by Elisa Giudici
It’s not a festival, it’s a party! So please be my guest for a short trip to the Festa del Cinema di Roma (Rome’s film festival). This is my first year in Rome for this strange festival which is now in its 17th year. The Rome Film Festival wants to be something different from its older sisters in Europe (Berlin, Cannes and Venice), but it seems unable to let go of the old dream of becoming as big and relevant as them.
A Rome film festival in 2022 will be an odd combination of festival season leftovers, Hollywood stragglers hoping for Oscar traction and a place where smaller films will shine alongside the most popular and acclaimed ones that have already screened. somewhere else. And Apple Originals really likes this Festival. Let’s check out some titles, shall we?
RAYMOND & RAY (Rodrigo Garcia, USA)
Starts streaming on Apple TV+ October 21
A really positive start to my festival days in the Eternal City and yet another successful example of Apple Originals’ cinematic strategy: small titles focused on family and friendship, big storylines and a glamorous name or two. ‘Hollywood to sell it.
Raymond and Ray stars Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke, whose casting is perfectly in line with our expectations. They embody two brothers of the same name, marked by an abusive relationship with a terrible father. Naturally, McGregor is the sensible one, mistaken for a closeted homosexual for his ability to iron his shirts. Hawke is the most messy with a short temper and a difficult relationship with drugs, rules, and social conventions. It might have been just lazy typography, but Ethan and Ewan really sell being brothers in an elegantly written drama by Rodrigo García (Mother and child, things you can tell just by looking at her).
The new film is fueled by several mysteries surrounding the protagonists’ deceased father, who they are asked to bury (literally) six feet under. By preventing Raymond and Ray from understanding why their father was so terrible to them and how he could have been a better or maybe just different man later in life, the storyline does wonders. Whereas Raymond and Ray At its finest moments in this mystery and vagueness, García’s final act succumbs to the temptation to explain everything: the only real mistake in this impressive effort.
Aside from its stars and, ignoring this misstep, there are other rewards. Consider for example the clues given on the letters in the final part. Otherwise, consider how the film has the same opening and closing scenes, but with a very different meaning for each sibling.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG BLACK AND BLUE (Sacha Jenkins, USA)
Opens in theaters and begins streaming on Apple+ October 28
Another favorite on the Apple Originals menu is documents about artists and musicians in particular. Lately, every festival has at least one in its lineup. Jenkins does a great job illustrating Armstrong’s self-awareness; Realizing the mark he was leaving in American (music) history, Armstrong decided to record himself performing and talking about his career, essentially interviewing himself.
When the central figure in a documentary is as compelling as Armstrong, it’s almost impossible to miss the mark. The Black and the Blues of Louis Armstrong offers an interesting portrait of the man and the legend, focusing on how the perception of his public persona within the African-American community changed during the 1960s. He was “the first black man American” to achieve many historical milestones, but younger generations despised his way of being “the black man that white people imagine, non-threatening and apolitical”.
In addition to the political slant of his place in the culture, I enjoyed looking at his relationship with his third wife Lucille Wilson as well as some weird and bizarre facts such as his public appreciation for laxative use.
ROBBING MUSSOLINI (Renato De Maria, Italy)
Starts streaming on Netflix October 26
The only constructive thing I can say about this Italian Netflix production is that it does a stellar job of highlighting just how underrated Gabriele Mainetti Panic that was just a year ago. Stealing Mussolini is a clear attempt to make a similar film with less money and less talent behind the camera. “Adorable underdogs try to beat history and Mussolini during the final days of World War II in Italy” is the plot of both films.
Stealing Mussolini takes place in Milan, but the cast has Roman accents so pronounced that it feels like being in the open city again (as in Panic). In Mainetti’s earlier film, the protagonists had powers similar to the X-Men. Here they are a team of highly skilled thieves planning the heist of the century: stealing the gold that Mussolini stole from the Italian people during 20 years of dictatorship. The common goal of both films is to speak to a young audience while educating them about some historical facts about fascist Italy at the time. Even Pietro Castellitto plays a similar role in both titles. Yet in Stealing Mussolini the characters are so uninspired and stereotyped that even the new stars of Italian cinema such as Matilda De Angelis or veterans like Tommaso Ragno have nothing more to do or say. Do yourself a favor: skip this one and watch Panic In place.
see you soon from rome