” I am sorry to contradict you, madam, but the Chinese are the greatest restaurateurs in the world.“
Last week I subscribed to MUBI, a curated streaming service that showcases a series of movies from emerging and established filmmakers on a global scale. With the beginning of the new year, MUBI is offering a subscription discount; since I have always been curious about this streaming platform because I love what I like to call “cinéma d’auteur” (arthouse cinema), I decided to subscribe and am very happy about the service.
There are hundreds and hundreds of movies to peruse on MUBI and the platform also notifies you when new ones are available or when they are about to expire. This way I came across an Italian movie that I had previously heard about, a little gem from 2000 titled Bread and Tulips (Pane e Tulipani in Italian) and directed by Silvio Soldini. The movie won critical acclaim when it first came out and it is now considered one of Italy’s best cult movies. ever made; it was restored by Istituto Luce-Cinecittà in 2020 and its restoration enhanced even more the beautiful photography by cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, who also worked in every movie directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
Bread and Tulips is the story of Rosalba, a neglected housewife who is left behind by her family in a highway café while on a bus trip. At first she hitch-hikes trying to get back home but then she meets a series of bizarre characters, including a boy to whom she confides that she has never been to Venice and that she would like to visit the city. Having arrived in Venice, Rosalba comes into contact with various local characters, even finding work as a florist’s helper; not only is her life influenced by these people, but their lives are also influenced by her. All this happens as her husband tries to bring her back to Pescara, where she is from, by having a plumber who improvises as an investigator track her down.
The film is introspective while also having the appearance of a modern fairy tale (in one scene I noticed a subtle reference to Cinderella); it promotes the importance of freedom and not being trapped by social conventions that make us dissatisfied, unhappy and don’t make us feel like we matter. It is a journey of self-discovery and the world outside, as it shows how sometimes life redirects us towards a more authentic path that gives purpose to our existence.
I first read this novel when I was about ten years old because my mom gifted me a collection of literary classics that included Little Women and its sequel, Little Men. Since I was born and raised in Italy, my first copy was an Italian edition which I still own, even though it now shows many signs of wear and tear because I have read it multiple times over the years. A few years ago I also bought a beautiful American edition which is part of the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics and I have already read it twice since then.
What is it about Little Women that has made the book so precious for so many different generations over the decades? Probably this is also due to the fact that it was one of the first books to focus on female characters; it seems that men are more like supporting characters in the lives of the female protagonists, and, even though it is narrated in the third person, the book tends to tell the events mainly from the point of view of the March sisters.
The story is set in the 1860s and begins during the American Civil War; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March live in the small town of Concord, Massachusetts (where Louisa May Alcott also wrote the book), and the first chapter introduces the sisters who are preparing to face a Christmas of hardships because of the war, with many concerns due to the fact that their father serves as chaplain for the Union Army. The March sisters have very distinct personalities but are united by the deep affection they feel for each other; Meg, the eldest (she is sixteen when the story begins), is very rational and feels responsible to the other sisters. Together with Jo, she works to support them all; while she is employed as a governess by a family in the neighborhood, Jo assists her wealthy aunt March, who lives alone in a mansion. Jo is stubborn and very outspoken; she loves writing stories, some of which will be published by local newspapers to provide financial support for the family.
I love watching Christmas movies during Christmas time, and even though it is nice to discover new ones, I am very fond of the classics that I used to watch as a child. There are many Christmas movies coming out every year and it is almost impossible to pick the ones to watch; I usually see up to five movies among the are coming out or the old ones that I haven’t seen yet, but what I enjoy most is rewatching my favorite Christmas movies, which are also some of the most beloved and internationally known. I will probably rewatch a couple of the movies I am mentioning in this article and I also plan to marathon the Harry Potter series during the holidays because it is great to watch these movies in the wintertime.
