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I like Italian films! There is something about their passionate and rhythmic accent and demonstrative bodylanguage that makes for quirky and enjoyable movies. If you want to experience that special something in a foreign movie its generally not the high tar smoking French, harsh Eastern European ones or the rapid fire Spanish movies that deliver it, Italy the place to go for romance and that spark the Italians call ‘Il Chispa’. The Salt of Life is not that romantic or passionate but an Italian film that is an example of how the mundane of everyday life can come alive in their hands, here the day-today life of a retired Italian pensioner, Gianni Di Gregorio, who directs, stars and wrote this one.
Hound dog face Giovanni (Gianni Di Gregorio) retired early and now kicking around the house, spending his day walking dogs, doing errands for his wife (Elisabetta Piccolomini) and daughter (Aylin Prandi) and a doormat for his needy mother (Valeria De Franciscis). Mother is always calling him up, her penchant for Krug champagne and the high life emptying Giovanni’s bank account. Its time for her to sell up her house and move to smaller place and stop enjoying old age so much. Michelangelo (Michelangelo Ciminale), Aylins dead beat graduate boyfriend, is also pulling on the family finances.
Giovanni’s lawyer Alfonso (Alfonso Santagata) thinks Gio should get a lover to brighten up his life, plenty of beautiful young women in Rome to pick from. Valeria (Valeria Cavalli) is one such candidate, the coquettish twentysomething he walks the dog for. But they are old men at the end of the day and starring at girl’s bottoms in the street or paying for it is still their best chance. Getting old is no fun.
It’s not the greatest foreign film I have ever seen but that certain charm keeping you on board. Not a lot happens and no real narrative to talk off, simply exploring the inane futility of getting old and the fact pretty girls are no longer looking. Women surrender to age and don’t expect much action after 45 but men never stop thinking they can attract younger women, ‘the salt of life’.
Some critics have said this is a film about dirty old men staring at young women but I think there is more to it than that. It’s really about the loss of male identity when they no longer wear their work clothes and that level of authority it brings to the female species. We have to believe we are still in the game. Women will date men they see as powerful and prepared to reject nice guys in the process. Men know that all too well and play that role and project power.
The acting is good and Gianni Di Gregorio strong in the lead. This is his baby and he works it well, fully convincing as the good guy who becomes a doormat because of that. Being polite doesn’t always get you female admirers. Valeria De Franciscis, who plays his mother, is spectacularly old and fun on screen, 100 years old in real life but died this year. She had only done three films and her career began in 2008, Mid-August Lunch, another film by Gianni Di Gregorio.
Ok i never went to the film festival but if they dont want to post up your op you have to jemmy it in somewhere or its recycle bin time. Still they will either shift it or bin it so i cant lose anyway. Blockbusters video stores are employing new sales techniques aimed at evenings when single people tend to flock. The comedy section is to be scented with banana. Its ead de gunpowder for action and heaven scent, which is a mix of sweat and pheromones for romance. For this Barry Levison Jewish mood piece theres a distinct with of pork as the reek from Stallones section wafts over a distinct whiff of turkey. Just as Sam Mendes used American Beauty to confront his hang-ups about homosexuality and the mid life crisis, Levison who has directed a menagerie of solid film uses it to explore and celebrate his own Jewishness as a boy in Baltimore. Like Steven Spielberg who also was sired from this Middle America bastion of hard working Jews, both directors feel like they have to tell a story from their faith to forefill their birthright. Sadly if you are not of the faith it really doesn?t endear you to the tale of three boys who go through your typical rights of passage stuff before they go to college. The element of interest for the outsider here is in the racial contexts in the film. Although Baltimore has its Jewish, black, and Italian areas that struggle to get on with each other, never mind the white segregation. Theres defiantly a message here that oppressed races are pretty much all the same with equal struggles against their 1950s Arian oppressors. The stories of two of the three boys who fall for a rich society girl and a young black school student are predictable in the extreme with unanimous parental disappointment. Again I would suspect that these are the directors memories of his youth and how that racism effected his high quality filmmaking. The father of the one who likes the colored girl is the h
ead of the Jewish Mafia although he fronts a burlesque music hall to gain more standing in his local neighborhood. His double standards of not letting his son meet black girls and running illegal numbers rackets is not missed in the plot. His on going disagreement with a black drug runner who cleans up on the Jewish run lottery is the other storyline as the two gangs try to work in harmony. But neither line really grabs you and what you are left with is an essay of Jewish culture by an aging director reminiscing through film. And not a particularly inspiring film who doesn?t know his Barmitzha from his Bagel. If you are of this faith then you will probably get the most out of it over anyone else. To me it was just another one for BBC2 late night season of quality directing but of little substance or relevance. Definitely one not to rent and background for a wet Sunday afternoon.