×
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

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

  • Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad

    Clint Eastwood May Direct 'The Ballad of Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood may direct “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” a look at a security guard whose life gets turned upside down after media reports identified him as a possible suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing. The film is currently set up at Disney/Fox and could reunite Eastwood with Alan Horn, the current Disney Studios [...]

  • Hagazussa: A Heathen's Curse

    Film Review: 'Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse'

    If “The Witch” had been directed by the early-career Werner Herzog of “Aguirre,” “Heart of Glass,” and “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” the result might have been something in the spirit of “Hagazussa,” Lukas Feigelfeld’s wholly arresting feature debut. Given the extended U.S. title “A Heathen’s Curse” to underline saleable supernatural elements, this enigmatic folktale-cum-horror is [...]

  • Alex Ross Perry

    Alex Ross Perry to Write and Direct Stephen King's 'Rest Stop' for Legendary

    Alex Ross Perry will write and direct Legendary’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “Rest Stop.” King’s short, first published in Esquire magazine in 2003, won the national magazine award for fiction in 2004, and was later included in King’s 2008 collection, “Just After Sunset.” The movie is described as a propulsive cat-and-mouse thriller [...]

  • Hobbs & Shaw trailer

    'Hobbs & Shaw' New Trailer Touts More High-Intensity Fights

    A new “Hobbs & Shaw” trailer packs in the international action with fast cars and high-intensity fight scenes.  When the first trailer dropped in February, viewers were introduced to the genetically-enhanced villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, as well as a newly cordial relationship between old enemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason [...]

  • ralph Fiennes WHITE CROW Directing BTS

    Ralph Fiennes Examines Rudolf Nureyev's Complicated Life in 'The White Crow'

    The story of “The White Crow,” Ralph Fiennes’ latest directorial effort, is as topical as anything currently sitting on the desk of a studio head. It tells of a rebellious artist grappling with his sexuality during turbulent political times rife with tensions between the United States and an agitated Russia.  But though the upcoming film, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content