo. And at last, we arrive to "Un Branco Di Vigliacchi" (A Bunch of Cowards). The two married couples and the two drivers. Aroldo Tieri and Luisa Mattioli (future Mrs. Moore in real life) interpret one of the couples. Frank Villard and Scila Gabel make up the other couple. They are always plotting to continue their journey no matter the consequences for the other prisoners. The driver of the jalopy truck is Bautista (Memmo Carotenuto), always worrying about the fares of his passengers, and the man who was trying to help Giuditta to get away of her village is a devious character acted by Aldo Bufi Landi. Of course he annoys her with her romantic insinuations, totally out of place. And the American officer at the end of the picture is represented by Archie Savage. At the helm of this multinational group was Fabrizio Taglioni also the writer of the story. He has to deal with a low budget and a crowded cast. But the film has no pretenses of being a masterpiece. Nevertheless it's no so bad either. It tries to portrait a difficult time in the lives of the Italian people. A country besieged by the ravages of war. Invaded by the Germans, yesterday allies, but now oppressors. At the end of 1943, the Americans were pushing the Germans out of Italy. And the civil population were doing what they could, cajoling the favors of the ones or the others, following the contingencies of war. When one must survive in such environment, it seems that the ethics is thrown away and the basic instincts reigns supremely. Like the voice in off at the start of the picture says (forgive me for the translation): the good ones, the more generous and the innocents pay the price, often with their lives, and the cowards, escape unscathed.
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6/10
A treasure trove for nostalgics of Sir Roger.
26 July 2015
This is really a rare movie. A totally forgotten one. In its times, it was lost among the deluge of others, more fortunate films of the genre so called "swords and sandals". It was a veritable Tower of Babel, mixing English, French, Italian, German and another languages between the cast and the crew. Today, it has survived in versions with dubbing in German, Spanish and French but not in English or Italian. Even it exists a copy in Russian, with the voices that make the translation, overlaying to the dialogue in German. And the formats are a nightmare. There are in the old 4:3 proportion, and in the new 16:9 standard, even in the original 2.35:1. And the editions of the film are also different, so don't dream about putting the sound track that you understand, in place of the one in another language because it's a task for the Mission Impossible Force. Nevertheless I confess that I like this unwanted concoction. Let's begin with the cast. Romulus is Roger Moore. This was the year 1961 and The Saint, The Persuaders! and James Bond were in the future. Sir Roger came from Hollywood, where in the fifties he had participated in a series of films for MGM and WB without much of a success. But in TV, already, he had three series under his belt: Ivanhoe, The Alaskans and the Fourth Season of Maverick replacing the great James Garner. Instead of muscle he created a very likable Romulus. Handsome, proud, ambitious, cunning but also vulnerable and caring. If you are a fan of Sir Roger, he will not disappoint you in this role. The romantic interest is brought about by french actress Mylene Demongeot, a sight for a sore eyes. She is Rea, the daughter of the King of the Sabines. She is breathtakingly beauty but she is consecrated as a Vestal, truly a precarious position for such alluring girl. Today Mylene is recognized as an excellent actress. But Romulus also elicits passions. Scilla Gabel, is the other woman in his life, the Fenician amazon Dusia. Scilla was the Stand-in of Sophia Loren and, in order to earn this job, a woman would have to be voluptuous and very well built. Scilla filled the bill and also had a volcanic temper. But the picture not only deals in lust and passion, there is also tenderness. The young lovers, Lavinia and Lino are very well represented by Giorgia Moll and Marino Mase. Giorgia was known for her part of a Vietamese girl, in the movie The Quiet American (1958). And the Olympic Gods, Venus and Mars, enter in a dream sequence while Romulus is asleep in the temple, debating about the merits of love and war as the driving force in the souls of little mortals. Specially invited for these roles were the Italian temptress, Rossana Schiaffino and the tough and multifaceted French actor, Jean Marais. Furthermore, among the beautiful Women of the Sabines, there is Luisa Mattioli as Silvia. For those who loves trivia, Luisa would become the third wife of Sir Roger and would abandon her incipient cinematic career in favor of the role of mother in real life. And acting as Titus Tasio, king of the Sabines, we found the experienced Italian actor Folco Lulli. The man who prevented the collapse of this Tower of Babel was the Austrian director Richard Pottier. Evidently, an expert in juggling different languages. The result was incredibly good. The story is based in the well known legend of the Kidnap of the Sabines Women, it has action and sense of humor, and it is apt for all audiences. It's not all about war and heroism and brute force. It's about how to be a just leader, a king and a companion and in the end choosing between a glorious future as a powerful monarch or the anonymous destiny beside the woman that one loves.
