The Lighthouse Cuba

8.30pm   Incompresa / Misunderstood

“Misunderstood,” a buoyantly funny, sometimes desperately sad film about a child searching for love and home, could easily be titled “The Girl, Her Bag and Her Beautiful Cat.” These three are the film’s holy trinity and its defining image, one that is almost Chaplinesque in its graphic clarity and emotional punch. The director, Asia Argento, has a finely tuned sense of the absurd, but isn’t afraid of tears. NY Times

 

The Lighthouse Petone

12.30pm   Mia Madre / My Mother

Italian tragicomic auteur Nanni Moretti approached the subject of his own mortality in 1993’s international breakthrough feature Caro diario (Dear Diary), which documented, among other things, his all too real encounter with cancer. In his most celebrated feature, the 2001 Palme d’Or winner La stanza del figlio (The Son’s Room), he dealt superbly with parental bereavement and mourning. Now, in Mia Madre, he focuses on the impending loss of a mother, drawing heavily upon personal experience (Moretti’s own mother Agata died while he was completing 2011’s Habemus Papam/We Have a Pope), but also keeping enough distance from his subject to achieve a sense of universality. The beautifully observed and delicately balanced result is a sublimely modulated blend of laughter and tears, a film that cuts to the very heart of profound personal loss without ever losing sight of the fact that life, in all its chaotic comedy, carries on regardless. For my money, it’s Moretti’s most satisfying film to date, a richly mature work that brings together themes – life, death, love, film-making – that have haunted his entire career.

8.15pm     Wondrous Boccaccio

Veteran auteurs Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s adaptation of Boccaccio’s The Decameron focuses on five of the 100 stories in the classic Italian masterpiece and boasts stunning locations and a gorgeous all-star cast including Riccardo Scamarcio, Kim Rossi Stuart, Jasmine Trinca, Vittoria Puccini, Flavio Parenti and Carolina Crescentini.

The stories are set against the backdrop of a 14th century, black plague-stricken Florence, where ten young men and women have escaped the Black Death by relocating to a country villa where, one by one, they take turns telling stories of love, fate, and resurrection. Wondrous Boccaccio is a poetic tribute to the stories that emerged from one of the darkest periods in Italian history, and the imaginations that fuelled them. Stunningly shot in several castles, towers and medieval ruins in Tuscany and Lazio, this visual gem is a luscious Taviani style feast for the eyes.

The Empire

12.00pm    Wondrous Boccaccio

8.15pm       The Dinner

An all-star cast portrays the intense moral struggle facing two wealthy brothers and their wives in this gripping adaptation of Herman Koch’s best-selling book, Our Boys (I nostri ragazzi) which won four prizes at the 2014 Venice Film Festival.

The ‘dinner’ is a regular event in which two brothers, paediatrician Paolo (Luigi Lo Cascio) and lawyer Massimo (Alessandro Gassman), meet with their wives at an expensive restaurant despite the women’s mutual dislike. However, when Paolo’s son and Massimo’s daughter appear to have been involved in a serious crime, resentments boil to the surface. Ivano de Matteo has brilliantly expanded on elements of the novel and altered some aspects, such as the children being a boy and a girl instead of two boys, resulting in heightened complexities in the characters and a slow burn tension that builds to a surprising climax. The outstanding cast also features Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Barbora Bobulova who give unforgettable performances that linger long after the lights go up.