Review: Little Tito and the Aliens
by Vittoria Scarpa
- Very well received at Torino, the new film by the Milanese filmmaker, set near Area 51 in Nevada, weaves together science fiction, poetry and human emotions
Paola Randi's new release, which premiered at the 35th Torino Film Festival as part of Festa Mobile, is a film about aliens, in every sense of the word, with its extra-terrestrial Italian cinematographic style, its aliens and characters that are all slightly weirder than the last. Seven years after Into Paradiso [+see also:
film profile] (selected at Venice, and nominated for 4 David di Donatellos in 2010), the second feature film by the Milanese director, Little Tito and the Aliens [+see also:
interview: Paola Randi
film profile], will make you laugh and then cry. Sitting somewhere between indie American cinema and a Neapolitan comedy, the film catapults Valerio Mastandrea, Gianfelice Imparato, the French Clémence Poésy (also on the big screen at Turin in Stanley Tucci's Final Portrait [+see also:
film profile]), along with adorable newcomers Chiara Stella Riccio and Luca Esposito into the Nevada desert, among space telescopes and extra-terrestrials.
Science fiction, poetry and human emotions are woven together in this stunning tale set near the famous Area 51, where legend has it that aliens exist. The film focuses on a crazy scientist (Mastandrea) who should be working on a secret project for the United States government, but has instead spent the last six years lying on a sofa with his headphones on and antenna pointing towards the sky, waiting for signals from space. His brother, Fidel (Imparato), sends him a bizarre video message from Naples, informing him that he's dead. Before his two orphaned children (little Tito and teenage Anita) land in Nevada thinking that they're going to meet Lady Gaga and instead find themselves in the middle of nowhere, with an eccentric uncle they barely know.
The two young stars, carried by their boisterous Neapolitan ways set against a lunar backdrop, seem to be more alien than the aliens themselves. Anita, with hormones in full swing, does nothing but plan escapes, possibly with one of the best soldiers overseeing the area, while Tito pokes around in his uncle's lab and soon discovers a strange robot that might be able to talk to the dead. Because in reality, what the professor seeks from the universe, with his big headphones and antenna, are not extra-terrestrials, but the voice of his wife who is longer alive. After discovering his uncle’s lab, Tito gets it into his head that he would also like speak to his father, who is in heaven. But there's little time, research results are in short supply, and the government wants to shut down the project and send everybody home...
Filmed in the Tabernas desert in Almeria (not far from where Sergio Leone’s films were shot), near to the real Area 51 in Nevada and the former Montalto di Castro nuclear power station, with its "stellar" weddings (those organised by the eccentric character Clémence Poésy for tourists), Spielbergh-esque close-knit meetings and framed photographs of lost loved ones used as telephone receivers, Paola Randi looks to the stars to talk about love, loss and fading memories, including those we would like to keep alive, and does so by maintaining a melancholy lightness to this crazy, colourful and vital extra-terrestrial film, where aliens are much closer and dearer to us than we think.
Produced by Angelo and Matilde Barbagallo for BiBi Film with Rai Cinema, the film is currently in distribution talks, which will likely conclude by April. Immediately following Turin, Little Tito and the Aliens is due to set off for Tallinn, Estonia, to the Black Nights Film Festival, where it will be screened in official selection. International sales are managed by True Colours.
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