Comedy, Italian style

Still from IL SORPASSO (THE EASY LIFE) (1962)

If you’re still recovering from post-THE ROAD depression, head over to MoMA for a week of Dino Risi’s smart, if bitter, comedies. Kicking things off is SCENT OF A WOMAN (1974) – that’s the original, not the 1992 Pacino remake. If Risi can make light of a blind and angry army captain on a suicide mission across Italy, you can bet his other work, even the ones that don’t have hilarity-invoking titles (i.e. A DIFFICULT LIFE and POOR, BUT BEAUTIFUL) deliver the goods. Risi consistently worked with some of the best actors of his day like Sophia Loren, Vittorio DeSica, Vittoria Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant. He possessed a deep understanding of humor – not only what makes something funny, but how comedy can be used to reveal human truths. Risi’s sense of humor is not exactly what you would call fun-loving, but its his cynical, often cruel brand of humor that give his films weight and lasting impact.

“Dino Risi: Comedy with a Twist,” Dec. 10-17 at MoMA.