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Movie Review: To Rome With Love

Mike Finkelstein took a trip to Rome recently. It was a city filled with wonderful people, beautiful women, and gorgeous scenery. Oh, and there was a little anxious man named Woody that followed him around everywhere…it was somewhat strange. Either way, he found time while there to see a film about the location. Here is his review of “To Rome With Love”.

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Mike Finkelstein took a trip to Rome recently.  It was a city filled with wonderful people, beautiful women, and gorgeous scenery.  Oh, and there was a little anxious man named Woody that followed him around everywhere…it was somewhat strange.  Either way, he found time while there to see a film about the location.  Here is his review of “To Rome With Love”.

PLOT: Four vignettes telling stories in the beautiful city of Rome, in the way that only Woody Allen knows how.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: For the past decade or so, Woody Allen has been seemingly making his way through Europe to find his muse.  Sometimes, it works magnificently (MATCH POINT, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA), and other times, not so much (SCOOP, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER).  After last year’s beautiful love letter to the streets of Paris, fans were anxiously waiting to get a glimpse of his newest tribute to a European city, aptly titled TO ROME WITH LOVE.  But while the elegant city views and trademark Allen wit is present and ready to go, the coordination and depth that should be with it seems to be missing.

Based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron”, ROME is comprised of four separate overlapping vignettes that are as different in feel as they are with their social commentary.  We follow Alec Balwin’s John, as he wanders his old stomping ground and runs into Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), a young architect who falls for his girlfriend’s eccentric best friend (Ellen Page).  Soon, Baldwin becomes a fly-on-the-wall throughout the couple’s few weeks together, leaving the obvious impression that he is actually reminiscing about his own experience, and Jack is really just the younger version of him.

Next up is the tale of Antonio and Milly (Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi), two newlyweds who arrive in Rome to meet Antonio’s aunts and uncles about a job opportunity.  As Milly runs into the biggest movie star in Europe when she gets lost looking for a hair salon, Antonio has a misguided prostitute (the stunning Penelope Cruz) show up at his door the same moment his family arrives.  Hilarity ensues.

Following both of those is the joy-filled Roberto Benigni (who can ever be angry at this man?) as an average guy who becomes an instant celebrity for no apparent reason, and the mandatory vignette with Allen himself as a newly retired music man finding out his future son-in-law’s father (real life tenor Fabio Armiliato) has an amazing talent for singing in the shower.

You can already see that there is a lot of charm to go around, with everyone in the cast getting a moment or two to shine.  Baldwin has some of the best lines in the film (“Walk into the propeller”) with his matter-of-fact, know-it-all delivery, Benigni leaves a smile on your face every time he hits the screen, and Allen gives us the same familiar dose of Allen that any fan of his yearns for once a year when they know he’s releasing another film.  (On a side note, Allen found a hell of a wife in Judy Davis, who goes blow for blow with him beautifully.)  All of this is done amongst the stunning backdrop of the titular city.  Everywhere we go, Allen bombards our senses with marvelous views of the cobblestone streets and historic architecture, even giving us one 360 degree shot in Milly’s world that is almost a message to the audience saying “Yes, this is why it’s magnificent…”  If this is his love letter to the city, his scenery plays like poetry.

However, with all that, TO ROME WITH LOVE is no MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.  Maybe it’s unfair to hold Allen up to the standard of his previous Oscar winner, but there is a certain disconnect this time around.  Yes, while all the characters do deliver on the surface, there is no real conflict amongst anyone to deliver any depth.  We barely get to know some, and when we think we know others, things are done almost completely out of character to jar our view of them.

The storytelling technique doesn’t help matters much, either.  We’re meant to believe that these are the stories of Rome, yet none seem anywhere near exclusive to the city.   Each vignette has a different feel to it, ranging from complete farce and fantasy to a realistic day-in-the-life, as well as a different time span, ranging from a few hours to a few weeks.  The short blurbs are probably good little tales if placed on their own, but after a certain point, with the reality around us constantly changing (and the unrealized hope of some sort of connection or interaction between them…), there is a certain discombobulating feeling that settles in.  Is this a commentary on celebrity and life?  Is this just a fun take on growing old?  I gave up after a while trying to figure it out.

There is a certain joy that one gets when they go to a Woody Allen movie.  When the lights go dim and those familiar plain title cards hit the screen, you can’t help but get a smile on your face as you look forward to the quick talking, sarcastic, neurotic sense of humor that is sure to come.  But after more than three decades in the business (and a pretty steady flow of a film a year), it’s safe to say that Allen’s career has hit both highs and lows.  While TO ROME WITH LOVE is nowhere near the low points of some recent flicks, its inconsistencies keep it from being near the high.  I’ll put this one down on the better half, however, if only for the beautiful scenery (I need to go to Rome, like, now), and the great little bits on the surface that’ll no doubt bring a smile to your face.

