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Pietro Castellitto, and now I know your cocks

Photo: Fabrizio Cestari. Grooming: Emanuela Di Giammarco

The ‘son of’ (symbolically) kills the father. And he eliminates all the clichés of the ‘young Italian face’, taking the best roles (from the new awaited Mainetti to the biopic series on Totti) and placing himself among the authors of tomorrow. With ‘I predatori’, the explosive directorial debut of those who came to stay

When he speaks he looks for the right words and every now and then he stops. He has some sentences ready, he feels, they are the small shield of his first interviews. “This story of the son of… There is a list of children who have never done anything even if they wanted to, ”he says, sitting at a bar table. Son of Sergio Castellitto and Margaret Mazzantini, both actors, directors, writers, Pietro Castellitto has breathed cinema in one way or another at home. Apart from that, “my father comes from a family nobly popular », he almost defends himself,« and I attended public schools and private schools, I attended elementary school at Leopardi like Nanni Moretti, I had poor and rich friends, right and left ». He graduated in philosophy on Friedrich Nietzsche with a thesis on Genealogy of morality. At 29, he lives alone in a grandmother’s old apartment in the Prati neighborhood, but hasn’t cut the cord or family lunches, quite the contrary.

He is an actor and so we learned to know him, with a funny face and a profile that seems drawn. He was an aspiring porn star in the forgotten Was a star born? with Littizzetto and Papaleo, then the “Secco” in a not too lucky version of Armadillo Prophecy by Zerocalcare. It is going to jump back to everyone’s attention by participating in Freaks Out, the highly anticipated second film by Gabriele Mainetti, and with the impossible feat of being Francesco Totti in the Sky series directed by Luca Ribuoli and expected for next year, title I was hoping de died first. “At first I was baffled. I couldn’t understand how you could stage a forty-year-old living myth that could potentially do it alone, because Totti isn’t dead like Elvis Presley ». Roma fan, frequenter of the curve, expert connoisseur (so one would say) of fan rituals, explains that the difficulty of the enterprise is doubled by the fact that “Totti is someone who imitates him disrespects him”. He met Totti – whom he doesn’t look like at all, but who cares – and he gave him permission to invent words where a glance or a gesture was enough for the captain’s shy character. “Basically it is the intimate tragedy of a man who has to stop doing what he was born for, which is playing football,” he adds. And the idea that the melancholy of the End can tell a whole story suddenly enlightens us. He hasn’t seen anything of his work, he adds honestly, but he has “positive feelings”, as football coaches sometimes say in interviews.

Photo: Fabrizio Cestari. Grooming: Emanuela Di Giammarco

The predators – the directorial debut at the cinema on 22 October, already awarded for the best screenplay by Orizzonti in Venice 77 – he wrote it five years ago. Alone, he is keen to underline it: «Let’s say I didn’t let myself be compromised. We are very used to seeing films in which the subject is written by four people and the screenplay by four others, so it is obvious that the vision is a bit dispersed ». The degree served him. In the story he cuts out for himself the role of Federico, the bewildered assistant of a university professor of philosophy (the Neapolitan actor Nando Paone) who is leaving with his collaborators to unearth the body of Nietzsche from the tomb in the small cemetery of Röcken and analyze the remains of the supposed organic cause of the philosopher’s madness. Although the story moves on the tracks of the almost insane, the day that Federico (like Friedrich) is taken out of the expedition for apparently trivial reasons, his anger will prove to be even explosive. “At the age of 19 I really took a trip to the places in Niccola,” he reveals. “After ten days of driving around Germany, I arrived in front of the tomb, the same one where we shot the film’s finale. There was no one and I thought: if I had a crowbar I could take out the box and take it to Rome ».

Critics have already complained about the episodic character of the film. What should hold together a perfidious scam against an elderly lady from Ostia and the incident on the set of an Italian film about the Risorgimento where an actor ends up half-hanged when the gallows trick doesn’t work? And why should a group of very burly neo-fascists, big fat and with Hawaiian shirts, share the screen with the head physician of a private clinic who fucks the wife of a partner who is sick with a bad disease? We are in Rome, the carnival form of satire (in these parts it was already practiced two thousand years ago) helps. Even the theory of the three worlds – above, between, below – and their more recently discovered permeability, is perhaps unwittingly parodied. But the impression from the first empty shots – fixed frames in a bucolic landscape of Northern Europe to discover a roaring red Volkswagen parked and the boom of an explosion in the distance – is that The predators you aim at a deeper target: to tell a paradoxical world where the bonds of reality are not as stable as they seem.

