know something about rivalry in Sicily.
For years, Orlando and Rinaldo have both vied for the affections of
Angelica in Sicily’s puppet theaters. It
is a tradition that partly inspires Italian-American actor John Turturro’s
return to his ancestral roots.
Puppeteer-filmmaker Roman Paska documents Turturro’s combination sentimental
journey and spec research tour in Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy (trailer here).
available on DVD from First Run Features, Paska’s film also kicks off the
Winter 2013 season of Stranger Than Fiction this coming Tuesday at the IFC Center.
first generation Turturro has an understandable affinity with his family’s
homeland. Off and on, he has developed a
project about a traditional Sicilian puppeteer, finding a mentor in Mimmo
Cuticchio, who is widely considered the greatest living practitioner of the art
(and can also be seen in a straight acting role in the forthcoming Terraferma). While Turturro’s prospective film has yet to come
to fruition, he will indeed collaborate with Cuticchio on a production of
Orlando’s tragic story.
makes his wandering focus a virtue, leisurely alternating between Cuticchio’s
Opera deo Pupi, Turturro’s emotional pilgrimage to sites of great family
significance, dramatic readings, and talking head interviews on Sicilian
culture. Not what you might call a tight
film, it is rather pleasantly discursive.
As a result, one gets an impressionist sense of the region’s rhythms and
eccentricities instead of an information dump of names and dates.
and his pupi are ridiculously cinematic.
Paska simply cannot miss when he has them in a scene. Likewise, Turturro comes across as a mostly likable,
down to earth fellow, in touch with his familial legacy. Even scholar Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi looks
interesting on camera, making some intriguing points on the shifting roles the
Day of the Dead and Christmas have played in Sicilian culture.
Unhurried and disorganized in appropriately enjoyable
ways, Rehearsal’s spirit fits its
subjects. It offers considerable insights
into art and tradition, capturing a few surprisingly touching moments along the
way. Warmly recommended for fans of
Italian cinema and puppetry, Rehearsal
for a Sicilian Tragedy is now available on DVD and screens in New York this
coming Tuesday (1/8) at the IFC Center, with both Turturro and Paska scheduled
to participate in a Q&A.
Labels: Documentary, DVD, John Turturro, Puppetry, Stranger Than Fiction '13