EURO BEAT: Reactions to Woody Allen's Latest from Rome, Plus Spanish Film Woes

Brian Clark, European Editor


While Woody Allen's latest European outing To Rome with Love won't screen in the U.S. until it opens the Los Angeles Film Festival in June, the film had premiered in its titular city this week, though the version screened was apparently dubbed in Italian. So what's the early word from the Italian press?

Most reports have said the the ensemble piece received mixed reactions, with many journalists complaining that Allen's treatment of the city was too superficial and romantic. In light of Italy's current economic and structural woes, I get that maybe the Italian press doesn't want to see a light, sunny romp through a tourist version of Rome. On the other hand, Allen does this with every movie he makes anywhere. This backlash seems the same as that of the French who complained that Midnight in Paris romanticized the city of light too much, while still swearing by his other movies like Manhattan.

Cineuropa has translated Camillo de Marco's review of the film into English, and while his reaction is lukewarm, his description of the movie makes it sound great. Apparently it's a loose collection of different episodes a la Radio Days, or as he puts it, "a sort of compilation of stories laced with Boccaccian erotism on a be-bop rhythm, with rapid sequences, improvisations, and harmonic constructions." That sounds fun! What's to hate?

Well, after a fairly long synopsis (which I recommend avoiding if you want to discover the multiple plotlines for yourself), he comes to the conclusion that the film "is a little uniform and homogenous, despite a few great moments, and Rome's beauty is not quite enough to hide its clichés." So take that as you will. The bigger question here is whether it's even fair to judge an Allen movie with all of the dialogue, which sometimes makes or breaks the movie, dubbed in Italian.

The other bit of news that emerged from the premiere is that Allen will not be shooting his next film in Copenhagen as previously rumored, but will instead romanticize the West Coast for once with a film set in San Francisco. Get ready for complaints about his superficial treatment of that city one year from now.

In other news, while festivals and viewers around the world have been celebrating the recent wave of great Spanish genre films, the national cinema and these films in particular are struggling. Apparently admissions in the country have sunk lower than they've been in the last 11 years.

The article goes on to note that no Spanish film this year has been an outright success, including [REC] 3, Red Lights and Ghost Graduation. Beyond that, films like Nacho Vigalondo's Extraterrestrial and Antonio Chavarrias' Berlin selection Childish Games have been outright commercial failures. Given that the Spanish cinema body ICAA just announced that it's making major cuts in financial support for scripts, animation and short films, it doesn't seem like things are hitting an upswing yet.

That said, Pedro Almodovar is, unsurprisingly, still going strong. He's locked Lola Dueñas (Volver), Javier Cámara (Talk to Her) and Cecilia Roth (All About My Mother) for his new movie The Brief Lovers, which producer Augustin Almodovar has described as an 80's-influenced "crazy comedy."

European box office honors mostly went to Titanic 3-D last week, though as usual, there were a few notable domestic exceptions. France fell in love with the new film adaptation of the Marsupilami comic book series. Houba! On the Trail of Marsupilami, a live action adventure featuring the wacky titular mammal, easily beat the 3-D re-release, pulling in around $10 million dollars, compared Titanic 3-D's $3.3 million. While the usual suspects dominated in Germany, the film adaptation of the popular German television show Turkish for Beginners has now amassed an impressive $15.1 million. The television show chronicled a relationship between a German woman and a Turkish police officer, and according to the one imdb user review in English, "When watching this show, one can forget that racism exists."

For the moment though, most of Europe is just awaiting this Thursday, when the full lineup for the 65th Cannes film festival will be announced. If you need a taste now though, the festival has already announced the list of short films competing for the Palm D'or. Check back with us Thursday for the whole lineup.

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