lunedì 28 dicembre 2015

Louder than bombs

Something strange happened to me with this post.
After a couple of months since the publication of my critic about Louder than bombs, I have received a message from the platform hosting my blog to advise me that I had violated some kind of copyright.
Never happened to me before.
I guessed it was about some pictures I have published.
The post was put in the drafts section and they asked me to change the violation.
The problem was that I didn’t know which was the incriminated picture/s.
I got back to the draft to understand better and I don’t know what I did but all of a sudden my post wasn’t there anymore.
All it was left was the title.
I felt so depressed, because now I don’t have neither the strength nor the time to write it again.
And it won’t be the same post, anyway.
I am particularly sorry, because there was a nice story attached to it.
After a few minutes that I put it on line, last December, I received a message on my twitter account from Devin Druid, the actor who plays the youngest son of Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert in the movie.
Even if my post was written in Italian, he understood I wrote something super good about him, which was the case (hashtags santi subito!).
His message was a simple emoticon, a shy flushed face, and it was so cute! 

I’m so sorry my words about him are gone forever…
… but well, I guess there’s nothing I could do about the old post now.
Probably I just need to be more careful about the pictures I publish (so difficult to understand who’s the photographer behind the pics you find on internet, by the way… especially the ones taken from the movies).
Meanwhile, all I can do is to strongly suggest you to watch Louder than bombs, a really great movie!

lunedì 14 dicembre 2015


No, don't worry dear readers.
This is not a review of the movie 300 by Zack Snyder… especially because I can’t say I have watched it. To tell you the truth, I did, but in a very particular way. Meaning: I watched just the scenes played by Michael Fassbender, while all the rest of the movie was seen… well, fast forwarding... I know, I know, this is very bad!
I’m just using 300 movie poster because this is Zazie’s 300th post!
Yes, the little Blog de Zazie is growing up: 300 posts, almost 210.000 views, more than 600 ILIKE on the Facebook page, almost 600 followers on Twitter, almost 1.000 followers on Pinterest and all this in 6 years of activity.
For being the blog of an unknown cinema freak, this is a pretty good result, don’t you think?
To quote Jane Eyre: Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, that I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!
As a matter of fact, if there’s something we don’t lack here at the Blog de Zazie, is love.
For cinema and for you, dear readers!
So THANK YOU for being there, wherever you are... you're in my heart!


mercoledì 9 dicembre 2015

Les Cowboys

Everybody knows I’m a huge fan of Jacques Audiard’s cinema.
So, when the man who wrote with him movies like Un prophète, De rouille et d’os et Dheepan, French screen-player Thomas Bidegain, decides to write and to direct a movie of his own, of course I’m very interested to see it.
I was about to go to the avant-première of Les Cowboys, scheduled in a Pathé cinema on Monday, November 16, when November 13 happened. And the rest is history.
La sortie of the movie has been postponed of a couple of weeks. I wonder if, with a plot like this, Bidegain thought how fortunate or unfortunate his movie was to get out at this time…

Georges (Finnegan Oldfield) and his dad (François Damiens)
1994, somewhere in Eastern France: Alain Balland and his wife Nicole, together with their daughter Kelly and their son Georges (called the Kid), are a normal family with a passion for country music and “cowboys” life. It is during a local country festival that Kelly, 16 years old, disappears. Her friends tell the family not to worry: she probably is with her boyfriend Ahmed, whom existence Alain and Nicole ignored. At home, in Kelly’s room, they discover some letters written in Arab, finding out to their great surprise that Kelly became a Muslim. It is the beginning of a never ending search: Alain starts to look for his daughter everywhere, driving in France, in Belgium, travelling into the Middle East Countries, very often along with his son. When Alain dies in a car accident, Georges keeps looking for his sister, while the terrorists’ attacks start to shake the world: 9/11, then the bombs in Madrid, then the attacks in London… will his sister be lost for ever?
Alain (F. Damiens)
Bidegain has surely written a story which has now a particular resonance in our lives, but besides its background, I personally think that the subject at the core of this movie, much more than the Muslim thing, is the desperate search of a father for his daughter. 
The determination, the persistence, the ferocious stubbornness of Alain to find Kelly (to the point of ruining what it is left of his family) is particularly disturbing.
It is also true that his need to give a sense to what it’s happening, to put a name on things that were unknown to him just the day before, could reminds us of the progressive awareness of occidental men towards the Muslim world. When the search passes from Alain to his son, things are enormously changed, and Georges experiences a further step, infinitely more complicated and intricate. The war and the economic interests, the international relationships between countries, the birth of a new kind of terrorism. 

