John Turturro

[from the last ever Brick’s Picks in the LA Weekly]

Just saw John Turturro’s Passione and talk about a revelation. We barely knew anything about Neapolitan music. Dean Martin, Lou Canova, pizza parlor juke boxes…that’s about it. Who knew that back in ancient, messed up, photogenic Naples was the real thing.  Not even the hippest radio stations played the stuff. That bothered Turturro. He loves this music. So he did one of those things that must drive Hollywood agents utterly mad…he took a film crew over there and shot 23 songs by 23 different acts in 23 different locations in 21 days and man, you gotta see the results. There isn’t a performance that isn’t stellar…the passion and intensity is so stirring you’d have to be a hardened cynic not to be moved. The tunes run the artistic gamut from street singers to classic love songs to art songs to operatic numbers to a very Neapolitan rap, rock and even reggae. Even a couple flat out weird numbers. Turturro limits himself on screen to a couple street interviews (and one freaky dance); mostly he just narrates, sparingly. He doesn’t edit the tunes all to hell and no story line bogs the thing down. It’s just music and locations and people…no heavy analysis, no dreadful music critics, and unlike Buena Vista Social Club, no American musicians sit in and taint everything. Nope. This is the best music flick we have seen since Calle 54, and to be honest, we liked this even more. Go see it. Buy the soundtrack. You’ll be making pasta and singing “O Sole Mio” to your dog, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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