Sophia Onscreen (Film Thoughts: La Vita Davanti A Sé/The Life Ahead)

At eighty six years old, Sophia Loren still has formidable screen presence, and that is very evident in ‘La Vita Davanti A Sé,’ (The Life Ahead) which is available to stream on Neflix. The film, directed by her son Eduardo Ponti, is based on the 1978 novel ‘Madame Rosa.’ (There has been an earlier film adaptation of the same novel, but I have never seen it) Loren plays Madam Rosa, and it is a juicy role – she plays a former Holocaust surviver who is also an ex-street walker. In her older age, she takes care of children of other street walkers.

A young Senegalese kid, Momo, is sent to her care, sand played by Ibrahima Gueye, Momo is your typical troubled kid. They first ‘meet’ when the kid steals a bunch of candlesticks from her. But as these things go, they form an unlikely couple, and blah blah blah, you know what happens next. To be honest, the narrative here is reed thin, but the small moments that make up the film somehow make a great platform for Loren (and Gueye) to shine. There are no surprises in how the story unfolds, but you believe it still, and will even be touched by it.

So Much In Love (Movie Thoughts: L’amore a Domicilio/Love Under House Arrest)

I was watching the Italian film ‘L’amore A Domicilio,’ and really, it’s just an okay film. It’s about a man who falls in love with a woman who is under house arrest, and as I watch it under these pandemic times, it makes me ask, where’s the conflict? But anyway, the film itself is a bit of a hot mess. It could never decide what it wants to be a – a romantic comedy, gangster caper film, family drama. It tries to be all those things at one, unsuccessfully.

But something about the film still got to me. The main character, Renato, played by Antonio Milo, falls head over heels in love with Anna (Miriam Leone) and he does everything for her – he buys her things, he invests his time for her, even commits a crime. And there is a scene towards the end when he realizes everything he has done for her, and feels so weak about it that he just wants to leave her, to finally finds himself back. And I just thought, I have been there before, where I have given so much of myself to someone that I have somehow forgotten myself.

Anyway, it was just a thought.

Rome-ance (Movie Thoughts: Rome In Love)

MV5BMmZkYTU4ODMtOGRmNi00Y2E3LWFkZDYtNjA4OTliM2RjZTU1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODAxMzI2NTg@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Even though I love rom-coms, I really haven’t been devouring the Hallmark Channel, but should I ? ‘Rome In Love’ caught my eye because I remember reading the book by Anita Hughes a couple of years ago.  I remember reading it because I was due to be in Rome and wanted to get some Roman flavour before the trip – and the book did just that, even if the story was on the perfunctory side.

So the film, directed by Eric Bross stars Italia Ricci (perfect name) as an American actress who gets cast for a remake of Roman Holiday (Bad idea, but whatever) and of course she meets a journalist who is to profile her for a magazine (a little dated, but whatever) and well, we kind of know where this ends up, don’t we?  It’s all about the romantic journey. There are great scenes shot in Rome (i miss the city terribly) but the chemistry between the leads just sort of fizzle. Still, this is mindless enough that I saw it after a stressful work day and instantly felt better. And in that sense, it served its purpose.

In An Italian Mood (Music Thoughts: Speak Low, Patrizia Gibertoni)

61EfJjBu+AL._SS500_There’s not much info about Patrizia Gibertoni on the internet except maybe that she is from Modena, Italy. And that’s a good thing, because that probably means that she is a serious musician, old school enough to not care if she has an internet presence.  One listen to her album ‘Speak Low’ and you know she ain’t playing.  She has fantastic musicality and tremendous sense of rhythm. She has a nice ‘mature voice.’ And she has a very thick Italian accent. I love it, as it gives her versions some individuality. I have heard these songs so many times that anything that makes them sound different is very welcome. To some, though, that accent may be too thick. When she sings ‘Let’s Fall In love,’ it sounds like she is saying ‘Let’s Fool In love.’  But then again….

Back To the Racks (Music Thoughts: Sings Bachrach, Laura Avanzolini)

LauraOne of the great things about the music of Burt Bachrach is his intricate melodies. There is something great about the way his music swoops and sways, and whenever an artist sings his songs, I always look at the way they navigate themselves in his song. Laura Avanzolini has a new album called ‘Sings Bachrach’ and for most of these songs, she finds ‘different’ ways of interpreting these songs. FAIL. She at times goes against the melodies, and…they just don’t sound good to me. At times it feels like she is trying too hard, and the rest of the time she veers too much away from the melody that I instantly get a headache. I very rarely give a very negative review but seriously i cannot find anything redeeming about this at all. Skip this!