ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco presents “Italy in Film: 1978 – 2008,” a free film series, Friday evenings, February 24-March 23, 2012

Tony Servillo (center) is scandal-ridden seven time Italian Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo,” screening at “Italy in Film: 1978-2008,” at San Francisco’s Italian Cultural Institute, starting February 24, 2012. Image: Music Box Films/MPI Media Group

 The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco will present “Italy in Film: 1978-2008,” a selection of five entertaining Italian films on Friday evenings starting February 24, 2012,  that explore main changes and issues in Italian society.  The Italian Cultural Institute co-sponsors the acclaimed annual Italian fall film series “New Italian Cinema” and at last November’s N.I.C. hosted Daniele Luchetti and held post-film discussions with the prominent filmmaker.  The audience was transfixed.   “Italy in Film” offers another chance to familiarize yourself with a few of the best newer Italian films.  The series follows a chronology of events from the 1970s to the 2000s, as well as five key themes: politics, mafia and family, work, economy, and immigration. Together, these create a vivid portrait of contemporary Italy from multiple perspectives.  The host is Professor Andrea Bini (MA in Film studies at the University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D. in Italian studies at UCLA).  He is currently teaching Italian literature and film at Santa Clara University and contributed two chapters to the newly published Popular Italian Cinema: Culture and Politics in a Postwar Society, edited by Flavia Brizio-Skow.  All movies are in Italian with English subtitles.  

Friday, February 24 at 6:30 pm:     The Divo (Il Divo), Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, (2008, 110 min.): Register Now!

A biographical drama based on seven time Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, leader of Italy’s Christian Democrat party.  “Il Divo” is a label that was once applied to Julius Ceasar II and is just once of Andreotti’s nicknames─Sphinx, Hunchback, Black Pope and Beezebub are others.  The film is an almost operatic look at his 44 year reign and the Christian Democrats’ last months of power in the early 90’s as mob connections, murders, and other corruption became public knowledge.  Andreotti’s legend is enhanced by the great performance of Toni Servillo, an actor who delivers an absolutely hypnotic character so devoid of magnetism, so Poker-faced, dry and dispassionate, that he becomes fascinating.   The film is a full-on indictment and delivers an astounding and engrossing spree of violence and carnage.

Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino; director of photography, Luca Bigazzi; edited by Cristiano Travaglioli; music by Teho Teardo; production designer, Lino Fiorito; produced by Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima, Andrea Occhipinti and Maurizio Coppolecchia.  Cast:  Toni Servillo, Anna Bonaiuto, Giulio Bosetti, Flavio Bucci , Carlo Buccirosso and Giorgio Colangeli.

Friday, March 2 at 6:30 pm:     One Hundred Steps (I Cento Passi) , Directed by by Marco Tullio Giordana (2000, 114 min.): Register Now! 

I Cento Passi is about the life of Giuseppe “Peppino” Impastato, a political activist who opposed the Mafia in Sicily. The story takes place in the small town of Cinisi in the province of Palermo, the home town of the Impastato family. One hundred steps was the number of steps it took to get from the Impastato house to the house of the Mafia boss Tano Badalamenti.  The film opens with Peppino as a small child singing the popular song “Volare” with his brother in the back seat of a car on the way to a family gathering. The family is in good standing in the social community and they are celebrating the fact that they have such a good life.  Soon after, Peppino’s uncle Don Cesare, a Don (Mafia boss), is blown up by a car bomb which was planted by a rival Mafia boss. So ends Peppino’s time of innocence.  Little by little, as Peppino grows, he learns to despise the Mafia and in 1968, he joins left wing parties and groups and starts organizing and supporting the farmers and landowners whose ground has been expropriated to build the Punta Raisi airport.  Along with friends, he starts a pirate radio station, ‘Radio Aut’ and publicly accuses the Mafia in Cinisi and Terrasini of controlling the drugs and arms trafficking through the airport.  Through the radio, Peppino mocks the mafia and they tire of his impudence.  Peppino’s final days play out against the great upheavals of the 1970’s. 

Directed by Marco Tullio Giordana; written by Claudio Fava, Marco Tullio Giordana.  Cast: Luigi Lo Cascio, Luigi Maria Burruano, Lucia Sardo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feDFl16Xmvo

Friday, March 9 at 6:30 pm:     The Fever (La Febbre), Directed by Alessandro D’Alatri (2005, 108 min.): Register Now!

D’Alatri  is beloved by audiences and critics for his amazing ability to balance drama and comedy and to tell amazing stories of the inner lives of seemingly ordinary people leading boring lives.  La Febbre is the story of Mario (Fabio Volo), a young man in his thirties who still lives with his mother in the northern town of Cremona, birthplace of Stradivarius.  The film addresses what was once a very common European middle class career aspiration─parents who encouraged  their children to settle into civil service jobs, with job security and good benefits, which is what Mario’s mother wants for Mario. He dreams of opening a nightclub but goes along with mom and gets a job at a local prefecture. Things seem to go from bad to worse but, at the same time, he meets the beautiful Linda (Valeria Solarino), an exotic dancer who makes him rethink his life.

