[EXPRESSO] Dante (2022) | Not Produced by EA Games

One of the advantage of being Italy-based is being able to easily see new movies from old italian directors that will never make the jump overseas, even on streaming, like this new romanticized retelling of the life of Dante Alighieri, released in theathers here in late September, simply called “Dante” and directed by Pupi Avati (famous for The House With The Laughing Windows, and also 2019’s Il Signor Diavolo).

Don’t ever say i don’t strive for variety, because i can assure you even here this is a niche release.

Regardless, it’s a period piece set in Reinassance Italy and fittingly follows Giovani Boccaccio’s ( the author of the Decameron and the first biographer of Dante, essential for cementing The Divine Comedy’s influence over time) efforts in redacting a piece about the life of the tuscanian poet, roughly 30 years after Dante’s death in 1321, coming in contact with people that were close to the poet and gathering new insight as he journeys to Ravenna in order to give Dante’s daughter monetary compensation on behalf of the city of Florence.

…it’s actually pretty good, as it goes for a realistic, grounded approach, does not shy away from the many unsavory aspects of the period or Dante’s life as a whole, be it the aftermath of the black plague, the political and religious intrigues in Florence leading to Dante fighting on the field and being exiled by the pope, the later years of extreme poverty, and not just quoting passages from his opus or his love for Beatrice.

All with a great italian cast, good costumes, some weird visuals, making for a good movie with a very niche target audience, even more since it’s definitely not an oversimplified digest of Dante Alighieri’s life and legacy made for audiences not versed in literature.

[EXPRESSO] Il Signor Diavolo (2019) | “Superstition, fear, and jealousy”

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To most of you in the english speaking regions, the name Pupi Avati most likely doesn’t ring a bell., but movie buffs may remember him as the director of The House With The Laughing Windows, and this movie (title translates to “Mr. Devil”, roughly, and came out a couple of days ago in Italy) marks its return to the horror genre since 1996’s The Mysterious Enchanter.

Set in the northern Italy of 1952, the movie follows a ministry inspector, Furiò (yes, with an “i”) Momentè, tasked to clean the reputation of the church regarding the murder of a teen, believed to be possessed by the locals, killed by a fourtheen year old boy named Carl. As he travels to Venice to investigate, he reads the reports of previous interrogatories with the boy, learning of how Carl and his friend Paul lived happily, until the arrival of Emilio, the deformed single heir of a powerful woman, and popular opinion is that he tore to pieces his own little sister.

Paul shows off and publicly humiliates Emilio, whom, angered, snarls at him with monstruous teeth, and weird things start happening in the archaic small town, still largely beholden to supersistion and a tangible, fearful belief in the Devil.

It’s an old school horror movie, in many ways (there some practical gore done by Sergio Stivaletti, better known for his work with Dario Argento), with a good atmosphere, and it’s intriguing to see the inspector wading through the files and trying to discern the truth, wrapped as it is in a shroud of confusion and beliefs borne from pious peasant minds prone to burn the witch, all serving a conflict of religious and political interests, with an ambiguous but satisfying outcome.

Quite good, despite the “slo-mo” effects being a little too “old school”.

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