L'Americain (John C. Reilly) and Georges (F. Oldfield)
Bidegain has made a strange kind of western, a modern epic tale where a gloomy countryside and the clash of cultures take the place of gold and meadows, filmed in a very sober way but with an Audiard touch! The man, I guess, observed the film-maker at work and he has taken a good lesson from it.
The cast is excellent here, with a very intense François Damiens, the comic Belgian actor who is really amazing in dramatic roles, a very good young promesse of French cinema, Finnegan Oldfield, as his son, and the always great John C. Reilly as the "American".
When the film is over (and the end is one of the most emotional ones I’ve seen lately), the last surprise: a magnificent country version of Smalltown Boy by the Bronsky Beat performed by the film-maker himself (sacré Bidegain!).
And the song lyrics sounded particularly pertinent, I have to say: 

Mother will never understand
Why you had to leave
For the answer you seek
Will never be found at home
The love that you need
Will never be found at home
Run away, Turn away, Run away...

lunedì 30 novembre 2015

Setsuko Hara

Non so voi, ma io tutte le mattine faccio colazione con Setsuko Hara.
Qualche anno fa, al museo The Eye di Amsterdam, ho trovato questo meraviglioso poster del film Banshun (Late Spring) di Yasujiro Ozu, con una foto in bianco e nero di Setsuko Hara che sorride, una tazza di té poggiata sul tavolo davanti a lei. L’ho appesa nel mio soggiorno, dove faccio colazione, e vedere quel sorriso luminoso ogni mattina mi fa pensare che il mondo sia un posto davvero bello:
Nelle ultime due settimane, lo ammetto, qui a Parigi si fa un po’ fatica a crederci, che il mondo sia un posto bello. 
E adesso che Setsuko Hara ci ha lasciato, ancora di più (per la verità l’attrice è mancata lo scorso 5 Settembre, ma la notizia è stata data solo il 25 Novembre).
Nata nel 1920 a Yokohama, Setsuko Hara è diventata famosa grazie a due film interpretati per Akira Kurosawa ma, soprattutto, per la sua lunga collaborazione con il regista Yasujiro Ozu. Alla morte di quest’ultimo, nel 1963, la Hara si è ritirata dalle scene e se ne è andata a vivere sola (non si è mai sposata) a Kamakura, rifiutando qualsiasi intervista e qualsiasi fotografia. Non a caso è stata definita la "Greta Garbo Giapponese".

Come una vera diva degli anni ’50, ma con uno stile tutto nipponico, si è eclissata dal mondo, lasciandoci in eredità i suoi meravigliosi ruoli di figlia (prima) e madre (poi) nei film di Ozu. L'eleganza con cui cammina a piccoli passi sul tatami delle case in stile tradizionale giapponese, il modo assolutamente irresistibile di sorridere, reclinando leggermente la testa di lato, il timbro dolcissimo di voce, me fanno un'icona di bellezza senza tempo e senza rivali:
L'altra sera mi è venuta voglia di rivedere Akibiyori (Late Autumn), che mi sembrava il film perfetto considerata la stagione e la malinconia di questo periodo, e infatti lo era.
Ogni inquadratura di Ozu è una piccola magia, un quadro dal nitore e dall'essenzialità risplendenti, dove ogni oggetto sembra trovare la sua ragione d'essere, la sua collocazione più intima e sincera. 
E non ho potuto fare a meno di pensare che quando quello che ci circonda appare brutto, meschino, insensato, brutale, basta regalarsi - non dico tanto - 10 minuti di inquadrature di Ozu. 
Meglio ancora se illuminate dal sorriso di Setsuko Hara.
E passa la paura.
L'unico antidoto possibile contro il male assoluto.
La vera bellezza che salverà il mondo (se siamo ancora in tempo...)

venerdì 13 novembre 2015

The day Wes made Zazie cry

There are days when the world looks like a fabulous place.
Don't you think?

