Thursday, December 11, 2014

Titanus. Family Diary of Italian Cinema

I am glad to report that the Titanus Retrospective for the Locarno Film Festival has been a real hit, and our bilingual book, Titanus. Family Diary of Italian cinema, has been warmly greeted both by press and public. Anyone interested can buy his own copy on
The book covers Italian cinema evolution from 1904 to 2014, ranging from early silent cinema to post-modern television, featuring original essays, interviews and production papers. Despite being focused on Italian most important major company, we have chosen an auterist perspective, investigating how directors' and producers' contributions melt together during the 1945-1964 golden age of Italian cinema.

Carlo Chatrian talks about our book on MUBI.

Some highlights from the book:
* Neapolitan silents
* Matarazzo's melodramas
* Mastro5's revue films and musical extravaganzas
* Risi and Comencini's early comedies
* Tourneur and Corbucci's peplums
* Ava Gardner's Italian films
* nouvelle vague Italian style (Olmi, Zurlini, Petri)
* confessions of Visconti's editor
* Aldrich's Sodom and Gomorrah backstory
* De Santis on The Wolves director's cut
* memo from producer Goffredo Lombardo
* unfilmed projects
* 150+ photos
* essays by Roberto Turigliatto, Simone Starace, Bernard Eisenschitz, Sergio Toffetti, Sergio M. Germani, Miguel Marías, Chris Fujiwara, Olaf Möller, Jean Douchet, Stefania Parigi.

Monday, July 14, 2014

L'invenzione di Morel (Morel's Invention, 1974)

Director: Emidio Greco
Starring: Giulio Brogi, Anna Karina, John Steiner
Label:  Ripley's Home Video (2012)
Format: DVD / PAL / Region 0
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono)
Subtitles: English, French

Available on

What's the film about?
A fugitive lands on an apparently deserted island, but soon some strange tourists arrive... Based on Adolfo Bioy Casares' science fiction novel, the film reduces the plot to its bare essentials, focusing on the metaphorical level.  The style is both minimalist (no word is spoken in the first 30 minutes) and surrealist, with a dreamlike quality of mise-en-scène. Very demanding but also very inspiring.

...if you enjoy arthouse cinema, here you have a sci-fi fantasy in form of Borgesian paradox.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sangue bleu (The Princess of Monte Bello, 1914)

Director: Nino Oxilia
Starring: Francesca Bertini, Angelo Gallina, André Habay
Label:  Cineteca di Bologna (2014)
Format: DVD / PAL / Region 2
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Subtitles: Italian, English, Dutch

* Featurette on Nino Oxilia (11 minutes, with English subtitles)
* 1913 short, Kri Kri e il tango (5 minutes, with English subtitles)
* Photogalleries
* 28 page bilingual booklet

Available from Cineteca di Bologna and

What's the film about?
A noble lady divorces from her husband and gets blackmailed, losing her child's custody. Among the greatest divas of Italian cinema, Francesca Bertini stars as a fallen woman in this maternal melodrama. Perhaps not on the same level with Assunta Spina or Mariute, but Nino Oxilia's tableaux are alway enriched by his mastery in blocking and lighting. The 1913 comedy short, starring Raymond Frau, is also quite enjoyable.

...if you are interested in Diva-films, this is an indispensable release.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

L'imperatore di Capri (Emperor of Capri, 1949)

Director: Luigi Comencini
Starring: Totò, Yvonne Sanson, Marisa Merlini, Mario Castellani
Label:  Dolmen Home Video (2008)
Format: DVD / PAL / Region 2
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 b/w
Audio: Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono/5.1 remix)
Subtitles: English, Italian

* Photo gallery (20 stills)

Available on

What's the film about?
The adventures of a humble waiter who is mistaken for an Arabian Prince. Totò debuted as film actor in 1937, and he remained the most popular Italian comedian until his death in 1967. Comedy doesn't travel well, especially when based on verbal humour, so his films are generally little known outside Italy, but some of his best works should be discovered by international audiences. Directed by Luigi Comenini, Emperor of Capri offers one of Totò's most enjoyable performances, a twisted farce enriched with some black comedy moments and a surrealistic touch.

...if you want a sample of Totò's talent in one of his best vehicles.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Titanus (1904-2014)

The Retrospective for the 67th edition of the Festival del film Locarno (6–16 August 2014) will be dedicated to the Italian production studio Titanus. Numerous European and American institutions will repeat the program: the Cineteca di Bologna, the Cineteca Nazionale (National Film Archive) in Rome, the National Cinema Museum in Turin, the Cinémathèque suisse, the Cinémas du Grütli in Geneva, the Filmpodium in Zurich, the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, the American Cinematheque and the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. The retrospective will be accompanied by an English-friendly book, on which I am currently working.
Official press release:

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Inferno (1911)

Directors: Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, Giuseppe De Liguoro
Starring: Salvatore Papa, Arturo Pirovano, Giuseppe De Liguoro
Label:  Cineteca di Bologna (2011)
Format: DVD / PAL / Region 2
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Subtitles: English, Italian

* 1909 short, Il diavolo zoppo (15 minutes, with English subtitles)
* 1910 short, Come fu che l'ingordigia rovinò il Natale a Cretinetti (13 minutes, with English subtitles)
* Excerpt from 1926 Maciste all'inferno (8 minutes, with English subtitles)
* Comparison between the film and Gustave Doré's engravings
* Photogallery

Available on

What's the film about?
Often cited as the first feature-lenght film ever, this version of Dante's Inferno also marked a milestone in Italian early cinema. Entirely framed in Full or Long Shot, the film is pre-Griffithian in pacing and editing, with storytelling heavily relying on titles. Still, composition and lighting are often quite enchanting, clearly indebted to Gustave Doré's works, but also to the visionary cinema of Georges Méliès. The DVD features two different soundtrack: I couldn't stand the modernist "dubbing" by Edison Studio, but the piano score by Marco Dalpane was fine.

Essential for anyone interested in early development of film style.