Ladri di biciclette (1948)

Ladri di biciclette (1948)

1948, just a couple of years after the end of WWII, a father is desperately seeking a job to support his family. At his first day as a bill sticker, somebody steals his bike, imperilling his job. Alongside his son they will turn Rome upside down to find it.

As one of the most characteristic films of Italian neorealism, Bicycle Thieves is exactly what its director, Vittorio de Sica, wanted it to be: an honest representation of post-war working class. Filmed exclusively on location, since no production company wanted to finance it, and with quite a few non-professional actors (such as the kiddo that De Sica spotted watching filming while selling flowers with his father), this film is the incarnation of Italian neorealism.

One unable to offer the basics to their family, deals with a huge impasse. Poverty, mirrored in the eyes of a child, is so harsh that can make one abandon hope, feel even more desperate and, in the end, compromise his ethics. This film narrates all of the above (and a lot more) with such a shocking honesty, and is undoubtedly a rough diamond of Italian cinema.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Top 10 Films Watched in 2015 (pt.2)

…and thus we continue:

5. The Salt of the Earth (2014) by J. R. Saldago and Wim Wenders
A biographical documentary film portraying the life and work of Brazilian social photographer Sebastião Salgado. Both direction and photography were outstanding while I was sincerely touched by the relation between land and language (English, French and Portuguese). The finale was somehow optimistic, despite the tragic climax that preceded. Although the fact that one of the directors is Saldago Jr. implies a certain bias for his father, this is a must-see.

[9/10]

4. Nostalgia (1983) by Andrei Tarkovsky
Original title: Nostalghia
A Russian poet traverses Italy along with his Italian interpreter, collecting information about the life of 18th-century Russian composer Pavel Sosnovsky.
What makes cinéfil films stand out is that most of them can be considered works of art (and not just of the 7th). Many frames could have been paintings while most dialogues flow like poems. In terms of content, the theme of nostalgia remained on the surface, allowing an in depth analysis of the expression of free will and personal choice.

[9/10]

3. Les Diaboliques (1955) by Henri-Georges Clouzot
A wife and a mistress conspire to murder the man who alienated them at first, but over whom they ended up bonding. This was probably the best film that I watched in an open air cinema this summer. I loved how the director took advantage of the light and the fact that even though I was suspicious, I stayed alert until the very end which was masterly directed.
Based on the novel Celle qui n’était plus by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

[10/10]

2. The 400 Blows (1959) by François Truffaut
Original title: Les Quatre Cents Coups
This film is about the everyday life of a naughty 12-year-old, the only child of an eccentric Parisian family, whose parents due to either indifference or incapability fail to help him find its flair. A truly beautiful film, with wonderful performances from both underage and adult actors. We see how growing up in a problematic family affects a child’s mentality, how bossy the educational system used to be but also how strong a motive friendship can be.

[10/10]

1. Wings of Desire (1987) by Wim Wenders
Original title: Der Himmel über Berlin
Two angels wander over Berlin, listening to the inner thoughts of the city’s residents. One of them will fall in love with a trapeze artist and become human, in order to be with her.
This is a masterpiece that proves that not always cinéfil films have to be complicated and hard to understand. It was as whole as possible in every way (the script, the performances, the photography, the transition from black and white to color) and had quite a few intertextual references, which I personally adore detecting.
This is my favorite film in general and I might write a more analytical post about it in the future.

[10/10]

Top 10 Films Watched in 2015 (pt.1)

I really enjoy the fact that pretty much everyone in the blogroll is making lists about this year’s favorite books and/or films! Inspired by fellow bloggers Over the Place and Style Rive Gauche, I decided to write about the ten greatest films that I watched for the very first time in 2015.

10. Nosferatu (1922) by F.W. Murnau
Original title: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
A masterpiece of German Expressionism, this is the first adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Being a silent film, the actors had to be extremely expressive, so much that one may think that they are watching a play. I particularly liked how the pompous music blends with the images. Inevitably, certain scenes are quite funny and by no means is this a thriller by today’s standards, but it remains highly atmospheric without becoming cult.

[9/10]

9. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) by Blake Edwards
One of the sweetest romantic comedies of all times and the most memorable performance by Audrey Hepburn. This is a mood-maker despite how unbelievable and untrue it may be. Loosely based on Truman Capote’s (who hated Hepburn as Holly Golightly) novella of the same name.

[9/10]

8. To Have and Have Not (1944) by Howard Hawks
Probably my favorite Humphrey Bogart film (loosely based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway). Situated in Martinique during WWII, an American boat captain (Bogart) meets a seductive woman (Lauren Bacalli) and ends up involved in the French resistance.
Known for one of the most memorable lines in the history of cinema:
“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”

[9/10]

7. Scarlet Street (1945) by Fritz Lang
Quite a familiar plot (a charming woman seduces a naive middle-aged man in order to steal from him) but exquisitely directed. What I really enjoyed was the unveiling of the leads’ mentality, the plot twist and the gradual climax until the finale.
Based on Georges de La Fouchardière’s novel La Chienne, it had already been adapted by Renoir in 1931.

[9/10]

6. Double Indemnity (1944) by Billy Wilder
An insurance salesman falls in love with his client’s wife and they decide to organize the perfect murder in order to get the insurance money and live happily ever after. Only to…
An amazing film noir based on James M. Cain’s novel of the same name, which is said to have set the standard for every film noir that followed. The usage of light, the various symbolisms about the condemned human nature and an unexpected plot twist compose a masterpiece.

[9/10]

To be continued…