Thursday, July 5, 2012

To Rome With Love

I've been going to Rome almost once a year for decades now.  I love the city and in some ways feel it is my city.  I speak the language and know my way around.  I love the wild, carefree Italian spirit, the food, the wine, la dolce vita.  The whole thing.  But this year for various reasons I couldn't get to Rome.  So yesterday we did the next best thing.  Went to see the new Woody Allen film - To Rome With Love.  I've never really written about a film per se, but this one really touched me and it is about a city that I love as well.

I can't say that I'm a great armchair traveler.  On the other hand sometimes just getting out of the house is enough and we did that yesterday.  We headed on to the hot, mean New York streets.  Almost no one was out.  The shops were closed.  But somehow the minute we arrived at the bus stop a bus pulled up.  My husband jokes and says that I have some kind of weird public transportation karma (trains and buses arrive when I want them to).  But the truth is yesterday it felt like that moment in Midnight in Paris when the car, filled with F.Scott and Zelda pulls up.

Our bus, however, was filled with the usual plethora of tired New Yorkers, mostly in shorts, wearing ts and Yankee caps and once Hispanic woman, clutching a Carvel ice cream cake.  We got out at our stop.  We were early but I was nervous that the BAM Rose - the cinema nearest our house - wasn't open.  But it was.

We walked into the cool lobby and began debating which film to see.  A thriller by Wes Anderson or the Woody Allen.  Oh Woody.  I've been tired of him for a while.  Didn't like that Barcelona film though we loved Midnight in Paris (and it stands as my cousin's all-time favorite film).  We bought our tickets and waited in the lobby, then went outside to call our daughter.  But soon the spectators began streaming out and, within minutes, Larry and I recognized a couple of friends - two groups in fact.  We went up to say hi and all said they thought the Woody Allen so so.  Mixed reviews.

We debated.  We wanted to see something we'd like.  On the other hand we were going to see the Woody Allen sometime so why not today.  From the first shot of the policeman directing traffic in Piazza Italia I knew I was going to love this movie.  As Woody Allen begins to spin his outrageous yarns of love, betrayal, fame and humility, I immediately understood that this wasn't only Woody's love song to the Eternal City.  It was his tribute to Italian cinema.   His hat tipping to mainly Fellini.  Anyone who's walked the Via Venato and seen La Dolce Vita will understand that Allen is allowing his influence and appreciation to be right out there on the screen.                                    

But also I felt that there was a more personal.  Without giving anything away (no spoilers here) let's just say that I think Allen is also talking about the relationship between true art (where there are no judgments) and celebrity and the false sense of importance it gives to us.  Clearly Allen knows both in his life and he is trying to show us, and do, something here that is pure.  I think he succeeds.

It was the 4th of July and, as we streamed out of the theater, fireworks could be heard going off around the city.  Some of our favorite restaurants were closed so we took pot luck.  A place called Walters.  Dekalb and maybe S. Oxford?  Best fried chicken ever.  A nice cab driver took us home.   

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