Friday, February 1, 2008

Forgotten VHS #7- Moretti's "Caro Diario"



“The road movie” these days, at least in my thoughts, seems to be a uniquely American thing. Although there have been some examples of films from around the globe that take place on the road, the plethora of “road movies” are American. From Easy Rider (1969) to, most recently, Into The Wild (2007), the American road movies always take a turn for the worst in portraying some sort of idealism and moralistic values. That said, I was delighted to recently find Nanni Moretti’s Caro Diario (1993), a magnificentally playful “road movie” that transcends a traditional Italian point of view by creating what I see as maybe the only all encompassing road movie. Although Caro Diario, following the trek of Moretti who plays himself as a character in the film, spends much of its time traveling around Italy by Vespa or boat, the film works its way to more elegiac moments of austere beauty than all the American road movies I have seen.

Although Moretti as a character/actor could be compared to the sometimes abrasive personalities of Woody Allen, Roberto Benigni, or Caveh Zahedi (when they act), I found Moretti mostly endearing and more comparable to the tenderness of Zahedi in his magnificent documentaries, most notably In The Bathtub of the World (2001), than to any sort of irritating personality. Told in three distinct chapters, Moretti travels around Italy exploring the things he finds most beautiful, usually simple homes and bridges. Spiced up by an equally fun and touching soundtrack, Moretti’s ventures reminded me of the beauty we find everyday that much of the early work Bertolucci sought out. From the trip to the place of Pasolini’s execution to a conversation about “The Bold and the Beautiful” with American tourists, Caro Diario is full of great sights and power that could only be found by this drifting road movie. While it loses some steam in its painfully funny, in many ways satirical, final chapter, Caro Diario sustains itself as a vision of Italy, and the world, that I won’t soon forget.

Caro Diario is OOP on Region 2 DVD and VHS, but I was able to track down the VHS at my school library (I have to admit...I was assigned to watch Caro Diario in a Drift Cinema Theory class I am currently taking in my MA program at Columbia. My professor left a bootleg of Chapter One of the film for us to watch, telling us how hard the film was to find. I always take that as a challenge.) Even more exciting (which may make this less legitimate as a Forgotten VHS entry, but we don't have any more avenues/features for this to be written about yet...other than a straight up review), Caro Diario is actually available through the 'Watch Now' feature on Netflix. The film is not available to rent, but apparently if you have Windows and a Netflix account, you can watch it now. I strongly advise doing that.

by James Hansen

1 comment:

jacob shoaf said...

It's been added to my queue (for instant viewing purposes). Thanks for the heads up!