DVD Review: Enjoy two top quality Italian classics

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Life and loves, Italian style, are being served up for home movie fans with two, top-of-the-range releases from Cult Films, writes Tony Spittles.

Cult Films, a new independent label from the people behind a duo of the original world cinema specialist distributors, Nouveaux Pictures and Argent Films, aims to create luxury releases of quality foreign and arthouse films, something that is underscored with this double delight of Italian classics - Juliet of the Spirits and Il Postino (The Postman).

Already on the shelves is Juliet of the Spirits (15), director Federico Fellini’s dazzling first colour film which now thanks to new technology includes exciting extras that will delight Fellini fans old and new as well as giving a fresh airing to legendary composer Nino Rota’s whimsical music score.

Winner of the 1966 Golden Globe for the best foreign language film, Juliet of the Spirits has been hailed as one of the greatest tributes a husband has paid to his wife - Fellini’s real-life partner, Guiletta Masina from La Strada.

In the title role, she gives a memorable performance as the bored, timid wife Juliet who, suspecting her husband of infidelity, goes on a surreal journey of self-discovery filled with wild dreams and enchanting fantasies much of it with her liberated neighbour, Suzy (Sandra Milo).

The second Cult Films’ release moves the clock on nearly 30 years to the endearing and enduring classic Il Postino (The Postman) (U) from 1994.

Then, and now, it deserves its description as one of the most romantic movies ever made, delighting audiences with an engaging blend of humour and sunny romance, set against a stunning Italian backdrop.

For those in search of the real locations, they should head for the isle of Procida in the Gulf of Naples (with Corricella being the setting for some of the waterfront scenes in the movie) or journey further south to Salina, one of the volcanic Aeolian Islands that form an archipelago off the northern coast of Sicily.

However, if you are staying at home to enjoy your daily Brexit update, it will only cost you £17.99 to sit back and enjoy this fictional story of the real-life Nobel laureate poet Pablo Neruda’s exile to a tiny island off Italy.

He might be out of sight, but he’s not out of mind as he’s such a high profile figure that he receives so many letters from around the world that the local post office has to hire an extra postman to clear the huge backlog of undelivered mail.

Step forward star and co-writer Massimo Troisi (who tragically died the day after filming was completed) as Mario, the shy and poorly educated postman who strikes up an unlikely friendship with poet Neruda (played by French actor Philippe Noiret).

Not only does Neruda help Mario learn to love poetry, he ends up helping his young friend follow his his dreams and express his love to win the heart of the island beauty, Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta).

This beautiful and thought-provoking film delivered with style and care by English director Michael Radford also features an Oscar-winning emotional score from Luis Enrique Bacalov (Kill Bill and Django Unchained).

Both titles are now on sale, and available in DVD or Blu-ray formats.