Film Review: Ovunque Proteggimi (Wherever You Are)

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I had been planning on attending the Santa Barbara Film Festival, then work got busy and I only knew about which films were going to be screening at times the same day that they were screening so trying to take time off at the last minute was kind of difficult. However, out of the films that I was proposed to watch, I was curious about Bonifacio Angius’ film (maybe I was biased cause he’s a fellow Italian as myself), Ovunque Proteggimi (Wherever You Are for the English public) that was competing at the festival. I contacted the director and he graciously allowed me to stream the film since I couldn’t make the screenings.

I didn’t read the plot summary before plunging headfirst into the film, but I often find that going into a film blindly renders it more enjoyable as I have no expectations. The film is about Alessandro, an aging singer that primarily does gigs at local events with his childhood friend. One night, after a particularly failed gig due to the low audience outcome, his friend tells Alessandro that he’s no longer going to play backup for him and that he too, should think about quitting the local music scene. Depressed, Alessandro decides to hit up a club where he meets a group of young girls who want to buy coke. To show off, he assures them that he can get the money to buy the coke, he simply needs to stop by home first.

Once home, we learn that Alessandro still lives with his mother, and it’s her who he begs for the money. That’s when we learn that the protagonist has probably been doing this for years, abusing drugs and alcohol, and on this hapless night, his mother, fed up, decides to have him taken away to rehab. At rehab, Alessandro meets Francesca, a misfit like himself, whom he feels some affection towards, although he doesn’t readily admit to it at first. When the two of them are released on the same day, on a whim, he decides to accompany her to her house and that’s when Francesca learns that her parents had the child services take her son away.

This is when Alessandro begins to see the injustices that women who don’t follow societal norms befall to. Throughout the movie, we’re told by her parents and the child services that Francesca is a former junkie and “whore,” however, we never witness her using drugs, being promiscuous, nor crazy. The only time we see her lose her composure is when she is told that the child services has taken her son away (so in a way it’s understandable).

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Just like the audience feels sorry for Francesca and her plight, so does Alessandro who decides to help the woman reunite with her son. This journey allows us to understand that Alessandro deep down is a man with a good heart who can rise above his own flaws to do what he thinks is morally right, whether that is viewed right by society.

Throughout the movie, we can’t help but cheer for these two unlucky lost souls who clearly mean nothing to the people closest to them. This film isn’t overly dramatic, but it explores some heavy themes such as mental health stigma, motherhood, and the cost of following your dreams. The two leads Alessandro (played by Alessandro Gazale) and Francesca (played by Francesca Niedda) have quiet chemistry and they play their characters in such a broken, vulnerable manner that they manage to steer clear of any tropes or cliches. These characters feel real and because of that, we’re invested in their story, and we want to see them have a happy ending.

Ovunque Proteggimi is a film that will seize your heart and squeeze it ruthlessly, leaving you brutally breathless. Watch this if you want to experience a film that is full of heart and humanity. Hats off to Bonifacio Angius for directing a film that gives voices to those in society who usually aren’t allowed to have one.

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My Top 3 Love Movies

Maybe it’s because I spent so many Valentine’s Days alone (even when dating someone, somehow they’d be unavailable/away, or if we celebrated it never felt like a true celebration but more something that they dreaded), so perhaps my choice of love stories probably won’t be your conventional sort. Love for me has always been complicated, more times hurtful and tragic than happy, so maybe I find unconventional love stories a bit more relatable than your run of the mill rom-com. These are my top three movies that feature a love story in them, let me know what you think of my selections and what movies would you choose?

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Untamed Heart

This ’90s romantic drama stars Marisa Tomei as Caroline, a waitress in Minneapolis who when walking home one night gets accosted by a few thugs who want to rape her. Her uber shy co-worker Andy (played by a dreamy Christian Slater) saves her, and soon the two become a couple. The love between the two of them help them become better people, but soon their little blissful world is shattered when Caroline learns that Andy has had a defective heart since birth and will die unless he gets a transplant. This was the first movie that made me legit ugly sob, and I’m not one who is easily moved to tears by cinema. It’s a wonderful, unpretentious love story, but get ready to stock up on tissues, you’re going to need it.

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The Crow

I know, I know what you’re all thinking, BUT IT’S NOT A LOVE STORY! WE BARELY GET TO SEE THE COUPLE TOGETHER! Yes, I know, but at the heart of it, The Crow IS a love story. As a deceased rocker, Eric Draven (played by the iconic Brandon Lee aka every goth girl’s wet dream) returns from the dead a year later after a bunch of druggie-thugs rape and kill his fiancee Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) to avenge what was done to her and himself (they killed him first). So yes, much of the movie is about revenge, but there are many moments where we get to see Eric’s relationship with Shelly and how the two of them were planning to get married the following night (Halloween) but their plans got tragically nixed the night before (Devil’s Night). I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for Gothic love, and with lines like, “Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever,” ending the movie to Jane Siberry’s It Can’t Rain All The Time, well, it’s just ALL THE FEELS.

