Monday, November 29, 2010

Fontana dell'Orso on via di Monte Brianzo

Fontanella dell'Orso © Deborah Swain
I first spotted this tiny drinking fountain from the window of the 492 bus, which passes directly by it, just below the Lungotevere near piazza Ponte Umberto on via di Monte Brianzo. I was intrigued and went to take a closer look on foot one day and thought it would make another interesting item for our Discover Rome section.

Unfortunately, this early 20th century fountain by is somewhat neglected nowadays – its elegant travertine basin is chipped, its pedestal is often covered by unswept litter or leaves and it has to compete for attention with faded election campaign posters that plaster the nearby walls. This is a real pity. Whilst this bronze head of a bear spouting pure drinking water from its mouth - carried by the Acqua Vergine aqueduct - may not be a star attraction in a city that boasts some of the finest sculptural fountains in the world, it is still a charming reminder of the history of its immediate surroundings.

Situated in the old Rione V Ponte, the use of a bear – orso in Italian – may well have been a nod towards the local Orsini family, not to mention one of Rome's most famous inns, the fifteenth century "Locanda dell'Orso" (known as "Hostaria dell'Orso" today) which is just yards away at the end of none other than via dell'Orso.

The fountain was constructed by the Comune of Rome as indicated by the SPQR coat of arms above the fountain, although the sculptor who created the bear would seem to be unknown.

Definitely worth a short detour if you find yourself in the old Rione Ponte V district!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Julianne Moore receives the Marc'Aurelio Acting Award at the 2010 International Rome Film Festival

Julianne Moore on the red carpet
Following in the footsteps of previous winners Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, Al Pacino and last year's recipient Meryl Streep, the 2010 Marc'Aurelio lifetime achievement acting award at the International Rome Film Festival was presented to one of my absolute favourite actresses, the always brilliant and dazzlingly beautiful Julianne Moore. Arriving for the Italian premiere of the film The Kids Are All Right in Santa Cecilia at the Auditorium Parco della Musica yesterday evening, where she would also collect the prize from the Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, she first stopped to chat, pose for photographs and sign dozens of autographs for the numerous fans who had started lining the red carpet route a good hour before her arrival.

The timing could not have been better for this particular event. Earlier in the day Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had managed, once again, to create worldwide outrage after his homophobic comments during a discussion about his latest scandal. Defending his own behaviour, he stated: It is better to like beautiful girls than be gay. In The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, Moore and Annette Bening play a lesbian couple who are parents of two children, and whose relationship is challenged by the arrival of their kids' biological father, played by the excellent Mark Ruffalo. It was inevitable, therefore, that she would be asked to comment on Berlusconi's words at the film press conference earlier in the day. I think it's unfortunate, archaic and idiotic, she said, and underling the message that the movie illustrates so well: What children need is two loving parents. It doesn't matter if they are two moms, or two dads, or a mom and a dad.

It was immensely pleasing to hear the loud applause and cheers of appreciation as the titles rolled at the end of The Kids Are All Right in Santa Cecilia last night. The film is, dare I say it, perfect – brilliantly written, wonderfully paced and with finely nuanced performances by every single cast member. Here's hoping that this funny and at times deeply moving study of modern relationships will be a huge success in Italy too, where it may well have the power to seriously enlighten and educate the movie-going public.

Watch a video of Julianne Moore on the red carpet and her acceptance of the Marc'Aurelio award below or click here to watch on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bruce Springsteen Rocks the International Rome Film Festival!

Bruce Springsteen, Thom Zimny, Jon Landau and Mario Sesti
When I arrived at the Auditorium Parco della Musica yesterday afternoon to see the Italian premi̬re of the immensely enjoyable The People vs George Lucas, Alexandre O. Philippe's passionate nerd's eye view investigation of the cultural impact of Star Wars, crowds of die-hard Bruce Springsteen fans had already bagged their places three hours early along the red carpet, in preparation for the chance to see The Boss up close. The torrential rain that had lashed Rome and most of Italy yesterday was no deterrent Рby the time I came out of the Philippe film the red carpet route was swamped and the atmosphere outside the entrance to Sala Sinopoli was electric. I wasn't overly concerned about battling through the crowds outside, because I knew I was one of the lucky ones to have a ticket for the main event Рthe European premi̬re of Thom Zimny's documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, which would be followed by an encounter with not only Zimny, but also record producer Jon Landau and the man himself, authentic living rock legend Bruce Springsteen!

Amazingly, the rain eased off long enough for Bruce to walk the sodden red carpet, greeting fans, shaking hands and signing autographs, before posing for the press photo call in the cavea. At this point nothing short of pandemonium had broken out in the foyer and I assumed he would be taken around to some secret stage entrance. Instead, to stadium chants of Bruce Bruce Bruce, the star just dove straight into the crowds and came in through the front doors – protected by bouncers who had their work cut out to shield him from what could easily have become a rugby scrum with Bruce at the bottom of the heap!

