Marriage Italian Style

(Photo by © Everett Collection)

Our new Classic Film Catch-Up feature connects you with classic films to put on your watchlist – beloved favorites and hidden gems alike. With more time at home, there’s no better opportunity to finally watch these titles that helped define cinema as we know it.


The current situation of social distancing has many of us thinking of ways to maximize the time we spend at home. We’re also eating several times a day and annoying our pets, but being productive does cross our minds from time to time. Puzzles, long-abandoned books, craft projects, and New Year’s resolutions have suddenly jumped to the top of our to-do lists. In the RT comments, many of you have shared how you’re catching up on classic films, and we happen to agree that now is the perfect time to increase your classic film viewing.

Concentrating on films released before 1980 (both well-known titles and hidden gems), we’re producing new guides to essential classic films curated by theme, filmmaker, actor, genre, or style – all for your classic catch-up needs. Want to see our picks for the best French farces? How about a curated list of Fresh picks from Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Sellers, or Billy Wilder? As well as curating watchlists, we’re breaking down the films, telling you where you can watch them, and giving you some more recent and/or well-known films the classics might remind you of so you can gauge which movies are right for you.

This week in the Classic Film Catch-Up we’re looking at Italian cinema – great works from the country that gave us visionary filmmakers like Federico Fellini and Sergio Leone, and stars like Sophia Loren. Italy has played a vital role in the business of cinema, popularizing the full-length feature film and pioneering a distribution model that our modern theater industry is based upon. But its the stories, the characters, and the way filmmakers grappled with Italian life that have stuck with audiences.

Italian cinema was shaped by the country’s history as much as it has shaped that history itself. Fascism, which took hold in the nation shortly after World War I, was as much a point of protest for filmmakers as it was a catalyst for innovation within the industry. From Neo-Realism to Technicolor horror, Italy has been at the forefront of some of the most influential moments in cinematic history. Moreover, some of the funniest satires and most swoon-worthy romances in film have come from Rome, Milan, Venice, and beyond. Below, you’ll find representations of all genres and many movements, with our pick of six seminal Italian classics.

Got other Italian classics you’d add to our list? Have a suggestion for a future theme or classic film to feature in the column? Let us know in the comments. 


Voyage to Italy (1953) 96%

(Photo by Criterion Collection)

What is it? A couple whose marriage is on the rocks journeys to Naples, Italy.

Why you need to see it: After WWII, Journey to Italy director Roberto Rossellini and co-writer Vitaliano Brancati embraced a new realist style of filmmaking. Though not the first entry in the Italian Neorealism genre (or Neorealismo), Journey to Italy is arguably the pinnacle of what the country’s Neorealists had to offer, and is thought to be Rossellini‘s masterpiece. Opening up the camera work to authentically show Naples – including its grittier sides – proved daunting during filming, but the result is breathtaking. The black-and-white drama follows an English couple in a declining marriage (played by Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) on a trip to Naples. Throughout the film we look to answer two questions: Do these people truly love each other? And can they stay together? Based loosely on the French novel Duo, the film was a critical and box office failure but endures as one the most influential films of the post-war era, influencing everything from Mean Streets to Thelma and Louise.

Watch it if you like: Marriage Story, Carol, A Room with A View, Call Me By Your Name.

Where to watch: Stream now on The Criterion Channel app. Rent or buy on KanopyAmazon, and iTunes.


Suspiria (1977) 93% 

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)

What is it? A wide-eyed ballet dancer joins a prestigious dance academy and discovers sinister secrets about the women who run it.

Why you need to see it: There’s something inherently unnerving watching horrific acts in vivid color, and Dario Argento’s Suspiria exploits that phenomenon with devilish results. Hypnotic and horrifying, the film is a dark, violent fairy tale about a coven of witches who prey on young women in the goriest fashion, and it still terrifies. When the film was released in 1977, it was a relative success, but it was catapulted to cult status after it was released on home media. The cinematography highlights the film’s arresting imagery, and the gothic score that flows throughout has lodged in the memory of many a horror fan. There are definitely issues with the movie – dubbing problems render the dialogue distracting at times – but it’s a supreme testament to the visionary filmmaking that, despite all of this, it was well-received by both audiences and critics.

Watch it if you like: AuditionHostelGreen RoomRaw.

Where to watch: Stream for free on Tubi and Kanopy. Rent or buy on iTunes.


Ossessione (1942) 100% 

(Photo by Industrie Cinematografiche Italiane)

What is it? A sultry noir about a femme fatale who seduces a drifter and convinces him to murder her husband.