mercoledì 11 novembre 2015

Les Fauvettes

Paris is not, as everybody would like to think, the City of Love.
Paris is the City of Cinema. Or, even better: the City of Cinemas.
There are more movie theatres per person in this town than in any other place on planet earth, and the most incredible thing is: they’re always crowded.
If you love cinema, you have so many choices every week that you almost get nuts about it (a while ago I even wrote a post on this subject).
Last week, there were two news, one very bad and one very good, concerning cinemas in Paris.
The bad one is that La Pagode,
one of the most historical movie theatres in town, announced that it is closing down starting from today, November 11, and for an undefined time. 
And nobody knows what it will happened next.
I was particularly sad reading this.
I am in love with La Pagode, which has a hall and a magnificent garden decorated in old Japanese style, and where they always show intelligent and interesting movies:


Few weeks ago I was there for the avant-première of Umimachi Diary (Notre Petite Soeur) by Kore-Eda Hirozaku: the hall was fully booked, the film-maker was there for a debate at the end of his movie and the atmosphere was pretty magical.
I can’t believe I will not have more nights like this! 

For a cinema closing down, though, there is one opening… last week I was invited to the opening night of the cinema Les Fauvettes, a new Pathé multi-screenings set in the 13th arrondissement, which has a very particular characteristic: it shows just old movies!
Only in the City of Cinemas a dream like this could become true…
Imagine: a shiny and bright new cinema with 5 theatres showing your favourite movies from the past! 

The night I was there, together with a great cocktail, there was the possibility of choosing between these movies: Blade Runner-Final Cut (1982) by Ridley Scott, On the Town (1949) by Stanley Donen, Le Corniaud (1965) by Gérard Oury and Dial M for Murder (1954) by Alfred Hitchcock.
My friend Nico and I were very indecise, but in the end we opted for Blade Runner: we both saw the movie several times but so long ago that it felt like a previous life, so we thought it could be a good idea:
I was a bit afraid that the movie would have badly aged but, to my happy surprise, it wasn't.
Well, Rachael's dresses were too '80s, the computers of the future looked like the Commodore 74 and the Vangelis music was a bit too much, but besides these three elements, Blade Runner is still the great science-fiction movie it used to be.
This was the Final Cut version, the director's cut made by Scott in 2007, because the studios at the time obliged him to have a different final scene and, also, to add a voice off that has now been removed. 
I have to confess that I prefer the old end, but who knows, maybe it is just a sentimental thing. 
Anyway, it was so good to see the movie on a big screen and to know that, from now on, this will be the case for so many other old movies!
This is why I find Les Fauvettes' slogan particularly appropriate: Versions Restaurées, Émotions Intactes (Restored Versions, Intact Emotions).
You bet! 

venerdì 6 novembre 2015

Saul Fia (Il Figlio di Saul)

