Review: Umberto D

Umberto D
Directed by: Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Carlo Battisti / Maria-Pia Casilio

Last year I watched De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief in my European Cinema class at college, and was fascinated by Italian Neo-Realism. It seemed so fresh and real to me; something that I could think about weeks after watching the film.

Over the Summer I read about Martin Scorsese’s documentary My Voyage to Italy, in which he talks about and shows clips from Italians films that he grew up with and loves. His passion for the films, coupled with some amazing scenes that were shown, prompted me to go on a crash-course in classic Italian film. I started it off with Fellini’s I Vitelloni, which was a fantastic film, and a definite inspiration for George Lucas’ American Graffiti. I then watched Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis, which had some powerful moments. After that I returned to the director who started it all for me, with Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D. I’d always seen it near the top of different lists of great films, so I was quite psyched about seeing it.

The film follows Umberto Ferrari, an older man, as he navigates through the latter part of his life. His best friends are his dog and the young maid where he lives. These two characters have a fascinating albeit friendship, albeit strained at times. The comparisons between her flamboyant youth and his reclusive old age cannot be avoided.

Similar in style to The Bicycle Thief, De Sica again takes his story to the street, and casts a no-name actor in the lead role. We’re only shown one portion of Umberto’s life, and while he is a difficult character to like, you still feel certain empathy for him. Carlo Battisti plays the role famously. He tells us everything we need to know through sheer physicality.

In Umberto D., De Sica deals with many social and ethical themes. These range from the way the younger generations deal with the elders in their community, to begging on the streets, and the pride that comes with that. One scene near the end of the film is especially poignant in that area and is masterfully shot.

If you have an interest in Italian Neo-Realism, this is a definite must-see in this viewer’s eyes. Add it to your NetFlix queue and enjoy!

(Also posted at Reel Suave)


George Lucas Should Direct Indiana Jones V

(This is my entry for the Bizarro Blog-A-Thon)

I enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when I watched it in the theater last month. But there were some disappointments, mainly the direction of Steven Spielberg. I didn’t like the decisiosn that he made, particularly with the actors and the overall look and feel of the film. George Lucas, on the other hand, salvaged the film with his literary wit and love for furry animals.

If they choose to continute with the Indiana Jones franchise, I think George Lucas should take the reins from  Steven Spielberg, writing and directing the film himself.

George Lucas’ Next (non-Star Wars) Film

John Campea at the Movie Blog posted yesterday about Red Tails, a (2009) film that George Lucas will be producing. The film will be set in World War II and will cover the Tuskagee Airmen, who were the first African-American pilots during the conflict. John Ridley (Three Kings) is set to be the writer.

I remember hearing about this at least 1-2 years ago, but now that the Star Wars films are over (or are they?) for the most part, I can see this getting more press later on this year.

The Indiana Jones Trailer…

…is here.

Trailers & Jesse James

I just finished reading a review of Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, written by none other than the actual family of Jesse James himself. And they can’t praise the film enough. I highly recommend reading through it.

Source: Clicky! (The review is on the left under ‘Contents’)


It’s that time of year when the big blockbuster hype is reaching it’s climax…but one player in particular seems to be missing. There’s been a lot of speculation and discussion about the lack of a preview for The Incredible Hulk, which is set for a June 13th release. They really need to ramp up the buzz if they want people to be aware of it. It’s not a film that too many people know about at this stage, and that’s going to hurt when it comes out.

On a more positive note, reports that the teaser for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be released on February 14th, starting on “Good Morning America” and then being available online soon after. I’m really excited about this one. The film itself is set for a May 22nd release, and stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, and Cate Blanchett.