Friday, November 18, 2011

Cinema Paradiso

A sullen film director receives word that the projectionist in the small Sicilian town from which he hails has died. While arranging to return for the first time in thirty years, the man recalls his childhood in the post-WWII villa and the deep bond he held with the deceased. Giuseppe Tornatore's semi-autobiographical "Cinema Paradiso" is about the fondness with which most of us regard are childhoods, even in times of turbulence, as well as the nostalgic power of the movies. The film is incredibly well staged and Philippe Noiret gives an indelible performance as the cynical yet warmhearted projectionist. However, the film is hampered by its incessant sentimentality and mawkish, stereotypical manifestations of its characters, including Salvatore Cascio who plays the director as a young boy. Also, in the second half, the key relationship between the boy and the projectionist is shifted to the boy's relationship with a beautiful Neapolitan, which doesn't hold nearly as much resonance. I think there is a masterpiece buried under the saccharin layers of this film (many find it to be one as is). As it stands, it is still an entertaining reminiscence, and the end of the film is particularly moving as well.