Here are some of the Christmas movies I have enjoyed throughout the years:
1) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000): this is one of the most famous Christmas classics ever made. It is based on the eponymous children tale by Dr. Seuss which was previously adapted into an animated TV movie in 1966 . The magical land of Whoville exists inside a snowflake, where the Whos live and love to celebrate Christmas; they basically count down the entire year until Christmas day. The Grinch is a green creature who lives just outside Whoville and has despised Christmas time ever since he self-isolated on Mount Crumpit when he was still a child, after his classmates made fun of him for his hairy aspect. Cindy, a young girl who comes from a loving family, decides to befriend the Grinch and wants to involve him in the festivities, but when something goes wrong with the Whos, he plans to ruin Christmas day for everyone. The Grinch is played brilliantly by Jim Carrey, who is absolutely hilarious in this role. The story is very heartwarming and it does a great job in emphasizing the importance of spending time with loved ones during the holiday season. It is also a visually exceptional movie, with a great set design that makes everything feel really magical. It is a movie that stands the test of time and it will probably be appreciated by people of all ages.
2) Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003): one of the most famous romantic comedies ever made, it follows eight different couples who are managing their love lives in various interconnected plots all set in the hectic month before Christmas. These stories take place in London and the cast is terrific, as it includes many famous actors and actresses like Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. It is a very powerful movie that is all about love and its numerous meanings; its storylines are well developed and the lives of all these people are connected by love. It is both touching and funny thanks to great performances by all the cast members; I have watched Love Actually with my family during the holiday season almost every year since it first came out because it is very intelligent and it perfectly embodies the meaning of Christmas. It is heartwarming and sweet; there is that certain something about the film that makes it a staple of the Christmas genre and one feels compelled to watch it every year in the wintertime, as it is filled with romantic moments and tender gestures we can all identify with in one way or another.
“My therapist, the beloved Dr. Gratch, says that hurt people hurt people, but I just don’t think that applies to teenage girls. I think sometimes they’re just evil.”
I first heard about Do Revenge while watching a video analysis on Youtube; I was very curious about this new Netflix movie, so I watched it a couple of days later and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It turned out to be quite different from the movie I was expecting to watch and I found the message behind it very meaningful.
Netflix introduced this movie as “a mix between Cruel Intentions and Mean Girls with a nod to Hitchcock” and I think this description perfectly fits the tone and mood of Do Revenge; the movie undoubtedly pays homage to iconic ’90s flicks (it reminded me of other movies I love from that era, such as Clueless, Heathers and Jawbreaker, and this is probably also because fashion plays a significant role in all of them).
Do Revenge belongs to the black comedy genre with a queer element in it. The story revolves around Drea, played by Camila Mendes, who is very powerful at her high school and is considered a it girl (do it girls still exist? I suggest you have a look at the video essay“Why Are There No It Girls Anymore?” by Jordan Theresa on YouTube. It probably explains why this movie is filled with ’90s nostalgia while addressing current issues as well). Things change for Drea when a private video of her gets leaked among the students and it sure looks like her boyfriend Max, who is also very popular, is responsible for it. Eleanor, played by Maya Hawke, is a new student who is rather shy and feels very uncomfortable with having to attend the same school as Clarissa, a girl who once bullied her during summer camp when they were thirteen. Drea and Eleanor form an unusual alliance/friendship, setting up a plan to take revenge on people who have mistreated them. This creates a series of unexpected twists and turns; also, there are many funny moments in the film that convey deeper themes, making the viewer wonder if revenge is really worth it after all. As the girls will find out, revenge most often comes at a price and can lead to bad consequences.
Fashion is indeed a part of the movie as well, since it is a vehicle through which the characters express their various personalities. The costumes were designed by Alana Morshead, who took inspiration from iconic teen hits like Gossip Girl when creating a look for the characters. Since they are all attending Rosehill Country Day, a private school, she designed preppy pieces like capes and sweater vests in pastel tones, especially lilac and mint.
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