IL BUCO – Review by Diane Carson

Young speleologists in Turin organize their October 1961 campaign to map the Bifurto Abyss in Italy’s Calabrian region. Europe’s deepest cave, the third largest on Earth, reaching seven hundred meters in depth, the Bifurto Abyss appears like a yawning cavern in the unnamed shepherd’s neighborhood. Cross cutting between Abyss’ nearby, isolated village and the cave explorers’ tent camp, Il Buco, meaning The Hole, casts its spell with few words, the sounds of nature defining the vividly vibrantly environment. This meditative, deeply moving film is pure poetry.

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THE TALE OF KING CRAB – Review by Jennifer Green

The Tale of King Crab is a moody Italian drama that weaves a wandering narrative of misfortune, desperation and redemption. It could potentially be read as a treatment on mental illness and alcoholism, or perhaps on the imprecision of oral histories. Either way, it is at its core a story of, by and for men split into two very different chapters, one shot in Italian and the other in Spanish.

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THE HAND OF GOD – Review by Susan Granger

Oscar-nominated as Best International Film, Italy’s The Hand of God is Paul Sorrentino’s intensely personal coming-of-age story, set in Naples in the 1980s.
That’s when Argentina’s Diego Maradona was worshipped as the best soccer player in the world; the title comes from a controversial goal scored by Maradona in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal against England.

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THE HAND OF GOD – Review by Jennifer Green

Italy’s 2021 submission for the International Oscar is a beautiful coming-of-age story and a love letter to both director Paolo Sorrentino’s native Naples and the art of filmmaking. There are many memorable images in The Hand of God, mostly involving a contrast of dark interiors with the sapphire Mediterranean and the blinding sun of southern Italy. Likewise, the film’s characters and scenarios are extremely evocative.

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SMALL BODY (TIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

In the introduction to the screening of her feature debut Small Body, Italian filmmaker Laura Samani reveals its origins were in 2016 when a man told her about a local legend that held stillborn babies could be brought briefly back to life long enough to be baptized. Instantly fascinated by the story, Samani learned that official history frequently put men in the center of these stories and – as is her nature – she was willfully drawn to find the cracks in that assumption, and to discover where women fit.

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MY HOUSE IS FULL OF MIRRORS – Review by April Neale

Rags to riches stories with a side of betrayal never whetted the appetite like My House is Full of Mirrors does. Like a bowl of endless pappardelle smothered in a tasty ragu, screen legend Sophia Loren stars in the lengthy and satisfying two-part miniseries, playing her own mother, Romilda Villani. It’s a glimpse of Loren’s family life based on her sister Maria’s eponymous memoir.

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MARTIN EDEN – Review by Sarah Ward

Luca Marinelli’s expression changes many, many times in Pietro Marcello’s bold and bewitching version of Martin Eden. You don’t receive acting awards for emotion-filed eyes alone, but Marinelli certainly earned his 2019 Venice Film Festival Best Actor award several times over. His is a performance that a filmmaker can build a feature around, as Marcello has.

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THE LIFE AHEAD – Review by Diane Carson

The Life Ahead features a compelling Sophia Loren. Set in the midst of dire circumstances, the film dramatizes the evolving relationship between Holocaust survivor Madame Rosa and young Senegalese refuge Momo. It’s star is 86-year-old Sophia Loren who enlivens this compelling adaptation of Romain Gary’s The Life Before Us, here co-written and directed by Loren’s son Edoardo Ponti.

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For the Love of Gialli – Maitland McDonagh comments

There was a time when few American moviegoers knew what giallo meant, but the gialli genre helped change the landscape of American films during the 1970s, a time of tumultuous changes in American filmmaking. Gialli brought a new sensibility to American shores—not to art houses, but to local cinemas and then television, video, DVD and streaming—one that has thrilled generations of moviegoers and moviemakers. Nightmares are discomfitingly potent dreams, and gialli are candy-colored nightmares it’s oh-so hard to resist.

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