Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #5 - The Italians Part 1

A very strong Italian presence this year Cannes main competition with three "Gods" of Italian cinema. Already talked about one, Nanni Moretti and now is time to talk about the other two, Paolo Sorrentino and Matteo Garrone.  Was going to do a two directors post, but got too long, so this is Part 1 with Sorrentino and will do Part 2 with Garrone.

Paolo Sorrentino

Perhaps most of you know Paolo Sorrentino thanks to the international success of his film La Grande Belleza (The Great Beauty), which went to collect numerous accolades all over the world, including winning an Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards. I know him because he has constantly work with one of my favorite contemporary Italian actors, Toni Servillo, since his very debut feature film 2001 L'Uomo di più (One Man Up) that was In Competition at 2001 Venice film festival and went to win many honors especially in Italy.

Sorrentino was born on May 31, 1970 in Naples, Campania, Italy. Studies in a Salesian school and dreams of becoming an economist. He goes to Economy and Commerce faculty but never finishes as in 1993 he joins Mario Martone, Pappi Corsicato and Antonio Capuano in a youth group promoted by Naples mayor and starts to write stories. He writes and directs his first short film 1994 Un Paradiso followed by another short film, 1998 L'amore non ha confini. In between the two shorts he does several screenplays for feature and short films. We arrive to his first feature, One Man Up that gave him the Nastro d'Agento for Best New Director.

His second feature film Le Conseguenze dell'amore (The Consequences of Love) opens In Competition at 2004 Cannes and goes to win five David di Donatello awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay for Sorrentino and Best Actor for Toni Servillo. Two years later with this third feature film, L'amico di familia (The Family Friend) he returns to Cannes and is again in the main competition; this is one film without Toni Servillo. Worth mentioning that in between feature films he does several short films and video documentaries.

We arrive to his fourth film, the one that propelled him to the stratosphere, to inhabit with the world cinema Gods: Il Divo. Won't go into how awesome the film is, but if you haven't seen it I strongly suggest you do. Amazing Il Divo opened In Competition at 2008 Cannes and went to win the Jury Prize and the Vulcain Prize for the Technical Artist (breathtaking Toni Servillo make-up) plus 7 David di Donatello awards, 5 Nastri d'Argento awads, and more awards for Toni Servillo as Best Actor. Toni Servillo makeup was so good that film got an Oscar nomination in the Best Achievement in Makeup category. What follows is his fifth film, strange This Must Be the Place and his sixth, La Grande Belleza that I highly enjoyed as an homage to master filmmaker Federico Fellini. As in previous years in between his feature films he does one documentary segment, and some doc videos plus short films.

His Seventh film is Youth that again is In Competition. This is his 7th time in Cannes and the 6th time In Competition, in 2009 he was the Un Certain Regard jury President. So, yes, you can call him a Cannes regular as all his films, except the first one, have opened In Competition in the mother of all festivals.  In theory film has one big problem -for me- NO Toni Servillo! and up-to-today his most honored films have Servillo in the cast. Sigh.

What do I expect from Youth? Awesome, breathtaking cinematography! Trailer suggests that my wish will be granted. Can't say that I enjoyed much his first film in English, but I hope his second will be a lot better visually and for the story it tells.  Will this film win him la Palme d'Or?  Now that I know the complete jury, believe that if film narrative is as good as the visuals, then maybe there is a chance he becomes a contender.

Basic info about Youth (aka La Giovinezza or Il Futuro or The Early Years)
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Scriptwriter: Paolo Sorrentino
Language: English
Runtime: 118 mins
Production countries: Italy, Switzerland, UK and France
Production Companies: Indigo Film (Italy), Barbary Films (France), Pathé (France), C-Films (Swiss Anne Walser), Number 9 Films (UK), Medusa Film (Italy)
Distribution: Wild Bunch (Netherlands, Germany, Spain), Studio Canal (UK), A-One Films (Russia), Medusa Distribuzione (Italy), Pathé International for International Sales.

Cast: Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel

Plot Summary
Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children's confused lives, Mick's enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.

Official Trailer

Film Stills

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