Friday, November 28, 2014

2014 New Italian Cinema

The 2014 New Italian Cinema was presented by the San Francisco Film Society at the Vogue Theater from November 19 to 23.  New Italian Cinema is organized by New Italian Cinema Events and presented in collaboration with SFFS.

I had tickets to three films but skipped one so I only saw two films this year.

Remember Me (aka Ti ricordi di me?) starring Ambra Angiolini & Edoardo Leo; directed by Rolando Ravello; Italian with subtitles; (2014)
Human Capital (aka Il capitale umano) starring Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Valeria Golino, Fabrizio Gifuni, Matilde Gioli & Guglielmo Pinelli; directed by Paolo Virzi; Italian with subtitles; (2013)

I skipped the November 23 screening of In the Snow to go to the gym and get to Berkeley in time for Hou Hsiao-hsien's Flowers of Shanghai at the PFA.

Remember Me is a romantic comedy about narcoleptic amnesiac Beatrice (Ambra Angiolini) & kleptomaniac Roberto (Edoardo Leo).  They begin a hesitant romance which is complicated by the fact that Bea is engaged to be married.  When placed in exciting or stressful situations Bea falls asleep and if the stress is great enough, she awakens with amnesia.  This plot device neatly divides the film into three acts.

In the first act, Roberto & Bea meet and fall in love.  It ends with Bea discovering her fiancé in flagrante delicto.  She runs out of the bedroom and into the park where she collapses.  She awakens in mental institution with no recollection of who she is.  In the second act, Robert randomly meets Bea, re-romances her and they get married have a son.  This act ends with Bea happening upon her ex-fiancé in a bookstore and collapsing.  She wakes up with no recollection of her past but this time the fiancé romances Bea and they get married.  In the third act, Roberto fruitlessly searches for Bea until his friend in the passport office sees Bea's application come through.  Roberto travels to Switzerland to find Bea working at her fiancé's watch/clock factory.  Not willing to put her through a third bout of amnesia, Roberto is willing to let Bea be but she senses the connection between them and pursues Roberto as the film ends.

Remember Me is a crowd pleasing film.  The screening I went to at 4 PM on a Saturday was sold out.  I'm surprised at how large the audience was.  I thought it was overly contrived but once I put away that quibble, I enjoyed the film as much as the rest of the audience.

Remember Me director Rolando Revello is also an actor and had a supporting role in Balancing Act which played at the 2013 New Italian Cinema.  Edoardo Leo also starred in I Can Quit Whenever I Want which played at the 2014 New Italian Cinema and at the 2014 Mill Valley Film Festival (where I saw it).

Human Capital is also a three act film.  Each act covers roughly the same events but told from three different perspectives.  The film opens with a caterer riding his bike on a cold winter night.  A car takes a turn and crashes into him.  He is sent into a ditch.  The rest of the film reveals who was driving the car and the backstory up until that moment.

Human Capital is the story of the Bernaschi & Ossola families.  Dino (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) is the patriarch of the Ossola family.  His second wife Roberta (Valeria Golino) is pregnant with their first child together.  Dino's teenage daughter Serena (Matilde Gioli) is dating Massimiliano Bernaschi (Guglielmo Pinelli), the troubled teenage son of a wealthy family.  His father Giovanni (Fabrizio Gifuni) is a hedge fund manager and his mother Carla (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) has a pet project renovating a local theater.  Dino thinks he has hit it rich by buying into Giovanni's hedge fund at the minimum level.  

As the film progresses, the relationships between these characters are revealed and the mystery is unraveled.  For the most part, the people are less than noble.  Dino is a buffoon, Serena is misguided, Giovanni is a bully, Carla is insecure, etc.  The exploration of human nature is played out from the viewpoints of Dino, Serena & Carla.  All the while, the mystery of who hit the caterer is ratcheted up as the police begin their investigation.  At key points where the characters' plot lines intersect, it is revealed that the obvious explanation is not the actual motivation for their actions.

I liked Human Capital quite a bit.  The post-script explanation of the title seems to be an afterthought criticism of the insurance industry but I was riveted by the story for its entirety.  Fabrizio Bentivoglio as the venal & cowardly Dino was particularly memorable.  Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is always memorable and has a knack for showing the endearing nature of her characters' insecurities.

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