Monday, October 31, 2011

Three Italian Films

We have an Italian Film Festival on at the moment; I managed to overlook it for the first three days but sprung into action yesterday and am already three up. The first two are more in the nature of serious dramas while the third is a comedy, but they're all examining the nature of family.

What More Do I Want? (Cosa voglio di piĆ¹)
Anna is a vaguely attractive but dull woman. Alessio thinks it is time she and he have a baby (the movie starts with their friends having one): Anna, after some, time, says she'll go off the pill. She doesn't: clearly she's after more than Alessio is giving (he seems to be an incredibly sweet, trusting guy, happy in his work and to help out his mates with fixing their random electronic gizmos). So along comes the smiling waiter with a plate of shrimps, Domenico, and its game on. It is all a bit tawdry and full of snatched four hour sessions in a rather baroque motel room.
He, unfortunately has his own family, with two kids. As Alessio rather conveniently reads out at about this time, it only takes a moment to forget a lifetime but it can take more than a life time to forget a moment. Anna is completely taken with Domenico (the sex is apparently the best she has ever had) and he, while similarly smitten, is conscious of his responsibilities. I couldn't help but think how devastating this affair would be to his children in particular (his wife is more knowing). Anna needs and demands more. I left the movie thinking that when she didn't get it, she was probably going to go back to Alessio and make like nothing ever happened, which didn't seem particularly fair to him. I think I would have enjoyed this movie more if I could have seen anything attractive about Anna: I could see how she'd be attracted to Domenico but not the reverse.

Our Life (La Nostra Vita)

Now if Anna had been played by Isabella Ragonese, I could have understood it: she's gorgeous. Unfortunately, she isn't in the movie very long, as her character dies giving birth, leaving her husband, Claudio, to cope as best he can with three young sons. He's in construction and evidently quite ambitious: he takes advantage of a situation to blackmail his boss into giving him his own construction contract. So much of the movie is about his rather poor attempts at getting this apartment block built. He doesn't seem to be a very good boss, as he spends much of his time screaming at his workers. He doesn't seem to be very good at business: he borrows money, via a friend, from the mob. The building itself is, to use a technical term, shit: when it rains, the thing nearly dissolves.

But friends and family rally around, he finds some sort of turnkey building outfit which will move in and complete the project, and learns the life lesson about the value of family. As his kids say towards the end, he never says to them he loves them, but I get the feeling this has changed.

There is one episode which shows just how bad at being a human being Claudio had become. He has as one of his workers the son of the watchmen who had died and whose death had been concealed. I never caught the son's name, but he's troubled by the fact his dad has never been in touch, says dad is worthless. Claudio, thinking to salvage the situation, reveals the truth about his father: the poor son is forced to do an on the spot re-evaluation of everything he understands about his dad.
Something else that this movie did rather well was to show the plight of the illegal immigrant worker: they have to hide whenever the police show up and are vulnerable to being exploited by meatheads like Claudio but, ultimately, they have their pride and will only take so much from him.

Sorry, if I Want to Marry You (Scusa ma ti voglio sposare)

This was a very busy movie, lots of colour, sounds, people, movement. I found it a bit hard at first, working out who everyone was (I suppose it would have helped if I had seen Sorry if I love You, to which this is a sequel). Niki is 20, a student, with rather rebellious parents. Alex is 40, from a very wealthy and traditional family. They each have their sets of friends but they are in love. Alex has a bit of an anxiety attack after imagining what young fellows might say to Niki. Thankfully he rejects the advice of his friends (all of whom have broken up or will break up during the movie): they suggest he follow her, act mysteriously and engage in something called insecurity therapy. In other words, they suggest he play games whereas he runs with his feelings, whisks her off to Paris and proposes (well has a neon sign on a bridge do the job for him).
That's basically the set up, it takes the first 10 - 15 minutes. The fun is in getting them to the altar (it is a romantic comedy, so we know that's where this is going). Her parents hate the idea of Niki marrying someone so much older. His parents don't seem to mind so much, but who would know what they're really thinking. They don't take too kindly to Niki's folks who they have to stay in their grand country house (not helped when her dad shoots the family dog on a pig hunt he detests).
Alex works too hard and isn't there when Nike needs him. She has too much help from his family and in comes a fast young man on a motorcycle, Guido.

But the movie isn't just about them. Their friends are part of the story as well: the young couple struggling with the decision to have a baby, the fashion designer fighting for recognition, the various husbands who stuff things up with their wives. This is probably the most important thing as, bizarrely, all five men end up living in the same house. That finally prompts action which leads to the resolution.