Why you need to see it: If Journey to Italy is pinnacle of Italian Neorealism, many credit Luchino Visconti‘s debut Ossessione with giving birth to the genre and establishing the framework for this new style of filmmaking. The film was commissioned and released during Fascist rule in Italy, and Visconti battled constantly with censorship and threats of confiscation to produce his adaptation of James M. Cain’s beloved The Postman Always Rings Twice. MGM released an English adaptation of the book in 1946 starring Lana Turner and John Garfield, but many mark the Italian masterpiece as superior. Compare the two femmes fatales – a hallmark of any good noir – and you can spot a clear distinction between the films: As captivating as Turner is, she can’t hold a candle to Clara Calamai’s searing seduction and heartbreaking vulnerability.

Watch it if you like: Double IndemnitySplendor in the GrassBrickChinatown.

Where to watch: Stream now on FilmBox Live app.


Blood and Black Lace (1964) 80% 

(Photo by Arrow Video)

What is it? A gruesome murder mystery set in a fashion house where the models are slowly picked off.

Why you need to see it: If you want to see one of the best examples of Italian Grindhouse, Blood and Black Lace should be on your list. Director Mario Bava is best known for Black Sunday and Black Sabbath, but don’t dismiss this Technicolor slasher released in 1964. Graphic and deliciously colorful, it masterfully contrasts breathtaking cinematography with some truly disturbing images. Watching it, you will instantly understand why the film is a favorite of Quentin Tarantino – as well as other elite filmmakers – and you’ll find subtle nods to the movie in Tarantino’s grindhouse homage Death Proof. Critics crucified the movie upon its release and it was a box office bomb; later, however, audiences and critics grew to revere Black Lace‘s clever mix of eroticism and gore. A true pioneer of the Giallo subgenre of Italian horror-thrillers, Bava never reaped the benefit of his success while he was alive and died virtually unknown outside of die-hard horror fans. Today, he has been canonized as one of the most influential horror directors of all time.

Watch it if you like: Death ProofHostelGreen RoomThe Evil DeadSawOldboy.

Where to watch: Stream now on Amazon Prime. Rent or buy on iTunes.


Marriage Italian Style (1964) 80%

(Photo by Kino Lorber)

What is it? The long-term mistress of a wealthy rake schemes to keep him from marrying a doe-eyed cashier over her.

Why you need to see it: A list of iconic classic Italian films would be incomplete without at least one entry starring Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. Loren, who had just taken home the Best Actress prize in 1962 for Two Women, and Mastroianni, who was fresh off a Best Actor nomination for Foreign Language Oscar-winner Divorce Italian Style, were without question two of the biggest movie stars on the planet. The farcical romance, Marriage Italian Styleis a noteworthy title in their respective filmographies that’s often overlooked in favor of films like A Special Day8 1/2, or the aforementioned Two Women. The hilarious romp rightfully garnered Loren her second Oscar nomination for her turn as the prostitute-turned-mistress who will stop at nothing to keep her man. A shining example of the Italian comedic sensibility, the film is outrageous, hysterical, and ultimately disarming.

Watch it if you like: Pretty WomanShampooBoomerangOut of SightDirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Where to watch: Streaming on Kanopy available to rent or buy on Amazon.


Amarcord (1973) 87%

(Photo by Courtesy of The Criterion Collection)

What is it? A collection of satirical stories about a coastal village during the Fascist rule of Italy.

Why you need to see it: Federico Fellini is likely the first name that springs to mind when thinking of classic Italian cinema – and specifically his celebrated 8 1/2. His 1973 comedy Amarcord, however, is thought by many – including Roger Ebert – to be his best work. Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, the comedy about a cast of colorful characters who inhabit a village in the Italian countryside is a laser-focused political satire of Italy’s Fascist rule. Religion, politics, and sex: Fellini spared no subject, and the jokes still hold up to this day. The side-splitting anthology is seamlessly bound together by The Godfather composer Nina Rota’s uplifting score.

Watch it if you like: Death of Stalin, Veep, BernieThe Royal TenenbaumsLife is Beautiful

Where to watch: Stream now on The Criterion Channel app. Rent or buy on Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and YouTube.

This week on streaming video, we’ve got a couple of fan favorite TV shows, a new adventure for Pee-wee Herman, some notable smaller films, some classics, and more. Read on for the full list.


New on Amazon Prime

 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) 99%

One of the most influential horror films ever made, Robert Wiene’s silent masterpiece about a sleepwalking killer boasts some of cinema’s most expressionistic set design.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Doctor Who: Season 1 (2005) 83%

Want to catch up on the good Doctor’s adventures? Beginning on March 27, Amazon Prime will have seasons one through eight, as well as all the holiday specials, available to stream. If you can’t wait that long, you can always pay for them now.

