Wednesday, May 16, 2012

we have a pope

If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing twice.  Check out Saving Grace - not the dope-growing Saving Grace from 2000, and not the angel-redeems-jaded-cop Saving Grace TV series (2000-2010), but rather the Pope-on-the-lam Tom Conti vehicle from 1985.

We Have a Pope
(2012, Italy, Nanni Moretti)

"A new man is elected to the throne of St. Peter, but Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli) was hardly the expected choice, nor, it appears, does he want the job. On the contrary, he is in anguish, refusing to greet the faithful from the balcony, and thrown into a befuddled semi-silence. A psychoanalyst — played by the movie’s director, Nanni Moretti — is brought in to help the stricken Pope, although the film fights shy of that promising setup. Instead, the patient escapes, wandering Rome unrecognized, and falls in with a troupe of actors who are presenting a production of Chekhov—the implication being that performance itself can have a therapeutic effect. (On the other hand, it is precisely the prospect of a constant public role that oppresses the Holy Father.) Meanwhile, the shrink remains in the Vatican, coaching the Cardinals to play basketball; it’s too slight and charming a conceit to carry much force in the story, and some Moretti fans will be taken aback by the mildness of the whole enterprise. Yet the drama is framed with great elegance, and, in the pathos of Piccoli—an old man as harried as a child—we feel how weighty and stifling the robes of state must be. In Italian." Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

Richard Brody, also writing for The New Yorker, doesn't see the film as "mild" at all...

"The lag time in the distribution of foreign (and, for that matter, American independent) films is a matter of concern — as with Nanni Moretti’s We Have a Pope, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and is finally opening today [Apr 6] in New York and Los Angeles (and will be available next Wednesday [Apr 12] on nationwide video-on-demand). ... Melville escapes from the enclave and wanders through Rome. What he discovers is nothing special — a world full of ordinary people doing ordinary but noteworthy things. Beneath its silken cloak, Moretti’s film is a wildly anarchic, furiously radical criticism of the Catholic Church. There’s no criticism of any particular church doctrine or mandate; rather, Moretti takes on the church as an institution, suggesting that it’s grotesquely hypocritical, even a betrayal of Christian faith, to run a church without being in the habit walking in the street and getting dog shit on your shoes. He challenges the notion of a church that is run from a palace and that functions like a regressive corporation that, with its arcane and rigid laws, does everything possible to keep its highest officials insulated from the world to which they presume to minister." Richard Brody, The New Yorker

No comments: