xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
Italian drama "Mia Madre" is an either/or film, a humorous and poignant character study that frequently becomes an ensemble piece. Filmmaker Margherita (Margherita Buy) may be the main subject, but sometimes supporting characters like Margherita's brother, Giovanni (Nanni Moretti, who also directed and co-wrote the film) quietly take over Margherita's story without her realizing it. "Mia Madre" is, in that sense, the rare character study that doesn't just treat other protagonists as if they are of secondary importance. That generous attitude embodies Margherita's confusing-sounding advice to her actors: "The actor must perform beside their role." It also explains Moretti's understanding and presentation of Margherita's crisis as an artist in the middle of one that is also personal.
When we meet Margherita, she's already breaking down. Her problems are only exacerbated—not created—by her mother Ada's (Giulia Lazzarini) hospitalization and inevitably worsening health condition. Likewise, Margherita's problems aren't caused by a creative block she's experiencing while filming an uplifting drama about a union strike starring incompetent, boisterous American actor Barry Huggins (John Turturro). Margherita is really concerned with what will happen next. She's not just a repressed artist with unexamined trauma, though she is that. She's a harried parent with an estranged teenage daughter (Beatrice Mancini), a shy caregiver who doesn't want to step on her brother's toes, and yes, a director whose exasperation is just as apparent in her pensive gait as it is in her uniquely Mediterranean hand gestures and periodic temper tantrums. Margherita is that rare female lead whose problems and responses are so universal that she's never patronizingly defined as a woman in crisis.
Case in point: Margherita suffers from waking nightmares that steadily intensify until they climax with a frighteningly realistic dream about Ada wandering off into traffic. These dream sequences all seem real enough, and hint at Margherita's recurring fears of losing her mother. In one scene, Margherita tries to comfort Ada only to discover that she's still on set. In another scene, she asks Giovanni what's wrong with Ada, only to discover that Ada has already died. In each of these dreams, Margherita performs her grief as if she were on a private stage with invisible cameras.
These dream sequences make the sudden—but relatively unonstentatious—intrusion of scenes from other characters' lives feel like an organic extension of Margherita's preoccupied thoughts. These asides suggest that Margherita is worried about, but not able to take care of all of the people—including the hilariously inept Barry—she cares about in her life.
Chaz Ebert highlights films with the potential to get us through the confusing political times of the Trump presidenc...
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.
One of the most audacious American films from the 1960s is now available via the Criterion Collection.