Five in Focus: American Expat Bloggers on Italian Movies

In conjunction with the release of George Clooney’s The American, I was one of the American expat bloggers asked by Focus Features to choose the five films I feel sum up Italy for me.

Please click on the screenshot to go see the five films I chose…

and then please come back and let me know what yours are and why in the comments.

And by the way, have you seen The American? What did you think?

P.S. I’ve put up a “Media Buzz” page to gather some of the other places that mention Bleeding Espresso. Have a look see!

18 Beans of Wisdom to “Five in Focus: American Expat Bloggers on Italian Movies”
  1. Gil
    09.11.2010

    Congratulations on receiving this honor! They’ll have to send you on a business trip or two…

    Haha wouldn’t mind that, Gil! Thanks πŸ™‚

  2. Cathy
    09.11.2010

    Michelle, I have seen all these films apart from the last one. And I agree with all your points. It was probably ‘A Room with a View’ that planted a seed to come and visit Italy. And I love ‘escaping’ from real life in Italy (and all its bureaucracy), by watching films like ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, ‘Letters to Juliet’ etc. ‘La vita e’ bella’ is one of my favourite Italian films – I cry every time I watch it. The only film I haven’t seen on the list is the fifth one, so I think I need to see it. Another favourite of mine, an Italian language one is ‘L’ultimo bacio’ because I think it portrays Italians and their behaviour so well.

    Thanks Cathy! The last film is truly one of the funniest films I’ve seen in either language πŸ™‚

  3. SabineM
    09.11.2010

    Yay! Great article! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for checking it out Sabine!

  4. 09.11.2010

    Congratulations – great piece. I hang my head in shame – I’ve only seen the last one and that only since I came here. I tend to be stuck in the old days – La Strada, Amarcord, Summertime, The Leopard, The Bicycle Thief etc. I really must rent A Room with a View.

    There is a new film coming out – debuted at Venice this week called Le Passione. An over the hill Italian film director is black mailed into directing a local Passion play in a small Umbrian village. That one I have to see.

    Congratulations again.

    That sounds great, Willym! If you haven’t read Room with a View, I’d encourage that as well πŸ™‚

  5. Joanne at Frutto della Passione
    09.11.2010

    Tough choice. Not sure what I would have gone with, but Cinema Paradiso and Mediterraneo would have been in there. I cry like a little girl every time I see them.

    Yes, these weren’t exactly my favorite Italian-themed movies, but more what I thought conveyed aspects of Italian life…I haven’t seen Mediterraneo, but I *love* Il Postino!

  6. ally
    09.11.2010

    How about Tea with Mussolini? I saw it for the first time this week and haven’t stopped smiling since. I don’t know how authentic it is to Italy, but I did enjoy it.

    I actually haven’t seen it, Ally! It’s been on my list, though.

  7. Margaret
    09.11.2010

    One of my favorite italian movies of all time is Caro Diario. I also liked The Leopard, A Room with a View, Umberto D, Bread and Tulips….
    There are sooo many to love: Sergio Leone’s Westerns, The Nights of Cabiria, Bicycle Thief.
    ‘The American’ was a difficult movie to sit through. Very harsh story, harsh lighting, cold in temperature and mood.

    So many indeed, Margaret; thanks for sharing your favorites — and your thoughts on The American. It hasn’t gotten rave reviews from what I’ve read.

  8. 09.11.2010

    For me, it’s definitely A Room with a View. I’m very intrigued to see your last pick, though – I haven’t even heard of that one.

    It’s not a cinema classic or anything, but I think comedies often get overlooked on lists like these — and these two guys are *truly* hilarious. Also great are Aldo, Giovanni & Giacomo films (all of them) for some *wonderful* Italian humor. I LOVE THEM πŸ˜€

  9. When I think about movies that mean “Italy” to me, I think of “Il Ciclone,” a hilarious romp in Southern Italy that (sadly) was never released in the U.S.

    Also “Le Fate Ignoranti,” less because it’s a typical Italian story and more because a) it’s one of the few Italian films I remember being released while I was in Italy and b) Margherita Buy is just seems so ITALIAN to me.

