Asia Argento

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Misunderstood is a magnificently angry film. One can glean as much from the title, a potential evocation of everything from the Beats and Rebel Without a Cause to the sexually furious teens of Fat Girl and the New French Extremity. Asia Argento‘s third feature as director may not reference all of these different artistic moments, but it certainly fits into the larger cultural history of disaffected youth. Its adults are incompetent, acrimonious clowns whose negligence is only matched by their stupidity. Its children take after them, engaging in petty squabbles because they’ve likely never seen anyone behave any better. It is a film that sees right into the empty core of materialism and its discontents. All of this might be hard to take if it were not anchored by a defiant, cackling sense of humor and one of the most effective child protagonists of the last few years. Aria (Giulia Salerno) is a preteen trapped in the fluorescent excess of the 1980s and wedged between two sides of an incredibly unhealthy marriage. Her mother is a French expat pianist, played with a strung-out glamor by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Her father is a preening, absurdly superstitious actor struggling to be taken seriously, perfectly inhabited by Italian TV star Gabriel Garko. She also has two older half-sisters, one from each parent. No one seems to like her very much, and as the parents begin their shrieking, violent separation she is tossed back and forth like an unwanted pet.

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Sitting in a theater watching a fair few people walk out in protest at the poor quality of Dracula 3D, you have to wonder whether they knew anything about horror legend Dario Argento, and if so what exactly they expected from the director whose name alone guarantees an audience. Because Argento has a certain set of skills, which aren’t necessarily reconcilable with what is great about film these days, but to give due credit, he hasn’t really deviated from the same tracks for decades, and the result is generally an entertaining affair all the same. This time out he’s taken the iconic Dracula story on, giving horror’s most famous character (played here by Thomas Kretschmann) his first 3D treatment, and adding a few other brand new touches to the iconic story of how the Count tricked Jonathan Harker (Unax Ugalde) into working for him in order to take his wife Mina (Marta Gastini) for his own. Along the familiar path we meet jealous and mostly naked vampire Tanja (Miriam Giovanelli), the infamous Dracula servant Renfield (Giovanni Franzoni), and the various pawns in the game, both victims and servants of the Dark Lord, with the prominent role of Lucy going to the director’s daughter Asia Argento. And of course, in the final third we are invited to enjoy the many pleasures of Rutger Hauer as Abraham Van Helsing.

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Ten Hotties Who Got Their Start in Horror

This weekend’s release of Quarantine will see Dexter hottie Jennifer Carpenter continue her cinematic career. But while she might not yet be screaming her way to the top, here’s a list of ten actresses who already have.

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Argento

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to highlight films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Italy!

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Fat Guy Kevin Carr is known for his love of the trashy girls, and he demanded a list honoring these ladies.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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