Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life isn't like in the movies. Life... is much harder

There is something to be said about the magical powers of film. It transports you somewhere else. That place can be realistic or fantastical. It can be enriching or disturbing. From the first minutes of an excellent movie, you really get taken away from life. These sentiments are what made films great in times of depression or loss. Cinema Paradiso, a forgotten classic, is one of those movies that really nails this sentiment home. It's filled with every human emotion and can reach out and touch any member of the human race. It's utterly beautiful and touching. It will make you laugh, cry, dream of better days and relish old times gone by. It's a masterpiece and it's a movie that really just hits you and stays with you. Being a foreign film, my assumption is that not enough people have seen this film. It's a shame, but Cinema Paradiso is something everyone should see once in their life-time.

It's a simple tale, really. The story of a young kid in a poor town in Italy grew up with the movies. His mentor, the towns reel operator, shoos him away whenever he breaks into the booth upstairs and tries to see every movie the small cinema has to show. We follow the youngster through flashbacks. The kid through the film is all grown up and a famous movie maker returning home to bury his old friend who has passed on. Throughout the film, he revels in the days of old. The characters of the town are as vivid as they were when he lived and grew up there. He remembers his young love affair and all the happiness and pain that came with first love. We see all of these beautiful themes juxtaposed with what classic movies are being showed at the cinema. It's a simple tale. Yet within all it's simplicity is a complex palate of emotions that run through the viewer.

I first saw this during my days of working at a video store. In essence, I was that young boy who grew up loving movies. This countdown is proof positive of that. The sentiments I get from movies and many great memories are surrounded by a love affair with film. Cinema Paradiso is a movie that made me cry. Not many have done that, but the sentiment this film portrays and wonderful. Never before had I seen a movie as enjoyable and uplifting as this. As much as I love my artistic films and indie films, it's brilliant work like this that really brings me utter joy.

1. Cinema Paradiso (1988) dr. Giuseppe Tornatore

Up Next: Rushmore (1998) dr. Wes Anderson

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