The Star Maker (1995) Poster

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The movie scout
jotix10019 February 2006
Joe Morelli is a scam artist that loves to prey on innocent people in the poorer regions of Italy. As we meet him, he is trying to swindle whoever he can from the impoverished Sicilians that happen to live in those forgotten towns. The movie is set after WWII in a ruined Italy that hasn't come out of its defeat and most of the population is having a hard time eking a life, mainly from the land.

Morelli, pretending to be a scout for a big Rome studio is seen traveling the back ways of Sicily with his small van that opens up to a mini studio where the unsuspecting people of those towns flock for a screen test that no one will ever see. For the price of 1,500 lire they get a chance to act for the con man and his camera, hoping they will be the next discovery, once the film is seen by the big casting directors in Rome.

Giuseppe Tornatore has a love for the cinema, as he showed with "Nuovo cinema Paradiso", which chronicled, perhaps, his own childhood in a small town in Sicily. Mr. Tornatore is a director that hasn't forgotten his roots, as he demonstrates with this tale about innocent common people being duped because their love and the allure of the cinema, that dream making medium.

Sergio Castellitto, one of the best actors working today in the Italian cinema, does a wonderful job interpreting Morelli for the director. His Morelli is never mean, or nasty; in fact, one of his best qualities is the way how he bonds with his subjects. Mr. Castellitto does wonders as the man without scruples, who eventually is found by one person who he made a fool of. Also, Morelli finds in Beata, the sweet and innocent girl from a convent a love he never knew he was capable of having.

Beata, is played by Tiziana Lodato, a beautiful young actress who is the one that makes Morelli understand his guilt after he is beaten and young Beata is interned in an institution. Leopoldo Trieste is seen as the mysterious figure who comes to recite a Spanish text for his screen test. Franco Scaldatto has some good moments in the film.

This is a film that will not disappoint fans of Giuseppe Tornatore because of his vision about people love for the cinema.
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Stunning To See, And A Sad Comment
ccthemovieman-15 October 2006
This attractive Italian film featured an interesting story and some pretty women. It's a story about a man who dupes the natives (Sicilians, in this case) into thinking they could become movies stars after paying money to him to get a personal screen test. This turns out to be a pathetic comment about the unrealistic lure of fame and fortune.

This film really looks good on widescreen DVD. It is gorgeous, just beautifully filmed, and I'm not just referring to the figures on the women.

The dialog is a bit strange, at least to us over here in the States. I suppose this is considered a comedy but I saw it more as a drama. Yes, there are laughs, but it's pitiful how easily people are duped and what their values are.

