The late forties and early fifties produced Italian cinema’s single most important export: the neorealism of Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Luchino Visconti, treasured by generations of cinephiles and filmmakers all over the world. In Italy during the same period, though, a quite different style was enthralling popular audiences: the wonderfully florid, impeccably crafted melodramas of Raffaello Matarazzo. This weekend, we’re bringing Matarazzo’s elemental passions to the Criterion Channel with a retrospective featuring six of the sensational, serpentinely plotted hits he made with overpowering stars Amedeo Nazzari and Yvonne Sanson. In a series introduction featured on the Channel alongside such films as Chains, Nobody’s Children, and Torna!, Professor Stefano Albertini explains the extraordinary postwar popularity of such escapist melodrama, which had its aesthetic roots in tearjerking nineteenth-century literature and the expressive extravagance of opera. Albertini also points out that these entirely apolitical entertainments often shared a working-class milieu with contemporaneous works of neorealism—though the movies’ traditionalist values and passionate spirit were geared toward reassuring audiences rather than challenging them.
A Touchstone of Contemporary Chinese Cinema Makes Its Streaming Premiere
One of the most acclaimed and ambitious feature debuts in recent memory, Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still is a testament to the power of personal filmmaking.
Within Earshot: A Conversation with Sorayos Prapapan
Informed by his background in sound design, the Thai director uses audio to explore the absurdities of an oppressive society in his short film Death of the Sound Man, now playing on the Criterion Channel.
The Dream Factory at Its Dreamiest
Now featured on the Criterion Channel, MGM’s greatest musicals are filled to the brim with some of the most indelible moments of movie magic ever committed to celluloid.