7:00 PM, 14th June, 2014
After decades of decadent parties, seduction and lavish nightlife, Jep Gambardella (Servillo) has had enough of the superficiality of his life (particularly after a shock from the past). He embarks on an exploration of his home city, Rome, and takes more notice of the absurdity and beauty that surrounds him.
Director Paolo Sorrentino is probably best known for his English language film This Must Be the Place (one of the best films of 2011) starring Sean Penn. This film confirms he is one of the most interesting directors making films today. An examination of grotesque beauty along the lines of many Fellini films (the classic director has been name-checked in almost all reviews of this movie), including La Dolce Vita and Felllini Satyricon, but even better (disclosure: I am not a big Fellini fan). I have never been to Rome, but have been assured that the beauty of the city that comes through here is an honest tribute to one of the greatest ancient cities of the modern world.
At the time of writing, this film is one of the frontrunners to take out the Best Foreign Language Oscar this year. If it does (or has), then it is one of the rare cases where a true classic has taken that award. Not for those whose cinema diet consists of only superhero and teen franchises, but for those who love true beauty, it’s a must-see.
9:31 PM, 14th June, 2014
One of the most popular films at the Canberra International Film Festival 2013, La Cage Dorée is set in Paris. Portuguese couple Maria and Jose arrived 30 years ago and have worked hard. They live modestly in the ground floor of a chic apartment where Maria is the on call (and indispensable) concierge. Jose’s work ethic and craftsmanship has been the basis for the success of a multimillion dollar construction company. They have raised two children and supported in-laws and made many people happy. News arrives of an inheritance which means they can return to comfortable retirement in their beloved homeland. Not everyone is happy with this turn of events and pressure is applied to the lucky couple to stay in Paris.
This is a warm-hearted cross-cultural comedy with a wonderful ensemble cast. The thoroughly appealing central couple are portrayed with tenderness and affection. There is a great feel to this film which has been compared with The Intouchables, surely one of the best films to come out of France in recent years. This little indie film has blitzed the French box office. While thousands of films are made in France each year, very few attain distribution in Australia. I believe those that do are automatically worth watching. See if I am wrong.