Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Italian Contemporary Film Festival roundup - the sequel

by Allan Tong

The second half of the Italian Contemporary Film Festival offers some gems, with screenings in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Vaughan through Friday.

Directed by Sydney Sibilia, I Can Quit Whenever I Want is a lively comedy bout a university science researcher (Italian star Edoardo Leo, center above) who loses his job and turns to making a potent synthetic drug to get by. He hires his academic buddies, all of them underemployed now washing dishes or pumping gas but were once chemists and economists, to form his gang to sell his "non-illegal" drug to clubbers.

The comedy obviously tips its cap to Breaking Bad and Weeds, but fortunately steers clear of corniness and cuteness that plagues so many Italian comedies. Instead, the movie is a deadpan and surprisingly tongue-and-cheek critique of modern Italian society where even the most educated can't land a job. I Can Quit Whenever I Want, however, ends abruptly and the story could've used one last turn, but it's still a fun, entertaining romp.

L'Amore non perdona translates into "love does not forgive" though a more accurate title would be "love does not judge." Stegano Consiglio's touching drama is about a 60-year-old nurse who falls for an Arab man half her age. The couple battles prejudice and ridicule from her co-workers, his family in Algeria and her daughter. Ariane Ascaride is particularly fine as nurse Ariadne, exprssing her joy, jealousy and pathos as she's torn between the man she loves and her own family which doesn't understand her. The film is subtle but gets its point across about Italian prejudice towards Arabs. The romance is treated sensitively while overall the film rings true. It deserves more than one screening at ICFF.

Toronto's Sergio Navarretta previews his romantic-comedy, The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship at ICFF. I'll offer a more detailed review soon, but I can say here that it's a well-acted and nuanced study of two couples entwined one weekend at a Niagara winery. In an unusual move, Colossal will screen back-to-back in Toronto at ICFF then at the Niagara Integrated Film Festival.

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