Movie spotlight: 'Cinema Paradiso,' 'Life is Beautiful'

  • by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2013 - 2:32 PM

As part of an ongoing series of themed double features, the Parkway Theater this week offers two Oscar-winning classics of recent Italian cinema (a bold choice for a theater connected to Pepito’s Mexican restaurant). “Cinema Paradiso,” 1988’s best foreign film, is an unabashedly sentimental celebration of the way movies overwhelm our senses and emotions. Philippe Noiret plays the projectionist of the titular village moviehouse, a cross between a house of worship and a decrepit neighborhood bijou. He’s a father figure to an impressionable young film fan charmingly played by Salvatore Cascio. With a sweepingly romantic score from Ennio Morricone and clips from renowned classics, it’s a movie lover’s feast. Roberto Begnini, one of Italy’s most acclaimed comic filmmakers, had his greatest success with the tragicomedy “Life is Beautiful.” Begnini invites us to laugh in the face of evil as Guido, a Jew imprisoned in a fascist prison camp with his little boy. To protect his child’s innocence, Guido weaves an elaborate story of make-believe about the barracks, the uniforms and the guards. The film was 1999’s foreign language Oscar winner; Begnini won best actor. Upcoming Parkway double-bills pair “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” (June 28-July 4); “The Big Lebowski” with Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” (July 5-11); “Silence of the Lambs” and “No Country for Old Men” (July 12-18); and“Mad Max” and “The Warriors” (July 19-25). ($5 individual admission, $7.50 for double feature. Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Av. S., Minneapolis. www.parkwaytheater.com).

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