Cinema: Surrealist Augury

If French films have a flair for love, the Italian cinema has a zest for decadence. Most major Italian directors have their own highly personal vision of spiritual and psychological deterioration, whether it be as flamboyant as Fellini's, as operatic as Visconti's or as brooding as Antonioni's. Now Salvatore Samperi, 25, continues the tradition with Grazie Zia, a bit of caustic surrealism that dazzles with the energy of youth while it is disappointing with excesses of inexperience.

Charge on Wheels. Samperi's protagonist is a lunatic adolescent named Alvise (Lou Castel), who spends most of...

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