Imagine spending 20k on a trip to Europe and not even having a good time.  That would be a bummer.  So why not keep the stakes low this month and just see some foreign films?  The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is at Palace Cinemas September 17 to October 12. You can make the experience more complete by adding culturally appropriate foods.  I watched Those Happy Years with an espresso and a mandarin (loving my inner European sick). 

In Those Happy Years, filmmaker Daniele Luchetti tells the story of his childhood and his parents’ turbulent relationship partly through the eyes of a child and partly from an adult’s perspective filling in the blanks.  Set in 1970’s Rome and Milan, flared floral jumpsuits are everywhere, but it is an understated Italian take on 70s style and Luchetti uses film for this project enhancing the vintage look and feel.  Furniture and artwork from the Italian Radical design era feature positively, adding excitement – also there are lots of nudes (for the sake of art). Sometimes I have to tell my partner this to get him to see a foreign film with me, so just putting it out there.  This film is an entertaining relationship drama and a visual and cultural snapshot of an exciting time and place.

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Apparently, I Can Quit Whenever I Want is a cult hit in Italy Breaking Bad style and I can see why.  Pietro has no idea how to tell his girlfriend he has lost his research job.  She is already nagging him day and night about money and their mounting bills in the post GFC climate.  A chance run-in with overpriced smart drugs in a club turns Pietro and his gang (fellow researchers and professors forced to work menial cash jobs after the crash) into drug dealers. The bonus of watching a ridiculously funny film with subtitles is that you can laugh as much as you want and you don’t have to worry about missing anything.  I can read and laugh at the same time it turns out.

The Queer Peninsula crowd will adore Darker than Midnight.  It’s a coming of age story about a 14-year-old runaway who finds refuge with a group of homeless gay and trans-gender prostitutes.   Based on the true story of successful drag queen, Davida Cordova who rose to fame after a tough life on the streets of Sicily, it is raw and edgy but inclusive.

The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is held across all Palace Cinemas Wednesday, September 17 to Sunday, October 12.  For the full program and session times head to www.italianfilmfestival.com.au. We have five double passes to give away to the first people to contact us on our PEARL Facebook page.

Penny Ivison writes monthly for PEARL on film & TV. If there’s anything you’d like to let Penny know about that’s happening in the Bayside or Peninsula area in 2014, you can find her on twitter on @pipsicedtea or email her at whattowatch@pearlmag.com.au.

PENNY IVISON