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The Dust of Naples

SEVEN-PART SCOPA

SEVEN-PART SCOPA

Bilancione ….. Gigio Morra

Bibbero ….. Antonio Iuorio

Sanguetta ….. Gianni Ferreri

Eugenio ….. Alan De Luca

THE WEDDING

Teresa ….. Teresa Saponangelo

Gino ….. Raffaele Musella

FRED

Pasqualo ….. Francesco Pennasilico

Ciriaco ….. Silvio Orlando

Rosita ….. Lola Pagnani

RICHARD GERE

Mimmo Pezzella ….. Giovanni Esposito

CHARLIE AND JERRY

Charlie ….. Silvio Orlando

Jerry ….. Tonino Taiuti

Many Neapolitan directors have been delivering their best efforts this season , as evident in “The Dust of Naples” by Antonio Capuano (“Vito and the Others,” “Pianese Nunzio, 14 in May.”) Designed as a sober update of Vittorio De Sica’s 1954 classic “The Gold of Naples,” Capuano’s pic refashions the Sophia Loren, De Sica, Toto and Eduardo De Filippo characters of yore in modern incarnations. In this switch to grotesque comedy, Capuano retains a sharply ironic edge in pic’s five episodes, showing how Naples’ gold has turned to dirt and grime without diminishing the Neapolitans’ raw, warmhearted humanity. A genuinely funny film, as well as a sincere one, it is well worth a look for fests and specialized buyers.

Closest brush with De Sica’s pic is the first episode, “Seven-Part Scopa,” in which a young aristo (Alan De Luca) with a weakness for cards persuades his doorman to arrange a game of scopa against local some butchers, playing for the highest stakes. Other echoes of the original film appear in the excellent “Charlie and Jerry,” where two fine sax players (Silvio Orlando and Tonino Taiuti) go from a kitschy wedding to a concert performance sans instruments (stolen from their car at a backwater cafe). To the crowd’s delight, they improvise some old routines of comic greats Toto and Eduardo De Filippo, proving that America may have jazz, but Naples has its own world-class talent.

Clouds of dust (pumped all too obviously by a dust machine) cover all Capuano’s homey characters, from the penniless newlyweds in the touching “The Wedding” to the raunchy Argentine tourists who butt their way into Pompei after hours in “Fred,” a surreal sex-and-Western romp with less bite than the other tales. In the one-man-show “Richard Gere,” a poor fool who aspires to be an actor (the irresistible Giovanni Esposito) has a vision of his glamorous hero ascending into heaven in a helicopter, while he himself is enveloped in the ubiquitous dust cloud.

In its best moments, “The Dust of Naples” strikes a deep chord because it avoids pontificating as it unveils the city’s lowly, streetwise, terribly human denizens scraping by 40 years after De Sica. Few members of the cast are well known outside Naples (Orlando being the exception); many are surprisingly good at contributing to pic’s grotesque atmosphere.

Capuano and cinematographer Pasquale Rachini use the camera with great control, concentrating on character and letting the atmosphere emerge naturally. Marco Zurzolo’s wide-ranging score is sophisticated fun.

The Dust of Naples

(COMEDY -- ITALIAN)

Production: A Fulvio Lucisano presentation of an Italian Intl. Film release of an AMA Film/GMF production in association with RAI Cinemafiction. Produced by Gianni Minervini. Directed by Antonio Capuano. Screenplay, Capuano, Paolo Sorrentino.

Crew: Camera (color), Pasquale Rachini; editor, Giogio Franchini; music, Marco Zurzolo; production/costume designer, Mario Di Pace; sound (Dolby), Tiziano Crotti; associate producer, Gian Mario Feletti; assistant director, Luca Capuano. Reviewed at Savoy Cinema, Rome, May 10, 1998. (In Cannes Film Festival --- market.) Running time: 104 MIN.

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