April 28, 2017 | Rome, Italy | Light rain shower 18°C
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Biopics

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson''s return to directing is a World War II epic about a heroic conscientious objector.

Anthropod

Sean Ellis' attempt to recreate the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is smart but choppy.

Christine

Antonio Campos' take on the Christine Chubbock suicide is all about the stunning Rebecca Hall.

Drama

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Macon Blair channels his inner Coen Brothers vibe to sketch out a screwball noir.

Equity

Meera Menon's Wall Street thriller breaks gender stereotypes, with Anna Gunn shining bright.

Horror

Green Room

A punk band "lost" in the Oregon woods opens the door to gleefully gratuitous violence. The end.

Train to Busan

Say this about Yeon Sang-ho's seemingly infinite collection of zombies: they keep on coming.

The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn's acid trip excoriation of the modeling industry is a sexual muddle.

Thrillers

The Shallows

Blake Lively and a "Jaws"-inspired shark are all the fun in this taught thriller.

Fantasy

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos's wondrously bizarre love parable creates a credible alternate universe.




Date: 1991
Directed by: Marco Risi
Starring: Corso Salani, Angela Finocchiaro, Antonello Fassari

Il Muro di Gomma (The Rubber Wall)

Early 1990s Italy answered in part to the Mani Pulite ("Clean Hands") bribery and embezzlement probe that ultimately destroyed both the country's Christian Democratic and Socialist parties. At the time, political moviemaking had pulse. Director Marco Risi (son of Dino Risi) did his crusading part by fictionalizing journalist Andrea Purgatori's efforts to get to the truth behind the infamous Ustica crash.

In June 1980, a DC-9 headed from Bologna to Palermo disintegrated inexplicably over the Sicilian island of Ustica. Writing in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, Purgatori alleged that errant NATO fire had brought down the plane. Air force and political officials stonewalled demands to make air controller tapes of the plane's disappearance a matter of public record.

In Risi's fictionalized behind-the-headlines story, Purgatori is a journalist named Rocco Ferrante (Corso Salani), who works for years to get to the heart of the matter but time and again is denied information and answers. He turns obsessed and near-paranoid, with fellow journalists questioning his stability. His reporting ultimately leads to a criminal hearing that suggests a cover-up but lacks the details to prove it. At the end, in driving rain, Ferrante dresses down an Italian air force general he's convinced has lied under oath to magistrates.

The narrative is no-frills chilling and very Italian, particularly since the mystery remains unsolved three decades later. "The rubber wall" of the film's title is the one around Italian state secrets, covered by an official code of silence in the way Mafia crimes are protected by so-called omertà. Though four Italian air force generals were ultimately charged with falsifying documents, perjury and abuse of office, two were acquitted and the other two never went to trial.

Italian filmmakers, once emboldened, no longer bother with these kind of biopics, resigned instead to the country's great unknowns.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
Day and Boarding International High School in the Heart of Rome

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