Esiste qualcosa che non possa essere rappresentato al cinema? 
Qualcosa che non si possa mostrare su uno schermo perché troppo “near the bone” (vicino all'osso), come dicono gli inglesi?
Il dibattito è acceso e di lunga data, soprattutto su un aspetto terribile della nostra storia recente: l’Olocausto. Più o meno tutti i registi che se ne sono occupati hanno dovuto fare i conti con polemiche accesissime e dibattiti infiniti. E’ successo a Spielberg con Schindler’s List e a Benigni con La vita è bella, tra gli altri.
All’ultimo Festival di Cannes, c’era un film che ha avuto il riconoscimento più importante dopo la Palme D’Or, il Grand Prix du Jury, che parlava proprio di questo: Saul Fia (Il Figlio di Saul) di László Nemes. E, incredibile ma vero, questo giovane uomo di 38 anni al suo primo lungometraggio, sembra avere messo tutti d’accordo. E, dopo aver visto il film, si capisce benissimo perché.
Il regista ungherese László Nemes
Ottobre 1944, Campo di sterminio di Auschwitz
Saul, ebreo ungherese, fa parte di un sonderkommando, ovvero un gruppo di lavoro creato dalle SS e composto da ebrei che al loro arrivo nei lager vengono scelti (essenzialmente per la loro robusta costituzione) per fare il lavoro “sporco” e avere così risparmiata la vita per qualche mese. Il lavoro consiste nell’accompagnare i nuovi arrivati verso le camere a gas (facendo loro credere che si tratti di docce), rimuovere i loro corpi (i “pezzi”, come li chiamano i loro aguzzini), trasportare i cadaveri verso i forni crematori e poi disperdere la loro cenere. Un giorno, Saul assiste alla scena di un ragazzino che viene ritrovato ancora vivo dopo la camera a gas (e che viene ucciso subito dopo). Dentro Saul scatta qualcosa, forse l'ultimo spiraglio di umanità: non avrà pace sino a quando non avrà dato una degna sepoltura a questo ragazzo. La sua spasmodica ricerca di un rabbino si intreccia con il tentativo, da parte del sonderkommando, di fare un attentato contro le SS per cercare la libertà.
Film di potenza mistica, oggetto contundente in grado di straziare il cuore, Saul Fia è lo sguardo sull'orrore allo stato puro, è la visione ininterrotta e insopportabile dell'abisso, del buio assoluto.
Il regista fa una scelta stilistica semplicissima: attacca la cinepresa sulle spalle del protagonista, come se fosse l'ennesimo fardello che lui debba portarsi appresso, come se ci fosse ancora spazio per un solo, infinitesimo dolore nella vita-non-vita di Saul e delle altre ombre intorno a lui. E sono ombre tanto più che tutto il resto, a parte il volto o le spalle di Saul, rimangono sfuocati, semplicemente perché non sarebbe possibile mettere a fuoco quello che c'è da vedere, perché andrebbe oltre l'umana sopportazione. Nemes ci fa sentire solo le voci, e quelle bastano e avanzano: prima quelle grondanti falsità delle SS che spingono i prigionieri dentro le docce (fate presto, la zuppa si raffredda, mi raccomando ricordatevi il numero di appendino sul quale avete lasciato i vestiti) e poi le urla di donne, uomini e bambini che vengono uccisi. 
Saul, il volto scarno, lo sguardo cocciuto e disperato (lo interpreta l'attore miracolo Géza Röhrig, al suo primo film!!!), si aggira per il campo senza fermarsi mai. La sua ricerca di un rabbino come ultima risorsa per dare un senso a quello che, non c'è logica o religione che tenga, un senso non ce l'ha.
E’ solo alla fine del film, quando scorrono i titoli di coda, che ci si rende conto di non aver respirato per due ore. Di essere rimasti in apnea, di aver sospeso ogni funzione vitale. Ed è solo a quel punto che le emozioni vengono a galla, tutte insieme, una specie di dolore sordo misto a lacrime interne, che si traduce all’esterno in un’espressione stravolta ed attonita.
Come sempre, in questi casi, mi sorge spontanea un’unica domanda: ma come è stato possibile che degli essere umani abbiano fatto questo ad altri esseri umani?
E mi torna in mente quella battuta, agghiacciante quanto efficace, sentita in un film di Woody Allen (credo fosse Deconstructing Harry/Harry a pezzi ma non ne sono certa). 

La sorella molto credente ed osservante del protagonista, interpretato da Allen stesso, lo rimprovera:
- Tu sarai uno di quelli che finiranno con il negare l’Olocausto!
E lui; di rimando:
- Ti sbagli, sorella, non solo so che hanno ammazzato 6 milioni di noi ebrei, ma so anche che i record sono fatti per essere battuti.
Ecco, in questo caso, speriamo proprio di no.

venerdì 30 ottobre 2015

Underrated Actors

Have you ever had an amazing but useless talent? 
I actually have one: I recognize great actors at first sight.
I can’t really know how to prove it but I can make a good example (and I have many, I swear!): back in 1986, when people asked me who my favourite actor was, I used to reply Daniel Day Lewis. The subsequent question, inevitably, was: Daniel who??! It was not until he became the last of the Mohican that people started to recognize him, while I personally thought he was already absolutely astonishing as Cecil Vise in A Room with a View
I just knew, from the way he was hiding behind that unbearable and irresistible character, that this guy was meant for greater things. 3 Oscars for best performing actor afterwards I think I was proved right. 
The problem is that, unfortunately, not always the great actors I spot have the career they deserve. This is, of course, a big injustice and so I decided to let you know who are the 5 great actors (in alphabetical order) who should be VERY FAMOUS… but are not...YET! 
Aidan Gillen (Dublin, Ireland, 1968) 

Spotted for the first time in Some Mother’s Son (1996) by Terry George, where he played one of the IRA hunger strikers, and then in Mojo (1997) by Jez Butterworth, Gillen has revealed his incredible potential playing the politically incorrect and irresistible motherfucker Stuart Alan Jones in the British version of Queer as Folk (2000) by Russell T. Davies. Since then, Gillen has played in some remarkable TV series (he was Mayor Tommy Carcetti in The Wire and now he’s Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish in Game of Thrones), in some very good indie movies: Treacle Jr., Mister John, Still, You're ugly too, or in very small roles in major movies. Somebody should finally cast him for a great film in a great role. 
It would be about time!

John Lynch  (Corrinshego-Newry, Northern Ireland, 1961)
The oldest of the group and the one I am more attached to: Irish actor John Lynch didn’t have AT ALL the career he deserved (and now it’s probably too late, damn it!). His first movie was Cal (1984) by Pat O’Connor, already a remarkable beginning, then he worked with Derek Jarman in Edward II (1991), he was one of the Guilford Four in In the name of the father (1993) by Jim Sheridan, he won many awards for his role in the Australian movie Angel Baby (1995) by Michael Rymer and for playing Bobby Sands (long before Michael Fassbender) in Some Mother’s son (1996) by Terry George. He was the unfaithful boyfriend of Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors (1998) by Peter Howitt and he wrote and played the main role, the one of his idol, Northern Irish footballer George Best, in Best (2000) by Mary McGuckian. After 15 years of forgettable TV series and minor roles in minor movies, he finally found a role at his level, in the amazing TV series The Fall, where he gives to policeman Jim Burns all the ambiguity and the vulnerability he is capable of. Pity this kind of character didn’t come before. 
I swear I should have been his agent.

Ben Mendelsohn (Melbourne, Australia, 1969) 
Under the spotlight since his great role in that gem called Animal Kingdom by David Michôd (2010), Mendelsohn is one of those actors capable of stealing the scene even in a small role. This was the case in The place beyond the pines (2012) by Derek Cianfrance, Killing them softly (2012) by Andrew Dominik, Lost River (2014) by Ryan Gosling and Black Sea (2014) by Kevin MacDonald. For the time being, besides the Michôd movie, two are the roles that gave him the chance to show what he is capable of: the tough father in Starred Up by David Mackenzie (2013) and the bad brother in the Netflix TV series Bloodline (2015). No one plays ambiguous villains like he does.
Let's hope his real breakthrough is not far away...

Cillian Murphy (Douglas-Cork, Ireland, 1976) 
Well, it is not my fault if Irish do it better... 
Murphy became quite famous playing the main role in 28 Days Later… (2002) by Danny Boyle and also thanks to his collaboration with Christopher Nolan (he is the Scarecrow of the Batman saga), but I personally thinks he delivered an astonishing performance as the transgender Patrick/Kitten in Breakfast on Pluto (2005) by Neil Jordan and as the republican rebel in The wind that shakes the Barley (2006) by Ken Loach. Besides the fact that anybody wants to seat near him in a plane due to his role in Red Eye (2005) by Wes Craven, Murphy is now waiting for THE great role he deserves in movies. Luckily enough, in these last two years he found a part worth his talent, the one of Thomas Shelby, the leader of a band of brothers in the magnificent TV series set in Birmingham around 1920: Peaky Blinders. I can’t wait to see the Season 3!

Noah Taylor (London, UK, 1969) 
Born in London but grown up in Australia, Taylor began his career there, playing in two remarkable movies: The year my voice broke (1987) by John Duigan and the part of pianist David Helfgott (young) in the Oscar winning Shine (1996) by Scott Hicks. Since then, he worked in a number of interesting movies: Almost Famous (2000) by Cameron Crowe, He died with a Felafel in his hand (2001) by Richard Lowenstein, Max ((2002) by Menno Meyjes, where he plays a young Adolf Hitler!, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) by Wes Anderson, The Proposition (2005) and Lawless (2012) by John Hillcoat and The Double (2013) by Richard Ayoade.
Recently, he had two small but remarkable roles in two great TV series: he played Locke in Game of Thrones and the superbly wicked Darby Sabini in Peaky Blinders. For music fans: he is in the video of Nick Cave’s song Fifteen feet of pure white snow (and he actually has a funny resemblance to the singer).
It’s a mystery to me why he is not as famous as he should be.

martedì 27 ottobre 2015

25 ans déjà!

Jacques Demy davanti al Passage Pommeraye, Nantes
Stamattina alla radio passava La Chanson de Maxence in un nuova versione. 
Che bello! - ho pensato: fuori c'è il sole e ascolto una canzone delle Demoiselles de Rochefort.
E’ stato solo qualche minuto più tardi che ho capito perché: oggi, 27 Ottobre, è l’anniversario della morte di Jacques Demy, che ci ha lasciato 25 anni fa, nel 1990.
Conosco pochi registi amati quanto Demy, qui in Francia.
E’ come se avesse operato nella mente di tutti, bambini e adulti, una specie di magia, in base alla quale è assolutamente impossibile dimenticarlo.
La magia è dovuta ad una manciata di film che hanno rivoluzionato la storia del cinema, con il loro carico di canzoni, colori, e un’allegria mista a malinconia alla quale è impossibile resistere:

Forse la particolarità di Demy è che le immagini dei suoi film ti si imprimono dentro, e poi non escono più, talmente forte è il loro impatto.
Impossibile per me vedere un garage senza che nella mia testa non scatti in automatico la musica dei Parapluies de Cherbourg

E’ l’effetto Demy. Non ci si può fare niente. Tanto vale smettere di lottare.
La settimana scorsa, mentre visitavo la mostra su Martin Scorsese alla Cinémathèque (a proposito, è bellissima, andateci appena potete), non potevo fare a meno di pensare che la più bella di tutte quelle che ho visto sino ad ora è stata proprio quella su Demy.
La serata inaugurale aveva dell'incredibile: con le ragazze all’ingresso che portavano i cappelli delle Demoiselles, lo champagne, Agnes Varda e tutta la sua famiglia, gli attori dei suoi film, la ricostruzione dei set cinematografici. 

Ne ho un ricordo indelebile, magico, appunto.  
Qualche giorno dopo, avevo partecipato ad un flash mob "Demoiselles de Rochefort" sul parvi dell’Hotel de Ville: centinaia di persone (di tutte le età) avevano imparato a memoria una coreografia da ballare tutti insieme sulla Chanson des Jumelles.
Una cosa tanto assurda quanto divertente e gioiosissima.
Uno di quei giorni in cui mi è sembrato evidente perché ho deciso di vivere qui, nonostante il brutto tempo, la vita che costa troppo cara e i musi lunghi dei parigini.
Finché c’è amore per Demy, c’è speranza.
Finché esiste il Demy-Monde, continuerò a viverci dentro. 

giovedì 15 ottobre 2015

Festa del Cinema di Roma

Dopo quello di Cannes, la vostra Zazie ci ha preso gusto, con i Festival.
E così domani, un po' è lavoro, un po' è svago e voglia di passare qualche giorno in compagnia di amici e di film, me ne vado in Italia per una nuova avventura, quella della FESTA DEL CINEMA DI ROMA.
Tutti i miei auguri ad Antonio Monda, che è il nuovo direttore artistico del Festival.
Io e Antonio in fatto di cinema abbiamo gusti opposti, lui sta a Francis Ford Coppola come io sto a Eric Rohmer, però nel 2009 mi ha fatto conoscere Jeremy Irons (per non parlare di tutti gli altri, l'elenco sarebbe troppo lungo...), e allora gli perdono qualsiasi cosa. 
Perché per me non è un uomo, è un Santo!
Daje, Antonio, vedrai che sarà bellissimo...

mercoledì 30 settembre 2015

Vergine Giurata

Last April in New York, at a friend’s place, I met the young Italian film-maker Laura Bispuri
Laura was in town presenting her first feature film, Vergine Giurata, at the Tribeca Film Festival (where the movie won the Nora Ephron Award). I couldn’t see it at that time because I was working but Laura promised me to let me know when the film would have been presented in France.
She kept her promise and a couple of weeks ago she invited me to the avant-première of Vierge Sous Serment, which is out today in Paris cinemas.

