a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

When the frog says no, no, no

Posted on the January 28th, 2010

The classic fairytale of “The Princess and the Frog” has always appealed to me. In particular because I imagine myself as the frog. Nope, that’s not a ‘steem issue — it’s just that I think more highly of the life of the frog than the life of the princess.

Once, years ago while I was toying with the idea of becoming the next, great short story writer, I even began a tale similar to the Grimm’s p&f story. But, in my version, when the Princess offered to kiss the frog, he refused. He recalled a horror story of a cousin who had fallen victim to this, and had instantly been transformed into being a prince. “No, absolutely not!” my frog said, refusing all kisses. “It seems to me being a prince would be boring as heck. I much prefer the sensuous living we frogs have.”

I’m with the frog. (In fact, Italy’s own de-throned young prince can’t ever seem to figure out what exactly to do with the royal part of himself)

All this came to mind today while reading Veronica Lee’s review of Disney’s recently released film of the p&f story (“The Princess and the Frog” the arts desk.com, Jan 27, 2010).  It’s a rave. Excerpt:

The Princess and the Frog is adapted by Rob Edwards from the Brothers Grimm fairytale and E.D. Baker’s The Frog Princess, and here we are transported to 1930s New Orleans. But this Big Easy is a fairytale of its own, where Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) is a hardworking waitress who holds down two jobs and dreams of opening her own restaurant (she is a gifted chef), and her best friend is spoilt little rich girl Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), who is white and lives in a mansion the other side of town. Their connection is that Charlotte’s indulgent father, Big Daddy (John Goodman), loves Tiana’s beignets and gives plenty of work to her seamstress mother, Eudora (Oprah Winfrey).

Can’t wait to see it!

Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on When the frog says no, no, no

Italian moviegoers break record with Avatar

Posted on the January 27th, 2010

Opening later in Italy than in much of the world (here),  “Avatar” has broken an Italian box office record, according to CINEUROPA:

No film has ever grossed so much in its opening weekend in Italy: after Friday’s release, with figures at over €2m, Avatar earned almost €4m on Saturday to reach just over €9.6m in three days…

That was as of January 18. As of last weekend, the futuristic film was still number one, see here.

Tagged with: , ,
Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Italian moviegoers break record with Avatar

Avatar finally opens in Rome

Posted on the January 17th, 2010

Into Rome yesterday for the 2:40 showing of “Avatar.”  Late to open in Italy, “Avatar” just arrived here on Friday.

Saw the film (English language version) at Warner Village cineplex next to the Piazza Repubblica. Being that it was afternoon, and a very dull gray, chilly afternoon at that — no crowds, walk in, no waiting, great seats.

I wanted to see it in the theater, as I’ve read many others did also, because of the visuals and special effects. This moviegoer’s opinion: rave reviews justified! Wasn’t walking on air on the way out, though. The film’s theoretical context is too true to present day, tragic, real world conditions.

Checking out critics’ reviews, I liked Robert Roger Ebert’s (Chicago Sun-Times, Dec 11, 2009) take:

“Avatar” is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It’s a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings. It invents a new language, Na’vi, as “Lord of the Rings” did, although mercifully I doubt this one can be spoken by humans, even teenage humans. It creates new movie stars. It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.

“Avatar” is doing fantastically great in overseas boxoffice, much better than domestic performance in USA, according to this  update from the Hollywood Reporter (“‘Avatar’ still dominating overseas boxoffice” Jan 10, 2010):

Now the second-highest-grossing title ever worldwide, “Avatar” wound down a month of total foreign theatrical domination on the weekend with a boxoffice tally of $151 million – $8 million more than was reported Sunday and a 10% increase from the prior weekend — from 15,301 screens in 111 markets.

“Avatar’s” overseas cume (cumelative earnings) of $915 million significantly outpaces comparable domestic action, more than double its $430.7 million domestic take in the U.S. and Canada.

And that was a week ago.

Not all rosy reception in Italy, however. Parents groups staged a protest because “Avatar” was released here with a general admission rating, unlike the PG rating of most other countries (“Italian parents stage ‘Avatar’ protest” Variety, Jan 14, 2010):

In Italy, the “Avatar” general admission rating prompted the Italian parents org Moige to complain that “the decision represents a discrimination against the protection of Italian children,” citing the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama saw the film with his kids, Malia, 11, and Sasha, 8, in accordance with its PG rating.

Tagged with: , , ,
Reader Comments (0) Comments Off on Avatar finally opens in Rome

Abbas Kiarostami and beauties of Iran

Posted on the April 3rd, 2008

Yesterday, following a link to a link to a link in classic surfing style, I spotted news of an upcoming exhibition in Milan of Abbas Kiarostami’s celebrated “Snow White” series. It’s a collection of b&w photos of trees and snow that the Iranian filmmaker has taken over the years since 1978. The exhibition is at Ciocca Arte Contemporanea museum. The show opens this week on April 5 and will run through May 31.

A couple of years ago, a friend who writes about film invited me to a special screening of Kiarostami’s just-released film Tickets (2005). The event, for young Italian film and acting students, was held on a sound stage at Cinecittà Studios in Rome. Kiarostami was present and, following the screening, took questions from the audience. He had the confidence and world weary attitude of a veteran master filmmaker at the top of his profession, but he truly was kindness itself, I remember, in the patient and close attention he gave to the students and their never-ending queries.

In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle online last year featuring an interview with Kiarostami, reporter Jonathan Curiel wrote this intro of the revered filmmaker:

In a critics’ poll taken a few years ago by Sight & Sound magazine, Abbas Kiarostami was ranked the fourth most important filmmaker of modern times — behind Wong Kar-Wai (No. 3), Krzysztof Kieslowski (No. 2) and Martin Scorsese. Asked about Kiarostami, Scorsese once said, “Kiarostami represents the highest level of artistry in the cinema.” (“Kiarostami/Iranian director’s work from cinema to photos on display in Berkeley retrospective exhibition” by Jonathan Curiel, SFGATE, July 9, 2007)

Kiarostami made the short video above, Romeo, as part of a celebration of the 60th anniversary last year of the Cannes Film Festival. He was among a group of thirty-five international auteurs invited to make a three-minute vignette on the “theme of cinema” for the celebratory occasion.

You can see an interview with Kiarostami in which he talks about the video here (“To Each His Own Cinema Interviews,” At The Movies website).

Tagged with: , ,
Reader Comments (1) - Post a Comment