We certainly can’t complain after a week that brought us Woody Allen’s newest flick. As he continues on his European tour which started in London with the impeccable Match Point (2003) and was only briefly interrupted with Whatever Works (2009), Allen touches down in the Italian capital and presents To Rome With Love, a comedy that resonates with his earlier films.
The premiere of the animation Ice Age 4 is also on the list and it’s almost as if the ground beneath our feet is cracking too – marketing of the movie is, as always, oppressive. A good escape from the Ice Age madness is Faust, the innovative and award winning work of Russian master Aleksandr Sokurov.
Woody Allen’s travelling phase continues to render the most interesting of offspring. After four films in London, a delicious comedy in Barcelona and another hit in Paris, the New York director adopts a more frenetic style that reminds us of his early career and graces us with the best of comic savagery.
To Rome With Love, like Allen’s much older films Take the Money and Run (1969) and Bananas (1971), is a fragmented comedy and one of his most unrestricted films. Several stories unfold in the Italian capital, each with its own distinct style and timeframe – one takes place during a single day while others last for weeks.
Allen’s succession of rampant jokes reaches its climax when it criticises the show business industry and the manufacturing of celebrities. When an average Roman played by Roberto Benigni appears on a newscast in which he’s asked with great interest about what he eats for breakfast and his morning routine, he becomes famous for no reason but the simple fact that he appeared on TV.
Dir. Woody Allen, USA, Italy, Spain, 2012. Jesse Eisenberg, Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi. 102 min.
Director Aleksandr Sokurov is a Russian master at work. That is, he's the only one able to rub shoulders with people of the same calibre as Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergei Paradjanov and Elem Klimov. But let’s face it, after some rather unsatisfactory work (Taurus), he owes us a good film.
He managed to satisfy that demand with Faust, an adaptation of the eponymous poem by Goethe which, in turn inspired the German legend about a guy who, in exchange for knowledge, makes a pact with the Devil. Sokurov, always fond of a good (or bad) dispersion, seems to work best when he’s faced with something that needs to be resolved with a narrative. Faust won the Golden Lion in Venice in 2011.
Note: this is screened in the original German with Brazilian Portuguese subtitles.
Dir Aleksandr Sokurov, Russia, 2011. Johannes Zeiler, Anton Adasinsky Isolda Dychauk, George Friedrich, Hanna Schygulla. 140 min.
If we had to put animation studios in a qualitative hierarchy, we'd put Fox in third place behind the unbeatable Pixar and Dreamworks, in part because they have chosen to revisit a successful franchise instead of trying something new. Nonetheless, Ice Age 4 is a decent product where, in the midst of cataclysmic changes, Manny, Diego and Sid go on an adventure to try and find their way home (wherever that is).
Dir. Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier, USA, 2012. Voices: Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo. 94 min.