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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Saturday, February 5, 2000
What Time Is It?
Ettore Scola Italy/France, 1989

(Che ora รจ?). Scola and Mastroianni were a special kind of team, for Scola is an actor's director, minutely observing character in a setting where an emotional lifetime is lived in a day (here as in A Special Day) or a night (La Nuit de Varennes). Marcello (Mastroianni), who has risen from impoverished origins to the comfortable life of a successful Roman lawyer, spends a Sunday with his son Michele in the port where Michele is stationed. He comes bearing gifts-a car, an apartment, a trip to America-but Michele, taking after his Neopolitan mother, prefers the bookish life and the company of modest folk. Mastroianni and his formidable costar, the late Massimo Troisi (Il Postino), who shared the Best Actor award at Venice, circle around that thing that will finally bridge the distance between father and son. Mastroianni's Marcello is so expansive, so filled with life we forgive him his material trespasses. He may just be a suave version of the crusty old fisherman Michele would have him be.

• Written by Scola, Beatrice Ravaglioli, Silvia Scola. Photographed by Luciano Tovoli. With Marcello Mastroianni, Massimo Troisi, Anne Parillaud, Renato Moretti. (97 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)