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How To Procrastinate On Your Italian Final

Let me tell you something that you probably already knew without even having to spend three seconds with me: I am not exactly the concentrating type. As anybody who has attempted to talk to me while a puppy is in the near vicinity can attest to, I have a terrible attention spam. Goldfish are practically Buddhist monks compared to me. I prefer to think this makes me quirky, like Zooey Deschanel, as opposed to annoying spawn of Mephistopheles like any “quirky” girl in real life.

Because of this, finals season is always a nightmare situation. A whole week dedicated to exams that will probably add up to about half my grade combined with the fact that it’s approximately five days until I leave Rome (GAH!) is basically a recipe for stress. I’m not saying I have killed anyone in the past three days of studying… but I’m not saying I haven’t.

One positive thing is, I have gotten very good at creative studying. Jeopardy, wheel of fortune, fire-juggling… anything not to sit down and actually read the material. Since my next final is Italian, one of my favorite ways to absorb information has been to just watch a copious amount of foreign films. Film majors will rant about the educational merits of movies, how they help us understand the way people lived and worked in a certain time, and the memorization benefits of watching a story instead of reading about it, but let’s be honest… the real appeal is the following: they’re on a screen, Italians don’t know the meaning of subtitles, and everyone’s hot. It’s a win-win for anybody trying to learn Italian without ever actually cracking open a dictionary.

So , I present you with a list of Italian films that will not only enhance your language skills but actually probably make you cry, either from the flawless cinematography or from frustration at the fact that you actually can’t even understand a single sentence. And for those reading this blog from the states,  you can get a little taste of Rome through America’s favorite method of transportation: the television.

1. La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful)

IMDB Synopsis: A Jewish man has a wonderful romance with the help of his humour, but must use that same quality to protect his son in a Nazi death camp.

My Synopsis: Let me tell you how much I love this movie. Nevermind, THERE’S NOT ENOUGH SPACE IN THIS BLOG. Suffice it to say, this movie will have you rolling around the floor with laughter one moment, and moaning in despair like a beluga whale the next. Roberto Benigni is a national treasure, and the way the character turns the horrors of Auschwitz into a game in order to cheer up his son is practically saint-like. Cries all over the place.

La Cena (The Dinner)

IMDB Synopsis: An evening at an Italian restaurant. Hosted by tolerant and relaxed Flora, various parties of middle-class people come in — large and small, young and old, regulars and tourists, married and single — to dine, converse, argue, celebrate, make confessions; to overhear other people’s discussions, to interrupt them, to sing, listen to music, and enjoy life.

My Synopsis: This movie is basically what would happen if you put a camera inside your local neighborhood Bucca, except the analogy is wrong and any respectable Italian osteria owner would probably kill me for saying that. The camera follows six interwoven stories, from a married professor on a date with his philosophy student, to a woman whose daughter wants to be a nun (to the well-endowed mother’s chagrin), to a family of Asian tourists who photograph everything. It’s an awesome look into Italian personality, even though nobody wears puffer jackets in this film.

The Bicycle Thieves

IMDB Synopsis: A man and his son search for a stolen bicycle vital for his job.

My Synopsis: Fine, so I actually haven’t seen this yet, but I will because oh snap, this is some ACCLAIMED STUFF. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but my best guess is that someone stole a hipster bike messenger’s bike and he needs to get it back. Plus, the guy’s super attractive. AND you can watch the whole thing on YouTube in parts. Done.

La Corruzione (Corruption)

IMDB Synopsis: “Stop quoting things that the internet does not say about these movies Magali”

My Synopsis: This is where I get to brag about how cultured I am. La Corruzione is such an obscure film that not even IMDB has a synopsis for it. It’s a 60s black-and-white movie about a kid who wants to go into the seminary, so his bigshot father tries to tempt him with his secretary so he’ll take up his publishing business instead (what is up with all these Italians not wanting their kids to go religious? It’s like a running theme or something. I though they liked the Vatican). It’s super existentialist and everyone’s mod dresses and eye makeup will make you want to punch the nearest cat in the face. Best part is, you can also watch the whole thing on YouTube.

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