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Romeo+Juliet

We all know the tale of Shakespeare’s famed “star-crossed lovers,” but no one had ever told it quite as boldly quite like Baz Luhrmann did in 1996. It was essentially Shakespeare for the MTV Generation, starring teen favorite Claire Danes (at the time from My So-Called Life fame) as Juliet, and budding rising star Leonardo DiCaprio as the brooding Romeo. The movie managed to keep Shakespeare’s language intact but was set in a modern-day Verona Beach (a carbon copy of Venice Beach). The plot is always the same, two teens from two feuding families meet at a party and fall madly in love. Due to their very young age and fearing their parents’ wrath, the two make some very rash decisions that will ultimately lead to their tragic demise. This movie is flashy, theatrical, with a swoon-worthy couple that we want to root for, all encased by the best music the ’90s could offer. I’m pretty sure even the Bard himself would find this movie entertaining.

Happy Valentine’s, peeps!

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3 Symbols You Missed While Watching Hereditary

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After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

*SPOILERS ALERT* if you have not seen the movie yet, DO NOT read further!

Hereditary is Ari Aster’s first feature film, hailed as the “scariest horror movie of the year”. The film is packed with unsettling visuals and a creepy atmosphere. The movie sees a superb Toni Collette as the troubled Annie, who has to deal with the recent passing of her mother. But as viewers will soon see, it isn’t that death that is the catalyst moment of the movie, but rather a second more dramatic death that occurs shortly, that of daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro). This second death is the one that begins to tear the family apart at the seams, pitting Annie against her son Peter (Alex Wolff), and husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne).

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The movie is riddled with symbols and foreshadowing galore. During a class discussion about the flaws of Greek mythology Heracles, a student states: “The characters are all just pawns in this horrible hopelessness.” Which heavily foreshadows how every single character in this movie are simply just pawns of King Paimon, and that they will all be met with tragic deaths.

Here are THREE SYMBOLS that you may have missed whilst watching the movie:

001. Chocolate – Back in the early 1600’s, chocolate was referred to as the Devil’s elixir, hence where the name for the famous chocolate on chocolate cake comes from, Devil’s Food Cake. This symbol is used from the very beginning in the movie, suggesting that Charlie may already have been possessed by King Paimon (one of Hell’s kings) or just a foreshadowing that she will be possessed.

002. The Red Doorknob – Charlie’s room has a red doorknob, similar to the one shown in The Sixth Sense, symbolizing the presence of spirits or possible spirit possessions.

003. King Paimon’s Symbol – This is present from the very beginning of the movie, first seen as a pendant that Annie’s mother is wearing whilst in the casket at the funeral. Another instance where we see this symbol is on the pole that decapitates Charlie the night of the accident, as well as in Joan’s home after she has placed a curse on Annie’s family, and also in blood on the roof of the attic where Annie’s mother’s body has been placed. Lastly, at the very end, when the audience finally sees the idol representation of King Paimon, wearing that same symbol.

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Have you seen this movie? What did you think? Let me know below!

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Goodbye, Genius – A Farewell to George A. Romero

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Today, the horror genre lost one of the most influential people in its world, director George A. Romero, best known for being the “godfather” of zombies. Unlike any other horror movies in the genre, he often used his zombie movies to confront major political themes such as racism in Night of the Living Dead and capitalism in Dawn of the Dead. In his movies the zombies weren’t always perceived as the villains, while he’d often prefer to depict humans as such instead. You can see his affection towards the zombies in this quote, “My zombies will never take over the world because I need the humans. The humans are the ones I dislike the most, and they’re where the trouble lies.” Or when he stated, “I sympathize with the zombies and I’m not even sure they are villains. To me they are this earth-changing thing. God or the devil changed the rules, and the dead people aren’t staying dead.”

He not only heavily influenced the zombie genre, but even the horror anthology stories in works like Creepshow and Tales from the Darkside, which helped open the doors for shows like Tales from the Crypt and Freddy’s Nightmares.

I remember watching his movies and shows when I was six years old. Even at that young age I knew that there was something different about his movies than the other horror movies that I was watching at the time. His movies had intellect and a message. His movies made us see that the true evil in the world wasn’t coming from elsewhere, but rather from ourselves. We are the monsters. And as Romero himself said, “I always thought of the zombies as being about revolution, one generation consuming the next.” A statement that is very telling for our times, and one that will probably always ring true.

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Goodbye, Mr. Romero, your zombies and your legacy will never die.

By: Azzurra Nox