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Bebo's Girl (1964)
8/10
Claudia Cardinale is the soul of the film.
18 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The film starts in 1944 when the American Troops make their triumphal entry in a little Italian town during the last stages of World War II. Mara (Claudia Cardinale) is the belle of the town and she is tired of living between the ravages of the war but she is very strong-willed and she dreams of finding the right man to leave her one horse town. One day she meets Bebo (George Chakiris), a young ex partisan with a fame of a courageous killer and now a comrade of her father in the ranks of the Italian communist party. She ends up engaged to the young man, who is exasperatingly spartan with words and totally lacking the social skills to courting Mara. And to make things worse, the day that he is at last talking to Mara, he tells her candidly that in a fit of rage, after a friend of his is murdered by a sergeant, he killed, first the sergeant, and then the sergeant's son that has nothing to do with the first killing, but that he has been a witness to the violent death of his father. Bebo is very confused, and his comrades organize his escape to Yugoslavia until the matter of the killings be forgotten. Mara and Bebo make love the last night before his departure to exile, and she promises him to be loyal to the compromise and wait for his return. But the time is a very powerful enemy. Mara leaves her village and goes to a bigger city where she is employed as a laundry girl. He meets Stefano, a worker in a printing shop and her resolve of not breaking her engagement to Bebo, falters. Stefano is kind, articulated, helpful, romantic. All the things that Bevo is not. She is now working in the printing shop with Stefano and she thinks that she deserves this opportunity to be really happy. But one fine day her father tells her that Bevo has been detained in the frontier and that the police will bring him to a court charged with double assassination. Reluctantly she agrees to meet Bevo in jail and, suddenly, the past rushes over her. He is not the man he used to be. He needs desperately of her, and he tells her so. This is a decisive moment in the story and is very well played by the two leading actors. The film is an excellent showcase for the talented and gorgeous Claudia Cardinale. She is the very soul of this movie and if you are a fan of hers you'll not be disappointed. The movie was directed by Luigi Comencini, generally associated with the comedy Italian style. In this case, a post war romantic drama, he was successful in capturing the mood of that time and the poignant sentimental conflict in the soul of her leading lady Claudia Cardinale.
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8/10
A violent drama without fancy gun-play.
27 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It's a redundancy to say it. Chow Yun Fat is one of icons of the Hong Kong Cinema before the Handover (the accorded devolution of the famous Britannic colony to the Chinese people in 1997). He worked intensely in TV and in the silver screen at the early years of the 1980s but the fame seemed to evade him. It was "A better tomorrow" directed by John Woo in 1986 the film that finally did the trick for him. The Story of Woo Viet is a rare film of 1981. There is no fancy gun-play in it, no choreography with guns or with martial arts. It is a harsh movie centered in a Vietnamese refugee (Chow Yun Fat), that after a hazardous escape in a precarious boat full of illegal immigrants from Vietnam, arrives to Hong Kong looking for a chance to reach the United States. But things go awry and during an scale in Manila (Phylipines), a criminal gang kidnaps his newfound girlfriend with the intent of exploiting her as a prostitute. What follows is the desperate intent of Woo Viet to rescue his lover. The two women in the movie are also well known in the Hong Kong Cinema. Cherie Chung Chor Hung plays the love interest of Chow Yun Fat. She also was a relatively obscure actress in 1981. Soon, this situation was to change and Cherie was become one of the brightest stars until her premature retirement in 1991 due to her change of profession (she married and became a full time housewife). The other woman in the story was Cora Miao, an interesting and serious actress who was reunited with Crerie Chung and Chow Yun Fat in the Shaw Brothers film "Women" (1985) and previously, only with the prolific Chow in the drama also produced by the Shaw Brothers, "Love in a Fallen City" (1984). At the helm of the Story of Woo Viet was Ann Hui On Wah a very renowned director in the Honk Kong and Chinese Cinema. Her most recent work was "The Golden Era" (2014) the chronicle of the brief and tragic life of the writer Xiao Hong. In conclusion, the Story of Woo Viet is a good drama. And for fans of the stars working on it is a "must see". Pity, the DVD edition I saw was very old and the source material was poor.