Cast: Fabio Volo, Valeria Solarino, Vittorio Franceschi, Massimo Bagliani, Gisella Burinato, Thomas Trabacchi, Gianluca Gobbi, Paolo Jannacci, Alessandro Garbin, Lucilla Agosti, Julie Depardieu.

 

Friday, March 16 at 6:30 pm:     The Jewel (Il Gioellino), Directed by Andrea Molaioli (2011, 110 min.): Register Now! 

Based on the real-life bankruptcy of the Italian company Parmalat, Molaioli’s film reunites him with the great Toni Servillo (The Girl by the Lake, La Ragazza del Lago)(2007) to dramatize a true example of corporate corruption. In 1992, Italian dairy company Leda decides it needs to diversify.  CFO Ernesto Botta (Servillo), right hand man of the boss Amanzio Rastelli (Remo Girone) suggests going public in order to raise cash, but mismanagement, backroom dealings and widespread financial finagling lead to disaster.  Even as the business unravels and it becomes obvious who will be the scapegoat, Botta remains loyal and unflappable. The pace is slow and mesmerizing, and we watch Leda unraveling for years as Rastelli keeps bringing the company back from the brink of failure.  The action switches from Italy to New York to Moscow as various leveraged financing schemes are tried to keep Leda, once the little jewel, afloat.  With a wide range of hooded glances and a particular rhythm of speech, Servillo inhabits yet another character unable to extricate himself from a devastating predicament.

Directed by Andrea Molaioli; written by Andrea Molaioli, Ludovica Rampoldi, Gabriele Romagnoli; photographed by Luca Bigazzi. Cast: Toni Servillo, Remo Girone, Sarah Felberbaum, Lino Guanciale.

Friday, March 23 at 6:30 pm:   Clash of Civilization Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio), Directed by Isotta Toso (2010, 96 min.): Register Now! 

A nineteenth century apartment building inhabited by a group of tenants of various nationalities in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio is the scene of a suspicious death.  Within the walls of the building, there arises a clash of civilizations in which the differences within the group─ beliefs, cultural pratcices─become more evident daily and lead to misunderstandings, provocations, and distrust.  Anyone could to be the killer and each person, zany but believably real, begins to blame the other.  The group, together, will reveal the killer’s name to the police commissioner, in place of the only witness that cannot speak: the elevator.  Based on the novel of the same name by Algerian novelist Amara Lakhous, Toso’s film is an exploration of truth seen through various perspectives and a touching ode to the human condition, so fraught with misunderstandings.  

Directed by Isotta Toso; written by Maura Vespini, Isotta Toso; photography by Fabio Zamarion;
music by: Gabriele Coen, Mario Rivera. Cast: Kasia Smutniak, Daniele Liotti, Roberto Citran, Isa Danieli, Ninetto Davoli, Kesia Elwin, Ahmed Hafiene, Francesco Pannofino, Marco Rossetti, Milena Vukotic, Serra Yilmaz 

Details:  Screenings are held Fridays, February 24, 2012 – March 23, 2012 at 6:30 PM, at the Italian Cultural Institute, 814 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.  Admission is free, but space is limited, and RSVP required.  To RSVP, click the link by the film you wish to see and you will be directed to  a registration webpage which will send you a confirmation email.

Advertisements

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

review: “Proof,” David Auburn’s play about math and insanity,” adds up to great entertainment, at 6th Street Playhouse through Sunday, February 26, 2012

In David Auburn’s “Proof,” at 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa through February 26, 2012, Alan Kaplan is Robert, a legendary mathematician who lost his mind late in his career and Dana Scott is his brooding mathematically brilliant daughter, Catherine, who cared for him and asserts that she has authored a proof that is about to be posthumously attributed to her father. Photo: Eric Chazankin, courtesy 6th Street Playhouse

What constitutes proof?   In geometry, it’s a sequence of justified conclusions used to prove the validity of an if-then statement.  In a more general sense, it’s evidence or an argument that compels the mind to accept something as true.  In playwright David Auburn’s play “Proof,” which won a Pulitzer in 2001, proving the authorship and validity of a mathematical proof enmesh a devoted daughter, her unstable father—both mathematical geniuses─with her father’s well-meaning student and a visiting sister in a poignant drama about genius, madness and inheritance.   This is a riveting production whose elements─concept, casting, staging─all cohere beautifully at Santa Rosa 6th Street Playhouse’s intimate Studio Theatre.  