UGC Les Halles - Laura Bispuri and team from Vergine Giurata
Based upon the novel of Albanian writer Elvira Dones, the movie relates the story of Hana, an Albanian orphan girl who is adopted by a family already having a daughter of her age, Lila. Living in some remote mountains in the North of the country and wanting to escape to a life of housewife&motherhood in such a harsh environment, Hana decides to embrace the rules of the Kanun law: in the absence of sons, the daughter of a family can auto-proclame herself a man, renouncing to all female aspects of her life, including sex. This is how Hana becomes Mark. After many years of this life and after the death of her adopted father, Mark moves to Italy, where Lila lives together with her husband and daughter. The confrontation with this new country and Lila’s family destabilizes Mark’s profound certainties. Step by step, he re-discovers his real identity and a new way of being.
Lila (Flonja Kodheli) and Hana/Mark (Alba Rohrwacher)
This week in the blog I was complaining about Louis Garrel’s lack of courage for his first movie as director.
Well, this is a problem that Laura doesn’t have AT ALL: for her breakthrough on the big screen, she has opted for a very tough story, full of potential tricky issues that many famous film-makers would have been afraid to approach. I can’t say I know Laura well, but what it is clear, speaking to her even for few minutes, it’s how much she loves this story, how much she cares about it, how much she’s ready to do to defend her vision and her ideas. And this is so refreshing! And this is what I personally love in cinema and in people making a certain kind of cinema. 

Laura Bispuri
Gender is a very popular subject nowadays but it has been rarely treated with such a delicate and intimate approach as in this movie. The reasons why Hana becomes Mark are complicated and anchored to her difficult past, and her going back to her femininity is something so fragile and surprising, for her as well as for the audience, that it needed a form of austerity. This is why Bispuri’s mise-en-scène is particularly appropriate to tell this story. Her distance has nothing to do with coldness; her silent look has nothing to do with indifference. Her deep respect for the subject guides her in the most accomplished way, allowing her to avoid any form of sentimentalism or easy identification.
Hana/Mark (Alba Rohrwacher) and Bernhard (Lars Eidinger)
This amazing result is achieved, of course, also through the astonishing performance of Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher (for the role she has even learned the Albanese spoken only in those northern mountains!). She doesn’t show off at any time: she is simply inhabited by both man and woman, in the most measured and compelling way. And a special mention goes also to Flonja Kodheli as Lila and Lars Eidinger as Bernhard.
So, dear Parisian friends, if you want to see a very original and challenging first movie, made by a very talented Italian film-maker, get out, see the film and spread the word: let’s help good cinema to become popular. It's about time!

martedì 29 settembre 2015

City Lights

I have lovely friends.
Friends who know about my passion for cinema and they think about me when there are nice events related to it.
One of them invited me, last Sunday, to a very special projection at the Cité de la Musique here in Paris.
Yes, you read it right: apparently the place has nothing to do with cinema, but not always!
The other day, Timothy Brock, an American conductor and composer specialised in music for silent movies, was performing with the Orchestre Nationale de l’île de France the ciné-concert City Lights (1931) by Charlie Chaplin.
Musical Director of the Chaplin Estate since 1999, Brock has restored all the partitions composed by the film-maker. Because, in case you didn’t know, Chaplin not only has written, directed, produced, edited, interpreted almost all his movies, but he also composed the music for many of them… a real genius!

Conductor and composer Timothy Brock
City Lights is set during the Great Depression in Los Angeles: the sweet tramp Charlot is wondering around town when he bumped into a lovely (and blind) girl selling flowers at a street corner. Thanks to his erratic friendship with a very wealthy man, Charlot will be able to help her finding the money for the operation to have her sight back. Out of jail where he was put for a robbery he didn’t commit, he bumped again into the girl a long time afterwards: she can see, now, and she has a very beautiful flowers shop. And, most important of all, she didn’t forget the hands of the man who saved her… 

This was the first time I was seeing a silent movie with a full orchestra playing live on the images, but I sincerely hope it won’t be the last one.
It was absolutely amazing to watch the film and have the music at the same time, in the same room, and fully understand his fundamental contribution to the screening.
Emotion was coming out from the images in a more special way: it was the magic of cinema à l’état pur!
And I have to confess I forgot about how lovely this film was: so simple, so funny (the long sequence of the boxing race played like a ballet was so hilarious!) and so delightfully romantic.
You could feel how the audience was moved and totally absorbed by the experience: and many of the children present were enjoying the film in a way that was a real joy to witness.

At the end of the screening, the audience warmly clapped the orchestra and the conductor, while on screen appeared a picture of the great Charlie Chaplin:
I liked the experience so much that next Monday I’ll go to see Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) by Robert Wiene: I’m sure it will be unmissable. 
Who wants to be scared in a completely new way?
I would like to thank Mario Giovanni Ingrassia for giving me the opportunity to discover such a wonderful thing, and my friend Gabriella for having shared the experience with me. Thank you, guys!
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