FlixChatter Review: MADE IN ITALY (2020)

I’ve been in the mood for films that transport me… given the nature of the pandemic that grounds most of us. So when there’s a screener for Made In Italy available, I jumped at the chance to see it. It’s also a unique film where Liam Neeson plays a father who isn’t rescuing his child from some criminals or exacting wrathful revenge of some kind.

I’m also intrigued by the fact that the writer/director is British actor James D’Arcy in his feature film debut. It’s a father-son relationship dramedy where the son character is played by Neeson’s real life eldest-born, Micheál Richardson. Side note: Apparently, Micheál changed his surname to Richardson in 2018 to commemorate the memory of his late mother Natasha Richardson. Now, it’s worth pointing out that this plot has an eerie resemblance to their own personal story.

Neeson stars as Robert Foster, a bohemian painter who’s now living as a recluse and estranged from his gallery-manager son Jack. In desperate need of cash, Jack and Robert takes a trip to their Tuscan home to try to sell the house. As it turns out, the once beautiful villa on a hill is now in a sorrow state of disrepair. The two had to work together to figure out a way to restore the home in a relatively short amount of time, which proves to be quite an insurmountable challenge at first given neither of them is particularly handy.

The restoration theme is obviously a metaphor for the restorative story between the father and son. It’s revealed when they arrive in Italy that the villa once belong to Robert’s deceased wife whose ‘presence’ linger throughout the movie despite the character never being shown. Robert is still haunted by the memory of her as well as the house, while Jack feels he’s so disconnected to his own family, for reasons that is later revealed in a rather melodramatic episode.

Now, I think this film certainly tackles some heavy themes of loss, regret, reconciliation, etc. but at times the comedic tone makes it more flippant than it should be. Even Lindsay Duncan‘s character Kate, a British ex-pat who now makes a living selling Tuscan villas, has a rather somber past, but most of her scenes are so playful, even frivolous. I do adore Lindsay and she’s a great actress, so this jarring tonality is more of the fault of the director. The one issue I have is the seemingly tacked-on romance between Jack and a local restaurant owner Natalia (Valeria Bilello) that I feel is completely unnecessary and utterly predictable.

It’s obvious that D’Arcy is still new in his directing craft, certain moments feels off both in the way the scene plays on, especially in the emotionally-heavy scene between the father and son. The rom-com trappings abound in the romantic scenes, complete with characters ‘falling’ into a lake and promptly start kissing… which is my pet peeve in movies that automatically assume people would get all warm and fuzzy when they’re all drenched to the bone!

The gorgeous Tuscan location certainly helps in the escapism factor, and I appreciate the chemistry of the two central characters. Perhaps because of their own personal connections, to each other AND to the story of loss (of a wife and mother) that must have resonated well with them, I enjoy watching Neeson and Richardson together. They’d been in a movie together, but never in such capacity where they share almost every scene together. Richardson holds his own against his more experienced dad, and it’s nice to see Neeson’s dramatic and softer side. To be fair, he started out as a dramatic actor before TAKEN launched him into a full-blown action star.

All in all, it’s not the best or most memorable films set in Italy. I think given the inherently poignant story, it could’ve been more meaty and heart-wrenching instead of a frothy movie with a few overly melodramatic moments peppered in. That said, I still think this is a pretty decent debut from D’Arcy. The restorative theme is one that anyone can relate or at least identify with, and the performances of the two central cast made their journey worth watching.


Have you seen MADE IN ITALY? Well, what did you think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ + Trailer Spotlight: DUNKIRK (Trailer #1)

everybodyschattin

Happy Wednesday! It feels like a sluggish past few weeks… especially when I got barely ANY vacation left through the end of the year. My European friends, you guys are lucky you get at least a month worth of vacation, I mean I’ve worked in the same company for a decade and only got three weeks of vacation :\ But hey, I’m seeing Rogue One tonight, so at least that adds an extra spring in my step in these cold, frigid Winter days!!

It’s been ages since I did some community links… so let’s get to it!

Jordan reviewed the music documentary of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, One More Time With Feeling

Margaret reviewed the last episode of Westworld (can’t wait to binge on this later this month)

I love it when a fellow blogger reviewed a little-seen indie gem I happen to enjoy. Steven reviewed the Welsh comedy Hunky Dory

Glad someone else thinks this film deserves to be seen. Brittani reviewed Loving 

Vinnie reviewed one of my Blind Spot picks (that I haven’t yet to see), The Big Sleep

Well, it’s that time of the year! Chris asked fellow bloggers ‘What’s their favorite Christmas movies?’

Last but not least… Courtney reviewed critical darling of the year La La Land (and from her headline I think you know full well how she feels)


TRAILER SPOTLIGHT

Well it seems that every movie out of Christopher Nolan is a big event… and DUNKIRK is no different. I’ve been excited for this for a while. I posted the teaser trailer here back in August, but now we finally got the full first trailer. Behold…

Woof, this gives me goosebumps! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film dedicated to the brutal event in Dunkirk, France. The only one I remember vividly was this scene in Joe Wright’s Atonement, with its stunning tracking shot. But it’s such a pivotal moment in WWII history, and if there’s a director who could do it justice on the big screen, it’d be Chris Nolan!

As always, Nolan’s always assembled top notch cast for his epic films…

  • Tom Hardy
  • Kenneth Branagh
  • Cillian Murphy
  • Mark Rylance
  • James D’Arcy
  • Aneurin Barnard

I love all of those actors, including my recent discovery (read: crush), Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard! Sorry I don’t care for that kid from the famous boy band, but surely it’ll bring a ton of teenyboppers to see this. So Tom Hardy plays a fighter pilot, but I hope he gets to talk in this movie? Yes it seems to be another male-dominated Nolan film, which made me think perhaps Nolan’s next movie should be a female ensemble cast? 😉


Visually this movie just looks epiiiiic! It’s shot in IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large format film stock by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema who also worked with Nolan in Interstellar (though my fave work of his is the visually-stunning Her). Does that mean he’s done working with his longtime cinematographer Wally Pfister?? But looks like Nolan regular Hans Zimmer is back scoring this film.

It’d be amazing to behold how Nolan recreated the harrowing chaos of Allied forces who are surrounded by German army. It’s more than just staging a spectacle of aerial bombardments wreaking havoc on the beach and the ocean, destroying troops and sinking Allied ships. It’s also a tale of hope… as the evacuation is also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk. Per Wiki, on the first day of the evacuation, only 7,669 men were evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day, a total of 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats.

I’m not usually a huge war movie fan just because I can’t handle the brutality, but yet I’m looking forward to this.


What do you think of the the first DUNKIRK trailer?