The Films (1/5, 3.5/5, 2.5/5)
Padre Padrone (1977) is an adaptation of the book “The One that Got Away”, an autobiography about farmer turned writer Gavino Ledda. The basic premise of the story is Gavino (Fabrizio Forte/ Saverio Marconi) is taken away from school at the age of six to help his abusive father (Omero Antonutti) on the family farm. After years of extreme physical abuse, Gavino joins the army and learns to read. Now he has hope for the future and can cut ties with his father. Unfortunately, the movie takes this subject matter and wastes its time with a shallow attempt of artistic filmmaking.
The movie sadly wastes the drama of the story by having the main action of the third act being told to us and then the movie just ends. This makes the movie feel very unimportant and downright sloppy. For 90% of the movie we are forced to watch the cruelty of our characters with no real point other then, education is good and ignorance leads to violence. The first 30 minutes is just seeing our main character being beaten by his father and then in turn Gavino abusing goats and in one terribly unnecessary moment actually rapes a goat. I can usually handle about anything in movies, but when your main attraction is child and animal abuse, you better have a good story to tell and this movie doesn’t.
The cinematography is very uneven. In some scenes it looks like something out of a Fellini masterpiece, others a bad student film. The acting is average at best, and I felt embarrassed for some of the actors like Omero Antonutti, who has a scene that consists of chasing a boy around like a Looney Tunes cartoon. One of the only saving graces of this movie is some of the mean spirited narration that hops from character to character, at one point a goat actually starts telling its story. Overall Skip this one.
After the disappointment of Padre Padrone, it actually taken three attempts to finish it, I was worried about the Night of the Shooting Stars, but luckily for me it’s the best movie in the set.
Night of the Shooting Stars (1982) tales the story of a small girl and her family who leave her Tuscan town to escape the Nazis in 1944. Their journey is a mini odyssey as they try to reach American soldiers who are nearby, can they escape the Nazis, bandits, and other strange events to freedom?
Compared to Padre Padrone, Night of the Shooting Stars is a brilliant follow up. The movie actually tells a beautifully crafted story will real characters, instead of the half-baked cartoon ones of Padre Padrone. The movie is filled with little moments of brilliant beauty. One highlight is the chaotic shootout in a wheat field, where the wheat field turns into a gorgeous maze of death. While characters die in this movie, nothing is as mean spirited and ugly as Padre Padrone.
Cast wise Night is a highly well-acted movie, with Omero Antonutti standing out as a wiser older man, who finally admits his love to an old flame. Like the first movie, this movie uses narration in a wild way, but here its better suited. The narration shows of dark humor and clever insights to some of the characters. The little girl’s commentary and desire for more violence is funny yet scary, and pays off during a fever dream involving gladiators. Another funny moment is when the little girls do finally run into the US soldiers, once meeting them the GI’s make a balloon for them out of a condom. The movie also has some top notch cinematography and truly stunning visuals. The only downside the movie’s middle slows to a complete stop and has trouble finding its footing again.
The third film in set is Kaos (1984), an Anthology with 5 stories about the human condition. The first Story “The Other Son” is about a mother who still loves her first two sons, who live in America, more than her third for some mysterious reason. The second story, “Moon sickness” is a bizarre story of a man who thinks he is cursed like a werewolf. The third story, “The Jar” is a nice comedic break, about a large jar made for olive oil that is broken. When the man who fixes it gets stuck in it, the owner of the jar refuses to release him. The fourth story, “Requiem” is the tragic story of a dying ma trying to get permission to be buried in the land of a baron. The last story, “Conversing with Mother”, is about an older man who returns home to make peace with the spirit of his dead mother.
Kaos is a very interesting movie that starts on a terrible foot. It begins with a raven being grabbed out of its nest and the men who steal the bird, use its own eggs on it by trying to hit the bird with it. I don’t understand the Taviani brothers’ obsession with animal violence, but it quickly set up my disappointment for the movie. Kaos tries to be a thrilling art film about life and its problems, but the movie sadly crushes its self on its own pretentiousness. The amount of dead air in this three-hour movie is simply incredible. Out of the five stories, only Moon sickness and the Jar are enjoyable. The movie wastes so much trying with walking filler that this movie could’ve been cut by an hour and no story would be lost. Moon Sickness at least tries to deliver an interesting take on the werewolf myth. The Jar is bizarre enough to keep one’s attention, but the pretentious preaching and filler of the other three stories is just bad.
Audio/ Video (4/5)
Cohen Media Group delivers some stunning transfers to this uneven movie. The remastered mono track is pretty smooth with only a few cracks heard in Padre Padrone. The other two movies are pretty spotless. All three films are in their original Italian with easy to read subtitles.
Both Padre Padrone and Night of the shooting Stars have new remastered restorations were approved by the Taviani Brothers (it’s covered more in-depth in the booklet that comes with the release). And they both look great, especially Night. Padre’s issues, aren’t with the picture just the uninteresting cinematography. The colors are mostly flat in Padre, but pop in Night. The stand out scene is the scene in the wheat field with blinding yellows and golds. Kaos is the second best looking in the set. The blues and browns pop and the colors are at their best during the beach scenes near the end. Night and Kaos have almost no film grain, while Padre suffers from some minor print damage.
The main special feature is a two-hour interview with The Taviani Brothers. While some of their comments were interesting, it seemed to be a pretty flat interview. Also included is the re-release trailer from 2015 and Promos for upcoming Cohen Media Group releases.
The Taviani Brothers Collection is a mixed release. Night of the Shooting Stars is the best film in the set and truly a good movie. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the other two films. Padre Padrone is one of the worst “Important” films I’ve had the displeasure of seeing. The amount of abuse and no real story is insulting to the viewer and I’m still surprised it won the Palme d’Dr. Kaos is half a good movie that’s too obsessed with its own greatness and is too long for its own good. Maybe editing could’ve saved it, but as is it’s a bloated art movie. While the restorations are gorgeous, the movies aren’t as lasting. Skip Padre, and if you’re interested try buying Night by itself. Rent Night first.