Mr. Noiret became one of my favorite film actors after I saw his performance as the illiterate movie projectionist in Giuseppe Tornatore's "Cinema Paradiso." (That's him in the photo, with Salvatore Cascio as the young boy Toto, who'd grow up to be the gorgeous Marco Leonardi in the film.) I caught the movie on TV in 1992, shown as part of a Holy Week special--no idea why--and fell in love with it unreservedly. Now, ask me a rundown of the movies I am most fond of and this 1989 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film tops my list.
There are other more sophisticated, more important, more original, more ground-breaking movies around, but "Cinema Paradiso" will always be a personal favorite. I have, in fact, DVDs of two other films starring Mr. Noiret--"Il Postino" by Michael Radford, and "Life and Nothing But" by Bertrand Tavernier--but I have three copies of "Cinema Paradiso:" a VHS copy that I bought from Ricky Lee's old movie shop in Greenhills many years ago, a DVD of the standard version released internationally, and the recent "director's cut" with about 45 minutes of additional footage. I've nagged everyone around me to see this film. I think anyone who professes to love movies should not miss it--because it is, above all, a valentine to movies.
Now it's Fine for Mr. Noiret, who gave "Cinema Paradiso" its heart, soul and sinew. I shall grieve by watching my DVDs again.
Here's composer Ennio Morricone conducting a live performance of the now-classic theme from "Cinema Paradiso," accompanied by images from the movie:
"Cinema Paradiso's" twist of an ending is one of the most beloved in cinema. If you've not seen the film, stop here and go no further: spoiler alert for you. But if you're familiar with this famous last scene, let's savor it again:
Any fellow "Cinema Paradiso" junkies out there? Holler!
[photo: Luca Diamonte/Associated Press]