Available March 27 on: Amazon Prime


Catastrophe: Season 2 (2015) 100%

Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan star in this comedy about a British woman and American tourist who decide to stay together after a brief encounter results in a pregnancy.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


Orphan Black: Season 3 (2015) 83%

Tatiana Maslany stars in this sci-fi drama series about a group of clones who fall into a conspiratorial whirlwind of mystery and deception.

Available now on: Amazon Prime


New on Netflix

 

Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World (2015) 82%

This Certified Fresh documentary shows how an ailing five-year-old’s wish to be a superhero for a day became a viral sensation.

Available now on: Netflix


He Never Died (2015) 88%

Henry Rollins stars in this horror comedy about a grizzled depressive who literally cannot expire.

Available now on: Netflix


Pee-wee's Big Holiday (2016) 80%

Paul Reubens reprises his role as the wacky, innocent man-child, who decides to take his first vacation after an inspiring encounter with a stranger (Joe Manganiello).

Available now on: Netflix


The Falling (2014) 73%

This drama tells the tale of a mysterious fainting epidemic at an all-girls boarding school in Britain.

Available now on: Netflix


Happy Valley: Season 2 (2016) 100%

Sarah Lancashire returns as Catherine Cawood, a West Yorkshire police officer who finds herself embroiled in another investigation when she’s implicated in a string of murders.

Available now on: Netflix


New on Fandor

 

The Square (2013) 100%

This Certified Fresh documentary chronicles contemporary politics of Egypt, beginning with the demonstrations in Tahrir Square in early 2011.

Available now on: Fandor


Amarcord (1973) 87%

Federico Fellini’s episodic look at the colorful citizens of his hometown won the 1974 Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Available now on: Fandor


Trophy Wife (2010) 83%

Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu star in this Certified Fresh comedy about a romance between an umbrella factory owner’s wife and a labor leader.

Available now on: Fandor


Hara-Kiri (1963) 100%

A classic samurai drama from the great Masaki Kobayashi meditates on codes of honor among warriors in post-feudal Japan.

Available now on: Fandor


Available to Purchase

 

The Revenant (2015) 78%

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Certified Fresh, Oscar-winning drama about a fur trapper seeking vengeance after being double crossed and left for dead in the harsh wilderness.

Available now on: AmazoniTunes, Vudu

Diego Luna

Diego Luna is bristling at RT’s suggestion he pick just five favourite films. “It’s really unfair to have to say only five films,” he complains as he picks his final choice. “This barely covers my life; I’m up to about the age of 16 by the end of the list!”

The 29-year-old has been acting since before 16 in his home country of Mexico, but burst onto the international stage aged 22 as part of the trio of leads in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y Tu Mama Tambien. That film marked his first collaboration with Gael Garcia Bernal (see his five favourites here), a partnership that continues – this time with Cuaron’s brother Carlos at the helm – with Rudo and Cursi, out now in UK cinemas.

Indeed, the Cuaron connection is another sticking point for Luna. “I’d also want to say that when I saw Children of Men, for me it wasn’t only a fantastic film, but it was an important film for me because not only do I know the guy but I’ve worked with him, collaborated with him. Every time I have something I show it to Alfonso and hear what he has to say. I’d actually say that film is, for me, the most important film today because it’s a relationship I’m still working on and learning from.”

But what of his final list? Read on to find out more.


Diego Luna

Bambi

Bambi

“It’s so corny, but it was the first film I saw and the thing about the mother hit me really badly. I remember it was a good connection with my sister, who was fifteen years older. I was about 5 or 6.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thief

“I’m still kind of psychoanalysing myself but my first shock was with the relationship between the mother and then the father. To find out that your parents are not perfect and in fact they do behave sometimes like thieves to protect you, it was powerful.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

“Three Italians! I remember crying really badly with that when all the films in the projection room are on fire. I remember that also it was a film that when I was really young I could see myself reflected in the younger part of the film. And you can grow with the film, you know. When you become more mature you find a lot of sadness in the story of the old guy while he’s watching at the beginning and the end.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

Amarcord

Amarcord

“Still with the Italians, I’m sorry! With many things in life you’re there because there’s a cute girl around that you want to go out with and you end up finding magic. You end up not caring about the girl but wanting to stay there because of what you found. That happened with Amarcord to me. I really thought a lot about creating images and the connection that cinema had with theatre in a way. That film feels a little bit like theatre. I lived all my life watching theatre and it’s when I found the connection with what I was watching and could do in my life.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Diego Luna

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

“This was a really important movie for me as a teenager. It was a movie I could have fun with, that I thought was a piece of art and that I thought was doing something modern that had to do with my life. Cinema until then, the ones I really appreciated were done by guys that lived in a different reality from mine and were talking about something in the past that had connections with what I was living but I would have to make an effort to be part of the story and make it work for my reality. With the Coen brothers I thought I was looking at something which was an idea from the day before, you know, and also the commitment they had to their point of view was amazing. I felt excited and it was the perfect film to fall in love with when I was young.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Bambi
Bambi

The Bicycle Thief
Bicycle Thief

Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso

Amarcord
Amarcord

The Big Lebowski
Big Lebowski


Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.

