Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Twelve, Part Two – ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (1988)

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The Premise
Film fanatics and friends
 Fred Sullivan and Yasser Akram are on a mission to watch 25 of one another’s favourite movies. Each week they will watch one movie each and then get together to discuss what they have seen. There has been three tens, a nine, two eights, eight sevens, four sixes two fives and two fours so far. How will this week’s choices fair?

Fred’s pick of the week is one of Italy’s biggest international hits that takes an unashamedly affectionate look back on cinema’s golden age.

You can read the entries from previous week by checking out the archives on the left of the screen.

To have a look at what Fred has picked so far, click here.

Likewise, for Yasser’s choices, click here.
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Yasser: Your choice this week, Fredders, is ‘Nuovo Cinema Paradiso’

Fred: My ‘Amelie

YA: Really? Why?

FS: If I had to describe any film on my list in the same terms as we did ‘Amelie’ than this would be the one. I absolutely adore it. We are in the ‘Premier League’ of my choices now

YA: Okay. What does it do for you?

FS: I think it’s a beautiful film, both in spirit and how it’s performed

YA: It has an authentic feel to it

FS: The acting is brilliant. Philippe Noiret is superb and it stars the least annoying child actor (Salvatore Cascio) in film history. As well as that, it is the ultimate love letter to cinema. Films like ‘The Artist‘ and ‘Hugo‘ have been very successful doing the same thing recently but they can’t top this

‘Cinema Paradiso’ (Nuovo cinema Paradiso)
1988 – Italy
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Starring: Philippe Noiret, Salvatore Cascio, Jacques Perrin, Marco Leonardi, Antonella Attili

YA: Okay. Carry on, pal…

FS: It also makes me very emotional

YA: Good! Emotion. I’ve been trying to pull it out of you for ages

FS: The fire, the scene at the train station and the final scene all make me cry. That final scene is right up there as one of my favourite movie moments ever. It reflects what I feel about films – total love. And the music! Oh God!

YA: (laughs)

FS: Unsurpassed film score in my opinion. Can we watch this again next week?

YA: (laughs) You can, by all means. The best thing about this film has been your reaction to it, honest to God. I’ve been waiting weeks for this shit

FS: (laughs)

YA: It’s different from most of your other movies. There is a lot of emotion in it and there’s a happy charm to it. It isn’t a thought-provoking movie. Simply put, it’s a love letter to cinema

FS: The film begins with a Salvatore as a middle-aged man (Jacques Perrin). He gets a call from his mother

YA: Yeah, then the flashback occurred and it goes back to his childhood

FS: … and boy, was he cute!

YA: I wasn’t particularly fond of the child’s acting.

FS: Oh no!

YA: Yes, he was cute, but his acting was wishy-washy. There were times when he was excellent, normally in a big scene like the fire. But when he was doing comedic pieces, like the school room, you could tell it was ‘fake happy’

FS: Really? I am disappointed. I thought he was brilliant. A lot of child actors get lauded just because they are young, but I thought he was something special

YA: He was special in his emotional scenes. Other parts were mundane

FS: I love it when he’s peering through the curtain when the priest (Leopoldo Trieste) is censoring the movies or when he tries to help his friend answer the question in school

YA: But those scenes were helped by the other people in the scene. The priest was hilarious. Everything he did made me laugh

FS: I think if Cascio hadn’t been really good then the film would seriously lose a lot of its charm.

YA: He was good, just not great.

FS: What about Alfredo (Noiret)?

YA: He got better and better as the film progressed. He wasn’t exceptional at the start…

FS: Just a “cranky old man“?

YA: (laughs)… but as his friendship with Toto/Salvatore blossomed he became more likeable

FS: Yes, he becomes a father figure. His initial exasperation turns to affection but he never gets sentimental or soppy over Toto. He’s still grumpy. That is what gives the scene at the train station and the final scene their emotional power

YA: The two fires are stand-out turning points for Alfredo and Toto’s relationship. The big fire is the reason he falls in love with him, like the son he never had

FS: Yes. Damn! You stole my point (laughs)

YA: What I liked about the movie is that it was the love of film and cinema that crafted their relationship

FS: There are scenes where Alfredo gives Toto advice and then reveals it’s a quote from a movie. These scenes illustrate that perfectly

FS: The cinema is the town’s hub and the movies they show are an event that everyone shares

YA: It’s very sweet, the town’s love for cinema. Little small details from the cinema scenes – the two people who exchange glances who later become a married couple with kids – helped the movie

FS: It’s all very community based. This section is particularly happy – it’s a happy film. After all this, Toto grows up. How was Toto the teen (Marco Leonardi)?

