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videos - italian dramatic comedy

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Tea with Mussolini (1999), starring Cher and Judy Dench
A boy whose mother has died and whose father has all but abandoned him is raised by a group of eccentric British women in 1930s Florence. The coming of war has great impact on the women--known as the Scorpioni--and their flamboyant American counterparts in the artsy expatriate community, but cannot sever ties between the young man and his "surrogate mothers." Tea With Mussolini definitely toys with credibility and has that old-fashioned sheen of movies made in the 40s and 50s, but these are pleasures that actually enhance the experience of watching it. The actresses are all in fine form, especially Joan Plowright, who is pure magic. Cher is well-cast in the role of an over-the-top American woman with tons of money. The boys who play Luca are mesmerizing, both as a young boy and as a teenager. The Italian locations are drenched with old beauty, and the musical score evokes emotion without bombast. This is a beautiful movie you will want to watch more than once. Also available in DVD

Marriage Italian Style, starring Sophia Loren and Marcello MastroianniIn flashback, Marcello Mastroianni recalls his wartime romance with Sophia Loren. He is so enamored with her that he finances her escape from the bordello where she lives and sets her up with a good job in the restaurant that he owns, and later finds a place for her on his mother's domestic staff. He is not, however, enamored enough to make their union legal, and expects Loren to behave like a servant by day and his mistress by night. Years later, Loren lies on her deathbed. The contrite Mastroianni finally consents to marry her. Not only does she make a full recovery, but she brings her three grown sons to live with the nonplused Mastroianni after the wedding. He tries to weasel out of the arrangement, but is mollified by Loren's insistence that all three boys are his sons. Thus, after nearly twenty years' servitude, Loren is at last in a position to call the shots. Marriage Italian Style remains a warm and spicy concoction today, even after years of less expert imitations. The film was based on Filumena Marturano by Eduardo de Filipo. (from

coverSwept Away, directed by Lina Wertmuller, starring Giancarlo Giannini,Lina Wertmüuller (Seven Beauties) made this pointed, 1975 comedy-drama about class and sex conflicts. Mariangela Melato plays a rich woman marooned on an island with a crude sailor (Giancarlo Giannini). The two initially assume their accustomed class relationship with one another--she expects service, he grumbles about it--but then a revolution takes place and the subjugation is reversed. The film comes down on you like a hammer, but Wertmüuller adroitly traces the shifting nuances of the relationship, and the two stars are excellent. Numerous scenes stick in the memory many years after one viewing. The DVD release has a widescreen presentation, production notes, biographies of cast and crew, and English subtitles. (from more brain-teasing movies by this phenomenal director.

The Best Man (Il Testimone dello Sposo, 1998), directed by Pupi Avati
This turn-of-the-century Italian romance is visually sumptuous and loaded with folksy charm. Some people have never known what love is. Once, many young women in Italy married - without ever having experienced love. Even though many of them became wonderful wives and mothers, they spent their whole lives without ever feeling that intense movement of the soul and instead they confused love with respect, resignation, duty and routine. They died without even knowing of the existence of love. This film shows how the sudden discovery of this feeling can upset the delicate balance of our lives and incite much trouble, sweeping everything and everyone up in its passion.

Dear Diary (Caro Diario, 1994), starring & directed by Nanni Moretti
This magical, virtually indescribable comedy by Nanni Moretti won the Best Director Prize at Cannes and follows the travails of a simple man (Moretti) in search of the true meaning of life. The film's three episodes confront, respectively, the changing character of Rome and of Moretti's generation, the possibility (and impossibility) of solitude, and the nature of truth in medicine. Often hilarious, always original, to say that Moretti is the Italian Woody Allen is to underestimate the pathos which underlies the accuracy of his social observations, the incisiveness of his insights. Don't miss it! Get a listing of his films, photos and Nanni's Bio at the Nanni Moretti Homepage.


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