From ‘Caesar Must Die’ to spaghetti western fete

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“CAESAR Must Die” melds documentary and drama, and gives Shakespeare a “jolting currency.”

If it were a meal, this year’s edition of Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now would be a banquet.

Emanuela Adesini, cultural attaché of the Italian embassy, told the Inquirer that Moviemov organizers have lined up a colorful mix of contemporary and classic films for the festival set on December 4-9 at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Makati City.

Highlight of the fest is the Manila screening of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s “Caesar Must Die,” which won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Hailed as “deeply humanist,” “Caesar Must Die,” which melds documentary and drama, follows prisoners—some of them for real—as they rehearse a production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in jail.

Jolting currency

New Yorker’s Richard Brody pointed out that the film’s “contemporary Italian diction lends ancient history a jolting currency.”

The opening film of Moviemov, “Caesar” has also been chosen as Italy’s entry to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars next year.

Six other contemporary films are on the festival list: Leonardo di Constanzo’s “The Interval,” Carlo Verdone’s “A Flat for Three,” Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Magnificent Presence,” Giulio Montaldo’s “The Entrepreneur,” Daniele Vicari’s “Diaz: Don’t Clean up this Blood” and Marco Tullio Giordana’s “Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy.”

“These films were released in the last two years,” Adesini noted. “These are the latest films from Italy; some have competed in major festivals abroad.”

Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci’s works were highlighted last year in a retrospective; this year, it will be Sergio Leone’s.

Although snubbed by some film buffs, Leone is credited for inventing the hybrid genre dubbed spaghetti western, which made a huge star out of Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood in the 1960s.

CLINT Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

Adesini explained: “Soon enough, Leone had won over critics and audiences alike with his unique blend of serious American themes and Italian comedy.”

Lined up are Leone’s biggest hits: “The Colossus of Rhodes,” “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Once upon a Time in the West” and “A Fistful of Dynamite.” Also included is his 1984 epic, “Once upon a Time in America,” top-billed by Robert De Niro and James Woods.

Brilliant, stylistic

The crime drama, which runs for three hours and 47 minutes, was praised by The Hollywood Reporter’s Douglas Pratt as a “brilliant stylistic accomplishment.”

As in last year’s fest, Filipino films will be screened, led by Manuel Conde’s “Genghis Khan,” an official entry in the 1952 Venice fest. A digitally restored version was shown this year in the same festival.

Other Filipino films on the list are two Star Cinema movies (Chito Roño’s “Dekada ’70” and Olivia Lamasan’s “Milan”), and two Sineng Pambansa films (Gutierrez Mangansakan II’s “Qiyamah” and whichever movie will win in the second Sineng Pambansa to be announced on November 25).

ABS-CBN stars, led by Piolo Pascual, who was in the cast of both “Milan” and “Dekada ’70,” are expected to grace the red-carpet opening of the fest.

US POSTER of “Genghis Khan” PHOTO: RODEL ROTONI

After Manila, some of the Moviemov films will be screened at FDCP Cinematheques in Baguio, Davao and Iloilo, according to Briccio Santos, chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

The festival is open to the public.

Moviemov is supported by General Direction for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Heritage and Culture and the FDCP, along with the Embassy of Italy, Playtown, the Philippine-Italian Association, Rustan’s, The Peninsula Manila and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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