Monday, April 12, 2010

"Alza La Testa," "Il Compleanno" e "Il Papa di Giovanna"



I'm going to try to tackle all of these films at once, given that Atlanta's Italian Film Festival has now been over for a week!

Let's start with "Alza La Testa."

I thought it was great, in large part because Sergio Castellitto, the star, is, ahem, Sergio Castellitto.

Interestingly, I received the official punteggio from the film festival and it received a 7.3, compared with a rating of 9.0, which went to "Italians," a forgettable comedy that was popular in Italy.

For American viewers who may not be familiar with Castellitto, I guess you could say he's like Al Pacino or Robert De Niro in their best roles. He's intense and high-energy, and he feels a lot -- too much.

In this film, he plays a former prize fighter who has raised his son with one idea and one idea only: that he will be a champion boxer. The son is game, and trains with his father every day, but as a 17-year-old (I'm guessing at his age), he also wants to be a regular kid, which strains his relationship with his father.

I won't say more about the plot, but the film takes place in Fiumicino and Castellito's character works in a ship-building yard, which as a background I found very interesting and compelling. It's not just the sunny Tuscan countryside: it's the real Italy that's just as interesting but a little less postcard-perfect.

So, in response to the AsianCajuns and other readers, rent "Alza La Testa"! It's worth it (though, no, I don't see it on Netflix).

Alternately, you can try to rent "Non Ti Muovere," another Castellitto vehicle which is available on Netflix. Just be prepared: that film is even heavier and sucker-punches you with an initial encounter that's the opposite of romantic.

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