Once inside, the organisers made the wise choice of running the film right away, after the briefest of introductions by Mario Sesti and Thom Zimny – with the promise that there would be a pleasant surprise for us all at the end of the film! The documentary itself is fabulous – made up of never-before-seen studio footage from the recording of Springsteen's fourth album Darkness on the Edge of Town, inter-cut with contemporary interviews with the singer and the members of the E Street Band, it's an extraordinarily intimate look at the creative process of an artist at the very height of his creative powers. The film was received with cheers of unanimous approval and moments of spontaneous applause and audience participation throughout – the atmosphere was more akin to that of a rock concert, not a film criticism salon and when eventually Springsteen appeared, Sala Sinopoli erupted into cheers and chants with a stampede towards the stage!

Luckily, things did eventually calm down enough for the discussion about the documentary to begin and the rare opportunity for us to hear Bruce Springsteen talk about making his music. One of the things that comes across most strongly about the man from the film is his total commitment to his personal ideals and the utterly uncompromising way he approached the creation of the album, cutting a staggering 60 or 70 tracks and honing them down to the final 10 songs. What is most rewarding about Springsteen, perhaps, is that he is a man who has never, ever disappointed his fans – he has never sold out, as it were, and is still, at heart, that young idealist. As Sesti rightly commented, in the 1978 footage he has a face made for cinema with the charisma of a young Al Pacino or Paul Newman. Seeing him so close on stage last night it was hard to believe that he turned 61 a month ago, such was the energy that he still exudes.

The most wonderful thing, of course, is that all this footage still exists, as do the “out-takes” from those recording sessions, which will soon be released together with the documentary as a double CD The Promise, or a Deluxe 6 Disc set The Promise:The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story, together with a facsimile edition of Springsteen's copiously filled song writing notebook, which features so heavily in the documentary. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! The singer did say he hadn't realised that his notebook would be published until it was far too late to refuse permission and joked that it is also filled with “some really bad writing” as well!

To get a taste of what happened in Sala Sinopoli yesterday and hear Bruce talk about his song writing techniques, during this fantastic, once in a lifetime experience, watch the video montage below or click here to watch on YouTube.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bollywood comes to Rome! Shah Rukh Khan at the International Rome Film Festival 2010

Shah Rukh Khan at Rome Film Festival 2010
If Saturday was a celebration of Italian cinema with a star-studded premiere for the restored edition of Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, with director Martin Scorsese in attendance, and Anita Ekberg, whose dip in the Trevi fountain during the movie is legendary, taking a turn up the red carpet, the big event on Sunday was the arrival of Shah Rukh Khan, the undisputed king of Bollywood! Crowds started gathering early along the red carpet, with a large contingent of the capital's Indian community there to greet “SRK”. When his car pulled up at the Auditorium Parco della Musica he was the first star of this edition to be greeted by screaming fans and crowds chanting his name – he didn't disappoint them, stopping to shake hands, pose for photographs and sign autographs along the Rome Film Festival's famously long red carpet. The organisers certainly laid on the VIP treatment too, with dancers in Indian costume lining the route and accompanying him during the photo call in the cavea.

Shah Rukh Khan was at the festival as part of the Special Events section to promote the Italian premiere of what has become the most successful Bollywood export of all time - My Name Is Khan. Prior to the screening there was an encounter with the man himself on stage in Sala Petrassi, where he participated in a relaxed question and answer session. Named by Newsweek in 2008 as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world, in person the beautifully eloquent Shah Rukh Khan comes across as surprisingly humble and enormously grateful for the successes and opportunities that have come his way. Asked about coping with life as a huge superstar he even joked that he was just a little schizophrenic and said he imagined that there were really two SRKs – the big Bollywood star called Shah Rukh Khan and another one, who is just an employee busy working for him! When he spoke about the pain of losing his parents so young and being afraid he could never love anybody as much again, only to discover the new love he now has for his own two children, his candour was disarming. Surely, the secret to Khan's popularity, is not only his undeniably charismatic presence, but a generosity of spirit and the sense one gets that he is genuinely a nice guy.

Facing a far more challenging role in My Name is Khan, than the usual romantic leading men for which he is known, Khan plays a person suffering from Asperger's syndrome and impresses with a wonderfully modulated performance, supported by a dazzling co-star, Kajol. Comparisons to Forrest Gump and other Hollywood films that have looked at autism are perhaps inevitable, but should quickly be put aside. My Name is Khan has a particular resonance in this new age – the film suggests at one point, that there are now three ages in the western world: BC, AD and 9/11 – and its message of tolerance and love is so utterly free of cynicism, that it succeeds brilliantly. As the titles rolled at the end of the film there was an extremely warm reaction from the audience and protracted applause. Put prejudice aside and go watch this heart-warming movie!

To get a taste of the event watch the video of Shah Rukh Khan in Rome below (or click here to watch on YouTube).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...