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April 05, 2012


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From the sample of Moretti films I've seen (ECCE BOMBO, SWEET DREAMS, PALOMBELLA ROSSA, CARO DIARIO, THE SON'S ROOM, THE CAIMAN & WE HAVE A POPE), I'd say that Moretti peaked with PALOMBELLA ROSSA & CARO DIARIO and started going downhill with THE SON'S ROOM. The reasons why he's worth taking seriously have gradually dissipated over the past three films, although I'd like to read CAHIERS DU CINEMA's defense of choosing WE HAVE A POPE as its favorite film of 2011. He started as a politicized analogue to Albert Brooks, although in introducing ECCE BOMBO at the IFC Center last week, Moretti emphasized that he was satirizing a very small group of Roman ultra-leftist youth. He's never been particularly gifted with narrative, a flaw that's become increasingly glaring in the past three films. But I would give the early films a chance if a Moretti retrospective rolls around again. (I'd love to see an Eclipse box of them.)


My blind spot is when I hear Nannie Moretti, I always think they mean Nino Manfredi, some Giancarlo Giannini-meets-Topol looking swingin' '70s Italian comedy doofus I only know of because some crazy hen film professor made us watch something called "Bread and Chocolate" claiming it was the most important piece of comedic film social commentary every put to film... even though I've never once heard anyone, anywhere, mention it on a film blog or in MUBI type circles.

Is that anybody anyone cares about, or was this film professor a loon?

I kinda blame AV Club's "Better Late Than Never" for this whole post-TWOP nonprofessional non-criticism-criticism deal where every caffeinated geek does this meta-criticism where they can spin a whole fucking article about "Gee, I haven't seen Ghostbusters yet... wow, now I've seen Ghostbusters... it was okay, I guess."

I mean, you come to any lauded movie at age 25 or 35 or 45 for the first time, it's very rare that one will be able to put aside that smug chip on the shoulder that says "Thrill me" like Tom Atkins in "Night of the Creeps." As said about Lemire and "The Searchers" above, it's inevitable... if I've put off "Rio Bravo" for 39 years, I'm more than likely not gonna come up evangelizing about it if it's grumpily watched on DVD while doing my laundry just to check it off some meaningless list.

But CHRIST, how could James Rocchi have never seen "The Shining"? That's the weird not-so-new direction of film criticism; I say this ALL the time, but can you imagine a SPORTS WRITER spinning whole SMUG articles like, "Nope, never watched a baseball game"? Why are movies the ONE THING where everyone thinks their ill-informed jerkoff opinion is worth receiving money for?

Jaime N. Christley

I've seen two Moretti films, THE SON'S ROOM and CARO DIARIO. Both times I was driven by Cannes-completism, which has since abated. They both made me want to self-harm.

Jaime N. Christley

Also, and I didn't think the space-time continuum would have permitted me to say this, but LexG is spot on.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who was underwhelmed by THE SON'S ROOM, the only Moretti film I've seen. I had no idea what all the fuss was about, and Moretti's inexpressive performance is pretty much all I remember from it.


'I say this ALL the time, but can you imagine a SPORTS WRITER spinning whole SMUG articles like, "Nope, never watched a baseball game"?'

Why not? It works for David "Cinema is a Shallow Medium" Thompson.


(Whoops, no p in Thomson.)


I actually liked THE SON'S ROOM - though it does pale in comparison to the somewhat similar IN THE BEDROOM - but found CARO DIARIO and the parts of APRILE I saw fairly mediocre, and this just looks silly. The only reason this sounded even moderately interesting was Piccoli.


@LexG: I know what you mean, but it honestly wouldn't surprise me. Go have a spin through the archives of Fire Joe Morgan -- sports writers have ZERO compunction about wearing their willful ignorance as a badge of honor.

Josh Z

I gave up on Moretti with The Son's Room, which had absolutely nothing insightful to say about the grieving process beyond, "Gee, wouldn't it be sad to lose a child?" Well golly, I sure guess it would, huh?

Lifetime movies have more depth than that film. That it somehow won at Cannes still perplexes me. Certainly, some awful films have won at Cannes over the years, but I'm hard-pressed to think of any as thoroughly disinteresting on every level as that one.