I found this an entertaining movie all the way through. With the nudity, it's not for kids (hence, the "R" rating.)
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inframan8 August 1999
This movie, by the director of Cinema Paradiso, "disappointed" a lot of American movie reviewers because it lacks the sentimentality and pat structure of CP. But it's far more epic, poetic & imaginative (& much less PC) and absolutely gorgeous to watch. Ignore the puritans at the NY Times & SF Chronicle. Watch this movie. You won't be sorry.
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Nothing Can Stop Us Now, We Are All Made of Stars.
tfrizzell29 November 2003
A seemingly heartless con-man (Sergio Castellito) goes around post-World War II Sicily filming most everyone, for a price, and leads villagers to believe that he is a talent scout for a film studio. Naturally many flock to the apparently kind stranger and do what they can to escape lives of poverty and unhappiness. Castellito meets up with many vivid characters, but none more so than the beautiful Tiziana Lodato (in her first screen role). Soon the young lady is begging Castellito to take her to the land of movie-making and in the process he falls in love with her and acquires a conscience. Apparently he may change his ways and then again maybe not, but it becomes very clear that the local authorities may catch up to Castellito before the film runs its course. "The Star Maker" was a Best Foreign Language Film nominee at the Academy Awards in 1995. Co-written and directed by horribly under-rated Italian film-maker Giuseppe Tornatore (who struck Foreign Language Oscar gold in 1989 with "Cinema Paradiso", one of my all-time favorite pictures), "The Star Maker" is a flawed work because of a strange tone that makes it an uneven experience at times. Humorous situations early point the way to a free-wheeling comedy, but soon drama sneaks in and by the end the drama has literally chased the early comedic routines away. The performers come and go, but Lodato's appearance about half-way through was enough to put the movie over the top. She just shines in a film of illuminated darkness and ultimately steals the show from Castellito by the heart-breaking finale. Tornatore was able to grab everyone with "Cinema Paradiso". Regardless of whether you liked that film or not, you should have cared for the primary characters. "The Star Maker" is a little more difficult in that regard. It holds its audience at arm's length most of the time and almost never hugs as tight as it should have. The final haunting scenes are reminiscent of the emotionally-charged montage to the magic of motion pictures in "Cinema Paradiso" and thankfully by that point most everything was presented well enough to make "The Star Maker" an important and worthy addition to the Italian world of films. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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Very strong drama
MarioB17 August 1999
Master director Tornatore returns to the same subject of his wonderful Cinema Paradiso: a movie about movies. This time, at the end of the forties, a bad guy goes on the road of a very poor Italia pretending to be a scout for movie studios of Rome. But, in fact, his camera was stolen and had no tape in it. He steals money from these poor people full of dreams to become movie stars. Sometimes, they talk with their hearts with very deep emotions, but the man don't care. One day, a teenager takes very seriously her faith to be a movie star and goes with the bad man. Her love tortures the man. This is a strong statement about celebrity, dreams and poverty. Sergio Castellito, one of the best actors of Italy, gives a very strong performance, so is the charming young Lodato (Gee! Isn't she beautiful?) This movie is one of the best of the risky genre of movies about movies. For me, it's the third best of the kind, after Woody Allen Purple Rose of Cairo, and, of course, Cinema Paradiso. See this movie! It's a very moving intelligent piece of European savoir faire.
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Beautiful, original--an engaging work of art
DeeNine-222 January 2008
Joe Morelli (Sergio Castellitto) is a flimflam man who is driving around the rural villages of Sicily shortly after World War II selling potential stardom for fifteen hundred lira. He has a motion picture camera and loudspeaker on his truck. As he drives through the villages he broadcasts to the people that he is from the film industry of Roma and he is giving screen tests in order to discover natural talent.

He sets up his truck and tent typically in the town square. His technique is to tell everyone that they have a wonderful face, hidden talent, that they are naturals and diamonds in the rough. He hands out fliers with some dialogue from "Gone with the Wind" on them that they should practice reading before appearing before his camera. He has discovered that people will fall for his flattery and pay him for the fake screen tests.

As we watch the film we discover that people will put their hearts and souls into the experience of appearing before his camera. They don't just read the lines from Gone with the Wind. They tell their life stories in miniature. They bare their hearts and souls to the flimflam man in the hope that someone will hear and see their anguish, their pain, their experience. To Morelli, who has been to Hollywood and failed, this is just a way to make a lira. He has a gift for the hustle and is blind to the real emotion that he evokes.

A woman believes his teenaged daughter has the talent to make it in the movies. She begs Morelli to take her to Roma. She even has sex with him and promises to allow him to be her daughter's first lover. But Morelli moves on to the next town. He is stopped by the local police chief, but Morelli manages to flatter him into appearing before his camera and then applauds the chief's performance. Three highwaymen stop to rob Morelli. He is able to convince them that Roma longs for their raw talent. And so on, as he travels over the cobblestones and over the winding roads.

Finally he meets beautiful Beata (Tiziana Lodato) who is 15 or 18. She isn't sure. She works in the convent, bathing the sick and scrubbing the floors. She exposes herself to the local tax man to raise the 1500 lira needed for Morelli's screen test. She is strikingly beautiful from head to toe, and the tax man exclaims, "You are a statue!" when he sees her body. Morelli is reluctant to get involved with someone so young even though she throws herself at him.

What happens after this I will not say since it would spoil the film for those who have not seen it. But watch for the con man to get conned, among other things. Despite his villainy, there is a sense that Morelli is a man that we can identify with and understand. I think it is this quality that director Giuseppe Tornatore has developed in his character that carries the film, and Sergio Castellitto whom I saw recently in Non ti muovere (Don't Move) (2004) really becomes the part.