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8/10
A powerful epic drama at the south extreme of South America.
10 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
It was a very interesting film for me. I confess that, previously, I had never heard about a character named Julius Popper. But he really was a shady historical figure, a kind of "conquistador" of the late nineteenth century, who was driven to the island of "Tierra del Fuego" in the southernmost extreme of South America, in search of gold, glory, power, lands and adventure not necessarily in this order. The movie was based in a book of tales entitled "Tierra del Fuego" written by the prestigious novelist born in Chile, Francisco Coloane and in documents like diaries. photographs and chronicles of Popper himself. The locations in the film are imposing. They show us a forbidden landscape, semiarid and very cold, slanted rays of sun that generate long shadows and a desolated beach of rocks and rubble constantly being buffeted by the gelid ocean water. The starring role is fulfilled with great power and authority by the Cuban actor Jorge Perugorría. Popper is portrayed as a man full of contradictions, sometimes a genius, an inventor, an engineer, a scientist, others a madman, a little Hernán Cortés, an impractical dreamer and sadly and finally, a responsible for a genocide. His followers are the human derelicts of various nationalities, frustrated people that have been pushed or have fled from their countries, and they have arrived at the end of the known world against all hope looking for fortune. They are easily rallied by the charismatic Popper. Novak (Nelson Villagra), the implacable military man, Silveira (Nacho Novo), the Spanish bagpipe player born and brought up in Galicia with a tragic background, Shaeffer((Álvaro Rudolphy), the drunkard and Spiro (Claudio Santamaría), the Italian fortune hunter. And there are two women in the adventure of Popper. Armenia (Ornella Muti), head of a group of prostitutes. She was very effective in the role. Like always, when is required, she delivers a strong performance, and the only catch in these case, is that she has not enough time in the screen to fully develop her character. Armenia is the financial backer and partner of Popper and constantly reminds him that he came to this forgotten of God place, to find gold and make a fortune for both. She is finally disappointed and her no- nonsense attitude is very clear in front of the grandiloquent delusions and bad decisions of Popper. She ends up joining Spiro, knowing that gold is a chimera and that the real riches are found in working the land and breeding sheep, like others landowners do in that region. Mennar (Tamara Acosta) is the other woman in the story. Ex slave of Armenia, she is freed by Popper who is fascinated for her beauty and dignity and when he knows that she is a queen of the "Onas" (Selknam), he dreams of creating an empire mixing both cultures and bringing the tribe from the barbarity to civilization. Of course, the aborigines resents the slave work that they are forced to do and the lack of a common language, further increases the frustration and they flee, seeking refuge in their natural habitat. In a fit of rage Popper incites to the genocide, offering a reward in gold for whoever kills a native and bring back a sample of his deed, meaning an ear or a genital. Unfortunately this killing was an historical fact that blackened once more the history of the conquest of America. The film was directed by Miguel Littin, an experimented Chilean director who also took part in the writing of the script. It was said that the result was not satisfactory, that the narrative was confusing and the characters were shallows. But this whole historical episode is in itself messy. I liked the professionalism of the cast and the impact of the story. Thanks to this film, I took conscience for the first time of the existence of Julius Popper, his crazy scheme for harvesting gold out of the sea water and the tragic clash of different cultures that almost wiped out the tribe of the "Onas" (Selknam).
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Summer Affair (1971)
7/10
Summer Affair is not exactly true to the original Italian film.
