×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Growing Artichokes in Mimongo

Growing Artichokes in Mimongo" is a breezy comedy about love and unemployment , styled on the kind of no-frills, micro-budget U.S. indies, like "Clerks," that rarely surface in Italy. The laughs in Fulvio Ottaviano's debut feature are not always as consistent as they could be, but pic's winning leads, lively soundtrack and amusing view of typical twentysomething problems should help sell it to young auds nationally and in offshore fest slots.

With:
Sergio ... Daniele Liotti Rita ... Francesca Schiavo Enzo ... Valerio Mastandrea Federico ... Francesco Siciliano Torelli ... Rocco Papaleo Sergio's Father ... Piero Natoli Sergio's Mother ... Simona Marchini Horror Film Director ... Christopher Buchholz Voice of Ermanno Lopez ... Piero Chiambretti

Growing Artichokes in Mimongo” is a breezy comedy about love and unemployment , styled on the kind of no-frills, micro-budget U.S. indies, like “Clerks,” that rarely surface in Italy. The laughs in Fulvio Ottaviano’s debut feature are not always as consistent as they could be, but pic’s winning leads, lively soundtrack and amusing view of typical twentysomething problems should help sell it to young auds nationally and in offshore fest slots.

Picked up for domestic release by heavyweight distrib the Cecchi Gori Group, this resourceful production, made on a slender budget of $ 560,000, was shot in surprisingly crisp B&W on an antique Arriflex camera from the late 1940s.

Having graduated in agronomy with a thesis on raising crops in dry soil, Sergio (Daniele Liotti) determines to find a job, using a self-help manual, “The Practical Guide to Finding Work.” The tome’s optimistic author (played in voiceover by satirical TV journalist Piero Chiambretti) rallies him on through each step, from composing a resume through targeting a firm to tailoring his look prior to the big interview for an agricultural position in Africa.

Serving as distractions to his career mission are his ex-flame, Rita (singer Francesca Schiavo in her first acting gig), who is about to marry another man despite Sergio’s continuing passion for her, and his lady-killer roommate, Enzo (Valerio Mastandrea), who strongly advocates sponging off one’s parents.

Taking a light, off-the-cuff look at unemployment (which contrasts with the poignantly human one in Aki Kaurismaki’s wonderful “Drifting Clouds” this year), Ottaviano and co-scripter/producer Francesco Martinotti milk much humor from the seemingly incompatible combo of California-style positive thinking and the Mediterranean propensity for improvisation in near-disastrous circumstances.

Handsome star Liotti provides a solid fulcrum, even if most of the best dialogue goes to the extremely likable Mastandrea, who appears ripe to be plucked for more mainstream comedy work.

Starting out fast and snappy, the editing, like the humor, allows the material to become sluggish later on, but its easy unpretentiousness keeps it entertaining. Songs by Euro music star Jovanotti, Schiavo and other young acts pep up the soundtrack. Given the noise produced by the archaic camera used, sound recording is remarkably sharp.

Growing Artichokes in Mimongo

(CRESCERANNO I CARCIOFI A MIMONGO)

Production: (ITALIAN) A Cecchi Gori Distribuzione release (in Italy) of an Iterfilm production. (International sales: Intermedia, Rome.) Produced by Laurentina Guidotti, Francesco Ranieri Martinotti. Directed by Fulvio Ottaviano. Screenplay, Martinotti, Ottaviano.

Crew: Camera (B&W) , Marco Cristiani; editors, Ottaviano, Alessandro Corradi; music, Gian Andrea Tabacchi; art direction, Martinotti; costume design, Cristina Francioni; sound, Fabio Felici; assistant director, Antonio Morabito. Reviewed at Cecchi Gori Group screening room, Rome, Oct. 21, 1996. Running time: 79 MIN.

With: Sergio ... Daniele Liotti Rita ... Francesca Schiavo Enzo ... Valerio Mastandrea Federico ... Francesco Siciliano Torelli ... Rocco Papaleo Sergio's Father ... Piero Natoli Sergio's Mother ... Simona Marchini Horror Film Director ... Christopher Buchholz Voice of Ermanno Lopez ... Piero Chiambretti

More Film

  • Singapore Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies

    Singaporean Actor Aloysius Pang, 28, Dies While on Military Service

    Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died Wednesday of injuries sustained while on military training in New Zealand. He was 28. Pang was best known for his appearance in movies “Young & Fabulous” and “Timeless Love.” He also had a string of credits in Singapore TV series. Pang was involved in an accident last week while repairing [...]

  • Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi

    Alibaba Lends $100 Million to Huayi Bros. in Film Investment Expansion

    Alibaba Pictures Group, the film business arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has struck a strategic cooperation deal with leading film studio Huayi Bros. The deal includes a $103 million (RMB700 million) loan to Huayi. Alibaba Pictures said the agreement was part of its recently announced strategy to be involved in major movies aimed for [...]

  • Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear

    Netflix Buys Taiwan Black Comedy 'Dear Ex'

    Netflix has added to its roster of Mandarin-language content with the acquisition of rights to Taiwanese dark comedy “Dear Ex.” The award-winning film will play out from Feb. 1. The story involves a recently bereaved widow and a gay man fighting over a dead man’s inheritance, with the woman’s teenage son caught in the middle. [...]

  • Audrey Wells

    Film News Roundup: Audrey Wells Scholarships Launched by UCLA, China's Pearl Studio

    In today’s film news roundup, Pearl Studio and UCLA start a “Say Yes!” scholarship in memory of Audrey Well; Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale are honored; and the “General Magic” documentary gets bought. SCHOLARSHIPS UNVEILED China’s Pearl Studio has made a gift of $100,000 for endowed scholarships to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and [...]

  • Honey Boy Knock Down the House

    Sundance Hot Titles List: 13 Buzzy Films That Have Buyers Talking

    There’s a good reason that much of Hollywood braves the thin mountain air each year to make the trek to the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s not to check out the nearby ski slopes. The annual launch of the indie film gathering brings with it the possibility of discovering the next big thing in moviemaking. [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    Will Oscar Nominations Give This Year's Contenders a Box Office Boost?

    With nominees like “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “A Star Is Born,” the 2018 class of movies proved the Oscars don’t need a popular films category to recognize movies that also made bank in theaters. But now that the academy has selected this year’s crop of awards hopefuls, is there any green left to squeeze [...]

  • A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's

    Sundance: A24 Buys Sequel to Tilda Swinton's Romance-Drama 'The Souvenir'

    A24 has bought the North American rights to Tilda Swinton’s romance-drama “The Souvenir – Part 2,” closing the deal on the eve of the Sundance Film Festival. “The Souvenir” is set to make its world premiere at Sundance on Jan. 27, followed by playing in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival in February. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content