Sunday, August 23, 2015

Giuseppe Tornatore

Every now and then a movie viewer will catch on that some individuals  are worth following.  Some are very prolific and they learn and develop, but they aren't as selective as others.  First saw a Giuseppe Tornatore film probably ten years ago and thought it was good, but wasn't paying enough attention to realize it was special.

He was born in Sicily in 1956.  Giuseppe started with television in the early 1980's.  His first film, a documentary was released in 1985 and won an award at the Salerno Festival.

In 1988 he wrote and directed "Cinema Paradiso" which won the Oscar for best foreign language film.  It was about his child hood and the local movie theatre.  Partnered with Ennio Morricone, one of my favourite composers and one way I discovered some of these movies.   A scene where the boy's mother accuses her son of using milk money to attend the movies reminds me when I had a paper route I used to collect enough to go to the Saturday matinee with popcorn and afterwards scramble to pay my bill.  Film clips including American and French as well as Italian movies.  Interesting was that he included French actors in prominent roles.  Also I completely misunderstood the surprise at the end, but have since noticed there is usually something unexpected at his conclusions.

For movie lovers this is an excellent movie to dwell on.  The early parts of the movie were somewhat autobiographical.  There was a priest that signalled to the projectionist to cut out all scenes with kissing and later in the movie this has a dramatic twist.  The movies focus on one projectionist, but apparently young Giuseppe related to a few.  The director's love of movies comes from the reactions of his fellow movie goers shown frequently laughing, being scared, crying and being fascinated by the stories.  Giuseppe said that the love story woven in the film was completely fabricated.

We meet a young boy learning from the projectionist and one point was that film was flammable which leads to a major plot development.  The projectionist tells about his early day when the films were silent and had to be cranked.  Later, after a tragic fire we see film that isn't flammable.  As time moves on we learn about DVD for the movie theatre.

There are multitudes of little details that are used for dramatic effect.  In one scene there is a slight focus on one man who is not acting scared at a horror movie and then the camera moves a little further away to show a woman also not afraid.  They notice one another.  A bit later you see them as a couple.  Then much later you see them both much older, but still a couple.  The camera focuses on the audience and how much they enjoyed a movie--sometimes crying, sometimes scared and often laughing.  Enjoying movies was a community affair.

I owe my sister an apology.  Several years ago she had recommended at least 3 foreign films including Cinema Paradiso.  I watched it while multi tasking and thought it ok, but not special.  What prompted a second viewing at least ten years later was another Tornatore movie.  I already acknowledged a similar apology for a Mexican film she touted, but she did successfully steer me towards Bollywood.

His first feature in 1986 was "The Professor" with American tv star Ben Gazzara.  Unfortunately it is not available at my usual sources.  Blasco Guirato as a cinematographer.    Nicola Pionvani composed the music.

"A Pure Formality" was released 1994 with Roman Polanski and Gerard Depardieu in French.  Originally saw several years ago on a VHS tape, but the library has not upgraded to a DVD .  I remember it had clever dialogue and was a tricky cat and mouse game with a twist ending.  Ennio Morricone and Blasco Giurato teamed up.

"The Legend of 1900" was released in 1998 starring Tim Roth as a man who spends his whole life on a big ocean liner.  What is remembered by many is a piano duel.  Ennio Morricone composed the music with Lajos Koltai provided cinematography.  Massimo Quaglia was the editor.   Editing is critical as the first version of "Cinema Paradiso" at 170 minutes and was panned by almost all critics.  It was trimmed down in two stages. and won awards and fan appreciation.

"Malena", was released in 2000.  Monica Bellucci played a beautiful woman who attracted a lot abusive attention during World War II in Sicily.   Morricone again wrote some memorable music.  Lajo Koltai  handled the cinematography and Massio Quaglia edited the film.

"The Unknown Woman"  another award winner on the film festival tour. was released in 2006  Teamed up with Morricone, Fabio Zamarioin, cinematography and Massimo Quaglia as editor.  It was a well layered plot unraveled teasingly.  The Russian actress, Kseniya  Rappoport, was excellent.

"Baaria" released in 2009  was more recounting of his boyhood.   Politics is integral with Communists at one point challenging corruption.    It was a pleasure to watch special features that included Ennio and Giuseppe discussing a tune (Ennio trying to get Giuseppe to accept a change.    Giuseppe used a Sicilian dialect from his home town.  Enrico Lucidi was cinematographer and Massimo Quaglia edited.

"The Best Offer"  released in 2013 in English staring Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Donald Sutherland and Sylvia Hoeks.  I found the trailer mis-leading, but perhaps deliberately.  It helps if you appreciate art, but not necessary.  Again details matter and the plot moves steadily to a twist ending.  Ennio Morricone, Fabio Zamarion and Massimo Quaglia together.

It is quite awhile between Tornatore movies, but look forward to his next offering.  "La Correpundenza" is scheduled for a 2016 release with Olga Kurylenko and Jeremy Lyons.  Once again a winning combination with Ennio, Fabbio and Massimo contributing.

No comments:

Post a Comment