|Director Nanni Moretti On His Scooter|
I didn’t think I was going to like this movie. I had read about it in Bondanella’s history of Italian cinema and it sounded kind of neat, but I still had misgivings. Within the first 10 minutes, I was sold. The film follows director Nanni Moretti as he goes through three distinct episodes: 1. In Vespa, 2. Islands, and 3. Doctors.
In this episode, he takes a note from Fellini’s Roma and rides around on his scooter as we follow from the back and the front during the summer. We get to see many beautiful buildings and an area that is supposed to be dreadful, but isn’t so bad as Manetti remarks. We also meet Jennifer Beals from the film Flashdance since Manetti has wanted to dance ever since he saw the film. She ultimately decides that the best way to describe Manetti, who has stopped on the side of the road to talk to her, is “kind of stupid.” My favorite line in the whole film comes from Manetti when he responds to a film with whiny middle-agers moaning that, “We used to shout horrendous, violent things, in our marches and now look how ugly we got.” Manetti responds with “YOU used to shout horrendous and violent things and you got ugly. I used to shout true things, and now I’m a wonderful 40 year old man.” The most moving part is when he visits the site of Pasolini’s murder.
|Where Pasolini was killed by his gay lover in 1975.|
In this episode, Manetti and a friend who doesn’t watch television try to find a quiet place to do their work by visiting some of the Italian islands, like Stromboli. What makes this part great, isn’t just the gorgeous scenery, but because we see the need for a balance between the modern world and a place where you can relax that is somewhat untouched. The funniest part is how Manetti’s friend becomes addicted to television. So much so, that he makes Manetti go down the volcano on Stromboli to ask American tourists about soaps since the United States are ahead of them.
The final episode of the film is based off of Moretti’s own experience with doctors and the struggle to get a diagnosis for his disease. What starts out as a visit to a dermatologist for an itch turns into thicket of doctors and scores of pills, topicals, and other treatments. A simple chest x-ray finally leads doctors to find that he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was treatable.
This part resonated with me because when I was younger I had warts. The dermatologist tried burning them off, but to no avail. The doctor decided to try a new treatment where they put something on the warts to make them itch. The idea was that when your immune system comes up to fight the itch it will see the warts and fight them off as well. I asked explicitly whether it would spread if I scratched one of the warts and then scratched somewhere else. The doctor said no, but of course it did. It spread all over my body and took around 6-8 months to get cleared up. In the meantime, I was bounced from doctor to doctor including the doctor at UCSF who thought up the treatment. That doctor told me I needed to put a topical on my body and sleep in a latex suit to sweat it out. The next doctor told me I needed to dry it out. Amazing. Luckily, I didn’t get the runaround for something more serious like Moretti did.
Nanni Moretti definitely has things to say about modern Italy, but he never goes to extremes and applies his sarcasm equally to people who try to retreat from things like TV as he does to people who think a perfectly arranged vacation is a vacation at all. I recommend it.