Tornatore, who made a splash with the critically acclaimed Cinema Paradiso (1988) wrote the original material here and worked on the script in addition to directing. While I thought Cinema Paradiso was an excellent film, I liked this one even more. Both are original works of art, but I found L'uomo delle stelle more engaging. Particularly striking are the beautiful village scenes, the faces of the people, and the photography of the Sicilian countryside and ruins.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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The Profiles Will Linger With You
imdb-30227 March 2004
A fast-talker rolls through postwar Sicily selling the dream of movie stardom, and in the process uncovers the desires and desperation of the townspeople. Like a patent medicine salesman, he seduces them with the magic of cinema, more potent than anything from a bottle.

Be prepared for the movie to seduce you, too, with its gorgeously chiseled Sicilian landscapes and faces viewed through the soul-baring lens. It gives a good view of the toughness of Sicily, and every frame has a visual richness typical of Italy itself. If you listen hard, you can make out the Sicilian accent -- even if you don't speak Italian. You'll be able to predict some of what happens, but not all, and the characters and their profiles will linger with you longer than you might expect.
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The Island of Dr. Morelli
paul2001sw-12 October 2005
In Guiseppe Tornatore's 'The Starmaker', Dr. Morelli travels around post-war Sicily offering to turn people into movie stars. He is, of course, a con-man, but in giving the people a space to vent their dreams, he actually performs a kind of public service. It's a nice idea, and there are some charming details in the film, but as a whole, this movie is somewhat contrived and it runs of the risk of representing the Sicilian peasantry as little more than idiots. Some of the same themes (the death of traditional but impoverished societies, the desire of their inhabitants to escape to a new life, the semi-racist superiority of money-making outsiders) are dealt with more obliquely, but also more cleverly and in a broader context, by Guilo Amelio's breathtaking 'Lamerica', another Italian film made at about the same time, which I would heartily recommend.
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This is an unusual film whose impact grows over time
peterjcolbert20 May 2001
The Star Maker tells such a simple story that I was puzzled as to why its emotional impact grew long after I had seen it. It relates a series of encounters of con man `Dottore' Joe Morelli (Sergio Castellitto) with his marks. Like all con men, he sells dreams, in this case dreams of stardom, and some of the emotional power derives from the universal appeal of this con. In part the power lies in the cinematography of contrast and illusion. The contrast of the physical beauty of Sicily with its poverty alone is sufficient to grab your attention. But the most powerful contrast is seen in the faces of the Sicilians during their screen tests. Giuseppe Tornatore magically captures the hopes and the desperations of his would-be stars as they appear before the `Dottore's' camera. They have two minutes to sell themselves and to escape their destiny of poverty and capture their life's ambitions. Then there is the hero's moral dilemma. This is an `everyman' story; `il Dottore' is another poor guy who does what he can just to get by. He grabs our sympathy by demonstrating sympathy for his marks and by making some exceptional decisions along his way. While I was watching, it appeared to be no more that a series of loosely connected tales. Soon afterwards, the complexity and the moral strengths of the tale grew on me and continue to pleasantly persist.
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very impressive!
xrellerx22 June 2001
Emotions of enthusiasm break down in sensitive portraits of poor Sicilians who reveal their inner self in two minutes they have in front of a camera. Realism all the way and yet i had to think of the enthusiasm Kusturica had in Black Cat White Cat although none of the characters are that absurd. If you see European movies like this after all the American commercial rubbish you get a glimpse of what film can give us! Good acting and writing, beautiful locations, a lot of strong character studies and very, very impressive camera work. Absolutely not a waste of your time!
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Good Sex
glgioia20 November 2003
I love reading the comments by the I assume female writers who took time to critique this film. All universally saying the same thing, that the sex is either superfluous or if relevant demeaning to women. Of course its demeaning to women, it was intended to be. The guy is a rat bastard, thats what the film is all about. This film takes place a long time ago in a place that still would be considered backwards. I don't understand what people expect to see, but i assume its because they are fed a steady diet of Hollywood nonsense and have been for so long, that anything that isn't the false matriarchal utopia Hollywood longs for as a reality in life, upsets them greatly. Get over it already please. This film isn't any sort of great achievement, but it is sucessful in portraying rather accuratly conditions in post war Italy. Womens attitudes in Europe differ greatly than that of their American counterparts, and probably always will. They are as equally mystified by the total desexualization of our modern American society, as we are by their willingness to openly confront issues we deem taboo.
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Long on beauty, short on story.
=G=2 May 2003
"Cinema Paradiso" director Tornatore cranked out this Oscar nominated film, "The Star Maker", which tells of a traveling talent scout who buoys the hopes and dreams of the simple people of rural post-WWII Sicily with screen tests and promises of making it in the movies. Although there's little arc to the story of the vicissitudes of wandering con man Sergio (Morelli), there's is much beauty in the picturesque Sicilian countryside and the olive visages of the many would-be stars who tell their stories to Sergio's empty camera. Diffuse in plot and unhappily ended, the film will captivate those into earthy Italian style films while evoking little more than yawns for less refined audiences. (B+)