Bilge Ebiri

I actually like Moretti a great deal, though I do think the earlier stuff (like PALOMBELLA ROSA and CARO DIARIO) is generally better. (I too didn't care for THE SON'S ROOM all that much, though I didn't hate it.) That said, I do like THE CAIMAN (which works a lot better if you go into it not knowing that it's a Berlusconi satire, I think) and I really like WE HAVE A POPE. Where you found wishy-washy aimlessness, I found a pretty interesting portrait of a world where everybody (not just the Pope-elect) was forced into playing a role they hadn't conceived.

I do agree though that Piccoli is the film's greatest asset, though I'm not sure why that should be considered a bad thing. I appreciated the fact that Moretti was often content to just let us watch him.


You Americans are Moretti come to know, as we would say in Italy, "at the table already laden", ie at the end of a complex path authorial irony disguised as frivolous, however, recognized at national and European level. Especially in Italy and France is considered a master, maybe not like Fellini but one of the few Italian directors of the value of the last thirty years (with a few others, Sorrentino, Bellocchio, Tornatore ...). Considering also that his films are free of directorial virtuosity and conventional narrative structures then I can understand why people do not like Moretti used to different kind of cinema. His is a look a little narcissistic but not self-indulgent and free from all sorts of ruffianerie to please the audience (of any section of society it belongs). On the subject deserves lengthy dissertations that are not just limited in space for a comment. Or write very long essays on Nanni Moretti or you make four lines in which it presents the film, the plot (almost always an excuse) without any mediation whatsoever critical (which would be false and incomplete without a careful selection philological performed on the body of his films).
Source: I am a student of Moretti and I've read several books dedicated to him (you do not edit) and I'm writing about his Opera.
Sorry for my English.


Just for the record, I inform you that in Italy "Bianca"(1984) is considered Moretti's masterpiece by critics and audiences (while in the foreign articles, strangely, he never mentions it).
For those interested in more information or insights I leave here the link to the wikipedia page of Italian:

David Ehrenstein

I have been a fan of Moretti's for a considerable number of years. "Palombella Rosa" is beyond amazing-- a dry-eyed semi-lament for the collapse of the Italian Communist party staged as a water polo game whose climax is reached when the television set over the bar shows the penultimate scene from "Doctor Zhivago" (Yuri sees Lara for the last time, and dies) -- which everyone including the players stops to watch. That Raul Ruiz has an acting role in this film is indicative of a depth and complexity to Moretti deserving of a book, rather than an article, much less a blog post.
I was also moved by "Caro Diario" particularly for the squence in which Moretti goes to the beach at Ostia to visit the spot where Pasolini was murdered. Someone -- no one knows who -- has built a memorial on that spot.

"We Have a Pope" is a deliberately light film on a heavy subject. He depicts the Catholic church collapsing not from its sex criems but from "stage friight." In many ways it's a companion piece to Manoel de Oliviera's "I'm Going Home" whcih also stars the great Michel Piccoli

Glenn Kenny

David, in my review I think I mention that "Pope" frequently made me think of/wish I was watching "I'm Going Home," so we are on the same page there. I shall have to look into "Palombella Rosa."


"Palombella Rossa" (with 2 'S'), translated as "Red Lob".

Victor Morton

Here's my tale on HABEMUS PAPAM (prefer the Latin title, especially when pasting in on Easter Sunday):

HABEMUS PAPAM (Moretti, Italy, 2011, 5) But that's a generous grade. PAPAM starts out wonderfully as the Catholic-Nerd Comedy of my dreams and Moretti shows he could've made a great screwball comedy by staying inside St. Peter's (parody of Vatican press corps had me in stitches). But once Piccoli as pope-elect escapes Vatican, the comic creativity dries up and the few good ideas (the volleyball toonamint) overstay their welcome. The last scene, in particular, flirts with blasphemy, isn't consistent with second-last scene, and is the wrong ending for what never was more than a (sometimes first-rate admittedly) featherweight comedy. You don't flip the switch from Stephen Colbert to Bunuel in one moment. If the film had already been a frontal attack on Catholicism, I could respect the ending artistically. but the very fact it hadn't been such a film (or even a very deep film about one man's crisis of faith) makes the ending gratuitous, dischordant.

David Ehrenstein

I disagree, but that's quite an interesting take.

I hope I'm not alone in having seen Marco Ferreri's Papal Kafkaesque "The Audience."


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