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) ALEC BALDWIN: The man is hysterical in everything he does.  Here, he plays the sarcastic know-it-all older man perfectly, and as the proverbial fly-on-the-wall, gives us some of the best moments in the film.

2) ROBERTO BENIGNI: No matter what Benigni does with his newfound celebrity, you cannot get angry at him!  He is just too damn sweet and innocent.  Every time he hit the screen, a smile hit my face.  I swear, the man could murder someone in front of a group of cops, and they’d still let him off because of his smile and happiness.

3) ROME: I now am convinced that I have to go to Rome.  Allen paints the city beautifully, and leaves us wanting the better, simpler life that seems to await us over there.  Twas a fine tribute, indeed.

4) A WOODY ALLEN FILM: No matter how many issues there may be, there’s something about seeing a Woody Allen film in theaters.  Seeing those familiar title cards and hearing those familiar sarcastic comments that only Woody could come up with is golden, and to know that your filmography has that sort of effect on people, even if your newer works don’t exactly hit the bar, is stunning.

5) BOOKEND COMMENTARY: To see the two men of Rome popping up out of nowhere to give us an introduction and fond farewell was more than cute.  Only Woody…

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) NO RHYTHM: With a script that keeps bouncing back and forth between topics, feels, commentary, and time, it’s hard to keep track of your feelings toward the movie.  I just wish that there was a bit more organization.

2) PLOT DEVELOPMENT: While all the characters were very cute, there was a depth that was missing this time around.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) The film was originally titled THE BOP DECAMERON, and then NERO FIDDLED.  Allen changed the names when he realized audiences didn’t really understand the references to The Decameron, a medieval collection of novellas.

2) Both Aaron Johnson and Robert Pattinson auditioned for a role.

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst

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Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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Priest Accidentally Forgets To Turn Off Filters Before Live Streaming Mass

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The internet is having a field day with the innocent mistake of biblical proportions.

With new social distancing guidelines, many churches have closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And while that doesn’t justify all the wine you’ve been chugging during your self quarantine, it does have many people practicing their faith from their homes. One Italian priest was just trying to recite a little prayer for his followers when he accidentally left a filter feature on during the broadcast! In the clip the priest is digitally adorned with a space helmet, workout gear, a fedora and sunglasses and more.

Social media went nuts for the video, which has now gone viral. One comment reads “He just doubled his holy power.” Another reads “Father, Son and Holy Influencer.” One commenter couldn’t resist a good pun and said the video is having a “Mass effect.”

Enjoy your daily blessing and take a look at the funny video below!

 

Priest in Italy live streams mass, activates filters by mistake from r/funny

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Danny DeVito Passionately Urges New Yorkers To Stay Home…And Twitter Agrees!

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For the love of Danny DeVito, stay home!

The world is in a dark place right now and I am not sure how much more bad news we can handle. That’s why when I saw Danny DeVito’s name trending on Twitter I froze. Our great nation could very well crumble if anything bad was to happen to such an icon right now. With extreme trepidation I clicked on the social media link and was relieved to see that good ol’ Danny boy is just strumming up hype because he is passionately urging New Yorkers to stay home.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been driving New Yorkers to stay home and has taken every precaution short of shutting the state down completely to help prevent the virus from spreading. Because New Yorkers can be hard headed, it doesn’t hurt to have some famous friends reiterate your message. Big names like Lala Anthony, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller have all made appearances on Cuomo’s social media pleading with New Yorker’s to heed the governors warning. Only one celebrity was able to make it to Twitter’s trending page however and that was none other than Danny DeVito. DeVito’s message is simple…stay home! In the two minute video, DeVito reminds fans that it’s not just up to the elderly to isolate themselves. “Young people can get it and they can transmit it to old people and the next thing you know – I’m out of there” says the actor. We must save him!

Twitter went into a frenzy with many users agreeing that we need to stay home for Danny. One user wrote “When Danny speaks, I listen.” Another passionately wrote “If you idiots kill Danny DeVito I SWEAR TO GOD.” One promoted DeVito from the icon status I previously awarded him and said “WE GOTTA PROTECT WORLD TREASURE DANNY DeVITO.” 

Take a look at the video below and for the love of the newly minted national treasure, stay home!

 

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