26 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie in format 4:3, with a very mediocre quality of image, with a serviceable English dubbing under the title of "Summer Affair". At first I was disconcerted, because I knew that the original film was made in Italy under the title of "Il Solle Nella Pelle" something like The Sun on the Skin. I compared running times between the English version and the original Italian version using the data in the IMDb and verified that the first was 9 minutes shorter than the second. I was unable to get a copy of the original Italian version but I read the plot in a post of the web and, to my surprise, the ending was significantly altered and the mood of the original seemed to be more dark, more like a police account. All in all, Summer Affair is not only a dubbing job but a re cut of the original film with the addition of a disco act a little anachronistic for 1971 and the editing of the darker parts and the tragic finale. So let's talk about "Summer Affair". The core of the story was retained. Lisa (Ornella Muti) the only child of a rich industrialist falls in love for the first time in her tender 16 years old with Robert (Alessio Orano), a rebellious guy that travels along with a bunch of hippies. Obviously the parents of Lisa are appalled, particularly the father (Chris Avram) makes the mistake of forbid her daughter to ever see again such a bum. Lisa disobeys this order. Robert tries to say farewell to Lisa because he confess his longing to undertake a long sea voyage. She invites him to a property of her family by the sea as the last opportunity to be together. Without thinking of the consequences, they borrow a small sail boat and take off for a ride. But the boat get caught in a shallow rock and both youngsters are marooned in a desert island. This was the second feature film of Ornella's career and she was only 16 years old. Yes. She was naked or half naked for the first time before the camera. But I have to say that, in my opinion, the director Giorgio Stegani was very subtle and ended up with a very beautiful set of sensual images, specially the swimming moment and the scenes at the sand beach. He never forgot that it was not an X rated movie but the story of discovering for the first time, little by little the power of the eroticism, the sexiness of a young naked body and the defeat of the freezing shyness mixing with a good dose of fear. Furthermore, Robert was an authentic gentleman hippie, more like an older brother and a teacher. His love for her is pure and tender. When Lisa confesses that she doesn't know how to make love and that makes her feel insecure, Robert tells her that she must not rush into it and that he is willing to wait for the right moment, when all will come naturally. The love making is reduced to a series of ardent kisses under the sun. But this fairy tale is abruptly put to an end when the police and the media arrive. The father is very harsh with the boy, the press is cynical and the whole affair is a big scandal, ending in the walk of shame of Lisa and Robert handcuffed and running desperately towards the vessel in which his lost love is returning to her home. Once again, like in The Most Beautiful Woman before and in "Experiencia Prematrimonial" later, the chemistry between Ornella Muti and Alessio Orano is potent. It's a perfect blend of the sweet, shy and precocious girl possessing a sensuous body and angelical face with the blue eyed, dark long hair, dangerously handsome boy having a bad attitude for social correctness. This great combination is the strong point of Summer Affair. The downside is always the same. If you treat a thing like trash, this thing winds up being a trash. "Il Sole Nella Pelle" has been altered, edited, adulterated, used and abused. Fragments of the film has been scattered around the web, distorting the essence of the story. In conclusion, this movie would deserve a better treatment to regain its worthiness.
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7/10
Dated but sincere and essential for Ornella Muti's fans.
19 April 2015
"Experiencia Prematrimonial" are two words that evoke powerful and conflicting emotions among Spanish talking people with enough age to remember the early seventies. Uttering these words originated instant polemic within the family, especially the adults ranted against the new ways of modern society and they contended that the world was crumbling and sinking in a moral marshland. Pedro Masó, an Spanish director with a knack for melodramas, put in the big screen what was transpiring in his society, with the story of two young university students that decide to test their love, living like a married couple without being married (that's what it called "Experiencia Prematrimonial"). He explored the pros and cons of the concept and ended up destroying it in favor of the well established ethical standards of the epoch. Time is cruel and today this movie seems totally dated and results incomprehensible for young people, specially those from other social contexts. Having said that, nevertheless, I think that the picture is very well crafted and that contains a certain universal truth about the generational clashes. The attitude of the young girl (Alejandra) in favor of the new system is exuberantly honest and it makes me wonder if things have changed very much since then or simply we learn to pay lip service to the old rules still in practice, and after that, we do in private what it fits our needs. The strong side of the film is in the cast. Lovely Ornella Muti in her teenage years interprets Alejandra aka Jandra, a ravishing combination of naivety and maturity, a warm, sweet and lovable girl, but at the same time a young woman with firm convictions. Opposite to her, it was Alessio Orano, a handsome actor with a dark side. They made three films together (this was the last one) and always, in front of the camera, their chemistry worked perfectly. In real life, they were married between 1975 and 1981. Their voices were dubbed for the original Spanish version of the film and the result was good. Alberto Closas, a very renowned actor in Spain and Latin America, has a good part, as the sincere defender of the established moral order, and Cristina Suriani is an adequate sexy girl and the source of the discord between the two principal characters. Like I have said it in another revisions, this movie of the early career of Ornella Muti needs a better copy. All it seems more drab and amateurish in a picture's frame cut to 4:3, with faded colors in the photography, grainy texture and blurred image. It's like seeing an old vignette. However I like the experience of watching this honest melodrama. Hope is the last thing that one would loose and so, I look forward the DVD edition.
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10/10
Astonishing debut of Ornella Muti in a tale of the Mafia.
11 April 2015
Damiano Damini, the director of "La Moglie Piu Bella", two years earlier,in 1968, had made a movie about "la Mafia" titled "Il Giorno Della Civetta" starring Franco Nero, Claudia Cardinale and Lee J. Cobb. It was a stark tale, showing the helplessness of the law enforcers in front of the resignedly accepted power of the Mafia. In 1970 he had another project about the Organization, the story, loosely based in real facts, of the first Italian woman that refused the reparation by marriage of her lost honor. Instead she had the courage to denounce the violence that she suffered, at the local police station. It was very important to choose someone special for acting the leading role. Damiano Damiani chose the teenager Ornella Muti (14 years old), without previous experiences in front of the camera, to play the humbled girl, Francesca Cimarosa, who, at first, is very shy and submissive but gradually becomes a strong character person, fighting for her dignity even against her own parents that are frightened because of intimidation of the Mafia. It was said by Ornella Muti in several interviews, that she was making company to her older sister Claudia Rivelli, who was herself in search of a role in pictures when, suddenly, by pure chance, was saw by Damiani and that was all. Overnight, the teenager that was dreaming about being an actress, was in front of the camera, in an exigent leading role, making her cinematic debut under the implacable and experienced hand of Damiani. In my opinion it was a superb choice. Ornella was beautiful, shy, reserved, intense, brave and she was capable of projecting these qualities to the screen, reaching this way, the heart and the interest of the audience. An authentic natural talent, not always appreciated during the long career of the diva, always eclipsed by the sheer beauty and sexiness of her physique. Alesio Orano, future first husband of Ornella Muti in real life, plays the part of the nephew of the "local capo". At that time, he was a heartthrob, handsome, long dark hair and blue eyes. He is the dream love of the young heroine but also he possesses a streak of cruelty and he is absolutely perfect in his role. Gaetano Cimarrosa is excellent, acting as the intimidated father and Pierluigi Aprá is very efficient as the local "carabinieri", a helpless but honest police officer. It was said that this film is about feminism, but I consider it a story that has to do with the basic human dignity and choosing to live without fear in a society whose ethical values are profoundly twisted by the existence of the shady and stealth hand of the organized crime.
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8/10
Funny comedy with plenty of absurd situations.
4 April 2015
Like others Italian comedians of that period, Paolo Villagio participates in the writing of the script and also stars in this movie as a peddler, Leo Gavazzi, working for a firm specialized in all sorts of toys oriented to make practical jokes (innocent ones) to the unsuspecting victims. It's a thankless and dated job. And he is eternally plagued with little mishaps that put his life in one absurd situation after another. Of course, Paolo Villagio is an veteran buffoon, with lot of experience in vaudeville, in television and in cinema and he also is a writer of books of satiric style. As Leo, he is hilarious, a timid person, fumbler and mumbler, more clumsy than ever, but always going forward. The director, Steno, same as his leading actor, is a veteran of the Italian cinema with 80 credits as a director and 127 as a writer. His style is non intrusive. The action flows from one gag to another and the contrived plot, fluffy as it is, holds its cohesion throughout the picture. In this occasion, these two old hands, are teamed up with the young Ornella Muti. I have already said it in another revisions: she is gorgeous!. But in this comedy, she creates her own character, as Rosetta Foschini (she prefers being called Giada), an insecure employee with the job of announcing news concerning the state of the railroad schedules at the Roma terminal station. She is a perfect girl but also myopic, a real feminine "Mr. Magoo". When her eyeglass are accidentally broken, she transforms in the ideal companion of adventures of the clumsy and not too handsome Leo. Completing the cast, there is the french good looking actor, Jean Sorel. He is a shady character and he competes with Leo for the affections of Giada. Poor Jean!. He doesn't know that love is blind!. I find this movie frankly crazy, screwball type, not particularly satirical. In fact Bonnie And Clyde of the 80 is the unfortunate way in which the Italian media refers to Giada and Leo, wrongly accused of committing a bank robbery when instead they were blameless hostages of the real perpetrators. Aside of that fact, the story has nothing to do with the tragic narration of the real lovers and bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde. All in this film is silly and absurd and only seeks our laughs. In my case, it succeeded. Rhapsody, the title's song, is sang in English by Bonnie Bianco aka Lory Bianco. It's a powerful theme very typical of the '80. Around this time in 1983, she starred in a very popular (in Europe) TV miniseries named "Cinderella of the Eighties" alongside the heartthrob Pierre Coso, Adolfo Celli and Sylva Koscina.
