Tag Archives: Roberto Benigni

Coffee and Cigarettes (1986, Jim Jarmusch)

Technically, Coffee and Cigarettes is most impressive at the beginning. The short’s simple–Steven Wright meets Roberto Benigni for coffee. When Benigni makes room for Wright, Jarmusch’s handling of the process is amazing. It’s a quick series of shots; beautifully composed and edited together.

As for the rest of the short, it’s a fine diversion but… I guess cooler is the right word. It’s cooler than it is good. Wright’s dialogue could be a stand-up monologue, only Benigni gleefully interrupts him. The best moment is when Benigni says he doesn’t understand what Wright’s saying. Watching Benigni–and hearing his responses–it’s impossible not to wonder if he understands what’s going on. Finding out he doesn’t makes it even better,

Jarmusch lets the short run out instead of following through with the gently absurdist ending, which is too bad.

Still, Coffee and Cigarettes is a great use of five minutes.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jim Jarmusch; written by Jarmusch, Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright; director of photography, Tom DiCillo; edited by Melody London; produced by Jim Stark.

Starring Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright.


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To Rome with Love (2012, Woody Allen)

To Rome with Love is sort of hostile to its viewer. Allen sets up three (or four, depending on how you want to count) plots and plays them all concurrently. However, these three (or four) plots don’t necessarily coexist in the same Rome, certainly not at the same time they linearly play out in the run time. He’s also a little dishonest in how he introduces them–Alec Baldwin’s plot gets a big introduction but it immediately shifts gears.

Wait, there are four plots. I keep losing count….

There’s Alison Pill as a young American tourist. Allen and Judy Davis play her parents. Allen and Davis are great together, in case I forget to mention later. Davis just sits and watches him, with real laughs at his deliveries.

Then there’s Alec Baldwin, who gets entangled in Jesse Eisenberg’s love triangle with Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page.

Alessandra Mastronardi and Alessandro Tiberi are honeymooners. Penelope Cruz figures in at some point.

And then Roberto Benigni is the example of the middle class Roman.

Okay, there are four plots. There are sort of five.

Anyway… the best ones are the Tiberi and Mastronardi one and the Benigni one. Or, as one might say, the Roman ones.

Pill’s not in her story enough, though it’s fairly charming.

The one with Eisenberg misfires. He’s ineffectual, Page’s woefully miscast and Gerwig’s great but underutilized.

Allen experiments with narrative here… and doesn’t seem to like the results.

Rome… and gorgeous Darius Khondji photography help a lot.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Woody Allen; director of photography, Darius Khondji; edited by Alisa Lepselter; production designer, Anne Seibel; produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Giampaolo Letta and Faruk Alatan; released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Starring Woody Allen (Jerry), Alec Baldwin (John), Roberto Benigni (Leopoldo), Penélope Cruz (Anna), Judy Davis (Phyllis), Jesse Eisenberg (Jack), Greta Gerwig (Sally), Ellen Page (Monica), Antonio Albanese (Luca Salta), Fabio Armiliato (Giancarlo), Alessandra Mastronardi (Milly), Ornella Muti (Pia Fusari), Flavio Parenti (Michelangelo), Alison Pill (Hayley), Riccardo Scamarcio (Rapinatore hotel) and Alessandro Tiberi (Antonio).


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