Youth (2015)


Some directors take a life-time to get established, however Paulo Sorrentino (Thyouth-2015_e Great Beauty 2013), has done this in less than half a dozen films. Those not used to Sorrentino’s works might take a little while to get into this movie, but when you do, it will reward you.   The movie is set around an elderly Maestro, played by Michael Caine (Get Carter, 1971) who while trying to enjoy a holiday in an upmarket Spa-hotel in the Alps with his daughter and best friend (Mick Boyle, played by Harvey Keitel (Thelma & Louise, 1991)), who is trying to write his final masterpiece screenplay). Despite the tranquil setting (with camera-work to match) there is an underlying tension, the Maestro’s daughter is unhappy with the treatment of her mother by her father, who he last visited 20 years ago (was it her grave he visited?).

Much of the film is made up of the Maestro and Boyle working through their issues, usually together, while not allowing the tranquillity of the surroundings to be interrupted.  Their time at the hotel is enlivened (relatively speaking) by a young actor, Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine, 2006) also staying in the hotel as he prepares for his next role, keeping mostly to himself, and not imposing himself on any of the guests.

Behind all this, pressure is being put on the Maestro to perform his most famous piece of music as part of a celebration of the Queen’s birthday, the request is personal from the Royal family and not just some producer trying to fill an event programme. Boyle meanwhile is working with his writing staff on what could be his last great screenplay. Added to this is the fact that the Maestro’s daughter is married to Boyle’s son, however they are splitting up due to his infidelities, both fathers show their displeasure with the young man.

As the movie progresses with the heroes working through the issues, the viewer is drawn in by the musicality of the presentation, the visual aspects are stunning and the acting perfectly levelled for the work in question. I could go into detail on the plot and ruin the movie, suffice it to say, this is a movie to sit-back watch and enjoy. Sorrentino’s own The Great Beauty (2013) or Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria (2014) would be similar to this one.

Don’t be fooled by the slow/serene start, this movie grips you from the start and walks you along the Alpine storyline right to the end. Each of the leading cast gives the type of performance we’ve come to expect from each of them. Well worth experiencing.

Score 4/5




Written and directed by Justin Benson (resolution, 2012) , with additional co-direction by Aaron Moorhead (ditto), this is one of the more different movies you will view in a while. This is a film which reward you for sticking with it. It has been described by some as a little weird, I would npot go that far, but it certainly has echoes of HP Lovecraft.

The film revolves around Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci, Evil Dead, 2013) who is having a fairly depressing life back home in theUS. His mother has just died after a long illness and on top of that he has just lost his job as a chef in a bar as a result of a fight. Not knowing what to do withhimself and fearing arrest, he decides to leave and settles on Italy as a destination.

He quickly meets two other backpackers and falls in with them as they spend time around the Naples area. It is during one evening with them that he meets a mysterious woman, (Nadia Hilker München 7, 2013) who toys with his affections. Evan meanwhile decides to stay for a while as the other continue on their tour. He finds a place to stay with an equally enigmatic old farmer (Francesco Carnutti, The Order 2003)He eventually tracks down and wins over the hand of the woman in question.

As their relationship progresses, there are certain restrictions and mysteries. Just as we are putting the pieces together Benson throws us just enough to answer the immediate questions. The “love affair” element is not in and of itself sufficient to keep our interest, so the additional mysterious slant adds to the story. Without giving any plot lines away, there is an interesting twist to the woman’s secret which will impact on their future time together.

As the movie progresses, the focus becomes more on the future rather than the past or present and the dark secrets associated with both.

One drawback is the stereo-typical presentation of rural Italy, I watched this film with an Italian friend (by coincidence) and he was a little put out by this usual practice ( I had to point out how this is also done with regard to Irish based films, sadly)

As the end nears and the horror element shows itself the movie continues at the same pace, forcing us to investigate more, what is happening? The movie ends with a big question hanging over them both. Will somebody have to sacrifice a life? Just how much is love worth.

This is not the fastest movie in the world and you will not have to suffer too much bloody carnage, but you still find yourself being brought along by this original story. The direction is a little rough in places but over all a solid *** production.

This Must Be the Place

Directed by Paulo Sorrentino. This small sentence explains a lot, more so when I say it was Sorrentino who directed Il Divo in 2008.  If this movie has a failing is that you, or at least I did, spend time thinking of people like Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and such like.  This is because Sorrentino’s work is up there with these greats.

Starting off in Dublin we see a bent over, glam rocker who we learn is a former star now living in Dublin in a sprawling mansion surrounded by his ever so eccentric wife (Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading, 2008)who despite being more than sufficiently wealthy actually works as a fire fighter.

The Support cast such as the young Goth (Mary Eve Hewson), her mother (Olwen Fouere, The Other Side OF Sleep, 2011) who seems to be suffering from the loss of a son and is comforted by Cheyenne. The cast in the American side is just as excellent.

One day Cheyenne receives a call, his father is dying. Rather than fly, he has a fear of flying, he takes a ship across to New York.  He arrived too late and his father is already dead.  Talking with his cousin, he is given his father’s diaries, they are actually notes he produced over the years as part of his search for a Nazi prison guard who humiliated him during the Holocaust.

Cheyenne, knows he is possibly depressed, his wife thinks he is bored, he thinks so too. With this in mind he sets off across America to find this man, and himself in the process.  David Byrne of Talking Heads fame makes a cameo as an old friend, thankfully with musical accompaniment. Judd Hirsh presents us with the character of Mordecai Midler a Nazi Hunter who is knew his father.

Umberto Contarello co-wrote the screen play with Sorrentino, it is quick smart and well placed. The screenplay is supported by nicely nuanced cinematography, subtle direction, random characters who would be at home in a Cohen Bros. film and finally a fantastic soundtrack. Leaving aside the Talking Heads/David Byrne contributions, of which there are many and which stand alone by themselves, there is also Nino Bruno and Gavin Friday’s contributions as well as excellent use of Arvo Pärt’s Spiegal Im Spiegal and Alex & Jonsi’s Happiness.  If there was a weakness to the movie, it was that the much of the soundtrack was too well known, that said it was not overpowering and added to the scenes rather than detracted from them.

Quirky, original, independent…weird… this is certainly well worth watching. Sean Penn is world class and shows again why he is one of the world’s most versatile actors , a total pleasure to watch, and a master-class in characterisation

9/10 – go watch it and then buy the soundtrack…and the DVD when it comes out!