Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:01 pm 
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A docu-fiction fable of preservation set in its maker's native Capania, in southern Italy

In a kind of documentary turned art film, Pietro Marcello offers in Lost and Beautiful a whimsical, goofy, touching, ultimately overlong and irritating mythical tale spun out of a real event. He was called l'angelo del Carditello. Marcello filmed the poor shepherd Tommaso Cestrone, famous in the local Campania region for voluntarily, and in spite of Camorra threats, caring for the Bourbon palace of Carditello, which the government was neglecting. But during the shooting, on Christmas Eve, Tommaso died of a heart attack, and Marcello rethought his film. He chose to turn his focus on a baby buffalo Tommaso had taken as a special pet and named Sarchiapone, and spun out a fable about Sarchipone's fate.

Marcello brings in the Commedia dell'Arte figure Pulcinella (Sergio Vitolo), coming to save Sarchiapone from the slaughterhouse, and there is a running voiceover spoken by Sarchiapone (the voice of Elio Germano, of My Brother Is an Only Child), recounting his poor beast's life. Writing a review on the Italian website MyMovies, Emilio Sacchi says Marcello is describing here the "growing gap between Italy and the Italians." A raft of liberal Italian newspapers linked to on MyMovies -- L'Espresso, La Stampa, Il Mattino and La Repubblica -- all sing the praises of this film by the maker of The Mouth of the Wolf (2009) and Crossing the Line (2007). But it seemed to me rough looking, overly whimsical, visually repetitious, and meandering, and I do not think it will appeal much to a wider theatrical audience outside of Italy, despite its references to Italian tradition, government indifference, and mafia exploitation, common to most films and literature coming from this region.

It was co-written by Maurizio Braucci, a screenwriter on Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra.

Lost and Beautiful/Bella e perduta, 87 mins., it won the Youth Jury Prize and the international competition prize when it debuted at Locarno, where reportedly it got a long round of applause. So that's Locarno. It was released in Italy 19 Nov. 2015.

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