Choosing a Movie

Choosing a Movie

Choosing a Movie 2012 (Scegliere un film 21012) (edited by Armando Fumagalli, Luisa Cotta Ramosino), Ares Editions, Milan 2012.

Cinematically speaking, the last season will be remembered as the season of superheroes: Captain America, The Avengers, Batman, Spiderman…perhaps even Mission Impossible IV and Sherlock Holmes II , two of the greatest successes, could be included alongside the first episode of Hunger Games, a new series created for young people. Each of them are high-adrenaline productions that offer stories with strong emotional impact, that nevertheless are not without values.

This year in American film however, has also offered serious and ambitious films, most notable being The Ides of March (about the world of politics and its compromises), Margin Call (the fascinating story about the origins of the global economic crisis),Moneyball (a true story set in the world of baseball), and The Help (that uses personal experience to tell the story of the battle against racism in the 1960s.)

So explain Armando Fumagalli and Luisa Cotta Ramosino in their introduction to Choosing a Movie, which gathers together the most important titles from September 2011 to June 2012. The book will appeal to movie lovers in general, but is particularly useful for anyone choosing films in educational contexts (schools, youth groups, associations and parishes, etc.) and for parents trying to choose movies that can be enjoyed as a family.

According to the editors, the European stage was full of pleasant surprises, such as the two big French hits The Artist and Intouchables. There were also a handful of titles interesting both for their artistic profile and their values: Le Havre by the Finnish director Kaurmismaki, Sister from the Swiss Meier, and All Our Desires and Declaration of War from the French Lioret and Donzelli respectively. The First Man, co-produced by Gianni Amelio (Italy), is also worthwhile, offering "small stories that are valuable in showing humanity touched by pain, but not without hope." Other titles to consider are the Iranian A Separation, winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and the Argentinian Chinese Take-Away, winner of the Critics' and People's Choice Awards at the Rome Film Festival. Passing too quickly through theatres, this film "deserves to be recovered because of the intelligent and positive light it throws on man." On the other hand, in a year without any Pixar productions, there were still a group of animated films capable of uniting both parents and children: Arthur Christmas and Castle in the Sky, yet another masterpiece by Miyazaki, are a few examples.

Meanwhile in Italy, there were setbacks in terms of box office, but especially in terms of ideas and the capacity for renewal. According to the book's authors, once again "the titles that caught the public's attention were made with ideas already experimented with, like Welcome to the North or Immaturi 2: Il Viaggio, with little or nothing added to the originals." One exception is Caesar Must Die by the Taviani brothers. A movie with civic commitment, and winner of the Berlin Festival, it is fascinating and powerful with a cast of prisoners.

This volume has been published by Ares since 2004, and is aimed at a public that is learned and open, but not specialized. The movies are rated with one to five stars, taking account of merit in both form and content. The reviews are accurate and well written. They serve to direct movie choices as well as to help reflect about movies that have already been seen. They are useful for both youth groups and skilled authors such as screen-play writers, story editors, teachers, and scholars in the field.

The criteria guiding their work are above all the importance attributed to a movie's narrative elements (story-lines, characters, and the values that both of these imply) and a point of view rooted in Christian anthropology. Even more useful are the explicit guidelines concerning problematic elements (erotic or nude scenes, violence, horror, vulgar language, drug-use or the inordinate use of alcohol, etc.) that are attached to the end of the work. It also includes lists of the best movies for everyone and for the youngest viewers, meant for discussion. It is true that the reviews in Choosing a Movie are often "previewed" on the website , but it is more than worthwhile to have all of them together, at hand in a well-edited book.

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