February Films in English Showing in Florence

Reneé Zellweger as Judy

February looks like an excellent month for film lovers in Florence.  In the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, all this month’s films have been recipients of awards and are nominated for more in the future.  The offerings begin with a gripping story about the “war to end all wars” with award winning performances in 1917.  Next the classic comedy satire Doctor Strangelove with the brilliant Peter Sellers takes one back to the Cold War era with a BAFTA Best Film winner.  Renee’ Zellweger plays Judy Garland in Judy, a biographical drama exposing the cost of constant stress and demands of celebrity.  In Jo Jo Rabbit, director Taika Waititi tackles the subject of anti-Semitism with sensitivity and satire.  Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, depicts an actor and his stunt double in a nostalgic tribute to Hollywood’s “Golden Age.”  Finally, Little Women, based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic story, rewards the viewer with a truly heartwarming story.  Nominated for numerous Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs, the film features an all-star cast.

Sat. 1 (4, 6:30 & 9 pm), Mon. 3 (4 & 6:30 pm), Mon. 10 (9 pm), Fri. 14 (9:15 pm) & Sun. 16 (9 pm): 1917.  This film set in northern France during WWI tells a story of the brutality of war and of humanity.  Two young British soldiers, tasked with delivering a message behind enemy lines to halt an Allied attack, set out on a seemingly impossible mission.  Their commanding officer realizes the staged withdrawal of the German army is really a trap and will result in certain death for 1600 troops, including the brother of one of the young soldiers.  As Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Cpl. Shofield (George MacKay) crawl and swim through no man’s land filled with bodies and the carnage of war, the viewer is immersed into the horror of WWI.  Directed by Sam Mendes with a technological tour de force of cinematography, the film includes cameo appearances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth.  

Mon. 3 (9 pm), Tues. 4 (4 & 6:30 pm):  Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombDirector Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece of Cold War satire remains an effective work of dark comedy 55 years after filming.  The film tells the story of what could happen if the wrong person pushes the wrong button. During the height of public fears of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, the film portrays a deranged USAF general Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who orders the first nuclear strike on the Soviet Union without consulting the President, followed by attempts to recall the B52 bombers.  Peter Sellers plays three different diverse roles with genius and George C. Scott and Slim Pickens add to the stellar cast.  

Thurs. 6, Sat. 8, Sun. 9 (4, 6:30 & 9 pm), Fri. 14 & Sat. 15: (4 pm):  Judy.  A biographical drama directed by Rupert Goold portrays the last year of Judy Garland’s life when she performs in Britain.  After a successful sold out run at London’s Talk of the Town, her career begins to plummet due to substance abuse and ensuing health issues.  Renee’ Zellweger, nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress, manages to look like and sing like Garland, performing some of the star’s best-known songs.  Finn Wittrock portrays Mickey Deans, Judy’s new love interest and soon to be fifth husband.

Thurs. 13 (4 & 6:15 pm), Sat. 15 (6:30 pm):  Jo Jo Rabbit.  A shy and lonely 10-year old German boy joins the Hitler Youth during World War II and becomes fully indoctrinated with Nazi ideals.  He suddenly confronts his blind nationalism when he discovers his mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is hiding a young Jewish girl in the attic.  Director Taika Waititi skillfully tackles this provocative subject with sensitivity and satire. 

Thurs. 13 (8:45 pm):  Once Upon a Time in HollywoodQuentin Tarantino wrote and directed this comedy drama set in 1969 Los Angeles.  Leonardo di Caprio plays Rick Dalton, a former star of a 1950s western who strives to revive his fading career.  His stunt double and best friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), an eccentric war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pit bull, drives Dalton around LA due to Dalton’s excessive drinking and numerous DUIs.  When actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her husband director Roman Polanski move in next door, Dalton dreams of befriending them to restart his career, but he and Booth instead become immersed in the coming tragedy with the Manson family murders.  The film received Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Supporting Actor as well as 10 Oscar nominations.

Sunday 16 (3:45 pm):  Little Women. In this film adaptation of the coming-of-age novel, writer Jo March reflects back and forth on the lives of the March sisters.  Director Greta Gerwig presents a refreshing and realistic portrayal based on the novel set just after the US Civil War. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet and Laura Dern, Little Women promises to entertain the whole family.  (rita kungel)