Anna Magnani in Roberto Rossellini's Rome Open City

Blu-ray: ‘Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy’ on The Criterion Collection

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy (Criterion). Roberto Rossellini had been a journeyman director working within Mussolini’s Italian film industry when he redefined his career and all but inaugurated the neo-realist movement with this trio of films made at the end of World War II. Though he was no partisan, he started working on Rome Open City […]

The Italian TV crime drama

‘Romanzo Criminale: The Complete Series’ on FilmStruck

Romanzo Criminale: The Complete Series (Italy, 2008-2010) – In the late 1970s, ambitious young thug Lebano (short for The Lebanese) hatches a plan to leave the petty robberies behind and, in partnership with another gang, take over the drug trade in Rome, a city that is divided up by a number of small, unorganized gangs. […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1967) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]

Luc Merenda and James Mason star in Fernando di Leo's mob revenge thriller

‘Kidnap Syndicate’ – The business of crime on Amazon Prime and Fandor

Luc Merenda, the corrupt cop of Fernando di Leo’s Shoot First, Die Later, takes the lead again in di Leo’s Kidnap Syndicate (Italy, 1975) but this time he’s neither cop nor crook. Mario Colella is just a simple mechanic and working class single father who gets caught in the middle of mob business and corporate […]

Henry Silva and Woody Strode in Fernando di Leo's gangster classic

‘The Italian Connection’ – Mob schemes on Amazon Prime and Fandor

The Italian Connection (Italy, 1972), from Italy’s king of crime cinema Fernando di Leo, stars Mario Adani (the top dog thug of the Americano’s gang in di Leo’s earlier Caliber 9) as Luca, a remarkably affable and well-liked pimp whose popularity on the street makes the Milan boss nervous. So he frames Luca for a […]

Luc Merenda stars in Fernando di Leo's crime drama from Italy

‘Shoot First, Die Later’ – Revenge of the corrupted on Amazon Prime

Shoot First, Die Later (Italy, 1974), directed by Italian gangster specialist Fernando di Leo, stars Luc Merenda as Domenico Malacarne, a hotshot cop on the Milan strike force. Young, good looking, and always at the center of big, splashy cases, Domenico is the department poster boy for police heroism and he kicks off the film […]

Lou Castel stars in Carlo Lizzano 's cult spaghetti western

‘Requiescant’ – The spaghetti revolution on Amazon Prime

Requiescant (Italy, 1967) is a revolutionary allegory in a spaghetti western, a genre that proved to be fertile ground for socio-political commentary such filmmakers as Sergio Solima (Face to Face, 1967) and Damiano Damiani (A Bullet for the General, 1966). In a 2010 interview, filmmaker Carlo Lizzani remarked that the Italian government used the leverage […]

Juliette Binoche and William Shimell star in Abbas Kiarostami's first European production

‘Certified Copy’ on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

The Certified Copy (2010) of Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami’s first European production refers to artworks—Why do we value a reproduction less than an original and what does authenticity even mean?—but resonates just as effectively with the art of filmmaking and its relationship to reproduction and recreation. “It’s our perception that gives it value,” to quote […]

Robert Hoffmann stars in Wake Up and Kill, directed by Carlo Lizzani

‘Wake Up and Kill’ – Italian crime spree on Amazon Prime

Wake Up and Kill (Italy, 1966), aka Wake Up and Die, turns the story of real-life jewel thief Luciano Lutring, a criminal celebrity whose brazen exploits became headline fodder, into a fast-paced crime thriller that straddles the high life of the rich and beautiful and the dregs of the underworld. Luciano, as played by Robert […]