Posts Tagged ‘Matteo Garrone’

Marcello Fonte

“DOGMAN” My rating: C+

110 minutes |  No MPAA rating

In the opening scene of “Dogman,” the dog groomer Marcello (Marcello Fonte) is attempting to shampoo and dry a fierce pit bull.

Keeping just out of range of the chained beast’s chomping fangs, Marcello calms the monster with baby talk. (“Hey, Cutie-Pie. Hey, Sweetie.”)

Turns out he’s a lot better with animals than his fellow humans. It figures…little Marcello looks like nothing so much as a sad-eyed chihuahua.  And he’s got the timid personality to match.

“Dogman” comes to us from director Matteo Garrone, who had an international hit with 2008’s “Gommorah,” set in Southern Italy’s criminal underworld. This latest film is also about crime, albeit the unorganized kind.

Marcello, who is divorced and devoted to his young daughter, is an inoffensive sort. Which may explain why he is so routinely exploited by Simone (Edoardo Pesce), a hulking thief, coke addict and hair-trigger brute.  Simone is always pulling his little buddy into some sort of criminal enterprise, and Marcello is too weak  to refuse.

They reside in a seaside slum that may once have been a modern housing project but which how has succumbed to rust and mold. To one degree or another the men in the neighborhood subscribe the the traditional form of toxic masculinity; poor Marcello desperately wants their recognition and approval. (more…)

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Salma Hayek and sea serpent

Salma Hayek and sea serpent

“TALE OF TALES”  My rating: C

133 minutes | No MPAA rating

From a technical perspective, “Tale of Tales” is one gorgeous films, a visual masterpiece of art design and cinematography.

It’s also dramatically stillborn. Sort of like the least engaging Terry Gilliam movie ever.

Directed by Matteo Garrone (who made a big splash a few years back with his lacerating Neapolitan crime drama “Gomorrah”) and adapted from the 17th century fairy tales of Giambattista Basile (the creator of “Cinderella”), this big production interweaves three of Basile’s stories. There’s an emphasis on sex and violence. The kiddies are not invited.

In one story the King and Queen of Longtrellis (John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek) are so desperate to produce an heir that they take advice from a mysterious sorcerer. The King must kill a sea monster (he dies in the quest), the Queen must eat the great beast’s heart.

It works. Her Highness has a high-speed pregnancy that lasts all of 24 hours and produces a son.  Weirdly, the cook who prepares the heart also gives birth overnight to a baby boy who is a dead ringer for the young Prince. (As adolescents the Prince and the Pauper — both albinos, by the way — are played by real-life twins Christian and Jonah Lees).

The boys have a spiritual connection which the Queen tries to break by sending the Pauper off to a foreign land. But the Prince runs away to find him.

Meanwhile the incredibly horny King of nearby Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel) has fallen for one of two sisters (Hayley Carmichael, Shirley Henderson) he has espied from afar. He doesn’t realize that the object of his lust is an old crone, and the sisters wisely conduct all the negotiations for the loss of sister Dora’s virginity through a closed door.


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