Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2019 12:54 pm 
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A plea for mindfulness

I remember Daniele Luchetti's 2007 My Brother Is an Only Child (Il mio fratello è figlio unico), which I saw in Paris. It showcased the blue-eyed heartthrob Ricardo Scamarcio and whatever its shortcomings (and it had them), its depiction of the sibling conflicts in a working class Italian leftist family in the Sixties and Seventies seemed interesting enough to warrant recommending to "anyone interested in Italy and its modern history." Luchetti has now waxed philosophical and gives us an old fashioned fantasy about life and death. It features a forty-something Palermo husband and father, Paolo (Pierfrancesco Diliberto, known as Pif) who dies in a Vespa accident and goes to heaven, where its elderly bureaucrats (in brocade jacket uniforms) give him a brief reprieve on a technicality, during which time he gets to review his life in flashbacks, visual quotes, and voiceover and consider the preciousness of time and the importance of love and family.

Pif, by the way, appeared in the lighthearted The Mafia Kills Only in Summer (Open Roads 2014), and is an engaging, laid-back presence. This helps carry us through a sequence of scenes that doesn't always seem very logical. On the one hand, calling attention to the value of mindfulness in all the moments of our short/long lives (life is very long, and also much too short) and making us aware of the passage of time, is a worthwhile message. On the other hand, this narrative cheats from one scene to the next. Luchetti provides sumptuous settings. Palermo seems a gorgeous place of grand buildings and airy spaces. The run time is skimpy - and exactly Paolo's reprieve time on earth: 93 minutes. This is a delightful little film that does snot overstay its welcome.

The screenplay is based, perhaps rather freely, on a novel by Francesco Piccolo.

Ordinary Happiness/Momenti di trascurabile felicità , 93 mins.

Cinema Italian Style 2019, Vogue Theater, San Francisco Sunday, November 24, 2019 7:30 pm (Closing Night Film)

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