Movie: Those of you who enjoy movies of all sorts have undoubtedly seen a foreign film or two that caught your eye. While most of us are familiar with the big name directors, there is also a thriving culture of movie making going on that mimics our independent movie making culture, although not one as heavily supported as the domestic market, and through the folks at Film Movement, a company that picks interesting movies to release each month, I got a chance to see a little gem from Italy, Ginger And Cinnamon (Dillo Con Parole Mie).
The movie started out by introducing the two lead characters, Stefania (played by screenwriter Stefania Montorsi) and Meggy (Martina Merlino) as an aunt and niece who are having problems with their love life. Stefania finds out her long term lover is a scumbag and Meggy has no love life at all (being 15 years old). Meggy makes a plan to lose her virginity by going on vacation to a island paradise, known for romantic encounters, and drags her aunt along as a chaperone to appease her mother. With all the appearances of a "chick flick", I braved watching the movie and found it to be a gentle look at social mores and stereotypes, all done with an Italian eye to detail.
The movie actually made some subtle remarks about pop culture, social expectations, and a coming of age theme tossed in for good measure but it also looked at the supposedly aged aunt (who was all of 30 or so years old) that acted like she was 50. Between the trials and tribulations of the two gals, both looking for something they think doesn't exist, yet is right under their respective noses, the movie also shows the pervasiveness of American pop culture invading the foreign shores (for better or for worse) in many ways. Does Meggy really just want to get laid? Will Stefania realize that she is not over the hill and has plenty of good miles left in her attractive bones? These are but two of the questions that popped in my mind as I watched the couple learn more about life while on vacation than they had obviously learned in years at home. Here's what the box cover said about the movie:
"While vacationing on the Greek "Isle of Love", the repressed 30 year-old Stefania reluctantly plays chaperone to her precocious 15 year old niece, Meggy. Unbeknownst to Stefania, Meggy plans to lose her virginity before the summer is over. Amidst a mélange of sun rash, broken diets, nervous girls, sleeping bags, orgasms, 80's music, and a little ginger and cinnamon, the two women discover themselves and their sexuality."
The acting by the principles was really well done and the supporting cast, while given far less to work with (providing more of a frame for the painting that was the ladies), also did a decent job. I think the plot was a bit nonexistent but with a little bit of editing, it could've been even better. In short, some parts dragged but I understood why they were in the movie, and how they contributed to understanding the inner workings of the gals, even if I think a bit more polish might've enhanced it slightly.
Who among us can ever truly forget our earliest attempts to mate? Those of us with some experience will even have the ability to recognize where Stefania's character was coming from, with her jaded nature and desire to avoid social entanglements. I'm going to rate this one as Recommended because I really think it had something to say, and said it well, in this personal look at love, romance and growing up.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen and looked pretty solid, especially considering its budget. The movie had some grain in darker scenes and a bit of pattern noise but the flesh tones looked accurate and I saw virtually no artifacts.
Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital Italian with optional English subtitles. The vocals were very clear and the music track surprisingly diverse with a number of past hits thrown in with the more obscure foreign releases. The subtitles were quick but easy to read, with bright yellow as the color and kept to the black portion of the screen (off the picture). In all, it sounded very well done.
Extras: The best extra of any Film Movement release is the short story that comes along with the feature. In this case, the movie was Mirror Man, a story about how an insurance man finds out how much he's missing out on life with the help of his "twin" from the other side of the mirror. Here's what the liner notes said about it: "Glenn is an insurance broker obsessed with assessing risk, yet afraid to take a chance himself. His sexy co-worker, Cheryl, whom Glenn has a lot more in common with than he could ever imagine, is ready to risk anything to seduce him. When Glenn ends their first date with a meek handshake, his mysterious ghostly double steps 'out' and literally flips his life around." There were also some trailers, a paper insert, and some biographies.
Final Thoughts: Film Movement only releases one movie a month, by subscription or individual sale, which is a shame since they tend to release some really intelligent movies. The short films alone have been entertaining enough that I wished they released a separate series of them and the care the company uses on its releases makes me think they're well ahead of the curve compared to other small distribution companies. Ginger And Cinnamon may never make it to the top of the Billboard's top twenty list but it's worth seeking out if you enjoy interesting films with a foreign taste.