We Have a Pope
Dir: Nanni Moretti : Starring: Michel Piccoli, Nanni Moretti, Jerzy Stuhr
Unlike TV’s The Borgias, in which the election of a new Pope inspired bribery, blackmail and murder, Nanni Moretti’s film is a much friendlier affair, poking gentle fun at the excessive formality and eccentric process.
The election itself is a smooth process: the problem for the cardinals emerges when the newly-elected pontiff is due to address the faithful from the St Peter’s balcony and instead suffers a massive panic attack. Frantic excuses are made – “the Pope is praying for guidance” – and, as the public await news, a top psychoanalyst is called.
This, as you would imagine, causes some difficulties. For a start, the cardinals insist on ground rules – “the concepts of soul and subconscious cannot possibly coexist” – for the eminent shrink, who also happens to be an atheist. Meanwhile, the Pope-to-be goes walkabout…
Veteran Piccoli plays the potential pontiff and Moretti himself the analyst, but it is the slew of weathered character-filled old Italian faces of the cardinals that the camera loves most. It’s a handsome production, if somewhat leisurely, revelling in the pageantry. While occasionally slipping into whimsy, it is infused with a sly wit that does nothing to diffuse its basic humanity or the central issues of faith and doubt. In Italian with English subtitles.
Margaret bloody Thatcher. Of all the politicians I detest (and the list is not insubstantial) Thatcher sits at the top, a poisonous, divisive rebuke to anyone who believes in a caring society. And she’s back. Or at least damn close to it, as Meryl Streep’s uncanny portrayal in The Iron Lady nails the look, the voice, the works. So this, a sad view of a latter-day Maggie coping with dementia, chatting to her dead hubby (Jim Broadbent) and flashing back to political victories, will probably appeal to anyone who didn’t pay attention. Anyone who did will be appalled by the casual glossing over of her malignant policies and destructive influence.
Amidst the chaos of post 9/11 New York, Channing Tatum’s cop is assigned to an old 1980s double murder in Son of No One. It happened in his old neighbourhood of Queens and has been newly stirred up by Juliette Binoche’s reporter. Inevitably, cover-up, corruption and childhood secrets are revealed. Too many childhood secrets in fact, since continual cross-cutting between 1986 and 2002 robs the modern story of momentum. It looks good, and having Al Pacino and Katie Holmes on support duty certainly helps, but in the end the story drags too much without any real emotional involvement.
The opening of Panic Button doesn’t bode well. “Inspired by true stories shared via social networks” it says. Seriously dude? Four website competition winners are flown from London to New York on a private plane. But all-expenses-paid luxury soon turns to unease due to a sinister on-board video game, which soon turns deadly for all involved. It’s not well shot and completely fails to capitalise on the potential paranoia and claustrophobia of a small plane, but the unfolding game – briefly at least – does have a certain sadistic fascination. If this is the sort of “true story shared via social networks” then Facebook’s days are numbered.
And, for those of you who haven’t stumped up the extra dosh to watch drama on SKY’s Soho channel, the good news is that the second season of the brilliant Treme is now out on DVD. Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, the series follows a disparate bunch of musicians, chefs, police and others, highlighting fantastic music, great food, and the ever-changing backdrop of the Crescent City. Narratively loose and atmospherically overwhelming, this is TV drama at its best.