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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturno Contro

I recently saw the movie, Saturno Contro (IBS or Amazon), by the director Ferzan Ozpetek, which came out in 2006 and was recently released in the American market by Strand Releasing. This is a wonderfully directed and beautifully shot film about the lives of friends who suffer an immense tragedy when one of their friends, Luca, suffers a hemorrage, falls into a coma, and ultimately passes away. Throughout all of this, each of the friends suffers further setbacks as each comes to terms with losing such a dear friend while, at the same time, dealing with their own personal problems - from infidelity, to coping with loss, to realizing that the last words you had with your departed friend were bad ones...

I dare not say more as not to ruin the story or the nuances of the film, but, this is, by far one of the best films of this director and one of the best films that I have ever seen. This is also a great film with which to practice your Italian. The language spoken is quite approachable -- intermediate students and above will get a great "workout" with this film. Even as a beginner, perhaps with the help of subtitles, you can enjoy and improve your Italian by watching this film. Watching films is one of the best ways to improve your Italian and better your listening comprehension -- and with movies, if you get stuck or think that you're missing something, you can turn on the subtitles and sort of check your understanding.

Even the music of the film is quite luscious with songs by Neffa and Carmen Consoli. Check out the soundtrack here -- IBS or Amazon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

La Storia Siamo Noi

If you're interested in recent Italian history, check out La Storia Siamo Noi on Rai Education's web site. This web site features many videos of shows that have aired on television. Many of the episodes that you can view on TV feature additional articles that often accompany the video episode. Sometimes the video doesn't play on cue and can require a bit of patience, and the videos are best to watch with a high speed connection to ensure continuity.

The episodes can be anything from events in Italian history to events that have had an impact on Italian society and Italian history as well as important international events, such as the Cold War, the Kennedy/Nixon debate among others.

The episodes are fun and challenging, and you might find at times that they are hard to follow, especially with those speakers who talk extremely fast or with accents/dialects that might be difficult to comprehend. This diversity and its the range of accents and the range of people interviewed should certainly provide a good workout for your listening skills not to mention learning more about the icons and figures of Italian history and culture.

Some episodes to consider:
  • Corrado...e basta - learn about this important television personality and presenter, an icon in Italian culture and the history of television
  • Il Massacro del Circeo - learn about the killing of the Italian writer and director, Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • The Great Debate - get an Italian perspective on the Nixon/Kennedy debates
Watch the videos on their web site or through RaiClick.

And a thank you to my friend Adriano for putting me onto this awesome site!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Spot 80

You might laugh when I say this, but listening to and watching Italian TV commercials can be an interesting (and often humorous) way to improve your Italian. The great thing about Italian TV commercials is:
  1. They're short - no listening for hours and getting frustrated.
  2. They don't require a huge amount of your attention span and can make learning more compact.
Check out this site, Spot 80 -- a collection of Italian TV commercials from the late 70's to early 90's. Lo spot or a television ad can really add some fun and humor to your Italian learning. Some of them are even considered iconic among Italians (such as the ones embedded below!). Explore the site and try to listen to the commercials to see what products are being pushed, how they are being advertised, and try to see if you can understand what is being said.