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Appassionata (1974)
7/10
Polemic story, not for all tastes.
31 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is very controversial because of its theme: the incestuous passion of a teenager daughter for his father. Nevertheless it's not an X-rated film. It's an Italian picture, category "A", very well done and with an outstanding cast in the starring roles. Dr. Emilio Rutelli (Gabrielle Ferzzetti) is the father of a middle class family, a professional dentist, a middle age man, a paragon of virtue because his wife Elisa, acted by Valentina Cortese, suffers of a chronic psychological illness that prevents her to fulfill her duties, both as a wife and as a mother. It's a hard experience to endure, because in the past she has been a concert piano player, and she maintains the ways of a diva, wandering about her house in her dream world. Nevertheless her husband refuses commit her to an institution because she is partially in touch with the reality and she is very attached to her house with her piano and her wardrobe full of beautiful party dresses and to her only teenage daughter, Eugenia (Ornella Muti), to whom she treats as a child. Emilio has no heart to separate her of her familiar surroundings and he is incapable to admit that this situation has created a void in his sexual life and that he is acting in the role of father and mother of his daughter who is passing through the difficult period of a girl becoming a woman. And to make matters worse, the intimate friend of his daughter, Nicola (Eleonora Giorgi) feels that she is abandoned by her parents due to her father is a diplomat and he is residing outside the country, and she transforms a dental consult in a quick sex session for the embarrassment of Dr. Emilio who, in a first moment, thinks that the anesthetic agent has clouded the good sense of his young patient. This is the first step to his fall because the flesh was stronger that ethics. The young girls are interpreted by Ornella Muti and Eleonora Giorgi, both beautiful, and living a kind of rivalry, outside and inside the movie: the brunette versus the blonde. They give the edge to this film because they act very well, both are sexy and they make some brief bold scenes. Sadly, this is the only time that they met in front of the camera. Many years later, in 2003, they met in opposite sides of the camera when Eleonora Giorgi chose her old friend Ornella Muti to act in her "Ópera Prima" as a director "Uomini & Donne, Amori & Bugie". Kudos for Valentina Cortese and her excellent portrait of a deranged woman. I knew she was a very capable actress because I have seen her starring in The house on Telegraph Hill (1951) along her husband at that time, Richard Basehart and in supporting roles in Malaya (1949) with Spencer Tracy and James Stewart and The Barefoot Contesa (1954) with Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner and Rossano Brazzi. In conclusion the director of Appassionata (Passionate), Gian Luigi Calderone, describes cinematically the antecedents that lead to the polemic denouement of the film and it's up to us if we are satisfied or not with the psychological background that he offers to our consideration. Very good film to discuss in a forum after its projection. But, what is a real "mission impossible" is to find a good copy of this peculiar movie.
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8/10
Poignant story of ex convict and his efforts to know the destiny of his six year old child.