«This is a film where chance is central. The characters meet by chance, but when this happens, chance becomes destiny, it could only go that way. The camera is the deus ex machina that takes the case in a precise direction ». There are cinema habits arty, from hyperintelligent comedy. Some sequences “detach” from the editing several seconds later than necessary and the camera continues to frame the nothing. The reason must be sought in philosophy, even before in cinema. “I have never studied cinema,” says Pietro. “I once went to school in London for two months, but I only went there to learn English. Instead I went to many assistant sets, even my father’s sets. It is a profession that you learn in this way, doing it and making mistakes, it’s not like writing that you first write for your own sake and then make a novel… ».

Photo: Fabrizio Cestari. Grooming: Emanuela Di Giammarco

There really is an entomological taste in Predators, which leads to individually follow each of the characters grappling with their own destiny and with that of their family group, the Pavone and the Vismaras, North Rome vs Outside Rome, rich and progressive the first vs poor and fascistoni the others – as he has taught us for years any editorial by Merlo and / or Galli della Loggia -, differently (and horrendously) vital (Italians, can you say?) both. United by an incident that brings the old mother of the fascistoni to the hospital of the Vismara primary and Federico in the back room of the Vismara armory, in search of the means by which to appease the anger for having been ousted from the Niccian expedition.

Both representations are nourished by stereotypes that are all in all familiar, from Vanzinian comedy but reinterpreted in the light of Charlie Kaufman and also of the Simpsons, seen and reviewed on Netflix or who knows where. Mostly The predators it is the film of one capable of exploring the more contemporary sides of the city, including the corners and shadows. It is the product of a fresh, generational gaze: the D’Innocenzo brothers, not surprisingly, are dear friends. “I’ve been around Rome since I was little, starting with bars,” says Castellitto. «I had a passion for hotels, I know them all by heart». What do you mean? «Dad accompanied me with an excuse, he said: my son is doing a research for the school on the most beautiful hotels in Rome. And because they recognized him, they let us tour the rooms. In Naples, at the time of the fiction about Padre Pio, they gave us the keys ».

Photo: Fabrizio Cestari. Grooming: Emanuela Di Giammarco

Who I really am The predators? We would bet by eye on the progressive rich (not too radical and not too chic) ​​Massimo Popolizio and Dario Cassini. In the film, the representation of popular and peripheral fascistons – Giorgio Montanini and Antonio Gherardi among others – and their alternative style, like a parody of Casa Pound, is striking. It is even disturbing to hear at the end, and without even the shadow of quotes, a song by ZetaZeroAlfa with an indie-songwriter look. “The fascists are very colorful in this story, they wear flowered shirts and they are fat,” explains Castellitto. “I don’t mean they are all like that. Fascism is here aposematism (italics mine, he pronounces the word with remarkable nonchalance, nda), that is the characteristic that animals have of having colored skin to tell others that they are poisonous. Then, in the course of history, they lose the poison, but this pigment remains on ». Ingenious and sophisticated metaphor. Pure slippery. In interviews and press conferences around Venice, Castellitto spoke several times of a film “not anti-fascist, certainly anti-bourgeois”.

«An anti-fascist film would have made sense to do it in the 1920s. But they weren’t going to let me do it, “he explains again, and jokes. “Today they make you do it immediately: power always finds very refined weapons to impose itself.” The predators it is dedicated “to my grandfather”: Carlo Mazzantini was the original “boy from Salò”, a former republican, author of memoir. Castellitto continues: «The film has the spirit of one who has ideological prejudices. If I like someone, I like him, also because I myself can’t be labeled. I deal with my life: where I felt the absence of democracy and freedom, where I lacked air. Growing up, I have always perceived that those who really had the tools to guide culture were certainly not in the neo-fascist circles ».

Photo: Fabrizio Cestari. Grooming: Emanuela Di Giammarco

Will there be anything to worry about? We hope not. Like certain philosophy students (all the good ones at least) Pietro Castellitto has a passion for dialectics, for the intoxication and thrill of dialectics. In a sketch at the pub in the role of Federico, fixed camera and real mugs of beer, he duels with a friend, marrying the Niccola argument of the geniuses who make history, while the friend takes the decisive role of the masses. “I really believe it, but that was a post-beer clash of moods,” he comments. The scene strikes above all in the final enthusiast for the glass broken probably by chance, left there in the editing. He concludes: «Nietzsche is a kind of guardian angel in the film. I always say that this is an ensemble film, but the characters don’t know it ».

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