Forza Italia!

Blog by Ray Philp | 17 Apr 2009

Italian cinema is enjoying a steady resurgence after something of a dip in form. The monolithic shadow of the spaghetti western overshadowed much of post-fascism Italian cinema, and to some extent it hasn’t really receded since. As if the quality of the films weren’t sufficient to dwarf the output of subsequent offerings in Italy, even the imposing titles still stand up to scrutiny – nothing says “I will inflict pain onto every orifice of your being” quite like Giulio Petroni’s Death Rides A Horse, and despite providing a bottomless source of exhaustive lowbrow puns, Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is still a touchstone for all great westerns.

Be that as it may, the Glasgow Film Theatre looks to the future as it presents an exciting showcase of fresh talent from the 17th April with the Italian Film Festival. Kicking things off on the opening day is Days and Clouds, a drama that follows a middle class couple struggling to pay the bills after husband Michele (Antonio Albanese) is edged out of a job by his business partners, and then makes matters worse by initially hiding it from his unsuspecting wife, Elsa (Margherita Buy). Silvio Soldini’s solid drama imbues the various personal dilemmas with an undercurrent of socioeconomic commentary as the stricken couple adjust to their different lifestyle.

One Hundred Nails, screening on 22nd and directed by Ermanno Olmi, runs on a similar theme of humble subsistence. It’s all getting rather pious, but stay with it - Raz Degan is a theology professor very much in a state of malaise, pondering the value of his academic career and whether it means very much. Degan promptly answers his own question and decides to reject his comfortable life in an attempt to rebuild his hitherto eroded morality. Il professore promptly camps up in a dishevelled hut and gets his serf on, thus beginning a journey to rediscover himself.

Elsewhere, the 21st will see Pippo Mezzapesa’s Pinuccio Lovero: A Midsummer Death’s Dream greet the GFT public. Pinuccio Lovero is a trainee undertaker, and he wants to see dead people. Badly. As he awaits his first funeral, to his chagrin, the inhabitants of small town Mariotto aren’t in the mood to keel over, and a macabre war of attrition ensues. Rounding things off is Giovanna’s Father set in 1930’s Italy in the grip of fascism. Husband and wife Michele and Delia (played by Silvio Orlandi and Francesca Neri respectively) are at odds with Michele’s doting attitude towards emotionally vulnerable and temperamental Giovanna (Alba Rohrwacher). Things take a dramatic left turn when Giovanna’s instability leads to murder, which places near insurmountable obstacles to her parent’s decaying relationship and tests her father’s resolve to devote himself to his daughter.

The best of this week’s general releases include Armando Iannuci’s acerbic satire, In The Loop. A host of transatlantic talent including Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Steve Coogan, and Anna Chlumsky heartily lampoon international politics in this adaptation of TV series The Thick Of It. In The Loop’s promotional viral, with the demure strapline of No You F*cking Can’t, should tell you all you need to know about its political angle, wildly pulling the rug from under recent optimism in favour of something altogether more biting.

Finally, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel get it on in a strictly platonic sense in I Love You, Man, a study in male relationships from director John Hamburg. Peter Klaven (Rudd) has found the girl of his dreams, and he’s on the precipice of tying the knot. Sorted, you’d think. Only, he doesn’t have a male friend close enough to bestow the responsibility of best man upon. To this end, Klaven embarks on a series of man-date misadventures, before meeting new best friend Sydney Fife (Segel). Complications arise however when their budding friendship threatens to derail the relationship between Klaven and Zooey Rice (Rashida Jones).