25 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This film is basically a creation of the multi talented Italian actor/ singer Fracesco Nuti. He is the director, the leading actor and he collaborated in the writing of the script. The narrative is very simple. Romeo Casamonica (Franesco Nuti) has been imprisoned for 5 years because he committed a robbery at gun point. He served his sentence and he is set free. When he arrives at his house he finds out that all has changed. The Americans have built a condominium and his personal effects has been stashed in a cellar, underground five levels. He gives all his things to the young punks that inhabit the place and after he contemplates old photographs of his past he decides that his only immediate objective is to look for his son of six years old. The mother of the child, incapable to keep her baby, gave him to the state, and departed for her East Germany natal. Romeo meets the director of the Institution that arranged the adoption of his son and he receive a harsh treatment because of his condition of ex convict. But in the night he hacks the computer and discovers the names and address of the adoptive parents of Lorenzo, his child. Celeste (Ornella Muti) and Sandro (Roberto Alpi)) live in the Valle D'Aosta in a mountain cabin named Paradiso. He is a naturalist, dedicated to research the behavior of the wild goats (ibexes) and obsessed with the possibility of finding an albino goat, a very rare specimen of this species. He is reserved and has frequent quarrels with his wife because he is absent most of the time in pursuit of his demanding research. Romeo is attracted to Celeste and offers his help to Sandro in his investigation. Romeo bungles and has an accident when he is rammed by a wild goat and the couple takes him to their cabin and gives him the room of their son, Lorenzo, temporarily absent because he has no school and he is spending his holidays by the sea. When Lorenzo (acted by Marco Vivio) returns to the cabin, Romeo sees the love that Celeste and Sandro have for the child. He feels that he is a total stranger but he also is determined to gain the friendship of the little one. ¿Will he succeed? ¿How would react Celeste and Lorenzo if they knew the true relation between Romeo and Lorenzo?. This is a tender movie, immersed from start to finish in the easy charm and ways of Francesco Nuti. The natural scenario is fabulous, the albino ibex that it was showed in the movie, was a fake contrived for the good of the film (I was reading that in 2007 was seen a real white specimen at the height of 2300 meters, in the woods of Mount Emilius, the peak near Valle d'Aosta,) and Ornella Muti adds her screen presence to the natural beauty of the landscape. In a few words, a good film, sadly, scarcely known outside of Italy.
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'O re (1989)
10/10
Outstanding historical drama during the unification of Italy.
21 March 2015
This film is excellent. It possesses great values of production, fantastic costumes, great exteriors, exquisite music and for fans of legendary actors and actresses the leading roles are played by Giancarlo Giannini (as Francesco II of Bourbon king of the Two Sicilies) and Ornella Muti (as the queen Maria Sophia of Austria). It's not mandatory being an expert of Italian history of the nineteenth century in order to understand the drama. The king has been deposed and he is despondent, immersed in the reverie of his past, surrounded in his quarters by images and statuettes that constitute the center of his superstitious veneration. The queen is beautiful and vibrant. She is working actively for the restoration of her husband and above all things, she wants to give him an heir. He is absentminded and resigned to live without the throne, he refuses to have the intercourse with his wife and the tension between the two characters scales up. ¿Will the queen commit adultery to fulfill her goal of giving an heir to the kingdom that will have to be reconquered at the cost of a bloody war of brothers versus brothers ? There is no battles showed in the film but instead we see the backstage of that combats. The psychological struggles of those who must take a course of action, their loyalties, betrayals and old grudges that frequently end up in violent death. Giancarlo Gianinni is absolutely perfect in his role, he is an absolute master of his art and Ornella Muti is, like always, loved by the camera, and she can act too! The only regret is that this movie is very rare, it's practically unknown outside of Italy. I hope that this situation changes in the near future.
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8/10
A love triangle in an elegant comedy-drama
6 March 2015
Lucas Belvaux is a french director, known for the trilogy of films Apres la vie, Un couple epatant and Cavale (2002), all of them interlocked in one single story narrated from three different perspectives, the afore mentioned movies, that also represent three different genres (Melodrama, Comedy and Thriller). Pour rire! (1996) is a comedy but also a drama. It tells the story of three intelligent and adult people locked in a tight love triangle that along the length of the film, turns to be more and more complex till all the vertexes involved know about each other and all the fantasies and pretenses are put in the ugly light of reality. The rhythm of the picture is fast and the narrative sophisticated. The casting is perfect. Once more Ornella Muti shows her beauty and her thespian capacities (sadly underrated). She is Alice Obini, a barrister in a prestigious firm and seems to be at ease both with her husband and also with her lover. Jean-Pierre Léaud is Nicolas Gardinier, the husband who's being cheated and we learn on the film about his particular circumstances and his struggle for adjusting to them. He is excellent in his role. The triangle is completed by Antoine Chappey (Gaspard), an sport journalist who likes motorbikes and relationships without complications. He is also very good. In addition to the three leads there's Julliete, acted by Tonie Marshall, a colleague and friend of Alice's that is enduring constant emotional problems. I like very much this film but it's a very difficult item. I have a very old VHS version without subtitles and I had to use a subtitled in Portuguese language like a Rossette Stone for a Spanish translation. One last opinion, if you bear with me. Ornella Muti is an icon of the Italian cinema, always beautiful and alluring. But her filmography is very much neglected, very much confined to the category "rare films" in need of urgent better copies and digital restoration. In the last months I have tried to see all her pictures and it was a tantalizing experience. Seeing and not seeing because when the copy is bad, one can easily misjudge the qualities of the movie. Thank you for your patience.
