A woman in a wedding dress with explosive diarrhoea
Other uses for a street in Bridesmaids
The licence granted to male characters in the cinepanettone to misbehave and to dispense abuse can be related to the ‘trickster’ figure found in traditional cultures, ‘an unruly male figure who breaks the rules, is governed by uncontrollable biological urges for food and sex and who often lacks a sense of unity and control of his own body parts’ (King, p. 64). Such a description applies well to aspects of the Boldi or De Sica personae, even if the trickster figures invoked by King are native to social and historical circumstances radically different from the populous and complex mass-media society that is contemporary Italy.
The risk of relating Boldi and De Sica to the trickster figure of traditional cultures is not only one of comparing historical unlike with unlike; it is also one of naturalizing an inequitable allotment of roles and power to the genders. Contemporary Italy is also a society where women, despite undoubted impediments, can and do work in the public spheres of business, media or politics, and so one might expect that certain symbolic forms of licence granted to men be extended also to women. Speaking of the cinepanettone, this seems to be the case only to a limited degree. Indeed, I suspect that one of the reasons the cinepanettone has failed to thrive in recent years is that it has not been brave enough with the grotesque or unruly representation of women. When the gross-out social satire Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011) was released in Italy it was compared to a cinepanettone – but no cinepanettone has ever featured a woman in a wedding dress with explosive diarrhoea. That, it seems, would be transgression too far even for the Italian transgressive form par excellence. The cinepanettone has the power to contravene social decorum through the antics of its male ‘tricksters’, but gender decorum is much harder to breach.
This is not to say that the cinepanettone is devoid of grotesque or unruly women, even if these have often been marginal figures constrained by the plot or restricted to the sentimental sphere.
Interview transcripts (4): registi e sceneggiatori (Paolo Costella, Enrico Oldoini, Neri Parenti, Carlo Vanzina, Enrico Vanzina)
‘Neanche Shrek fa riferimento alla realtà americana.’ (Neri Parenti)
Costella, Oldoini, Parenti
Continuing from the three previous posts (here, here, and here), more edited transcripts of the interviews myself and Luca Peretti have done about the cinepanettone, in this case of the screenwriters and/or directors, Paolo Costella (who directed the 2010 Boldi film A Natale mi sposo), Enrico Oldoini (who has also done a Boldi film and several Filmauro films in the 1990s), of stalwart cinepanettone writer and helmer Neri Parenti (too many films to mention), and Carlo and Enrico Vanzina, the writing/directing team who did the first cinepanettone (though they would refuse the term) and several since (they scripted 2011’s Vacanze di Natale a Cortina with Neri Parenti).
Carlo and Enrico Vanzina
The interviews with Paolo Costella and Neri Parenti took place in December 2010 (when Natale in Sud Africa was still on release). I spoke to the Vanzinas in February 2011 (Enrico twice) and a cautious Enrico Oldoini in April.
My questions are signaled with an ‘A’, and Luca’s with an ‘L’. The interviews have been transcribed by Luca and Damiano Garofalo - sincere thanks to both of them.
More comedy models and motifs in the cinepanettone
Following on from the previous post in which I pointed out possible sources for the banterous ‘buddy’ relationships in Natale in Sud Africa (2010), and an earlier entry in which I pointed out the echoes in a Neri Parenti film of a satirical motif from the commedia all’italiana, I want to post here a few clips and photos to illustrate further comedy models for the cinepanettoni.
Director Neri Parenti’s fondness for silent comedy (he has made a pair of films with Paolo Villaggio and Renato Pozzetto entitled Le comiche (1990, 1991) - the title also once given to programmes of silent comedy on Italian TV), slapstick and violent cartoons is well known. These first few clips illustrate something of this taste.
Ignore for now - if you can - the race and gender issues in the following clip from Parenti’s Natale a Rio (2008) and concentrate instead on the cartoon inflation of the dead cat. Christian De Sica told me that he and Ghini (the two actors in the clip) were annoyed at how unpersuasive the fake cat was (and the digital rendition is clumsy too) but it seems to me that this absence of realism allows the viewer to collaborate in the joke.