Wednesday 27 December 2023

Dear Diary (Caro Diario) [1993]

 Nanni Moretti’s delightful, drifting and self-deprecating rendition of his ironic and neurotic protagonist – part actual self, part alter-ego, part satiric depiction – in his wry, idiosyncratic and infectious gem Caro Diario, is bound to remind one of the celebrated self-representations by the likes of Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, Woody Allen and João César Monteiro; yet, for all the supposed similarities – even if these were parallels to be proud of – this was a distinctively and uniquely Moretti creation. The loosely structured triptych, filled with deadpan sketches, worked along multiple overlapping forms – an intimate and self-reflective diary film; a disarmingly mordant and subversive satire on vacuous consumerism, market forces and politics (no wonder, there was a stirring nod to Pasolini’s murder); a rich self-referential examination; a freewheeling city symphony and road film; and quirky notes on cinema, pop-culture, friendship and mortality. The 1st chapter, titled “On My Vespa”, sees an impish Moretti riding through the different quarters of Rome on the iconic scooter, observing diverse architectures, quipping on gentrification, making incongruous conversations, lambasting shallow movie trends, and expressing a goofy love for Flashdance. In the 2nd chapter, titled “Islands”, a deadpan Moretti and an austere intellectual friend – who deplores television, only to become obsessed with American soap opera – decide to hop from one oddball island to another, including Rossellini’s Stromboli, in the futile hope of working on their art bereft of urban distractions. The final chapter, titled “Doctors”, sees a flummoxed Moretti visiting a series of conventional and alternative “doctors” trying to get an irrepressible itchiness cured, only to learn – fortunately, before it was too late – that he’s become inflicted with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the chemotherapy treatments that he must then endure.

Director: Nanni Moretti

Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire/Film a Clef/Anthology Movie

Language: Italian

Country: Italy

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