Archive for the “1995” Category

The Star Maker

Netflix DVD
113 Minutes — March 8, 1995
Giuseppe Tornatore [Cinema Paradiso; Malena]

In Sicily in the mid-50s, a traveling con man offers townspeople the chance of stardom if they give him money to make a screen test.

Another Tornatore story of a small Sicilian village and the quirks that thrive there. This time, a van drives in to small village after small village announcing that for one day only, screen tests will be administered in the tent by a world-famous personal friend to American movie stars. For only 1500 lira, of course. This is an opportunity for Tornatore to have unique Italian faces recite monologues about all manner of subjects. Some are too frightened to speak on camera, some use the opportunity to right a wrong or lobby for a husband. Some have faces that glow–others are cold and blank. Then he packs up his worthless film and heads to the next town. Everyone comes out–smart judges, dumb farmers, the local police chief, the mafia don–all hoping for that elusive stardom that our hero is quick to never promise. Because it’s Italy and the lure of fame is so great, our hero–while ridiculing the simple people he is rooking–only occasionally takes a beautiful woman up on her offer of non-currency payment for his services.

We also get a genuine beautiful discovery. This time, a simple milkmaid, who is obviously the most beautiful girl in Sicily, is played by someone named Tiziana Lodato, who after a bit of eyebrow plucking, is more than ready for her closeup.

Tornatore has his signature unbroken shot sweeping through alleyways and near fishing villages and around townspeople as they congregate outside of the screen test tent. He also finds these fabulous faces of people we assume have never acted before. And like Malena, there is a savage beating that seems to take place from a different film altogether.

But the travelogue aspects of a man in a van traveling around Sicily will keep you entertained throughout.

* Halliwells — “A road movie about people’s dreams and disappointments, too schematic to be entirely successful.”
7.1 IMDB

The Star Maker @ Amazon


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July 20, 2002

Sundance Channel



A film director imagines or remembers four stories involving partings between a man and a woman.

John Malkovich. Irene Jacob (RED). Sophie Marceau (BRAVEHEART). Vincent Perez. Jean Reno (THE PROFESSIONAL). Peter Weller (is ROBOCOP). Marcello Mastroianni. Jeanne Moreau.

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders.

Beautiful and dreamy series of stories about love, both passionate and unrequited. Malkovich plays a filmmaker who observes the pairings going on around him and he gets to partake in one himself. The little scenes in between the stories were directed by Wenders and they have that beautiful, bird’s-eye-view, crane manipulation-type shot that he’s become famous for. Malkovich does the voiceover in English, but switches to French for his scene. Peter Weller who is best known for being Robocop, does his entire character in French. This is a truly international production using international actors speaking three different languages. This film also stars two of the world’s most beautiful women and one unknown to me, but who instantly rocketed to the top of the list. Irene Jacob plays a straight-laced woman who is followed by a hunky man to a church while they talk about love and satisfaction. Sophie Marceau is almost hard to look at, she’s so beautiful, and Malkovich finds that simply going into a clothing boutique will eventually get him in the sack with her. And as this is a European film, we see _all_ of Marceau in her love scene. There are arguments and infidelity and teasing and beautiful bodies and mistresses and passionate sex and tearful goodbyes. The music is great, the locations beautiful, though usually cloudy, and the photography stunning.

The first vignette starred an Italian woman named Ines Sastre, who is absolutely stunning. She’s like a more beautiful, thinner Cindy Crawford, with stronger eyebrows and Italian flair. Holy cow.

This is a good one to watch when you’re already sort of tired. It’s dreamy.

** Halliwell’s

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Written by Michael W. Cummins