10 Italian movies that you may not know that are worth watching
There are countless world-famous masterpieces of Italian cinema, from La dolce vita and Nuovo cinema paradiso to films such as La vita è bella and La grande bellezza. However, there are also beautiful movies that from Cinecittà (the Italian cinema’s factory) have not become so popular globally but that are still worth watching. Here are ten of them:
1. Amici miei (1975) 2:20
Let's start with the smile of the so-called “Italian comedy” which means movies where love, betrayals and paradoxical events are intertwined, joined by the common thread of laughter. Considered to be a minor genre, this genre hides true jewels, such as Amici miei, a strong-toned fresco recounting the vicissitudes of a group of middle-aged friends, the perfect embodiment of the Italian easy-going attitude. The film's production history saw the change of hands from Pietro Germi to Mario Monicelli, who gave heart and soul to this work where memorable jokes and dialogues alternate with slight touches of bitterness
2. L'armata Brancaleone (1966) - 2:00
Director Monicelli is back with another comedy. Brancaleone da Norcia, a three-coloured Don Quixote of sorts, travels through Italy headed for Aurocastro (a town invented by the scriptwriters) with his army in a series of adventures between the serious and the facetious. With dialogue in hilarious Italian, the film relies on the extraordinary acting skills of Vittorio Gassman, Gian Maria Volonté and Enrico Maria Salerno, and features extraordinary visual power. Multi-awarded in Italy, the film also participated in the Cannes Film Festival
3. Giovani mariti (1958) - 1:45
From comedy we switch to pondering on carefree days fading away, in this case under the skilful direction of Mauro Bolognini. With a black and white approach that invites introspection, the film's story takes the viewer through a flow of progressive estrangement until the realisation that the protagonists Ettore, Marcello, Antonio and Franco have completed their journey together and have nothing more to share. Throughout the film, the threat of marriage hovers over Franco forcing him to abandon his boyhood to become a man
4) Senza pelle (1994) - 1:40
A wonderful movie by Alessandro D'Alatri, Senza pelle takes the viewer straight into the difficult story of the relationship between “ordinary” and “skinless” people. In this case it is Saverio, the protagonist, who has extraordinary sensitivity that makes him vulnerable to the world, relationships, and love. Gina, interpreted by a young Anna Galiena, is a sensitive and deep woman who ends up being overwhelmed by the events and her relationship with Saverio
5) A domani (1999) - 1:40
A bittersweet story told with extreme grace by Gianni Zanasi. A domani is the journey of a child and his older sister from the Emilia province to Bologna. After a thousand funny yet bitter adventures, everything ends with all returning to the way it was. The circular structure of the narrative finds a memorable incipit with the opening sequence where the village kids spend their days running in circles around the trees
6) Strane storie (1994) - 1:22
From the imagination of Sandro Baldoni, a visionary film where the characters created by a father to make his daughter's train journey more pleasant come to life: a man is in danger of suffocating because he has not paid his “breathing air bill”; a woman buys her ideal boyfriend at the supermarket on sale; two families across the street get into an armed conflict because they cannot stand each other. From the surreal that fills the film, however, we move on to an end rooted in the chronicle and that leaves one breathless
7) Todo modo (1976) - 2:00
A dystopian movie by Elio Petri, Todo modo is set in Italy where the country has suffered a devastating epidemic. A group of politicians gathers in an underground convent to do spiritual meditation. However, the real reason for the meeting is of an entirely different kind and is related to the division of power. The cast is stellar: Gian Maria Volonté, Marcello Mastroianni, Mariangela Melato, Ciccio Ingrassia, Franco Citti, Tino Scotti, Renato Salvatori, Michel Piccoli, and music by Ennio Morricone
8) Pane e tulipani (1999) - 1:54
Visual poetry in its purest form, this movie becomes more intense scene after scene, following the vicissitudes of Rosalba who, forgotten at a bus stop by the bus where her husband was also travelling, begins a solo journey that will take her to Venice, a magical place where she will finally find the happiness she has never experienced before. The cast is directed by Silvio Soldini
9) Oltremare - Non è l'America (1998) - 1:35
A tale of disillusionment, this film by Nello Correale is set at the end of the 19th century and is the story of a journey to America undertaken by a group of Sicilians who embark on a voyage to the United States, where Palmina must join the man she has married by proxy. Victims of a swindle, the protagonists will instead reach the Tuscan Maremma, crashing on the shoreline where they will mistake Tuscan “butteri” for cowboys but will meet the real Buffalo Bill who has travelled there with his circus.
10) Come te nessuno mai (1999) - 1:28
Before triumphing in Hollywood, Gabriele Muccino churned out this intense comedy about love. Against the backdrop of the student protests of the 1990s, the film stages both the anxieties of a generation and the growth of Silvio, the protagonist who manages to face and overcome his fears. With a stunning final aerial sequence that freezes time, Come te nessuno mai, at the time of its release received several awards.
If you already know and have seen these ten movies then you really are a black belt in Italian cinema. If, on the other hand, these are titles that are completely unknown to you, fill up on popcorn and... enjoy!