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Paolo Sorrentino

È Stata La Mano Di Dio – Paolo Sorrentino (2021)

  • drama

There proved to be some productions of Sorrentino on Netflix. I am now watching the “Young Pope” series, which appears to be followed by a “New Pope” series, so I more or less expected “Hand Of God” to somehow belong to that ‘cluster’. That turned out to be wrong.

“Hand Of God” is a drama playing in Italy, spoken in Italian too, about an extended family in Napoli in the time of the heydays of Diego Maradona. Sorrentino shows the sensual and spirited life of Napels with soccer crazy and sun-loving people who like some family members and continuously scorn others.

As we are used to from Sorrentino, the camera work is beautiful and the film contains both chuckles and drama. Story wise, “Hand Of God” is mostly a short period in the ordinary life of a group of Italians.

Youth * Paolo Sorrentino (2015)

Like with the last reviewed title of Sorrentino, this latest film is a pompous and pretentious drama. “Youth” is very much in this Sorrentino style and as with “La Grande Bellezza” it is well-done, but not entirely my type of film.

We mostly follow two old men who celebrate their holidays in a luxery resort in Switzerland as they have done for decades. Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) is a retired orchestra director and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) an aged, but still active film director. The two talk about getting old, the pains that come with that phase of live and of course they look back at their lives. This is done with amusing dialoges and in the settings of the extreme luxery of their Swiss hotel. There are other guests as well of course. Ballinger’s daughter is also his manager, even though he thinks his carreer is done with. Boyle is still working on a film which he supposes to be his last one.

Sorrentino again uses long shots, lengthy dialogues, nudity and portrays the enstrangement and solitude of some of the characters in a melancholic and yet lightly humorous fashion. This makes “Youth” comparable to his previous title, but also for example a film like “American Beauty”.

La Grande Bellezza * Paolo Sorrentino (2013)

Jep Gambardella is an aged writer who wrote a very successfull novel 40 years ago bringing him a fame that he still thrives on. Since then he did not write a new book, but lived as a yup among the extremely wealthy of Rome and artistic circles. Every night is a party to Jep and during the days he shows off with his countless contacts and the women he chases. “La Grande Bellezza” (‘the great beauty’) shows the decadent lives of Rome’s upper class.

The film contains many dialogues, those of the intelligent type. Jep proves to have a clear mind and he easily expresses peoples darkest sides. During the film Jep has a growing feeling of the pointlessness of his life and the film that already had a fairly melancholic tone becomes even more so.

“La Grande Bellezza” certainly is a good film with surprising dialogues and uncommon scenes. It is not really my type of film though.

This Must Be the Place * Paolo Sorrentino (2011)

‘Tragicomedy’ is not really my genre, but I was curious about this film. Cheyenne (Sean Penn) is a retired rockstar who has been living on his past success for two decades. Judging the cover, he used to be some kind of gothrocker who never changed his style, so what would a large film make of a gruftie? Cheyenne suffers a heavy burden of his past success, so he left the USA for Ireland where he lives with his wife Jane (Frances McDormand) and a few close friends in a tiny vilage. His strange appearance and extremely modest way of talking often makes Cheyenne victim of pestering and surprise. When his father dies in the USA, Cheyenne travels there and finds a form of distraction that he needed badly.
I already expected a ‘tragicomedy’, but “This Must Be The Place” has higher peaks and lower depths than I thought. The film is pretty dramatic, but there is also nice humour both for people like Cheyenne and people who like to make fun of people that do not fit in. Especially during Cheyenne’s trip through the USA some serious life’s questions pass, perhaps even somewhat overdone here and there. A nice quote I find when a young, female fastfood restaurant server says: “That’s life”, Cheyenne replies something in the vein of “There is a time that you will say “this will be my life” and suddenly this becomes “that’s life””. This also seems to be the underlying ‘Leitmotiv’ of the film, a theme about which I have mixed feelings. Sorrentino seems to say that people who do not fit in, never grew up and when they do, they will be a good member of society.
“This Must Be The Place” is an interesting drama with wonderfull camera work and characters and situation that makes you think about life and society.

Il Divo * Paolo Sorrentino (2008)

Il DivoI was convinced that not that long ago I watched a great Italian film about the maffia hunter Giovani Falcone, but I cannot find my review, nor the film in the IMdB. In any case, “Il Divo” (“the star”) is about Italian politics in the 1970 in which Giulio Andreotti was in power and in which Falcone was killed. In “the extraordinary life of Giulio Andreotti” Andreotti is portrayed as a completely corrupt politician not shying extreme violence in the beginning and as an timid, but frightening person towards the end. Especially the first part of the film is sublime with great camera-work, montage and music. However the film is based on actual events, there are so many characters, liaisons, conspiracies, etc. that I had a hard time following the film. In fact, I need to watch it again should I want to try to give a summary of the story. “Il Divo” has a very good atmosphere and the director did a great job setting an atmosphere that possibly also surrounded Andreotti.