The Academy Awards are coming up and Paolo Sorrentino’s film La grande bellezza is in the running for the best foreign film award. Italian reviews were lukewarm while foreign ones were mostly positive. (Beppe Severgnini recently wrote an article about this that appeared in the International New York Times.) It’s a lush, visually beautiful film, appropriately, as one of the themes is that Rome (and Italy by extension) is the great beauty and not much else. There are references to Italian cinema of the past, the most obvious of which, between the actors’ faces and the scenes of decadent lifestyles, is to Fellini’s La dolce vita. Many of the performances are wonderful – notably Toni Servillo as the protagonist Jep Gambardella. I didn’t love this movie: it’s perhaps too realistic a vision of Italy’s stasis and pretension to be anything other than profoundly depressing. However, since seeing it, I have found myself often referring to various of its scenes and themes, so, it’s obviously a film that makes one reflect and leaves a marked impression.