Uomini uomini uomini
In a previous post I argued for the liberatory thrust in ‘Cacao meravigliao’, a carnivalesque episode of Anni 90, and by extension in the cinepanettone as a whole. My argument was constructed on the analysis of the performance of unruliness in female drag by white male Italian actors, and so begs the question: on behalf of whom is the transgression performed, and what are the costs of the transgression for other groups and identities? In the case of ‘Cacao meravigliao’, the cost seems to involve a stereotypical representation of the Other, the Brazilian ‘shemales’ whose abject, ‘composite’ bodies guarantee by contrast the unitary sex of the male protagonists. The cost for females is that they are effectively marginalized, confined to the roles of prostitute or wife, by the impersonation of unruly womanhood by men.
Trigamist Fabio Trivellone with his black family in Merry Christmas
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.
Interview transcripts (1): parlano i critici (Della Casa, Giusti, Silvestri)
I’m working though the transcripts of the interviews myself and Luca Peretti have done about the cinepanettone, accounts of which can be found in the following posts:
- A week of Interviews
- On interviewing method
- Massimo Boldi on his comedy
- Neri Parenti on beginning work on the cinepanettone every January
- Focus group
- Two films, two scholars, two directors, one cabbie and a critic
- Marco Martani on multiple address
My plan is to construct a virtual roundtable discussion on the cinepanettone taking in a variety of perspectives. The eventual thing should be about 10,000 words (to be published in the project monograph) but I’m posting here the work in progress, as I edit the transcripts and organize them thematically. In transcribing the interviews we decided to maintain the natural pauses, hesitations, rewordings and so on of ordinary speech (and the punctuation mark most often employed is the ellipsis). These will probably have to be replaced and cleaned up in the final version, but I retain most of them here, for the record.
In this first batch, I have juxtaposed the words of three left-wing critics, all somewhat sympathetic to the cinepanettone: Stefano (detto Steve) Della Casa, expert on popular cinema and presenter of RAI Tre daily radio show on cinema ‘Hollywood Party’ (interviewed December 2010); Marco Giusti, arbiter of Italian cult cinema and film critic at il manifesto (interviewed December 2010); Silvana Silvestri, also film critic for il manifesto and versatile writer on film (interviewed January 2011). My questions are signalled with an ‘A’ for Alan. I begin by trying to elicit the history of the Christmas outing to the cinema…
Vacanze di Natale (1983): Instant Nostalgia
‘Le madeleines di Proust sono ora prodotte in serie.’ (Emiliano Morreale)
Here I continue to extract some material from a forthcoming article written for the first issue of a new Italian journal of history and cinema edited by Christian Uva, entitled ‘Nostalgia per un decennio disprezzato: appunti sul primo cinepanettone’.
In an interesting book on nostalgia in the cinema, Emiliano Morreale argues that nostalgia in its ‘postmodern’ form was born in Italy in the 1980s. He locates to the years around 1980 the emergence of a ‘nostalgia mediale e di massa’ that finds its motifs and Madeleines in lowbrow culture. Morreale signals Sapore di Mare (Carlo Vanzina, 1983) as a key text of the ‘new’ nostalgia, a film which releases a ‘fenomeno centrale’ of the period, that of the ‘filone “giovanilista-nostalgico”’ in Italian cinema.
The cinepanettone and the ‘wrong’ sort of spectator
In this and the next post I extract some material from a pair of forthcoming articles, one by myself and one co-written with Catherine O’Rawe. My own article is written for an issue of a new Italian journal of history and cinema edited by Christian Uva, and is entitled ‘Nostalgia per un decennio disprezzato: appunti sul primo cinepanettone’. With Catherine I wrote ‘Contemporary Italian Filmgoers and their Critics’, to come out as part of the collection Watching Films: New Perspectives on Movie-Going, Exhibition and Reception, ed. by Karina Aveyard and Albert Moran (Bristol: Intellect, forthcoming 2012).
In the next post I will talk about the fan nostalgia for the first cinepanettone, Vacanze di Natale (Carlo Vanzina, 1983). The theme I want to develop here is my hunch that the critical accounts of the cinepanettone may be bound to the date of production of Vacanze di Natale. In other words, the film is seen by critics as an exemplary product of the decade in which, for many, a new qualunquismo that would become a full-blown berlusconismo was born. This was the period when, for critics like Brunetta, the Italian ‘homo cinematograficus’ spectated his last, to be replaced by a fickle and inconstant comedy fan like the one for the cinepanettone itself. Is it the case that the cinepanettoni are so regularly and ritualistically denigrated because they are considered to appeal to the ‘wrong’ sort of spectator, a non-cinephile sensation seeker?
A group of tolerant level 2 Leeds students listened to my clumsy first lecture on the cinepanettone today, for the module ‘Italian Cinema: Genre and Social Change’. Here they are above, in Roger Stevens lecture theatre 16, watching an extract from Merry Christmas. I hope the lecture made up in clips for what it lacked in coherence. I was only interrupted in exasperation once - by a student from an Italian family who corrected my impression that parolacce are utterly verboten on Italian TV, even on Grande fratello. Apparently not: ‘bestemmiare’ is what gets you ejected from the House; the rest is just beeped.
In any case, I placed the lecture under the sign of Bakhtin, and tried to imagine the cinepanettone, a ‘festive’ film, as an instance of the carnivalesque. I emphasized two contradictory aspects: the ‘ritual’ character of their cinema consumption in sala, and in company, versus fan consumption at home. The film chosen was Natale sul Nilo, but I tried to discuss the filone as a whole and tried to think about the consequences that consideration of a series has for the analysis of an individual film. I compared the films to the British Carry On series - we watched the trailer from Carry on Doctor (Gerald Thomas, 1967) for a taste of the similar humour. We listened to Marco Martani talking about the different sorts of comedy packed into the big store sequence from Merry Christmas, and I pointed out how this implied a kind of multiple address for the films, something that might throw conventional aesthetics into crisis. I talked about pop songs in Vacanze di Natale and the survival of the hit of the year in the more recent ones. I linked this to the ‘cult’ and nostalgic appeal of the films. Finally, I contrasted the experience of consumption in the cinema - with the family, in couples, with friends, and with potentially contagious laughter - with home consumption, and imagined the fan constructing an anthology of favourite songs, scenes and battute on Youtube, on a fan site, or just in his or her head.