It takes a real artist to find poetry in the ordinary and an even greater one to make this poetry feel universal, yet this is precisely what Paolo Sorrentino does in The Great Beauty. His love song to Rome has been compared to Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and with reason, for his is an homage not to that specific film but to that untranslatable adjective of “Romanità”, a feeling of Roman-ness captured so uniquely in Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece. In that film, Marcello Mastroianni played a young journalist who abandoned himself to the pleasures and horrors of living in the Italian capital. From holy apparitions, to strange sea creatures and orgies and parties galore,La Dolce Vita captured a feeling of hopeful decadence and combined the postmodern worries of a new generation with the timeless richness of Rome.
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Over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, box office analysts were wowed by the performances of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen, which outdid expectations and earned 200 million dollars in combined grosses over the long weekend. While the numbers might have put smiles on the faces of studio heads, there was something even more significant about these movie’s success: they are both led by strong female characters who in both cases play by their own rules amidst a male-dominated society.
Director Justin Chadwick’s dramatization of the life of one of the world’s most iconic leaders, Nelson Mandela, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom was recently released to theaters. Based on South African President Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, the film chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rally against Apartheid and rebuild the country’s once-segregated society. Idris Elba (Prometheus) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela.
As we enter awards season and start getting bombarded with glitzy ads, dirty PR and more glossy-looking contenders than we can shake a stick at, it’s always a good thing to look back at the year that was and remember the films that made the previous ten months turn 2013 into a truly banner year for cinema. One of them was Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, which kicked off the year in great fashion by winning a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. With its labyrinthine, cerebral plot, challenging structure and its complex sound design, it was easy to become too impressed or overwhelmed by the film’s aesthetics and miss out on the fact that it featured one of the best ensembles of the year.
After receiving six Academy Award nominations in the Best Foreign Language Film category in the span of almost five decades, this year, Belgium has put its Oscar hopes behind director Felix Van Groenigen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown; already a box office hit in its home country and a big winner at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where it won awards for its screenplay and the Best Actress award for leading lady Veerle Baetens.
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