The moment Roberto Benigni won an Oscar for La vita è bella back in 1999 made history - who can not recall Sophia Loren calling his name and then his rather whimsical way to the stage? Well, if you can't, here it is:
The thing about Benigni is that he is absolutely funny yet he has not made the mistake of many others comics who don't know how to be serious. With the aforementioned La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) he has proved to anyone who doubted that he is not only a brilliant film maker but he also has a huge soul and is very emotional. This film is different from the other films depicting World War II and the tragic of the Jews and it is also important because many people had stated many times that Italian cinema was dead. With this movie, this statement has lost its value. It's a classic that no-one seems to dislike, a "war film" without the usual tools of a war film, it's entertaining, funny and so touching I can hardly imagine any normally sensitive being who doesn't have tears in his eyes towards the end of film. Even for those who believe European cinema is nothing compared to Hollywood (or maybe especially for them??), it's a must-see.
My other film starring (and written and directed by) the wonderful Benigni is Johnny Stecchino. If there is a kind of humour that is so silly you can't resist it, Johnny Stecchino is on the list. Again, Benigni's character is someone a bit simple but loveable, with a mighty heart and an irresistible adoration for THE woman. This adoration is what turns out to be dangerous many times in the movie and it's not even the greatest challenge "Johnny" has to fight! I know it's a bit hard to get this movie anywhere out of Italy but if you can, I don't think you'll be disappointed. After all the unbearably stupid comedies this one will be refreshingly and surprisingly good.