Note - There are strong parallels between this film's protagonist Sergio and Prof. Harold Hill from "The Music Man" though they are probably coincidental.
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admetus22 September 1999
Tornatore did to me with this movie what he failed to do with "Cinema Paradiso". I used to blame myself for being insensitive comparing to people's reactions after "Cinema Paradiso" but now after this movie I know that it's not me, but the "virgin" audience in good movies that overreacted.

The Starmaker is simply Perfect. The Mute's scene deserved an Oscar by itself. As a mater of fact every scene in the movie was so cinematographic that could have been easily a short movie by itself. As for the New York Times comments on the movie...... what do you expect by critiques who hailed "Shakespeare In Love". People have to understand that the old critiques of NYT that actually knew more than we do about movies are not around anymore! 11out of 10
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Art, Beauty, Myths
Chivo2 October 2001
This film should be taught in Film Schools worldwide. The characters are richly drawn and multi-dimensional, and they evolve onscreen. The actors are so imbued with their characters that you become completely absorbed in their stories. This film is a beautiful study of the power films have on our lives. Heartbreaking, intense, beautiful.
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Not to miss
kiranarth19 May 2019
The Star Maker: Whenever I watch this movie I feel deeply hurt and some thing has been lost. Relationship between Beata and Joe always introduces the new angles of humanitarian involvements every time. A real satire on deceitful behavior and broken dreams. Giuseppe Tornatore tears you apart like Malena and Cinema Paradiso. A must see movie.
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A Masterpiece Out Of Love To The Cinema
ptsj-music20 May 2018
Another masterpiece from the creator of Cinema Paradiso, one of the greatest films ever made. The Star Maker isn't really any less fabulous either, but with just a different angle to the old cinema based on a deep love for classic film making. A fantastic person gallery and a catching of scenery that some Italian film makers seem to be true masters of, and Giuseppe Tornatore is one of the very best. Story telling and creation of characters is simply brilliant. Speaking of casting - Marco Guidone has done a fantastic job both with actors and extras. With Tornatore's amazing direction one forgets that they're all actors, but just normal and extra ordinary personalities. And again, Ennio Morricone's music binds it all together to perfection. I'm deeply humble. This is great art.
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Does Morreli really deceives people?
khoshi-887 April 2012
This movie is about the cinema and the excitement it makes between people. Like many other Juiseppe Tornatore's movie, this deeply delighting movie is comprised of simplicity, drama, and comedy. Cinema looks like life and keeps people away from their loneliness; people search their hopes and wishes in the screen. It is the secret of cinema and its eternity which allures people to lay themselves bare in front of the Joe Morelli's camera. They don't want to be star, they just want to be themselves and the camera makes them to be seen. In front of the camera, they are more honest than any other time in their lives; the Young speak about their wishes and dreams and the older people tell story about their past and memories. But if really Joe Morelli deceives them or not; the behavior of people toward him, after he's released from prison, shows they are not really mad at him as if People know that he gave them what they enthusiastically wanted. The growing emotional relation between Morelli and Beata are not as strong as it is supposed to be and it is the weak of the movie. It might be due to Tornatore tries to bold the funny part of the movie rather than the drama.
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Bittersweet, sad and enduring - Uomo delle stelle, L' (1995)
mvalspeed22 January 2007
Although the movie falls into the type of drama that one associates with Italian film, this gem lingers on the mind after having seen it. The after images, remind you of your own misgivings and desires. The main character, who is out to survive post-WWII, takes advantage of his victims, who reveal themselves in ways that are comedic to engrossing. The beauty of the setting, Sicily, serves to increase the contrast from the people who are conspired against, yet willingly give their money for a shot at greatness, but more to escape the doldrums of life, and the monotony of struggle. This is one of those films that needs to be watched, or at least added to the movie list of those that have to be watched. I think you'll enjoy it because of the simplicity of the story, the love, and the revenge.
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Tornatore Does It Again
robintheusa20012 January 2002
This is such a wonderful film. I saw it originally about 2 years ago when I was living in England on cable, and back then I thought it was quite good, but this time round I enjoyed it even more. From the same director that bought us the Oscar winning Cinema Paradiso, The Star Maker is a story of a con man that travels around Sicily giving false hope to everyday folk telling them they could be the next big star of the movies for a small screen test fee. I won't bother saying any more on what it is about as I highly recommend you rent or buy this movie. Many critics say that Cinema Paradiso is the better film but I disagree. This is my favourite film by Tornatore out of the three of his movies I have seen so far. "Stanno Tutti Bene" is also worth a look as well as "Cinema Paradiso" but this is more superior to both.

