I am not quite the fan of contemporary Italian films as I am of the Italian classics. Tonight I started — and quickly quit — watching Respiro (2002). Unlike an old Antonioni masterpiece or maybe a classic Marcello Mastroianni film, Respiro is too much shouting, poking, and sulking. Ten minutes in and it was giving me a headache.
Think of Hollywood romances from the 70s and 80s, those buttery, ingratiatingly soft-focused affairs that were just a bit smug and overdone. Respiro attempts to do to Italian pity what Hollywood did to American romance: Ruin it. (Although…a footnote here…I haven’t yet watched all of Respiro. See above.)
Respiro is an effort at making self-awareness an lugubrious art form but delivers little more than loud dissonance. Too much going on and nothing coming together. Sure, Fellini made busy, crazy films — and who can criticize Felini? — but he had style. Shoot, all Italians had style once! Even the milkman in post-war Rome wore a tailored suit. (cf. Umberto D, I believe there’s an example in that wonderful film.)
But Respiro? Eastern bloc chic looks better. There’s no style. Is that what’s happening today? Even the Europeans have lost their panache? (Lie to me, if you must, and say it isn’t true.)
So I am bitter…and sulking some. Most of all, I am not enjoying my Italian films, as you can tell. And adding insult to injury tonight, the subtitles don’t work all the time. E la mia lingua Itialian non è molto buona.
But what else am I going to do? It is Friday night, it is the Lenten season, and I am in Minneapolis.
By the way, anyone who has come to this post for a thoughtful reflection on the merits or meaning of Lent might be disappointed. At the moment, Lent describes a condition, a mode of existences, more than an obligation or commitment to the Church. Lent, in this case, is a convenient excuse to lay off the bar booze and reflect generally, not necessarily a religious moment. (No one will accuse me of being a practicing Catholic.) The Lenten train rolls around the track once a year and this year I have a ticket to ride.
So I am (mostly) abstaining from propping up the bottom line over at my favorite restaurants for a few days. What will come of it, one cannot predict. And dare not.
Nevertheless, this is Day 3 of my Lenten Sabbatical and I have to say it feels good. I am here complaining about Respiro, for example, and yet I feel pretty damn good. There is plenty to do in Minneapolis tonight, too, but I don’t want to do it. Nope. I am happy right where I am with a pile of unread books (and an order for even more books fully loaded and ready to go) and I have to say it feels pretty damn good. I believe some of the squirrels I feed in the back yard have moved in and now live under the floor beneath me … and that bothers me not a whit. in fact I feel pretty damn good. And even as I cobble together a Respiroesque post for you here, I feel pretty damn good…
Pretty damn good! Spoken as only a Minnesotan can speak it! Pretty damn good! And yes…even that feels pretty damn good.
Overkill? Hell no! Who is sulking now? Not me.
Nonetheless, perhaps I should stop writing for the moment and then later (when I care more) tell you about my successes and failures at staying away from the Brunellos and pale ales for 40 days. (I’m told it can be done.) I do have a short list of what I call “indulgences” — i.e., exceptions to the sabbatical from revelry — and there’s always the chance I can work through those with you in subsequent posts, too. The opportunity exists at least. Let’s see how long “pretty damn good” lasts. (Thirty-seven days to go…Lordy.)
But first…someone tell me…how does one go about speaking to unknown critters dancing beneath the hardwoods?
- Oh my Pagash! (dishranawaywiththespoon.com)
- Parents: 10 Engaging Lenten activities for your Kids (encourageandteach.wordpress.com)
- This fish fry goes formal (kansascity.com)
- “Giving Up Something” for Lent (orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org)
- Learning Italian As An Adult (blitalk.com)
- Set-jetting in Rome (brandsandfilms.com)
- Minneapolis Vacations (orbitz.com)