Dates may be subject to change. For up-to-date details and showtimes, consult the venue websites listed below.
Odeon Cinehall Piazza Strozzi 2 055/295051 www.odeonfirenze.com
The Imitation Game ***
This is a noble but flawed attempt to popularise the neglected, occasionally suppressed and even obscured genius of Alan Turing, the mathematician and pioneer computer scientist whose work as a cryptologist at top-secret Bletchley Park during the Second World War led to the breaking of the Nazi Enigma Code. The makings of a national treasure were there, had it not been for the criminalising of Turing’s (then illegal) homosexuality, the obscenity of the subsequent hormone treatment he acceded to and the scandal of his early death. The film presents Turing as a safe, not so closeted gay man, painting him as a martyr and victim to establishment values, glossing over the positives of his private life and resorting to unwarranted historical inaccuracies in its striving for mass appeal.
Barry Lyndon *****
An Odeon special event: the newly restored version of what is arguably Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. This is a work of impeccable historical recreation, sublime emotional complexity and breath-taking cinematography (using only natural lighting). It is Kubrick’s scrupulous attention to detail that makes every viewing of this film transcendental. With its brilliant soundtrack, its off-key, quirky narration and outstanding cast (Ryan O’Neal included) Kubrick’s stunning adaptation of Thackeray’s (mediocre) novel offers the rare experience of rapture. ‘One of cinema’s most heartfelt and sustained (it runs over three hours), if cynical, visions of an individual’s powerlessness when confronted with the impersonal, mangling machinery of power and fate. What a magnificent, mesmeric slow dance it is, not merely of death but of an ambitious man’s inexorable decline’ (Time Out).
Goltzius and the Pelican Company *****
‘Every new technology is expensive, and sooner or later every new technology gets into bed with lechery.’ So says Hendrik Goltzius, a late 16th-century Dutch printer and engraver of erotic prints, who seduces the Margrave of Alsace into paying for a printing press to make and publish a new edition of the Old Testament with erotic illustrations, with one New Testament story thrown in for good measure. Peter Greenaway’s movie has all the familiar trademarks: abundant and occasionally erotic nudity, odd staging, water, water everywhere, painterly referencing, etc. but this outing is rather more accessible, and amusingly profane.
The British Institute Lungarno Guicciardini 9 055/26778270 www.britishinstitute.it
Introducing ‘Speechless:’ A season of classic silent movies
January 21, 8pm
(with English intertitles and live music)
Gabriele d’Annunzio’s hand is all over this second even more impressive Italian super-production about the trials of Cabiria, caught up in the battle of civilisations between Rome and Carthage in classical times. It was in fact his fame that boosted Pastrone’s extravagant epic, enabling it to reach a vast international audience. This more than justified its expense (an unheard-of one million lire), although d’Annunzio (fortunately) had very little to do with its conception and realisation. ‘The film was produced by the Italia Film Company of Turin with great care and attention to details. The mechanical effects are thrilling and excellent, and the photo drama is one of the most effective ever shown here’ (New York Times, 1914).
Broken Blossoms *****
January 28, 8pm
(with English intertitles)
Subtitled ‘The Yellow Man and the Girl,’ this is the story of a frail waif (Lilian Gish), abused by her brutal boxer father in London’s seedy Limehouse District, who is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences. Director David Wark Griffith’s racism is again on display in this otherwise sensitive melodrama, as are also his technical innovations: soft focus and the close-up.
In early February, don’t miss:
Still Alice ****February 1, 7.30pm, Spazio Alfieri (via dell’Ulivo 6), www.spazioalfieri.it
Julianne Moore stars as Alice, a Columbia professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Alec Baldwin co-stars as her husband, and the drama features Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish and Kristen Stewart in supporting roles. Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter called it ‘warm and compassionate, but bitingly honest.’
Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari *****
February 4, 8pm, British Institute
(with German intertitles and English subtitles)
The film that shook film goers worldwide and changed the direction of the art form: at a local carnival in a small German town, hypnotist Dr Caligari introduces somnambulist Cesare, who can predict the future. But at night, he is useful in other ways to the evil doctor. The movie is famous for its sets and atmosphere.