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8/10
The sunny Spanish Costa del Sol and luminous Ornella Muti
18 February 2015
In a nutshell if you like the early starring roles of Ornella Muti you will not be disappointed by this film. And also, this movie is a bittersweet love story, a simple melodrama, well crafted, without low punches and a couple of catchy pop songs that lends to the film a touch of musical movie. Ornella Muti (18 years old at that time) is a girl, precociously independent, with an incipient career as pop singer. Her singing is dubbed by the Spanish singer Sharine who lends her voice to Ornella in principally three songs: "Pequeña Bibi", "Lo que yo quiero" y "Sonríe, sonríe", this last piece is used like an adequate instrumental background music that underlies lot of scenes. The participation of Sharine is duly acknowledged in the titles sequence. El Señor (The man) is the versatile Italian actor Sergio Fantoni whom you can see acting as one of the quarrelsome brothers, sons of Edipus, king of Thebas, disputing the throne in a singular combat at the front gates of the city in the epic Hercules Unchained (1959) and in the role of a Nazi officer that ends up clashing with the SS in the film "Hornet's Nest" (1970). The writer and director of this picture is Pedro Masó who also wrote and directed "Experiencia Prematrimonial" the previous year starring Ornella Muti and Alessio Orano. "Una chica y un señor" is a film strictly popular looking to entertain an ample audience. In that respect excels because it is a very well narrated story, tender and poignant.
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7/10
If you like Ornella Muti this is for you
11 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This film, written and directed by Mario Camus, recipient of the Goya Honor Award 2011 granted for the Academia de las Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas de España, was intended as a vehicle for the young (20 years old) Ornella Muti. Therefore, this picture is a collection item indispensable for all the fans of the beautiful and talented Ornella, and also is a time capsule that captures the social background of the España at the end of "franquismo". The plot revolves around the love conflicts that make difficult the life of the young nurse (Ornella Muti) called Simona in the Italian language version of the film that I saw. At the Hospital, where she works, Giorgio (Pedro Diez de Corral), the son of a prestigious cardiac surgeon (Alberto de Mendoza), begins to work as physician and goes crazy about Simona. He doesn't stop till he become her first man (Il mio primo uomo – My first man - Italian title of this film). But Giorgio has his career as a priority and want to be an specialist in tropical diseases, so he must travel to Africa and spend a whole year studying this kind of maladies. Simona is deeply let down, she resents the selfish men that abandon their love ones to pursue their interests and in a rash, she marries the widower father of Giorgio. She admits that she has committed a serious mistake but when Giorgio come back from Africa, recognizing he is still in love with Simona, doesn't dare to confront his father because the senior Doctor is a tyrannical figure that guides the professional life of his only son. Simona escapes to the house of her lonely mother seeking to put an end to her emotional predicament y there enters Raúl "the crazy one" (Mark Edwards), her childhood crush. From this moment on is a battle between Giorgio and Raúl for the heart of Simona. In conclusion, this is a very rare picture, very difficult to find. I have seen it in a very precarious technical state, cut both ways, 4:3 to fit in the old tubes and censored because of some nude scenes. This is very detrimental to judge any material. I give it 7 points but I reserve the rest 3 waiting a complete version. And I say it seriously. Beautiful and brave Ornella Muti, after more than 40 years of work, is an icon well established of the so called seventh art, and it's a real pity that many of her pictures show like this one (La Joven Casada) an state of great deterioration and they are in urgent need, first of finding a better copy and then, if possible, of digital restoration.
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