Cinema Italiano

Cinema Italiano

Cinema Italiano is the first podcast dedicated to Italian film. In each episode, we discuss specific films, directors, or topics, and explore how they tie back to Italian geography, heritage, and culture. In this series, we’ll bring in guests to discuss classic Italian cinema, lesser known gems, and share our favorites and recommendations.

Episodes

March 23, 2022

A 19th-century novel is re-contextualized to the postwar era in Luchino Visconti’s second feature La terra trema (1948). This story follows a Sicilian fishing family as they strive to rise up out of poverty, but face obstacles and hardships at every turn. The theme of destiny, and staying trapped in a lower economic standing, is reinforced through rhythmic, recurring sounds & images, and staged through powerful mise-en-scene of...

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To celebrate the month of Valentine’s Day, taking a look at two love stories by Pietro Germi, both set in Sicily: Divorce Italian Style (1961) and Seduced and Abandoned (1964). These films, prime examples of commedia all’italiana, critique Italian law and society, examine public life and gender roles, all set against a backdrop of decaying aristocracy and the rise of the mafia. The dichotomy of simultaneously subverting institution...

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Paolo Sorrentino’s latest film is the semi-autobiographical tale of Fabietto, a young man in Naples whose life is transformed when a terrible tragedy pushes him from an idyllic childhood to somber adulthood. This theme of transition permeates through many aspects of the film, including shifting power dynamics and agency, the cinematography and composition of images, and even modes of transportation. Its cultural context, set in the...

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“It’s just a trick.” This episode, we dive into Paolo Sorrentino’s award-winning epic The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza), a window into contemporary Rome through the eyes of writer Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo). This sprawling work examines not just Roman high society, but also broader themes of artistry, beauty, and experiences both individual and collective.

Links:

  • Criterion Collection: The Great Beauty | Italian N...
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    Two tales of young men, directionless and in limbo, are explored in this discussion on Federico Fellini’s I vitelloni and Lina Wertmüller’s I basilischi. These films, both early in each director’s career, are rooted by neorealist elements while still containing glimmers and hints of styles, themes, and explorations to come for each filmmaker. Both movies are linked thematically as well as narratively, with different takes on agency...

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    Wrapping up summer 2021 with Luciano Emmer’s Domenica d’agosto (Sunday in August). This “pink neorealist” film is a lighter summer escape, while still exploring themes of class distinctions, regionalism, and more. We also dive into formal elements, such as language (specifically grammar), editing, and sound.

    Links:

  • Amazon Prime Video: Domenica d’agosto
  • Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
  • This episode featur...

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    “Take me, gravity!” Disney-Pixar’s newest film takes us to Portorosso, a seaside village inspired by the Cinqueterra, in this moving story by director Enrico Casarosa. Two young sea monsters, Luca and Alberto, form a powerful connection and face the human world, with all its challenges and possibilities, in an unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever. Luca has rich overtones of a coming out story dealing with ident...

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    Class, wealth, and power are at the forefront of Il capitale umano (Human Capital), the award-winning drama from director Paolo Virzì. Two families are linked together through a tragic accident, set against the backdrop of the Milanese investment market in the midst of the economic recession.

    Plus: news updates about the awards season and what’s coming soon from Pietro Marcello.

    Links:

  • Human Capital: Film Movement
  • Academy A...
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    Ringing in the new year with a classic Italian comedy set on New Year’s Eve, Mario Monicelli’s The Passionate Thief (Risate di Gioia) stars Anna Magnani, Totò, and Ben Gazzarra on a night of misadventures, misunderstandings, and mishaps. This non-stop comedy is layered with deep gravitas, surfacing generational divides, power dynamics, and deception.

    Links:

  • The Passionate Thief: Rialto Pictures | Film Forum
  • Social Media: ...
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    Felice anno nuovo (Happy New Year)! In this episode, we count down the top 5 Italian films of 2020, as well as sharing the top 5 discoveries of older films we discovered this past year. We also share where films are available, or when they might be coming, in the United States.

  • Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
  • This episode features the following music excerpts:

  • “Il cielo contromano” by Deddy
  • “Io si (Seen)” by Laura Pausi...
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    Cinema Italian Style has gone virtual for 2020, in partnership with the Seattle International Film Festival, who hosted this year’s program on its platform. These films, all released in 2019 and 2020, were curated to represent some of the best of contemporary Italian cinema. This year’s festival ran from Dec. 10-17, 2020, and featured the following films:

  • Notturno by Gianfranco Rosi
  • Assandira by Salvatore Mereu
  • Cosa sarà (Everything’...
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    To celebrate the wide release of Pietro Marcello’s latest film Martin Eden, we explore his first four features: Crossing the Line (2007), The Mouth of the Wolf (2009), The Silence of Pelesjan (2011), and Lost and Beautiful (2015). These films all blend documentary with fiction, and the archival with the modern, pushing the boundaries of timelessness and possibility. By uniting the past with the present, whether translating classica...

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    This episode discusses Nanni Moretti’s Caro diario (Dear Diary), an introspective autobiographical look at three phases of Moretti’s life. This story blends the comic with the tragic, all while highlighting a journey of independence, interdependence, and codependence. Moretti’s work also has some interesting ties to the Odyssey both as a narrative as well as through its formal execution.

    Plus, some news updates on film festivals an...

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    This episode explores Abel Ferrara’s Tommaso, a semi-autobiographical tale of an American filmmaker living in Rome with his wife and daughter. An incident forces him to question his role as husband and father, eventually sending him on a destructive journey of paranoia, fear, and hysteria, all while struggling to find community and connection in a foreign land.

    Plus, some quick news updates on Il Cinema Ritrovato and the upcoming E...

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    This episode features an audio essay on Luchino Visconti’s final film L’Innocente (The Innocent), discussing the film’s themes of dishonesty, self-interest, and religion. I also explore the sharp dichotomy between interior and exterior spaces, and how it parallels the cultural and psychological restraints entrapping the lead characters.

    Plus, some quick news updates on the David di Donatello awards, film festivals, new restorations...

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    This episode features an audio essay on Alice Rohrwacher’s debut fiction feature Corpo celeste (Heavenly Body), a modern-day take on Marta (Martha) from the Bible. We also explore the film’s  themes of the sacred and the profane, expectations vs. reality, and who “is” the church.

    Plus, some quick news updates on the David di Donatello awards, film festivals, current events, and more.

    Links:

  • Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Twit...
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    January 28, 2020

    In celebration of Federico Fellini’s 100th birthday, first-time guests David Blakeslee and Josh Hornbeck join for a discussion on Fellini’s filmography, career, plus rumors and speculation on what could be coming from the Criterion Collection later this year (maybe a box set!).

    You can follow David and Josh’s excellent shows here:

  • Criterion Reflections | Facebook | Twitter
  • Criterion Channel Surfing | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
  • L...

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    I’m back from the 31st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival! I wanted to provide an overview of the seven Italian films I got to see, all of which were featured in the Focus on Italy program of this year’s festival:

  • Croce e delizia (An Almost Ordinary Summer) by Simone Godano
  • Martin Eden by Pietro Marcello
  • Simple Women by Chiara Malta
  • Storia di B. – La scomparsa di mia madre (The Disappearance of My Mother) by Beniamino Bar...
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    I got to speak with director Leonardo D’Agostini and screenwriter Antonella Lattanzi to discuss their film Il campione (The Champion) (2019). In our conversation, they talk about what inspired the film’s story, the challenges and opportunities of the screenwriting process, plus moments that didn’t make it into the final film.

    This interview was conducted on January 12, 2020 at the 31st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festiva...

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    In this episode, I sit down with first-time director Chiara Malta to discuss her film Simple Women (2019). During our conversation, Malta talks about her inspiration for the movie, her experience during production, the role religion and faith plays in the film, and more. You even get to hear some (sloppy) Italian from me!

    This interview was conducted on January 11, 2020 at the 31st Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

    L...

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