• A Moving Read (Short Film Review)

    Released by: Astrid’s Saint’s LLC
    Released on: 2019.
    Director: Mariano Baino
    Cast: Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Bruno Tramice, Ettore Nigro, Lauren Baino, Guilia Hermann
    Year: 2019

    A Moving Read – Movie Review:

    The latest short film from Mariano Baino, best known as the director of 1993’s Dark Waters, follows 2017’s Lady M 5.1 and once again stars Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni of Dario Argento’s Opera and Lamberto Bava’s Demons 2. The film was shot in Naples, Italy with the express permission of the city’s Film Commission Regione Campania.

    The film begins very aggressively, quickly setting up the somber story to come as a ‘book burner’ (Ettore Nigro) appears in a series of government propaganda videos urging citizens to follow the rules by burning any books they might come across. In the opening few minutes, through a mix of wild computer animation, digital effects and Nigro’s effectively vicious performance we learn that the dystopian future that this story is set in has not only outlawed books, but the public display of emotion as well. Rather than smile, frown, cry or otherwise communicate one’s feelings naturally, citizens are now expected to use government approved emoticons to relay their feelings.

    From here, we’re introduced to Hypatia (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni), a mysterious and alluring woman who lives alone, accompanied in this life only by her toy dog, Papyrus. She lives in an abandoned building and spends her spare time waging a one-woman war against the army of spherical, smiley-faced hunter drones, unleashed into the wilds to continue the war against the printed page and those who would value it. Hypatia, however, wants more than to simply spend her time smashing her enemies – she wants access to the last books, squirreled away under the watchful eye of a masked guardian (Bruno Tramice).

    And we’ll leave it at that, because to go any further would simply spoil a legitimate gem of indie sci-fi filmmaking. Baino, who also wrote the story, doesn’t deliver a subtle message but that doesn’t make the picture’s point any less effective. The concern that we’re giving up centuries of history and literature in favor of easily digestible digital content and waylaying the communication of our honest feelings in lieu of smilies and emojies is, in 2019, quite reasonable. A Moving Read, however, doesn’t focus on the doom and gloom inherent in a government takeover of a person’s ability to consume the media they want to consume on the format of their choice or harp on modern society’s increasing tendency to rely on a text or SMS message of some sort over personal contact or a face to face talk. There are twists and moving, poignant scenes here, that we won’t spoil which make it clear not all is lost. Our heroine’s decision to stand against all of this is a sign of hope in and of itself and the film never comes across as anti-technology so much as it comes across as pro-human.

    At the center of this is Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni’s lead performance. She looks fantastic here, decked out in a bright red gown, skulking about shadowy interiors with her toy dog in tow. Cataldi-Tassoni, who also provided the film’s moving soundtrack, gives an intensely physical performance. There’s narration here, but little in the way of actual dialogue, and she does a fantastic job of communicating her character’s motives using facial expressions and body language. Ettore Nigro is quite amusing as the ‘book burner’ and Bruno Tramice genuinely eerie as ‘the guardian’ but Cataldi-Tassoni is the one that does most of the heavy lifting here and she really does a great job of supporting the picture.

    Also worth noting as the locations. After the film screened at The Anthology Film Archives in New York City, a woman in the lobby said to Baino ‘the locations really are a character in the film themselves’ and she was completely right. Baino was given access to some massive, hulking old structures that he noted hadn’t been abandoned for nearly as long as they appeared to be. These huge, decrepit old buildings, rife with dust and grime, do make for the perfect setting against which to stage a story like this and the cinematography from Baino himself does an absolutely beautiful job of capturing all of this.

    A Moving Read - The Final Word:

    A Moving Read is poignant, moving and occasionally chilling but so too is it a beautifully made picture that benefits from some gorgeous visuals and a very strong performance from its leading lady and is a picture that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. If you get the chance to attend a screening, consider this picture recommended.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I love Papyrus.