In this week’s ketchup: "Batman Begins" sequel happenings once again rule the news; George Clooney will star in the "Pet Sematary" remake; the butt-kicking babes of "DOA: Dead or Alive" are on display; and the Mel Gibson DUI fallout continues. Fun!

In other news, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are ready to team up again; Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson also will re-team; Hugh Jackman surprises no one by doing a big screen musical; and Mel Gibson has friends in high places. Read on for details:


George "The Man" Clooney is in for some scary "Sematary" stuff


The Week’s Most Popular News:

Multiple Villains in "Batman Begins" Sequel?
By now you’ve obviously heard the news that Heath Ledger is expected to play The Joker in the "Batman Begins" sequel, and IGN FilmForce has just a little few droplets of fresh news on the flick. Let’s just say that if you were hoping for another Jack Nicholson-style Joker, you might end up disappointed.

"Batman Begins" Sequel: New Title (And Joker Casting Confirmation!)
We’ve just heard big news on the "Batman Begins" sequel front, and it includes confirmation of the director, casting of the Joker, and the new title for the next "Batman Begins" installment!

George Clooney Digs "Pet Sematary"
Now here’s a piece of news that’s pretty cool, if only because I love horror movies and I’ve always dug George Clooney. Seems the movie star has been tagged to star in Paramount’s remake of "Pet Sematary," which (of course) is based on the Stephen King novel of the same (misspelled) name.

Photo Gallery Update: "DOA: Dead Or Alive" and Its Butt-Kicking Beauties
In light of recent RT server problems, here’s a gift from us to you: the newly updated "DOA: Dead or Alive" photo gallery! Browse pics of the five lethal leading ladies in all their high-kicking, sword-wielding, tequila-drinking action…and yes, there are bikinis.

Mel Gibson Meltdown Provokes Hollywood’s Ire
Mel Gibson, no stranger to controversy, has done himself a doozy after a Friday morning DUI arrest allegedly spiraled into the anti-Semetic rant heard ’round Hollywood.

In Other News:

  • Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who play NASCAR buddies in this week’s release, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," have already signed on to pair again in "Step Brothers," to be directed by "Talladega" helmer Adam McKay and co-scripted by McKay and Ferrell. The duo will play grown men who live at home, whose single parents get together and marry, making them…step brothers…
  • In another reteaming, Owen Wilson and frequent collaborator Wes Anderson are set to reunite on "The Darjeeling Limited," with Wilson as one of three brothers on a trek across India. Anderson will direct and co-write the script with pals Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman.
  • Macaulay Culkin will return to the big screen in the surprisingly unappetizing-sounding "Sex and Breakfast," starring alongside Eliza Dushku and Kuno Becker in a story about a couple in therapy who are prescribed — what else? — group sex in order to save their relationship.
  • Hugh Jackman is in talks to produce and star in a remake of the 1956 musical, "Carousel;" Jackman has his eye on the role of Billy Bigelow, a role the sometimes-stage actor sang before at Carnegie Hall.
  • Respectable thesps Ed Harris and Gabriel Byrne have joined previously inked stars Ed Burns and Shannyn Sossamon in the cast of "One Missed Call," a remake of a 2003 J-horror flick about a co-ed who receives a premonition of her own death — via voicemail.
  • Ridley Scott’s got a few more actors on board for his "American Gangster," a 1970s drug drama based on the life of a real drug kingpin. Joining Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe will be Carla Gugino, RZA, and "ATL" actor-rapper T.I.
  • Word has it that the sobriety-challenged Mel Gibson has jumped aboard the production of "Lethal Weapon 5," which the actor-turned-director had, until recently (read: until the events of last week) not considered joining. But, since his Holocaust mini-series has been cancelled, Gibson’s schedule has cleared up — and it wouldn’t hurt on the PR front to give fans another "Lethal Weapon."
  • But lest you feel sorry for Gibson and his loose-lipped fiasco, the erstwhile Mad Max has had a few high-profile friends come out in his support. Jodie Foster, Gibson’s co-star in the riverboat gamble "Maverick," swears he’s not an anti-Semite, and blames his drunken rant of last week on his long-fought battle with alcoholism. Furthermore, producer pal Dean Devlin — a Jew himself — stands by Gibson, telling the LA Times, "If Mel is an anti-Semite, then he spends a lot of time with us, which makes no sense."


Mel Gibson: clawing his way out of the hole he dug himself last week

Author: Nick Hershey