Car crashes. Shoot outs. Dismembered bodies. A hero and a bastard of a villain. No, it’s not a Hollywood summer blockbuster; this is 21st century Italian cinema.
This year’s ‘Best New Director’ (David di Donatello Awards), Gabriele Mainetti has given Italians what they say they’ve been wanting for years: an action packed, super hero movie with great special effects, and Call Me Jeeg is a good one for so many reasons.
A Roman thug (played by Claudio Santamaria) ends up with super powers when he gets exposed to radioactive waste after a dunk in the Tiber (and those of who have seen the less than pristine Tevere lately will get their first laugh here).
When Alessia, the mentally challenged but beautiful daughter of a colleague (Ilenia Pastorelli) becomes convinced that Enzo is Jeeg Robot from the ’70s anime and manga series, she urges him to use his powers for good and against evil, particularly the evil Fabio (Luca Marinelli). Enzo’s been existing without a whole lot of human contact for a while, retreating to his hovel at night to eat yogurt and watch porn, so the admiration that she shows him is confusing. “I don’t know how to do this”, he tells her. “You have to help me.”
Enzo’s been living in the shadows, but Fabio’s been seeking the spotlight, and for each of them, the modern phenomenon of social media plays a big part in their individual and collective stories; the effect is dead on topical and crucial to the film’s fast pace.
Mainetti wasn’t the only award winner in this film; the actors impressed everyone and swept all four of the actor awards at the Italian academy awards. Antonia Truppo: Best Supporting Actress. Luca Marinelli: Best Supporting Actor. Ilenia Pastorelli: Best Actress. Claudio Santamaria: Best Actor.
Finally, for all the waiters, cab drivers, and random young people I’ve stopped to ask in every Italian city possible; “Do you like the movies that your country makes?”, and for all the times they’ve said, “No, I only watch American movies”, this movie’s for you. Gabriele Mainetti has heard your cry for a slick, funny, bloody, and even romantic action film. It’s time. Go back and see what your country’s filmmakers have been up to.
See this at Canada’s ICFF
Screening times and locations:
June 11 @ 7:15pm TIFF – Toronto
June 14 @ 7:00pm Colossus – Vaughan
or with the Film Society Lincoln Centers Open Roads: New Italian Cinema
Saturday, June 4, 8:45 PM
Tuesday, June 7, 3:30 PM