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videos - italian comedy

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Volere, Volare (1991), directed by Maurizio Nichetti
Maurizio Nichetti stars and directs this film. He is like a modern day Buster Keaton, and in this movie he plays a character who dubs cartoon sounds into Italian sounds. His brother has the equally unnecessary job of dubbing porno movies into Italian. The movie is funny and comically erotic. The film focuses on the frenzy and soulessness of modern life (as he did in The Icicle Thief), this time playing a naive movie sound-effects technician. When he meets a woman with a hilariously naughty profession, romance blossoms--until this lover of cartoons starts turning into an animated character himself! A decidedly adult tale of childlike love.

Come September (1961), starring Rock Hudson & Gina Lollobrigida
A wealthy tycoon, with many abodes, only visits his place (and part-time girlfriend) on the Italian Riveria once each year, in September. This year he arrives early to discover that his caretaker/major domo has been operating his villa as a hotel the other eleven months. And, his girlfriend (Gina Lollobrigida) is about to be married to someone else. To add to the distress, the current guests in the hotel include a group of nuns who are chaperoning three young females. Add three college boys in a Jeep with romance on their minds and you have the makings of a great comedy. Some vocals by the late Bobby Darin and a look at a young Joel Grey of Broadway fame. All around a great comedy.

Seeking Asylum (Chiedo Asilo), starring Roberto Benigni
Young Roberto Benigni plays a nonconformist kindergarten teacher who brings his brand of creative chaos to the classroom in Marco Ferreri's comic drama. This is a much calmer Benigni than the hyperactive rubber-face we're used to, but though he manages to play the entire film reigned in at second gear, he takes just as many wild turns. In one scene he tries to convince his young charges that he's pregnant. In another he drops them off at the gate of the factory where their parents work and skedaddles out of sight to watch the fun. The title refers to a young runaway Roberto "adopts," but it could just as easily apply to Roberto himself, who seems to seek refuge from the real world in his little child-like paradise--in one scene he guiltlessly extricates himself from any responsibility when he gets his girlfriend pregnant. At times it comes off like an episodic sketch comedy only to jump into the next lighthearted segment. Benigni cuts a cheerfully sincere (if indulgently irresponsible) figure in this pre-hysterical period of his career and pulls together this offbeat character drama with good humor and plenty of heart.

The Star Maker (1995), starring Sergio Castellitto
Set sometime in the late 1940's, a con-man travels the Italian countryside with a movie camera and prop truck, masquerading as a talent scout from Universal Studios in Rome. He promises people in local villages the opportunity to be discovered by "Italy's greatest directors and producers, and even those from America". A short screen test is all it takes, requiring an investment only of their "obvious" talents, their time and a "small bit" of money. The simple people are easily seduced by his promises of fame and fortune, and for the man's camera (it has no film!), they open their hearts, their dreams, their memories and, unfortunately, their wallets. The man is not all bad, however, and he meets several people who profoundly affect his opinion of himself. Finally, a beautiful young woman forces him to reconsider his life. The story is at once hilarious, sentimental, touching, sad, and thought-provoking. Shot entirely in quaint Italian villages and the beautiful Italian countryside, the scenery is spectacular. I whole-heartedly recommend this film. In Italian with English subtitles. (by [email protected])

The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969), directed by Stanley Kramer
I saw this film in the 70s and it still remains with me. It's World War II and an Italian village famous for its wine is celebrating the overthrow of Mussolini's government. Villagers arrest the local fascist officials and, in a silly mood, elect the town drunk Bombalini, played brilliantly by Anthony Quinn, to be mayor. Later the party is spoiled when German army move in to occupy the territory. The occupiers want to steal the village wine supply and send it to Germany for the enjoyment of the Nazi officer troops. Bombalini must now rise to the challenge of taking his job seriously in order to outsmart the Germans and protect the wine -- his town's livelihood. This is a charming and inspiring story and telling of Italian ingenuity. Other cast members are Giancarlo Giannini and Sergio Franchi. In English. (by [email protected])

Johnny Stecchino, starred and directed by Roberto Benigni
A mild and meek school bus driver is the spitting image of a notorious gangster--Johnny Stecchino (``Toothpick''). When the latter's luscious girlfriend drags the naive look-alike down to her Sicilian villa all sorts of shenanigans ensue. Bright physical comedy was Italy's most successful film ever at the box office, and director-cowriter-star Benigni has thrown in a wide array of his trademark physical gags. Material wears a little thin after a while, but it's hard to dislike a film with a heroine whose favorite exclamation is ``Holy Cleopatra!''

Moonstruck, starring Cher A wonderful, gently satirical tale of an Italian-American family dealing with repression and dissatisfaction against a backdrop of cultural expectations. Cher is focused and funny as a widow who feels she should marry an older fellow, but then falls for his black-sheep brother. (from So wonderful, so quirky, so romantic, so Italian. The film is so feather -light you float off into its refracted reality and you never want to return to the humdrum again. A kitchen sink world of bakeries, and hairdressers, and plumbing, but one that shimmers with a soft luminescence. Should the credit go to the screenplay or the direction? Take your pick -- they're both faultless. Let me get back to that New York City that lies just beyond the looking glass. (from IMDB) For more information, be sure to visit Sounds from Moonstruck and the Moonstruck Fact Sheet.


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