East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Leave a comment

Like a ragged samurai – L’Armata Brancaleone

Mario Monicelli (1915-2010) was a genius and a true artist. He started his career in movies at 19, writing an adaptation of Poe’s Telltale Heart, and for over seventy years he was at the cutting edge of Italian cinema, with a total of 112 scriptwriting credits, and 69 movies directed. He was one of the stalwarts of the so-called “commedia all’italiana” (Italian-style comedy), a genre that, at its best, mixed broad farce, subtle satire, and sharp social observation. And Monicelli was the best in the game.

Italian-style comedy came with a bundled problem, and some friends warned Monicelli that by bringing to the screen the flaws of the Italian character in highly comedic manner, his would be perceived by many as a celebration, not as an exposé. It was a fair warning, and indeed, today a lot of Monicelli’s work is remembered for the belly laughs and the ribald double-entendres, not for the often painful underlying themes of human frailty and misplaced ideals.

In 1966, Monicelli and some friends, including actor Vittorio Gassman, decided they could not take anymore the Disney-esque popular perception of medieval times, and decided to do a movie about a “ragged samurai of sorts” in a Medieval Italy that was at the same time historically accurate and sharply modern. So they did L’Armata Brancaleone (known in English as For Love and Gold or as The Incredible Army of Brancaleone).

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Slapdash & Sorcery

I’m back online for good, and to celebrate I’m doing three related posts on my three blogs.
The first post is already up on GreyWorld, the next is going up later, in Italian, on strategie evolutive.
Let’s say I’m doing a blog tour of my own blogs.

wwrAnd I mentioned the late Sir Terry Pratchett, on GreyWorld.
I love Pratchett’s Discworld novels – I loved them ever since I read about Pratchett in Michael Moorcock‘s Wizardry and Wild Romance, and decided to check this new writer out.
And if it’s true that the Italian versions of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were seriously unfunny due to some translation problems, as soon as I started reading Terry Pratchett in English, it was a cartload of laughs.
But not only that.
Which leads to the true topic of this post. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Toads and Ice Magic

chaitea-300x300And so, as the deadine looms closer, I completely scrapped one of the two stories I have to deliver within the week.
Well, because basically it stank to high heaven.
So I dropped the lot in the waste basket – and wrote 3000 words (out of the planned 6000) of the new take in two hours, plus a small break to eat a croissant and drink a cup of Indian Chai Tea.

Because here’s the interesting fact – when you like what you are writing, you can write it fast.
Or at least, that’s how it works for me.

Which is the reason why I was able to write and clean up the new Aculeo & Amunet story in two days – and the story, tentatively titled The Altar of the Toad (aka “A&A story #8”), is now in the trusted hands of my long suffering editrix. Continue reading


Firm-breasted lawyers

593x800_7883_Red_Sonja_2d_fantasy_oil_painting_warrior_female_red_hair_picture_image_digital_artOnce again about female characters in fantasy.

The painting here on the right is by the great Donato Giancola.
It’s my idea of a fantasy sword-woman done right.
She has character, she projects strength and toughness but she has class.
OK, so maybe there’s no reason in the ‘verse to handle a sword like that (or so they told me) but who cares – I can believe she’s a real woman.
No brass bikini, no empty, inflatable-doll-like curves to please an adolescent audience.

And the adolescent audience is what’s making me nervous.
And a quick survey of the fantasy and sword & sorcery field in my country* has been dis-heartening. Continue reading