Life is Beautiful (*** Ĺ) - Only the second foreign film I had ever seen in a theater (not counting any film classes) and the first great one. The previous effort of mine was the best picture nominee of 1995 - Il Postino (The Postman) (which we all remember starred Kevin Costner) (J/K) That film I didnít think was very deserving a Best Film nomination as it started very spirited but trailed off in its second hour. Life is Beautiful is just the opposite. It gets even better.American audiences might briefly know Roberto Benigni as the brave soul who tried to walk in the late Peter Sellers shoes by resurrecting the long dead (and should have remained) Pink Panther series with Son of the Pink Panther, which I mercifully avoided. Benigni does something here that I never would have anticipated - which is the make me describe a movie with a single word that I never thought Iíd seriously ever use to describe a movie ever again. The word is Chaplinesque. Thatís what this movie is. Whether heís up to Chaplin standards or not is a matter of opinion, but one canít deny Benigniís effort to evoke the spirit of one of the great masters of American cinema. The first hour of the film we are witness to elaborate joke set-ups and a truly beautiful romantic courting that almost seems lifted out of one of Chaplinís films. Chaplin used to play the tramp. Benigni essentially plays the clown. Then the film progresses into the second hour and deals with the Holocaust. Ironically, some of these scenes contain the filmís biggest laughs. A Benigni translation of a German soldier had me dying. But the film doesnít make light of the Holocaust. It may not be Schindlerís List, but the concentration camp depicted is no fun to be in. Every scene with Benigni and his son really stand out during this second hour. Benigni tries to shield his son by telling him that heís playing a game - and itís funny - but you can tell just under the surface that Benigni is ready to crack, but knows he canít, in order to protect his family.By the end of the film I was truly moved, truly entertained, and was glad to see this film pick up a number of its Oscar nominations.