Tag Archives: italian

Failed Critics Podcast: Tale of Resurgence

taleoftales

With temporary host Paul Field getting to the ballot box and voting in blind panic to leave the Failed Critics Podcast after two long successful weeks, we finally have our Steve Norman back!

Luckily, Steve hasn’t done a Roy Hodgson as his team of Owen Hughes and Andrew Brooker don’t bottle it on the grandest stage of all. Assuming that you agree that the “grandest stage” is of course a free audio podcast.

Although they are still a bunch of fucking £50k fucking cocaine prostitute fucking limousine fucking cunts.

This week’s episode features reviews of three brand new releases, with a main review of Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi disaster feature (well, what other kind of film was he likely to make?) Independence Day: Resurgence. Set 20 years after the original, the aliens have come to reap their revenge – only this time, they’re… just… going to do the same thing again. Probably because they knew there would be no Will Smith this time.

Owen and Brooker also find time to discuss a fantasy movie worth watching as the Italian-French-English Tale of Tales arrives in cinemas – and on VOD services such as Curzon and Google Play simultaneously – just a touch too late to show how well the UK can work with our European brethren.

Speaking of Italian productions, Brooker also talks up Suburra, the crime film of the year that you probably haven’t heard of. Meanwhile Steve conjures up a review of The Conjuring (see what I did there?) and Owen continues the horror-film discussion by reminding everybody how great Hellraiser is.

All of this plus Steve’s reaction to Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix feature The Do-Over, James Earl Jones voicing Darth Vader in Star Wars: Rogue One, and the tragic death of Anton Yelchin.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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Suburra

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“Leave. Now. We mourn alone.”

Google Translate reliably tells me that the title for this almost unheard of Italian crime thriller, Suburra, means “slum”. I can tell you, that this grimy little tale of crime and corruption certainly fits its name.

Ostia, a waterfront area on the outskirts of Rome, is prime real estate in a country on the brink of financial turmoil. Desperate to make it the next Las Vegas or Atlantic City; a respected old school middle man has brokered deals across the city with everyone to make it happen. Using tried and tested methods – murder, extortion, all the favourites from The Sopranos‘ handbook – a man known as “Samurai” has done everything from guarantee a law needed for the work is passed to securing deals to buy the land he wants to convert.

Everyone involved finds themselves on a downward trajectory though, when paid-off politician Filippo Malgradi (Marco Polo’s Pierfrancesco Favino) finds himself with a dead hooker on his hands after an evening of debauchery. After cleaning up his mess with a little help from a local rent-a-thug, Malgradi sets himself on a path that will have him cross paths with not just the mafia(s), but a family of terrifying gypsies – who’s head, Manfredi, looks like the bastard lovechild of Tom Sizemore and Vincent D’Onofrio – and almost everyone else with more than a passing acquaintance with the darker corners of Rome’s underworld.

As everyone’s selfish interests soon start to unravel Samurai’s wheeling and dealing, he can only watch as the criminal underworld implodes on itself.

Remember a few months ago when the posters promised you that Triple 9 was “the crime film of the year”? Yeah, forget all that. I’ve found your crime film of the year ladies and gentlemen; its brought to you by Stefano Sollima – the man behind Gomorrah – and it’s simply outstanding.

Spaced across a week, Suburra‘s story is one that has been told time and time again, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best told stories I’ve seen in a while. From the opening frames the film seems to be a quiet, subtle affair with as much focus on the uncertain political landscape of Italy as we have on the criminal element of what’s to come.

But with the first gruesome murder – a man hit at a ridiculously high speed and bounced across the road – you’re quickly shown the true tone of the film you’ve sat down to watch. Then, somewhere around an hour into this twisting and turning flick, the pieces fall into place and the stories that were on the brink of intertwining are suddenly mashed together and all hell breaks loose, letting the film wrap itself up in a tense, thrilling finale.