One of my favourite foreign films of all time...I don't know how it didn't win the Academy Award for Best Foreign film. Rating - 9/10.
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read this only if you don't mind a spoiler
RaquelitaP6 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with most that this film is well made and sends a message about compassion and trust. Though I had a lot of problems with the sex scenes in the film. About 30 minutes into the film, the main character has sex with a woman as payment because she cannot afford the 1,500 lira payment for her daughter's screen test. He uses degrading words and commands. This scene made me feel extremely uncomfortable because it was made in such a demeaning fashion. Throughout the rest of the film I was hoping that that scene would be it however there was more. In another scene, he hits the woman that is falling in love with him and he then takes her virginity away. I feel that while the film is trying to set up a certain persona for this character, these scenes were not necesary and only contributes to the perpetuation that for men to feel in control they must treat women as animals.
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A fantastic cinematography and sometimes funny but it dosen´t have so much to say!!!!!
anton-620 October 2001
It´s both sad and funny.The film has some really good poetic sides but as a film it doesn´t have so very much to say.It´s a touching and sometimes funny film with a fantastic cinematography.Good but nothing to remember.3/5
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Journey into sicily 1950's
camel-91 October 1999
After the sicilian-themed "Cinema Paradiso" and "Stanno Tutti Bene", Giuseppe Tornatore returns with another motion picture heaviliy imbued into sicilian themes and modern history. The vehicle he uses expose the audience of what Sicily is, is by showing the daily travails of an intinerant quack who claims to be a movie talent scout that collects fees from the gullible audience for the expenses of the film trials and proofs. This ploy reminds Fellini's "Il Bidone", in which a populace of northern Italy of the 1950's is shown through the experiences of a group of four swindlers. In front of the camera, the individuals recite stories that are spontaneous to them. It may be a family story. It may be something they memorized. And sometimes it is something that in normal circumstances they would never reveal, but here, in front of a camera and a chance to be seen by the Rossellinis and the De Sicas of Rome, in just two minutes of trial length, they literally confess their lifetime secrets and beings to the screening record. All sorts of characters are displayed: Male and Female, Young and Old, Straight and Gay, Talkers and Mutes, Carabiniere and Brigand, Humble and Cocky. The Man from Rome, after listening to days and days from his "clients", he concludes that the sicilian populace is an ignorant one, something that is echoed by the doctor to whom he gives a lift with his truck to a rural site where a farmer was dying. The scene of the doctor arriving in a hopeless medical situation is reminiscent of "Cristo Si e' Fermato a Eboli". Interestingly enough, in that film, the main character *is* a doctor, who is advised by the Priest "not to waste time with these ignorant people". Interesting parallels between these two films. Moving from town to town with his beat-up truck, transporting his wares, setting up a makeshift tent in public squares, announcing his arrival through loudspeakers, and collecting money from the audience, we see Sicily. And just like Zampano' in "La Strada" by Fellini, he teams up with a woman that ends up in a mental institution. We see all the sicilian characters: the Carabiniere may be like one in "Giorno della Civetta"; the Brigand may be like one in "Salvatore Giuliano", the Dongiovanni may be like one in "I Basilischi", and the indoor cafe crowds may be like the ones seen in "L'Avventura". Sicily is a state of mind. So many motion pictures have tried to portray it.

