THE LIGHTER SIDE
125 minutes, Color
In Rome in 1990, La Dolce Vita isn't so sweet anymore. Soccer and TV have supplanted cinema in the public's affection, yet the old film directors are still in play, "worn out but with ironclad contracts," including the revered Fellini. Enter three fresh young faces, finalists for a screenwriting contest, each naive in a different way: Sicilian art nerd Antonino; Tuscan working-class lothario Luciano; and pill-popping, lonely heiress Eugenia. After a night on the town with a famous producer who winds up dead, the three find themselves in front of a realist (if not neorealist) carabinieri captain on possible murder charges. For aficionados of Italian cinema, this breakneck comedy offers an impossibly head-spinning array of references; cinephilia itself is on the satiric chopping block. To appreciate the cleverness and wistfulness of Magical Nights you need only know that in comedy as in soccer, it's all about the penalty kick. —Judy Bloch
In Italian with English subtitles
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