Tuesday 26 September 2017

Italian Film Festival (7) - Another double bill review by Barrie Pattison - FROM NAPLES WITH LOVE and IGNORANCE IS BLISS

Editor’s Note: Barrie Pattison's earlier reports on the Italian Film Festival can be found if you click on the following film titles After the WarI Can Quit Whenever I Want to: MasterclassLet Yourself Go, Messy Christmas, Stories of Love that cannot Belong to this World and These Days & Sicilian Ghost Story

From Naples with Love/Troppo Napoletano (Gianluca Ansanelli, Italy, 2016)
Feel good pieces don’t leave you feeling better than Gianluca Ansanelli's bright coloured scenics packed comedy Troppo Napoletano/From Naples With Love.

When his wedding singer dad is killed in a crowd surfing accident (they distracted the audience by announcing the prawn dish), troubled fat kid Gennaro Guazzo is assumed to have made a suicide attempt after school janitor Giovanni Esposito finds him mounting the balcony.  Actually he was trying to get a better look at the girl classmate he has the hots for. Guazzo gets put into therapy with Dottore Luigi Esposito who explains that the entire extended family can’t attend the sessions. Mum, lush red head Serena Rossi, and an aunt clean his kitchen while he talks to the kid instead.

Bonding with Luigi over Papaya gelato, Guazzo tries to set the shrink up as a match for his lush widowed mother, sabotaging a succession of comic suitors. However, he finds that the object of his pubescent affections is the daughter of an ex-soap star whose drama class she attended and who looks like pairing with mum.

Determinedly Neapolitan, with Guazzo and Rossi walk through the open air mercato, take the girl on the tour of the church crypt and get the animated history lesson about Greater Napoli. Lots of nice views of the Bay. The shot of the girl sitting alone on the beach is a great piece of movie punctuation.

Throw in a load of broad comedy and appealing characters, Guazzi’s fantasies (he pictures taking out a mortgage by plonking his piggy bank on the manager’s table), a couple of great musical numbers - Rossi doing her “La Spagnola” act that the neighbours crowd in to see - and the final Saturday Night Fever kids recital, and the fact that the film is a grotesque rendition of adolescence fades away.

Ignorance is Bliss/Beata Ignoranza (Massimiliano Bruno, Italy, 2017)
This attempt to recycle the 2015 Se Dio Vuole/God Willing teaming of Marco Giallini and Alessandro Gassman works out quite well, despite a change of direction half way through. We start off with teacher Giallini, who confiscates his kids' cell 'phones at the start of his lesson, discovering his old rival Gassman has been appointed to his school with a philosophy of ignoring paperwork because everything they need is on the Net. They nearly come to blows to the delight of their students whose video of the confrontation goes viral.

We've seen the menace of cell 'phones with Giallini before  in Perfetti sconosciuti/Perfect Strangers.  Complications ensue when their shared daughter (yes, we remember Les Compères) arrives pregnant with her "quirky" film crew to have them filmed switching their approaches for her TV documentary. This element gets lost as we explore the leads' character shortcomings - particularly in their dealings with women. The appealing Valeria Bilello is particularly badly used.

There are a few attempts to open up the form, as with the early scenes of turning to the audience or Carolina Crescentini's answering back from the mortuary photo, but mainly the piece coasts on the opposition of the two leads backed by skilled players and brisk film making.

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