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Thursday, December 14, 2006

[Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2006] Arrivederci amore, ciao' and 'Mio miglior nemico, Il (My Best Enemy)'

The Italian Film Festival 2006 was held during my last two weeks in Perth at the Luna theaters (a chain of theaters in Perth that specializes in arthouse fare, or local Aussie films). I've long made my decision to catch some of the movies they were showing since attending the same festival the year before. After all, it's not really that easy to see an Italian film anywhere.

Last year, I had the pleasure of watching Manuale D'Amore (Manual Of Love), a wondrous romantic comedy I loved so much that I rated it alongside Fellini's 8 1/2 as one of the greatest Italian films I've ever seen! Unfortunately, during the same festival, I also saw the indescribably agonizing Cantando Dietroi i Paraventi (Singing Behind Screens)... a film that scarred me until this very day, you can check out my really brief and not entirely comprehensible reviews of both films here.

Anyway, like last year, I saw two films in this year's Festival.

Arriverci amore, ciao

I saw Arrivederci amore, ciao on the 23rd of November with Michelle AKA My Favouritest Person In The World, an Italian crime thriller I knew nothing about, but ended up seeing since it was the only film playing that night. The only info I had was from the ticket-selling lady at the cinema, who flipped through the booklet for the film synopsis, and seeing the picture below:

Arrivederci amore, ciao

"Ooooh, it's spicy!" Said the ticket-selling lady.

"Yeah..." I agreed.

So we went into the cinema later (as in, with Michelle, who arrived after I bought the tickets, not with the ticket-selling lady). The film turned out to be a crime thriller like Woody Allen's Match Point, which I saw earlier this year, where the hero's the bad guy. The following's the synopsis I plucked off from IMDB.

"Giorgio Pellegrini, a former left-wing activist turned terrorist has fled to Central America and fought with a guerrilla movement. Fifteen years later he is fed up with living in the jungle and decides to return to Italy. What he wants is to lead a comfortable bourgeois life in his native country. Thanks to Anedda, a corrupt police inspector, and after giving away former comrades, he obtains a reduced jail sentence. Once released from prison he obsessively pursues his dream of becoming a "respectable" citizen, even if the way to it is paved with larceny, pimping, drug-dealing, rape, heist and murder..."
During the first five minutes of the film, when seeing the clean-shaven Giorgio (Allesio Boni) for the very first time, I gasped quietly and pointed out to Michelle that the guy looked a hell lot like Hugh Jackman!

And the film became much more engaging for me since it was as if I was watching an Italian film starring Hugh Jackman (albeit with a less deeper voice), hell, I even started to forget that the guy I was watching onscreen wasn't Hugh Jackman. Of course, even if the guy hadn't looked like Hugh, it was still interesting to watch the charismatic Giorgio lying, cheating, robbing and killing, and getting away.

We walked out of the theaters, feeling that we had just underwent a rather strange experience. It wasn't a bad film, it wasn't really a film that would change lives, there wasn't really anything to complain about the film, the acting was top-notch, the occasional shootout scenes were well-shot, the script was intriguing since I wanted to see what was Giorgio going to do next, whether he will ever get away. A lead character who both enthralled and repulsed. It was also occasionally funny, a hint of irony and playfulness throughout the entire film (for example, during one part of the film, audiences were made to assume that it was going to the direction of a heist film like 'Ocean Eleven' and 'Italian Job', where a ragtag group of people were introduced to aid Giorgio in a mission... only to have things veering towards a completely different direction not too long after).

I want to see Allesio Boni and Hugh Jackman appearing in the same film. Anyway, check out the trailer of Arrivederci amore, ciao.

Mio miglior nemico, Il (My Best Enemy)

Mio miglior nemico, Il was the one film that I've long wanted to see when I knew it was playing in the festivals as it reunited two cast members from Manuale D'Amore, Carlo Verdone (who won a best supporting actor award for Manuale D'Amore) and Silvio Muccino. Carlo Verdone directed this film.

My Best Enemy

This film was shown during the closing of the Italian Film Festival, on the 29th of November, the very night my dad arrived at Perth for a visit. Great timing. Watching a film about fatherly love with my own dad.

Film's about a woman, Cecilia (Ana Caterina Morariu) torn between the love of two men, one her father, Achille De Bellis (Verdone), the other her boyfriend Orfeo Rinalduzzi (Silvio Muccino) as both men were engaged in a fierce rivalry, each man trying to destroy the life of another, after Achille, a hotel manager, had fired Orfeo's junkie mother, accusing her of theft. Unfortunately, Orfeo didn't know that his hated enemy happened to be the father of his new girlfriend. And Achille, obviously, didn't know that his own daughter was going out with his enemy.

Everything was funny at first as we watched Orfeo and Achille taking turns upping the ante in their duel, reminding me slightly of Wes Anderson's masterpiece, Rushmore. Then things got ugly, and both men had to win back the woman they both loved. And with that, the film became serious, and predictably, during their journey, they got to know each other more.

It's a really heartwarming film that would make even the cynics leave the theaters with a smile, and Verdone's a great actor. The film did feel a little unbalanced, and slow at places, and the merging of drama and comedy didn't really work all the time, but ultimately, it was still a film worth watching, to me.

Surprisingly, a few scenes from the film are actually available on Youtube. So at least I can share with you all how the film looked like.

Well, at least both films I saw in this year's Italian film festival's more solid, makes me want to see more films from Italy.