Sunday, April 06, 2008
Lining up at the Majestic for the Wisconsin Film Festival showing of "My Brother Is an Only Child"
We only had a chance to cach one showing at this year's Wisconsin Film Festival. In this tenth anniversary year of the festival we went to a showing at the Majestic, the former art house that has long been one of the favorite haunts of Madison film buffs, partly because of its long history as part of the local film scene, and partly because of its amenities, which include a cool balcony and a bar that serves drinks you can take to your seat.
Sitting in the same balcony where I saw my first Fellini movies, we saw a more recent Italian import, "My Brother Is an Only Child." This 2007 film that opened recently in New York and Los Angeles isn't especially experimental or cutting edge, but it's a fascinating look at the political chaos in Italy during the sixties and seventies, represented by the conflict in a wildly disfunctional family -- between two brothers, one a Communist and the other a Fascist. It's a comic drama of sibling rivalry, told from the viewpoint of the Accio, the misfit family scapegoat with a good heart who drifts into (and eventually grows out of) a flirtation with Fascism in its postwar form. His brother, Manrico becomes a Communist who loses his bearings in the ever more radical seventies -- the family's golden boy, the ironic "only child" of the title. And, naturally, they both fall in love with the same girl. Italy, during the period covered by the film, was actually a very dark Cold war battlefield with the U.S. and Soviet Union waging war by other means through local proxies, and the film doesn't really go into the deeper history. But it's an entertaining look at the political battles of four decades ago, reflected in the emotional turmoil of one screwed up family