Catherine (Dana Scott) functions best in the world of mathematical probability and equations but she dropped out of the University of Chicago’s math program to care for her father, Robert (Alan Kaplan), a brilliant Univeristy of Chicago mathematician who lost his mind late in his career and has spent the last several years filling stacks of notebooks with obsessive notes about observations in his daily life. The play opens on the porch of Robert’s rustic house on the South side of Chicago and an exhausted and depressed Catherine, played convincingly by Healdsburg actress Dana Scott, is mourning his death.  She cared for him through his breakdown, what looked like a promising remission, and then through his final breakdown.  In a series of flashbacks, the audience sees Catherine and her dad conversing and, at times, pouring over proofs.  They shared a very deep and special connection through their mutual love of and talent for mathematics.  The audience slowly discovers that Catherine is troubled herself and mistrusting.  She prefers to keep her talent under tight wraps and feigns ambivalence about her interest in pursuing her math education when she’s confronted but, secretly, she has made plans to pursue her studies at another prestigious Illinois University, Northwestern, which is in the city of Evanston just north of the Chicago city line, where she will not just be “his daughter.”

Mark Bradbury (right) is Hal, a PhD mathematician who is pouring over his mentor, Robert’s notebooks to find an important mathematical proof while sleeping with Catherine (Dana Scott), Robert’s daughter, who claims that she has authored the proof. Photo: Eric Chazankin, courtesy 6th Street Playhouse

Hal (Mark Bradbury), a socially awkward and well-meaning PhD mathematician who was once Robert’s protégée, is also at the cabin, reviewing Robert’s 100 handwritten notebooks for important mathematical discoveries.  Older sister Claire (Jill Zimmerman), a foreign currency analyst, who has flown in from New York for the funeral also arrives at the cabin.  Hal develops a crush on Catherine and, as she warms to him, she gives him a key to a drawer upstairs in the room where Hal has been reviewing her father’s notebooks.  When a promising set of equations is uncovered in a notebook that was in that drawer, Hal attempts to determine the true author, Catherine or her father.  Hal’s attempts to validate the proof are fraught with risks.  He’s sleeping with Catherine and also senses her fragility.  If he proves that the work is her father’s, it could destabilize her and ruin their relationship. If he proves the work is hers, then her father’s legacy will rest on work he accomplished in his early 20’s and his later years will be remembered as those spent in madness and obscurity.  We’re never sure until the end whether Robert had succeeded or whether he was deluded by his illness.  There are other proofs explored as well.  Is Catherine’s depression sufficient evidence to constitute proof that she has inherited their father’s disorder? 

It’s hard to imagine anyone more convincing than Dana Scott in the role of Catherine─brooding, moping, ambivalent, assertive, and insecure─a study in contrasts.  Most actresses, who have tackled this role, can nail the depressed aspect of Catherine’s character but Scott makes us feel that it’s entirely possible that Catherine is flirting with insanity.  Alan Kaplan delivers Robert as a kind-hearted and distracted mathematics genius who’s uncontrollably unsteady.  One moment he’s spouting wisdom and the next he seems confused.  The play’s high points all involve one-on-one scenes between Kaplan and Scott who have spent endless hours formulating theorems in a kind of connect-the dots logic to find a proof.   One of the most poignant and devastating moments comes as a flashback─Catherine comes home to find her father confidant that he has come up with the proof.  She is excited but when she starts to read from his notebook, she realizes it is filled with a logical but ridiculous rambling about the seasons and the change of weather and her hopes on many levels are dashed.   Jill Zimmerman plays the super-efficient older sister Claire as someone who means well but comes on like a freight truck, no matter what she’s talking about.  Mark Bradbury’s Hal is genuine─a sweet trustworthy nerd who carries a backpack crammed with his clothes and drumsticks and who wears his heart on his sleeve.  Paul Gilger’s charming set design─a rustic country cabin porch with maple rocking chairs, newspapers piled high, and plenty of leaves─evokes the simplicity and solitude of the daily life that Catherine and her father led while she cared for him.

In David Auburn’s “Proof,” at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse, Dana Scott is Catherine, a brilliant young mathematician suffering from depression who has put her life on hold to care for her aging father, Robert, played by Robert Kaplan. Photo: Eric Chazankin, courtesy 6th Street Playhouse

  

Click inside box to enlarge text.

 

Details: 6th Street Playhouse is located at 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa.  Proof  has four remaining performances:  Friday, February 24, 2012 at 8 PM; Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 2 PM and 8 PM; and Sunday February 26, 2012 at 2 PM.  Tickets are $10 to $25.  Phone: (707) 523-4`85 or purchase online: http://www.6thstreetplayhouse.com/box-office/buy-tickets/ or in person.

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment