Italian film

A Brief Guide to Woody Allen’s Favorite Things

Like every good neurotic, obsessive, or perfectionist (and sometimes all of the above), director Woody Allen is a lover of lists. Over the span of his career, the iconic filmmaker has shared his likes, dislikes, and absolute favorites of just about everything that highlights his eclectic tastes. In honor of his birthday, we’ve collected some of those lists — and they deserve a bookmark in your browser for eternal… Read More

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European Cinema’s Best Smoking Scenes

The European Union has inched closer to America — at least regarding their stance on smoking. The European Parliament is banning menthol and other flavored cigarettes. They’re also setting their sights on “slim” cigarettes, and hoping to regulate e-cigarettes. It’s a bold move for a continent populated with the world’s biggest smokers and drinkers. We know smoking is detrimental to our health, but the movies often make it seem worldly or bohemian — especially European cinema, where characters are eternally shrouded in smoke. But a cigarette between the lips is often present for more than just show. Sometimes it’s a prop that reveals more about the personality of a character or it becomes a pivotal part of the story. Join us after the jump for ten of the greatest smoking scenes in European film. … Read More

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10 Essential Italian Films

Arguably the greatest entry in Italian neorealist cinema, Vittorio De Sica’s 1952 portrait of a struggling pensioner and his faithful dog, Umberto D., arrives on Blu-ray this week. It’s a poignant commentary on the country’s postwar strife and working class disillusionment, quietly portrayed by university professor-turned-actor Carlo Battisti’s retired government worker who faces desperation with sorrowful dignity. Still, the heartbreaking tale is never maudlin or overstated. In honor of the film’s Criterion Blu-ray release, we wanted to explore other essential Italian titles. Click through our gallery to check out a diverse list of the country’s masterworks that have left their mark on generations of audiences and filmmakers alike. Add your own picks in the comments section. … Read More

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10 Essential Spaghetti Westerns

In case the title didn’t give it away, Giulio Questi’s 1967 spaghetti western Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! is one of the most eccentric entries in the Italian subgenre that populated the cinematic landscape during the 1960s and ’70s. The surreal cult film — about a Mexican outlaw who rises from the grave to exact vengeance on a band of thieves that cheated him out of his loot — is now available on Blu-ray.

Multicultural productions, unforgettable scores, brutal gunplay, and cynical, vengeful antiheroes punctuated the Italo-westerns, creating a unique visual style with darker themes that made the Hollywood epics look like G-rated movies. The Italians drew inspiration from a culturally diverse palette of sources, including classical literature and Catholicism, resulting in unique operatic reimaginings — several of which we’ve highlighted below. Dig into a few essential spaghetti westerns that helped shape the subgenre — extra heavy on the red sauce. Leave your favorites in the comments below. … Read More

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