While the stories in "Salvatore Giuliano", "I Basilischi", and "L'Avventura" were current to when these motion pictures were made (early sixties), more recently made motion pictures about Sicily retroactively show a "how it once was" attitute by showing a nostalgic remembrance of the populace and their lifestyles. "Kaos" (1984) by the Taviani brothers shows an antiquated Sicily, contrasted with their more current "Uomo da Bruciare" (1962). "Cinema Paradiso" is also a retrospective of since-gone lifestyles and relationships. And this nostalgic attitude on the past, as if the old days were better, is a trademark of Giuseppe Tornatore, exemplified in "Stanno Tutti Bene" in which a father is deceived by his children on their professional career status. Even in "Cinema Paradiso" we get the impression that movie-going was better in the old days. The modern age and machine age brought us a detachment from each other. In rural societies, people are used to talk to each other. So are craftmen working in small apprentice shops. But in this modern age, telephone operators working in cubicles are not allowed to socialize ("Stanno Tutti Bene"). And out of loneliness, one can even die ("Stanno Tutti Bene"). So the old days of the rural south were better because people socialized. And our itinerant equivalent of Zampano' is here to show us, the audience, who his audience is, this populace of 1950s Sicily is. This motion picture shows great outdoor scenery of stone towns in Sicily. Great street scapes. Great town squares. Great ambience of small crowds in piazzas, and indoor inside bars and cafes. There are also some beautiful detailed scenes shot in architecturaly-interesting spaces, indoors and outdoors. The camera is moved around to show the dynamism of people moving about in a hill town. Historically accurate, there are outdoor scenes showing political party flags and posters of the Democrazia Cristiana of the 1950's and the Comunist Party congregations in the countryside attempting to regain farmland (seen intensively in "Uomo da Bruciare"). But that is all I would reccomend seeing the movie for. Otherwise, I found the story weak, and the portrail of the characters silly, simplistic, and stupid. While in "I Basilischi" the characters are funny but intelligent, here we encounter people that we must assume are idiotic. The brigand, for example, is no Salvatore Giuliano. Even the kid that is asked to simulate orgasm is portrayed in a silly manner. With a large budget on filming a story about Sicily, I think here there was a wasted opportunity to make a potentially good movie, but lost its chance in silly portrail of its characters.
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Lots of characters, no plot
CaptionsGirl10 December 2002
An Italian con man goes around all of Sicily, tricking people out of their money for a chance at stardom. I know from experience, this is something that happens every day. The main character is unsympathetic, and has very little depth until the end. The characters who confess their sins, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, in front of the camera are interesting, often emotional. However, the plot is missing, or at least weak.

Also, the view of women portrayed in this movie is sexist, and I'm sorry to say, one that is common in Italy and Italian cinema that I've seen. Women are either virgins or whores. The "daughter of the Virgin Mary" shows herself to men for money, and says it's for love when she offers to give sexual favors to the main character. Another woman who gives payment with sex instead of money is treated degradingly. None of the sex in this movie is about love, it's all about giving sex to the main character to get something in return.

I see some links to Cinema Paradiso, but overall, I can't believe this is by the same filmmaker.
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A wonderful movie that reminds you of Fellini
thekines10 June 2007
Tornatore weaves a beautiful script following the path of Joe Morelli, who travels through Sicily claiming he is a talent scout for the famous film companies of Rome. The scenery is exquisite and the stories the people divulge in his film are heart-wrenching and sincere, making the tale all the more easy to believe. In retrospect the movie closely mirrors the filmography of Fellini (think "La Strada") and becomes slightly predictable as a result, but given that Tornatore himself is Sicilian this film might be more autobiographical than one might suppose.

A great film nonetheless, and strongly recommended. Pity the producers botched the movie cover/jacket. It betrays nothing about the sincerity and seriousness in the film, though you might well say it's more like a tragecomedy in some places.
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Another excellent movie by Tornatore
orbanei28 April 2002
Magical, simple and funny and sad. Tornatore can do pretty much everything he wants with a movie. SO far all the movies I have seen directed by him are simply excellent. When watching the movie I will pay close attention to the long acts and way the camera moves. What a perception and style of directing!!
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