We have an exceptionally strong lineup of European films at the HIFF Spring Showcase this year, representing Sweden, Italy, France and the UK. A couple of them are adaptations of international bestsellers, to foodie culture to magical realistic farce that only the French can truly capture.
From Italy, we have I AM LOVE, a lushly photographed, meticulously designed drama starring the great Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, who speaks Italian and Russian throughout the entire film! A “period piece”, the film is a tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love. The film is directed by Luca Guadagnino, who directed the great crime drama THE PROTAGONISTS (also with Swinton), with a beautiful, yet edgy score by Pulitzer prize winning composer John Adams, known for his score for the opera NIXON IN CHINA.
VINCERE is the story of Mussolini’s secret lover, Ida Dalser, and their son Albino, brilliantly captured by writer-director Marco Bellocchio. An homage to Neo-Realism style of post-WWII Italian cinema, led by such masters as Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica. Italians truly make magnificent political dramas, especially dealing with the nuances of existing in the Fascist era of 1930s Italy. VINCERE was a finalist in the being the official Italian entry to the Academy Awards.
MID-AUGUST LUNCH, also from Italy, is a nice change of pace from the other Italian selections. Airy and loose like an afternoon siesta, the film Gianni is a middle-aged man living in Rome with his imposing and demanding elderly mother. With mounting debt, he is in a rut. Until one day, opportunity knocks on his door and it may be his one and only chance to change his life. Full of talk and food and more talk and more food, MID-AUGUST LUNCH has a light touch, yet explores deep seated issues regarding mothers and sons, the generation gap, and well, Italian lunches.
We already previously blogged about THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, but this is definitely going to be one of the hot titles at this year’s Spring Showcase. Based on the international bestseller, DRAGON TATTOO is the first chapter in a conspiracy trilogy that is part DA VINCI CODE, part BOURNE IDENTITY. ‘Nuff said, go see it! Lastly, I’d like to highlight the Closing Night film, MICMACS, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (AMELIE, DELICATESSAN, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) in a quasi-fantastical crime comedy about a man and his friends come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers. Jeunet goes back to basics with his visceral bag of tricks, mad jumble of images and daring camera work. Extremely funny and full of sight gags, MICMACS is an entertaining night at the movies that I feel is a fitting closer to the HIFF Spring Showcase.