    Excellent Sean, thanks for sharing!

  10. 09.11.2010

    Ahh, Michele –

    Have not seen the American (not a Clooney or hollywood fan), but love your reviews on the ones above.

    I was introduced to Signor Begnini’s genious in La Vita e` Bella quest’estate, and many other films (obliterating NetFlix’s stock here, I believe.)

    Cinema Paradiso & Il Postino are my all time favs as oh-so-memorable and poignant. And best before bed – Love me some Fellini & his neorealismo band of fratelli – but watching these before bed, I’ve found = sogni strani!

    Love the piece – and your blog, as always.

    Thanks so much Valerie; you’re very kind — and thanks for the tip on the strange dreams πŸ˜‰

  11. 09.13.2010

    Congratulations Michelle, very nice article! I love La vita Γ¨ bella, poignant and charming as you said.
    I haven’t seen The American yet, but I’m going to – I never miss a film with George Clooney πŸ™‚

    Haha, he does have some great films behind him indeed!

  12. 09.14.2010

    Loved Life is Beautiful. It made me cry, which doesn’t happen often (I am an accountant you know and we have little emotion) It captured the love of a father for his son.

    I actually have an Italian movie on hold at the library.

    Sangueppazo. Une histoire italienne. I will let you know what I think after I see it.

    Ooh I haven’t seen it, so I look forward to your thoughts πŸ™‚

  13. Giuseppe C Campo
    09.16.2010

    Well I want to say The Bicycle Thief is an eternal classic for any Italians living in those years , the usual movies named by fellow bloggers are great picks,however no one mentioned Johnnie Stecchino, also any movie with Vittorio Gassman, Ugo Tognazzi and my all tint favorite ALBERTO SORDI and of course the world famous spaghetti westerns by Sergio Leone! This is one of my favorite sites regarding things Italian…keep up the Great Work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks Giuseppe! Lots of great films in there for sure…I also enjoy a good Bud Spencer & Terence Hill flick πŸ˜‰

  14. Tania
    09.16.2010

    Ciao Michelle! Non c’Γ¨ che dire, i film che hai indicato sono molto belli, importanti e rappresentativi, soprattutto “La vita Γ¨ bella”. “The American” ahimΓ¨, non l’ho visto!

    Grazie Tania! Adoro il tuo blog πŸ™‚

  15. 09.17.2010

    Nice list — seen and enjoyed them all except for Il Sette e L’Otto, which will have to join my Netflix queue.

    Now The American…augh, what a disappointment. Gorgeous to look at, but so slow and shallow it’s almost unbelievable.

    Sorry to hear this about The American…I’ll still watch it, of course πŸ˜‰

  16. foodloverkathy
    09.17.2010

    Michelle – I liked your list (haven’t seen the last one yet, though). Narrowing down to 5 favs is very hard, but some of my favs are:
    “Dangerous Beauty” (I’m fascinated w/courtesans, period pieces and Venice), “Facing Windows/Le Finestre di Fronte” (Raoul Bova…enough said),
    “Malena” (Sicily during/after WWII from a woman’s perspective),
    “L’Ultimo Bacio,”
    “Roman Holiday” (The movie that made me want to live a fairytale life in Italy)

    I saw “The American.” The storyline was good, but the movie was just too slow. Scenes of Abruzzo were beautiful, though.

    Great list, thank you for sharing πŸ™‚ Not looking good for The American….

  17. Tina
    09.28.2010

    What sums up Italy for me?

    Fellini’s Rome! It’s just…. an allegory of…. everything! I don’t even have the words but it is and always will be symbolic of Italy to me.

    Under the Tuscan Sun I love for the reason you listed – She just shows up, no visa, no permesso, gets the villa, gets to hop into bed with Raoul Bova… I mean, total dream life, right? When the going gets tough for me in Italy, I watch Under the Tuscan Sun.

    A film I want to see is Mine Vaganti because it was filmed right here in Lecce!

    Thanks for sharing Tina! I haven’t heard of that last film — will look for it!

  18. jeck
    11.06.2010

    thanx michelle

    Great article…

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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