Bread And Tulips – Silvio Soldini

Image Credits: Monogatari srl / Amka Films SA

Fernando: I hope it’s to your liking.

“Always better than a Chinese.

” 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.

Image Credits: Monogatari srl / Amka Films SA

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.


Swept Away…By An Unusual Destiny In The Blue Sea Of August – Lina Wertmüller

Image Credits: Medusa Film

“This is a desert island and wild.”

“How is it possible? We’re not in the South Pacific, we are right in the Mediterranean!”

Swept Away…by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August (Travolti da un Insolito Destino nell’Azzurro Mare d’Agosto) is a movie destined to become a cult in the history of international moviemaking.

The movie was written and directed by art-house director Lina Wertmüller in 1974 and it represents the social discrepancies of 1970s Italy. The director is not afraid to explore racism, inequalities between Northern and Southern Italy, feminism and politics; this is when the contradictions of each political party emerge. It can be considered a time capsule of Italy in the ’70s, when there was a kind of political schism between the conservative and the leftist wings of government.

The film offers a glimpse into love relationships, human nature and society, and it does so in a tragicomic way. There is a clash of capitalist beliefs and communist convictions and, from a certain time onwards, even a reversal of social roles.

The critical response has been overall positive, with American film critic Roger Ebert writing for the Chicago Sun-Times that the film “resists the director’s most determined attempts to make it a fable about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and persists in being about a man and a woman. On that level, it’s a great success.” It received an R rating and has a 65% positive rating from top film critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Swept Away won Best Music at David di Donatello Awards, Best Film and Best Actress at Tehran International Film Festival.

Image Credits: Medusa Film

It stars Italian actors Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato; the latter plays a rich and spoiled woman from Milan’s high society, who is vacationing along with her husband and their friends on a yacht in Sardinia. She frequently despises and humiliates the cabin boys, especially Gennarino, played by Giannini (in a memorable scene, she complains about spaghetti being not enough “al dente”), and constantly puts down the servant class. She doesn’t foresee that she will be stuck with him on a desert island when they get lost at sea on a dinghy with broken engine while on excursion.