YA: His acting was good. You could see the transgression of the character. He is working full-time, his Mum (Antonella Attili) is happier with him, he fell in love with Elena (Agnese Nano)

FS: It’s a nice run through of cinematic genres. It’s like the director is thinking ‘we’ve had comedy and tragedy, so let’s have romance

YA: Again, though, it’s the scenes between Toto and Alfredo that stand out. The bit on the beach where he tells the story of the soldier standing outside his sweetheart’s window for 99 days for example

FS: They are in keeping with the progression of their relationship. What did you make of the romance?

YA: Meh! It was a good idea, but when it came to fruition the chemistry felt fake

FS: I admit it’s the weakest part of the film

YA: For me, it’s the latter part of the film that really did drag, after Toto goes off to Rome and becomes older

FS: (shakes head and laughs) You didn’t like the part where he returns? I think it’s important that he looks around and sees how much the town has changed since he has been away. The lively town with the busy cinema from his memory has been replaced with a dead-end, run-down place

YA: The scene with his elderly mother (Pupella Maggio) is good, and the demolition of the cinema is a painful scene, but the final scene – predictable

Fred is rendered speechless

YA:(laughs)

FS: Did you not think it was the perfect way to end the movie?

YA: Yeah, it was a good way to end the film

FS: You are pissing on my party, Yasser. I love that scene

YA: (laughs) What else do you want to ask me, my man?… Don’t put the “my man” bit in, in case it looks gay (laughs)

FS: That’s definitely making the cut (laughs). What did you think of the script?

YA: I really, really didn’t like the romance. it was so … meh!

FS: It was important to cement the father-son thing. Toto needed someone to go to for advice

YA: Yeah, but the romance was shit

FS: Did the film make you emotional at any point? Happy or sad?

YA: It’s quite charming. It made me smile and laugh, but it also made me sad at times. The exchange between the older Toto and his mother in particular. The less time he spends at home, the better their relationship. Also, the when he leaves for Rome. That made me sad

FS: I love that scene. We know that he would have been happy to spend his life projecting those films like Alfredo did, but when he gets the chance to leave, it’s Alfredo who tells him not to even think about them, not to contact them, just go and live his life. Toto’s love for Alfredo overrides his familial relationships. Celluloid is thicker than blood

FS: I think it’s summing up time, mate

YA: The majority of the film takes place in a small town in Sicily where everyone knows each other and it’s a tale of the community’s love affair with cinema. More so, it’s the tale of a young boy’s love of film. You see the boy turn into a man, go through happy phases, calamity, romance, drama – all through his love of cinema. He has the guidance of an initially reluctant father figure, and you witness the relationship grow. It doesn’t sound like a good basis for a movie, but the way it’s put together is very capturing.

FS: Okay

YA: Unfortunately, there are things that don’t fit very well. The romance is wooden at times, and for such a significant part of the movie to falter is not good for what is otherwise a seemless movie. Another aspect that bugged me was the young lad playing Toto as a child. Most child actors don’t do sad scenes well, but do the happy ones more realistically. This kid was very good at crying, but unless he was aided by the supporting cast, he seemed very fake.

FS: That’s disappointing

YA: The character of Toto was at his best when he was a confused adolescent. It was when his wonderful relationship with Alfredo reached its peak. It remained probably the best thing about the movie. Another beautiful thing was the people of the town. They all contributed to the story. Little details, very subtle, but significant. Did I like it? Yes. Was it charming? Yes. Did I love it? Meh! It’s a high 7/10.

Next week: Crusading with Orlando Bloom in ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and David Niven’s fight for life in ‘A Matter of Life and Death

4 thoughts on “Fred and Yasser’s Film Club: Week Twelve, Part Two – ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (1988)

    […] Cinema Paradiso (Nuovo cinema Paradiso) […]

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    groupage said:
    May 17, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Sono stato molto contento di aver trovato questo sito. Voglio dire grazie per il vostro tempo per questa lettura meravigliosa! Io sicuramente mi sto godendo ogni post e ho gi salvato il sito tra i segnalibri per non perdermi nulla!

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