If I were Roger Ebert or some other twatty critic, I would describe Cinema Paradiso as Giuseppe Tornatore's valentine to the movies. I would discuss how the film is steeped in a child-like love of cinema that warms our hearts and refreshes our souls and makes our gall bladders purr like kittens that just had a nice bowl of warm milk and crawled off to a corner for a snooze. I would mention how nostalgic and bittersweet the movie is, and broadly comic and irreverent, and romantic at times and wistful and all the rest of those nice critic-friendly adjectives.
I might make passing mention of the kids fapping to Brigitte Bardot or the whore who has set up shop in the back of the theater for when people get bored of the latest Visconti meditation on the shittiness of the human condition. By way of adding color.
Because I'm me, I'm going to start with the fapping kids and ignore the nostalgia. Cause nostalgia is for weenies, and thankfully Cinema Paradiso, though fairly reeking of the n-stuff, has enough other tones going on to keep you from wanting to gag as if you were watching an episode of The Wonder Years. I like the fapping kids, and I'll tell you why: because their inclusion demonstrates a willingness to be frank about certain human tendencies, and this frankness is what makes Cinema Paradiso so damn adorable.
Yes, adorable. Not heart-wrenching or soul-stirring or any of that other jive. But cute. Like when teenage Toto breaks into the confession booth so he can have a few moments alone with his would-be lady love Elena. I like good old-fashioned sacrilege, especially when it's not laid on too thick. I like a movie that can portray a priest as a silly old fuddy-duddy without putting too fine a point on it (he's an asshole, but he means well). I like any flick that allows a pre-teen actor to smoke, flip people the bird and leer at slides of Rita Hayworth.
Were I to choose an adjective that sums up Cinema Paradiso, that adjective would be "life-embracing." It is also faintly mystical, but it's an earned mysticism, not the residue of mumbo-jumbo. It's a mysticism of movie images reflected via mirror onto giant outdoor walls, a lovelorn kid reclining next to the water in complete dereliction of duty, boats and sand and all that European shit. There's also a lot of comic child abuse, and comic child abuse never fails.
Sunday, November 08, 2009