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Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014
Escort in Love plays it too safe, but lead actress Paola Cortellesi comes out on top.

A newly broke mom turns to the world’s oldest profession to repay her deceased husband’s debts in this light-hearted story of a damsel in a tiny black dress.


At 33, the last thing Alice (Paola Cortellesi) thought she’d be doing is moving her nine-year-old son out of their beautiful Roman villa and into the ramshackle “roof pad” of an apartment block in a multiethnic slum. Tasked with recouping thousands in owed debts, she contacts a friend working as an escort (Anna Foglietta) and asks for her help to break into the very lucrative business.


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Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014
August: Osage County goes to Italy in A Small Southern Enterprise, the Italian Film Festival’s best treat.

This formally accomplished, heartwarming Italian drama finds a former priest moving into a lighthouse in search of solace after losing his position in the priesthood, only to find his new home attracting the attention of others who have similarly stalled out in life.


Veteran Italian actor Rocco Papaleo writes and directs, and stars as Father Costantino. He’s joined at the lighthouse by his brother-in-law (Riccardo Scamarcio), whose wife has run out on him with an unknown lover, and a prostitute (Barbora Bobulova) who’s just saved enough money to buy herself a new life. More arrive, until the small home is brimming with eccentric characters, lively arguments, and uncovered secrets.


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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
Perhaps the most corrupt game of football ever staged for cinema is played for huge laughs, here.

For a film whose many subplots stem from the playing of football matches, The Referee doesn’t teach you much about the sport. But then again, in a way it really does.


Much like the Albert Camus quote that opens the film, “Everything I know of morality, I learned on the soccer field”, ll – The Referee is a satiric film that digs in to human behavior as it fractures, contorts, and unites around the context of competition and fanaticism. Many small narratives emerge – some serious, most comedic.


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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
I Can Quit Whenever I Want is like Breaking Bad times seven, but funny.

The theme for Italian Film Festival 2014 - Chicago, is “Italian Comedy: Then & Now”. The festival runs 21-27 November at the Music Box Theatre. Five of the best Italian films of the year make their Chicago debut at the fest, including an outlandish crime caper (I Can Quit Whenever I Want), a daring black and white debut (The Referee), and a political comedy fronted by Toni Servillo in dual roles (Viva la libertà). The retrospective line-up features rare screenings of Pietro Germi’s Divorce Italian Style (1961) and Seduced and Abandoned (1964) as well as Dino Risi’s 1962 classic The Easy Life. Each film is to be screened twice, offering plenty of chances to take advantage of this annual showcase, which is presented with the cooperation of the Italian Cultural Institute Chicago and Cinecittà Luce.


See the full schedule here.


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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
We conclude our coverage of this year’s London Film Festival with Mike Leigh’s long-anticipated biopic of J.M.W. Turner: a languorous, immersive, richly detailed work that surpasses expectations.

The popular perception of Mike Leigh remains that of a supreme anatomist (or, for those less kindly disposed towards the filmmaker, broad-brush caricaturist) of contemporary British experiences: a sharp, sensitive observer of the myriad ways in which modern life can be rubbish (or great). Yet, weigh it up, and it quickly becomes apparent that it’s actually the director’s period work that’s proved most rewarding over the last 15 years.


The peerless Gilbert & Sullivan opus Topsy-Turvy (1999) (a film that never ceases to reveal new treasures no matter how many times it’s viewed), the ‘50s-set abortion-themed drama Vera Drake (2004) and Leigh’s last play at the National Theatre, the Rattigan-esque Grief (2011), have all been among the director’s finest-ever pieces. Moreover, each has far surpassed the two rather minor contemporary films that Leigh has turned out during the same period, >Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Another Year (2010), both of which found the film-maker falling back in a sometimes tiresome fashion on all-too-familiar situations, conflicts, character types and tropes.


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