Whiplash (UK, 2014):

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons.

Written by: Damien Chazelle. 

Directed by: Damien Chazelle. 

Genre: drama, music.

Running time: 107 minutes. 

Curiosities: Before becoming a popular film, Whiplash was born as a short film because Damien Chazelle had failed to obtain funding to make a feature film. Thus, he had to make a short film that he presented at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. After winning the Short Film Jury Award, he obtained funding to make the feature film.

Andrew Neiman is an ambitious jazz drummer whose dream is to become the best musician in the conservatory. Terence Fletcher, a teacher known for his rigorous and severe method, discovers the boy’s talent and commits himself to help his career. The young man’s strive for perfection turns into an obsession capable of ruining his life, the standards required by Fletcher being monstrous, and progressively alienate Andrew from other parts of his life. 

With great intelligence, Chazelle unites the difficulty of approaching an instrument usually little celebrated (drums) and a genre not loved by the general public (jazz), through a plot full of twists. In addition, not fearing to exaggerate, he continuously pushes his protagonist, refusing the common moral that puts affections before everything. 

Intense, inspiring, pungent. 

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Available on: Netflix, Google Play Film, YouTube.

Trailer: click here

To Watch Next…

Berlin Calling (Germany, 2008):

Starring: Paul Kalkbrenner, Corinna Harfouch, Rita Lengyel, RP Kahl, Araba Walton 

Produced by: Karsten Aurich

Directed by: Hannes Stöhr

Genre: Tragicomedy

Running time: 109 minutes 

Curiosities: The wardrobe of Dj Ickarus consists of many football shirts, and among the ones most worn by the protagonist there is the one of Milan – season 1989-1990.

“Berlin Calling” is the story of a young Dj in Berlin called Dj Ickarus, played by the famous artist Paul Kalkbrenner. The protagonist has just reached the peak of his career with an international tour, and he is working on his next release; however, in the meantime, he deals with a deep interior crisis due to a lack of creativity and an intense abuse of drugs.

 The movie gives us a taste of a unique Berlin of the early 2000s, characterized by drugs, electronic music, and underground culture. It offers a credible insight into the life of the characters, also thanks to the very intriguing cinematography of the movie. The correlation between the artist -Paul Kalkbrenner- and Dj Ickarus has been interpreted as what he did not want to become.

Iconic, great soundtrack, engaging. 

Score:⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Available on: Netflix

Trailer: Click Here

To Watch next…

Red Desert (Italy, 1964)

Starring: Monica Vitti, Richard Harris, Carlo Chionetti.

Written by: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra.

Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni.

Genre: Drama.

Running time: 120 minutes.

Curiosities: The well know phrase “My hair hurts” is actually quoted from a poem by Amelia Rosselli. 

After a car accident that completely shocked her, Giuliana, married to Ugo, a well-known engineer, is depressed and tormented by a sense of alienation and inadequacy that had already driven her to attempted suicide. Due to her strong sense of confusion, fed especially by the absence of her husband, Giuliana starts a secret relationship with Corrado, colleague, and friend of Ugo. However, not even Corrado, who initially seemed to be able to understand her, can really help her due to his incapacity to adapt to the reality that surrounds him, from which he escapes by traveling continuously. 

As Gianni Rondino stated in 1965 in the “Catalogo Bolaffi”: The Protagonist Giuliana is like the heroines already seen in previous Antonioni’s movies; intolerant to the life she leads and unable to overcome the limits of a useless existence. Her marriage is in crisis and the love relationship with Corrado isn’t worth it: the eclipse of feelings inevitably leads to the “desert of life.”

Red Desert, as well as all the other Antonioni’s movies, is a difficult movie  where the director’s aim isn’t to seek for the audience involvement but to work, with great compositional rigor, toward an abstraction of both moral emptiness and uneasiness to live. He just wants to objectify the enigma of the human existential distress.  

Intense, introspective, enigmatic. 

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Available on: mediasetplay

Trailer: Not available    

For the screen addict…

Unorthodox (USA, Germany 2020)

Starring: Shira Haas, Amit Rahav, Jeff Wilbusch

Written by: Anna Winger, Alexa Karolinski, Daniel Hendler

Directed by: Maria Schrader

Genre: Drama

Curiosities: Many dialogues are not translated. The Yiddish language is dominant. 

[cover image taken from shalom.edu.au]

In just four episodes, inspired by Deborah Feldman’s autobiography “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots.”, the new Netflix tv series tells the story of Esty, a 19-year-old girl who lives in New York, Brooklyn in the Williamsburg neighborhood where the ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community resides. Already Married to Yanky, as time goes by she will realize that she is the prisoner of a suffocating life, where her identity as a woman is completely nullified in favor of excessive religious zeal.

Indeed, in communities like these, the rules to follow are very strict: everything is based on ancient traditions, which concern cooking, prayer, public occasions but above all the behavior of women, which is very limited. Women cannot read the Torah, they cannot study, and must follow specific clothing traditions; in short, being an ultra-orthodox woman means staying at home and having children. She will then decide to leave for Germany, specifically to Berlin, from where her mom had escaped years ago, with the hope of finally being able to find herself and be free. Esty, in fact, does not just run to rebel the system but runs first to understand who she is and the only way she can do it is by getting away from her husband and family, who can only see her as a mother. 

Unorthodox is a very intense series. One would be amazed upon getting to know that it was inspired by an autobiography. Etsy, the protagonist, behaves like a normal nineteen-year-old but the context around her appears absurd. From a temporal point of view, the episodes show us both how Etsy tries to start over in Berlin and how her life was in the community through alternate flashbacks, which explain the reasons that pushed Esty to make this decision, digging deep into the culture and tradition of the Hasidic community.

Intense, inspiring, thought-provoking.  

Score:⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Available on: Netflix

Trailer: Click Here

by Camilla Pasquali, Gaia Checcarelli, Francesca Mazzocchi, Sofia Basile

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