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THE GREAT BEAUTY
(LA GRANDE BELLEZZA)
MONDAY, DEC 7 7:00
Winner of the 2014 Oscar for Foreign Language Film, this lavish and frenetic comedy-drama from filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino can be regarded as a La Dolce Vita for contemporary times. Toni Servillo stars as Jep, an aging writer who long ago relinquished his literary ambitions to indulge in Rome’s high life. While he can cynically see through the superficial people of the Eternal City’s religious, artistic and social elite, he is aware that he is very much a participant, and in a series of funny and bittersweet episodes he examines his place in this often-grotesque (one could say Fellini-esque) world. Like his great predecessor, Sorrentino brings a circus vision to his satire, this time tailored to the Berlusconi era. With Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli. In Italian with English subtitles. (Italy 2013) 142 min.
TUESDAY, DEC 8 7:00
The stunning opening images of director Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth set the tone for indelible reflections on wisdom, art, and mortality, expressed through a longtime friendship between Fred (Michael Caine), a retired composer, and film director Mick (Harvey Keitel). Fred is offered a knighthood on condition he conduct his signature work, Simple Songs, for the Queen. He refuses, for personal reasons. Mick works on what may be his last “big” screenplay, pinning his hopes for financing on the participation of Hollywood legend Brenda Morel (a startling, take-no-prisoners performance by Jane Fonda). Meanwhile, Lena (Rachel Weisz), Fred’s daughter, has discovered her husband is leaving her for pop singer Paloma Faith (played, in a Sorrentino-esque touch of whimsy, by Faith herself). Against the backdrop of an opulent Swiss spa peopled by a cast of colorful inhabitants, Youth is sensual and rich, whimsical and tender, engrossing to its final coda. (Italy 2015) 118 min.