Friday 15 September 2017

Italian Film Festival - Barrie Pattison reviews I CAN QUIT WHENEVER I WANT TO: MASTERCLASS (Sydney Sibilia, 2017)

Yes, the Italian Film Festival is upon us again. To mash metaphors, will it be like an oversize order of pasta or a child's portion of the Euro movie feast we don't get invited to? I did look forward to a second helping with Smetto quando voglio: Masterclass/I can Quit Whenever I Want to : Masterclass.

The sequel is again scripted and directed by Sydney Sibilia and turned out to be more of the same, here keeping on promising better than it delivers.

We pick up Edoardo Leo’s Chemistry Prof. Zinni in the clink where we left him at the end of part one. (His advocate was a specialist in Canonical Law). Leo's league of redundant university lecturers had been caught after they went Walter White and started supplying the drug market. It's the same gag of mixing the academics in with cops and pushers, done in the same Fluoro pallette

Leo's menaced by an inmate with a safety razor blade that he doesn’t think was sterilised. However ambitious cop Greta Scarano, who followed their case (cuttings on a wall and a few superimposed images), offers to let Leo out as required, so he can be with wife Valeria Solarino when their child is born. Scarano wants Leo to track down more drugs that have yet to be criminalised pouring into the market. 

With an “eighteen months before” title we get the story of their fat analyst, hooked on their in-house product and turning over his truck on a ramp, when he was high on his half kilo stock of still legal pills. He was startled to see his department’s chromatograph being trucked away. As before, his is the film's most rewarding character, detoxing in therapy with the priest who he tells has the composition of modelling clay wrong. Our man is desperate to get away from the room full the plaster madonnas he has to sculpt.

The other members are under-written, throwing the effort back on the performers to register. They get a bit of action out of the antiquarian, the only one still a functioning academic, who is winched into the tunneling site to stop the work endangering an ancient Corinthian column. This is picked up again in the chase where their van, with their physicist's after burner, destroys the Hadrian’s Market ruins.

There’s an excursion to the East where the Theoretical Anatomist is going Deer Hunter (he gets decked before he starts) and Lagos where another team member is trying to sell suitcase bombs useful for blowing up schools. That doesn’t go too well either.

Identifying ingredients like puffer fish venom means they manage to close a range of drug labs. However, their detoxed analyst finally succumbs to the allure of the red tablets which the cops are particularly keen to eliminate - Richard Linklater type rotoscope animated sequence.

Greta Scarano, (Birthday publicity shot, not from the film!)
Scarano, with a girl investigative reporter and her boss both on her ass, has to renege on their deal unless they can crack the red tablet guys and the clue of the chromatograph has them following a shipping container full of the birth control pills that the peddlers are using as an ingredient.

The piece finally comes into its own with another one of those moving train climaxes like the one in the Jacky Chan Railway Tigers. Here Leo's team have to keep up with the container, in which one of their number has been locked, while they ride museum Third Reich vehicles and wear authentic Nazi helmets.

This manages to mix gags and action a treat “We’ve just killed the foremost Latinist in Europe” sets up one of the film’s best moments.

When it looks like we’re heading for a happy end there’s the double down turn in their fortunes complete with Luigi Lo Cascio appearing to anticipate his number in the promised part three. This seems to be pushing their luck. They've had trouble making a second outing go the distance.

Hard to recognise short haired brunette Scarano as the imperiled blonde in Suburra. She registers in all the confusion.

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