If it was in English, you could easily mistake Suburra for a Martin Scorsese film, such is its stellar direction and story telling. It’s an absolute travesty that this film has got such a limited theatrical release. Luckily, sensible heads have prevailed and allowed the film to go to your VOD method of choice. So, if like me you’d have a long and expensive journey to see it at the flicks, you can rent a copy and watch it at home. Hopefully, with a Netflix exclusive follow-up TV series due next year, this spectacular little film will get a little more attention.

L’eclisse (AKA The Eclipse)

Out today (28 Sep 2015) on DVD and Blu-ray is Studiocanal’s new digital restoration of Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1962 Special Jury Prize winning classic, L’eclisse.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

leclisseTo term a film ‘narrative cinema’ suggests that a movie is constructed in a very formulaic manner. A structure fitting a pretty basic beginning, a middle and an end pattern, telling a story; it gives the audience a feeling of familiarity and if told well, then a reason to care about characters and events that take place therein. It’s simple, reliable and oh so difficult to do right, as the dozens of multi-million-dollar Hollywood pictures released one after the other on a conveyor belt of boring, repetitive, derivative tosh will no doubt tell you.

That rule book is virtually torn to shreds in Michelangelo Antonioni’s third entry to his trilogy, preceded by L’Avventura (1960) and La Notte (1961). In both writing and directing this poetic drama about modernity, life and love in the 20th century, Anonioni’s narrative is one of an anguished portrayal of human emotion and of the flippancy that defines our species. It follows Monica Vitti leaving her unhappy relationship to start another with an arrogant Roman stockbroker, played by Alain Delon. They argue, they romance, they love each other too much (or not enough as the case may be) and L’eclisse characteristically breaks away from conventional narrative to mill about a bit, contemplate stuff and generally be European.

Whilst it’s commendable for its audaciousness in playing around with a customary structure in order to develop something unique and capture an awareness and atmosphere identifiably of its time – particularly when you consider Godard was in the midst of revolutionising cinema with his nouvelle vague movement – it is perhaps what one might label a “film makers film”. Not one to savour for regular Joe movie fans (myself included!) It’s stylish with some fantastic architectural photography captured by cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo, but most definitely not a film to watch with any distractions around. I struggled to enjoy it as an experience on the same level to which I was appreciating how superb the restoration was on this DVD by Studiocanal. The atmosphere is dry, cold and distanced mimicking Antonioni’s view of the world at the time, not in keeping with my own viewpoint. His disdain for the modern world and its hindrance on forming relationships is at its peak during a confusing (albeit well edited) last five minutes.

Indeed, it has been championed by auteurs such as Martin Scorsese, praising its ‘liberating’ final sequence; discarding its characters entirely to shoot a despairing vision of the world. Or, at least, that is just my humble opinion. I’m sure there are countless other opinions on this iconic conclusion as the vast majority of the conversations are open to interpretation in their true meaning. Although the theme of hope and faith (of a non-religious variety) are brought up throughout the film, if any of those interpretations of the ending are optimistic, I will be very surprised!

If your film palette is more sophisticated than the average punter’s, or if you are interested in the history of narrative cinema, then I would recommend those of you to give L’eclisse two hours of your life. You may find something inspirational in this highly regarded classic. And, if you are going to give it a go, then saying the always reliable Studiocanal DVD / Blu-ray restoration (specs below) will be the next best thing to seeing it on the big screen is an understatement.


Blu-ray – tech details

Running time: 126 Mins / Cert PG / Aspect ratio – 1.85:1 /Region B

Mono 2.0 DTS HD Master Audio / HD Standard 1080p

Black and White / Italian with English subs /

Extra: Interview with José Moure, an Antonioni biographer /RRP – £22.99


DVD – tech details

Running time: 122 Mins / Cert PG / Aspect ratio 1.85:1 /Region 2

2.0 Mono / Black and White PAL / Italian with English subs /

Extra: Interview with José Moure, an Antonioni biographer /RRP – £17.99