Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Taviani Brothers Three-Pack

ImageFiorile (Koch Lorber)
After their two best films, The Night of the Shooting Stars and Kaos, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani floundered for awhile, notably with this shrill, strident 1993 fable about a peasant family under the spell of a two-century-old curse. The beauty of the Tuscan landscape is the main reason to watch Fiorile. The film has an unfortunate tendency toward frequent flashbacks which, alas, do little to alleviate the tedium.
EXTRAS: 45-minute interview with the Tavianis.

ImageKaos (Koch Lorber)
The Taviani brothers’ affinity for Sicilian peasants make them perfect interpreters of stories by the great playwright Luigi Pirandello. 1984's Kaos (1984), an epic-length omnibus film based on a quartet of stories by the master, is filled with humor and horror, absurdity and tragedy, and an encompassing love for life that far eclipses their most well-known film, The Night of the Shooting Stars (see below). After three hours of spellbinding storytelling, the Tavianis brave an emotional epilogue that imagines Pirandello discussing his art with his dead mother. It's as startling and refreshingly humane as all that has come before.

ImageThe Night of Shooting Stars (Koch Lorber)
The Tavianis’ 1977 breakthrough, Padre Padrone, could not have prepared anyone for this stunningly simple study of Italian peasant life in a small town during WWII. The brothers’ celebration of the peasantry could often come across as calculated or patronizing (see Fiorile, above) but not in The Night of the Shooting Stars. The absorbing storyline, the compelling non-actors, and the lovely photography add up to a personal film brimming with many pleasures, both small and large.
85-minute documentary about the Tavianis.

No comments: