Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Enzo Avitabile Music Life

Enzo Avitabile and his unique fusion music from Naples clicks in Jonathan Demme’s plain but memorable documentary salute.

Oct 17, 2013

-By Deborah Young


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1387308-Enzo_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Director Jonathan Demme’s enthusiasm for Neapolitan multi-musician and composer Enzo Avitabile is catching in this simple, straightforward documentary centered around a jam session that features extraordinary talents of contemporary world music playing rare and bizarre instruments. Though Avitabile, who has worked with James Brown and Tina Turner, has a popular following in Italy where the doc should be well appreciated, this salute to a unique artist and a jazz-fusion pathfinder will be a tantalizing introduction for non-Italian audiences.

Like an ideal cross between his Neil Young concert docs and his hymn to the indomitable spirit of New Orleans in I’m Caroline Parker, Demme’s graceful style effortlessly interweaves Avitabile and his native city, leaving the viewer with a sensory impression of Naples’ shabby slums and eccentric street denizens. It isn’t hard to see what attracted the director to the talented 57-year-old musician, a hyper-creative, mile-a-minute talker who sports a fuzzy haircut, a day’s stubble and a dangling crucifix earring. His grasp of musical instruments and genres is surprising, and the clincher is when he tumbles into the back seat of a car and hands the driver a CD, explaining he likes to begin the day with Maestro Pergolesi.

The jam session is held in a Baroque church lined with paintings and altars where, one by one, 12 high-caliber world musicians arrive to perform his music. Enzo sings in his singular voice and sometimes plays the saxophone with Eliades Ochoa, Naseer Shamma, Gerardo Núñez, Ashraf Sharif Khan Poonchwala, Trilok Gurtu, Luigi Lai, Zi Giannino Del Sorbo, Amal Murkus, Djivan Gasparyan Trio, Hossein Alizadeh, Daby Toure and Bruno Canino. Almost all bring a rare instrument to play (Murkus and Del Sorbo are extraordinary vocalists) and great musical feeling.

As Demme shows, Avitabile’s gifts are not limited to musical experimentation. His passionate involvement with the poor and oppressed is expressively rendered in a song illustrated by real-life police photos of murdered bodies lying on Naples’ streets, and the vocal repetition of the phrase, “I have a dream.”

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Enzo Avitabile Music Life

Enzo Avitabile and his unique fusion music from Naples clicks in Jonathan Demme’s plain but memorable documentary salute.

Oct 17, 2013

-By Deborah Young


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1387308-Enzo_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Director Jonathan Demme’s enthusiasm for Neapolitan multi-musician and composer Enzo Avitabile is catching in this simple, straightforward documentary centered around a jam session that features extraordinary talents of contemporary world music playing rare and bizarre instruments. Though Avitabile, who has worked with James Brown and Tina Turner, has a popular following in Italy where the doc should be well appreciated, this salute to a unique artist and a jazz-fusion pathfinder will be a tantalizing introduction for non-Italian audiences.

Like an ideal cross between his Neil Young concert docs and his hymn to the indomitable spirit of New Orleans in I’m Caroline Parker, Demme’s graceful style effortlessly interweaves Avitabile and his native city, leaving the viewer with a sensory impression of Naples’ shabby slums and eccentric street denizens. It isn’t hard to see what attracted the director to the talented 57-year-old musician, a hyper-creative, mile-a-minute talker who sports a fuzzy haircut, a day’s stubble and a dangling crucifix earring. His grasp of musical instruments and genres is surprising, and the clincher is when he tumbles into the back seat of a car and hands the driver a CD, explaining he likes to begin the day with Maestro Pergolesi.

The jam session is held in a Baroque church lined with paintings and altars where, one by one, 12 high-caliber world musicians arrive to perform his music. Enzo sings in his singular voice and sometimes plays the saxophone with Eliades Ochoa, Naseer Shamma, Gerardo Núñez, Ashraf Sharif Khan Poonchwala, Trilok Gurtu, Luigi Lai, Zi Giannino Del Sorbo, Amal Murkus, Djivan Gasparyan Trio, Hossein Alizadeh, Daby Toure and Bruno Canino. Almost all bring a rare instrument to play (Murkus and Del Sorbo are extraordinary vocalists) and great musical feeling.

As Demme shows, Avitabile’s gifts are not limited to musical experimentation. His passionate involvement with the poor and oppressed is expressively rendered in a song illustrated by real-life police photos of murdered bodies lying on Naples’ streets, and the vocal repetition of the phrase, “I have a dream.”

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Laggies
Film Review: Laggies

Disappointing comedic entry about a late-20s slacker who won’t grow up is writer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s first outing directing someone else’s material. Points here for strong cast and an occasional chuckle, but otherwise there’s just no point. More »

Rudderless
Film Review: Rudderless

Well-done indie drama about a lost-soul house painter reborn through rock ’n’ roll is a nice actor’s showcase for star Billy Crudup and an impressive directorial debut for actor William H. Macy. But in spite of some good work onscreen, both hero and story lack the edge and originality to carry this drama beyond respectability. More »

Camp X-Ray
Film Review: Camp X-Ray

Army guard and Guantanamo detainee form a grudging relationship in a thoughtful but far-fetched drama. More »

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Film Review: The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

As charming as it is delicate, this unusually low-key, if a tad overlong, animated feature brings yet more prestige to the famed Ghibli output. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here