geezer cinema: the front page (lewis milestone, 1931)
music friday: billie eilish

the hand of god (paolo sorrentino, 2021)

Autobiographical film from Paolo Sorrentino (Il Divo) about a young boy in a town, Naples, that loves Diego Maradona. While we only see Diego on television (and some distant shots played by an actor who is pretty good at free kicks), he is a central character in the movie. The primary local soccer team, Napoli, had struggled for some time while teams from Northern Italy were enjoying success. Napoli paid a record fee to bring Maradona to Napoli. He was the greatest player of his era, perhaps the greatest of all time, and with him, Napoli returned to the heights of Italian soccer. The Argentine became an icon to the people of Naples ... late in his life he was named an honorary citizen of the city.

The young boy, Fabietto (Filippo Scotti), decides to become a film director as he becomes a young man. Much of this follows the real life of Sorrentino. The first half of the film draws an insightful panorama of life in Naples through the eyes of Fabietto. Family and community are paramount, and the people are lovely, each in their own way. Also, the importance of Maradona to the community is made clear. But then something tragic happens in the life of Fabietto, and the film loses its flow. While the earlier half of the movie covers a period of a couple of years, it's all of a piece. After that, what we get is more a series of vignettes, many of them interesting (and many of them based on the "real"), but the flow is gone. The first half of the film is a classic; the second half is promising but ultimately unfulfilling.

Scotti is very good as Fabietto, and the rest of the cast fits right into their characters. Special kudos to Luisa Ranieri, who plays Fabietto's aunt ... she exudes an aura of sexuality that burns off of the screen, but she also conveys the troubled psyche of a woman who is troubled, emotionally and mentally.

The Oscars are in a few days, and I may not see any more of the nominated films before then, so here is a quick look at those films. I've seen 9 of the 10 movies nominated for Best Picture ... here they are, with links to my posts:

My #1 film of 2021, Summer of Soul, is nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

As for the rest, I think Drive My Car deserves every award for which it is nominated, and I'd like to see Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas win Best Song.

For the acting awards, my only opinions are that Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) is easily the best of the supporting actress nominees, and Andrew Garfield (tick, tick ... BOOM!) is the worst of the best actor nominees. I've seen 17 of the 20 acting nominees.

Finally, here is a work-in-progress ... a Letterboxd list of my Top Movies of 2021.


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