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Netflix’s Security: obscure cameras for writer-director Peter Chelsom

Roberto doesn’t have a monkey on his back, rather, a hyena on his chest

Security: When one screen just won't do!
Security: When one screen just won't do!

The company Grandpa Bill Marks worked for threw an annual picnic that encouraged employees to invite family members for an afternoon of games, barbeque, and enough beer to keep back teeth at high tide. Having wandered into the forest preserve and away from the crowd, my older cousin Barbie (she was six) and I spotted one of the “clowns for the kiddies” the invite promised standing before a tree, his back to the two of us. He turned with a start, splashing himself in the process. Why call up this golden memory after watching Netflix’s Security expose cog after cog in the daily underpinnings of a posh Italian seaside resort? For this reporter, it’s one of those rare “life imitates art” moments.

Roberto (Marco D’Amore), owner of the security company that has rigged Forte dei Marmi with enough cameras to power a studio, likens the raked sand on the private beaches and overly-orchestrated facade to a picture postcard. Paradise is hardly a setting conducive to crime, but this is a winter tale set in the off-season. When violence does turn up on a neighbor’s front stoop, the mini-monitor where once a doorbell stood reveals Maria (Beatrice Grannò), a battered young woman pleading for help. Rather than get involved, it’s best to ring security and let them sort it out. On his way home from answering the call, Roberto pulls over a drunk driver whom he recognizes as Dario (Giulio Pranno), the son of his ex-lover Elena (Valeria Bilello).

Curzio Pilati (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) jokes that many of its wealthy residents consider Forte dei Marmi a second home. Or third. Or fourth. But it’s the only home Roberto’s wife Claudia (Maya Sansa) has ever known. She’s old enough to recall a time when locals didn’t lock their doors before going to bed. The “undesirables” changed all that. Pilati, a powerful captain of industry who happens to have haphephobia and dreads being touched, has thrown his support behind Claudia’s campaign to become the town’s first woman mayor. Perhaps Roberto’s time might be better spent tweaking both his surveillance equipment and his home life, and not playing junior crime solver.

Roberto also suffers from insomnia, and has taken to spending the night at a client’s home, looking after the place in the owner’s absence. By way of audience clarification, a party guest’s aside reminds the uninformed that if not checked, such a sleep disorder could result in hallucinations. This way, when Roberto falls asleep at the wheel or envisions five Darios seated at a bus stop, even the most unwitting audience member will understand why. What’s keeping Roberto up at night? In part, it’s the discovery that his 17-year-old daughter Angela (Ludovica Martino) is having an affair with Stefano (Silvio Muccino), her college professor. A classmate of Maria’s, Angela and Stefano were both in attendance the night her assault left her with a dislocated arm.

This is not only writer-director Peter Chelsom’s first foreign language film, it also marks a bold departure from his bread and butter genres: comedy and romance (Hear My Song, Funny Bones, Town & Country). But the film is not without its occasional light moment. The Viagra that Claudia discovers isn’t proof that Roberto is having an affair, but that Angela bought them as a romantic aid for whom she perceived to be a worn down Stefano. In both cases, when confronted with the little blue pills, the men respond identically: “I’m 40, not 70.” Roberto doesn’t have a monkey on his back, rather, a hyena on his chest — in the form of Stefano. He approaches their inevitable encounter as an interrogator first, a father second. Rather than doing what’s expected and flattening Stefano, he’s more interested in solving the crime. There will be ample time for fisticuffs later.

The prime suspect in Maria’s attack is the same man who years earlier was believed to have molested a young Angela. When her daughter was seven, Claudia lost track of her at the park. Missing for 10 minutes, she was found behind the carousel and assumed to have been sexually assaulted by Walter Spezi (Tommaso Ragno). Claudia doesn’t remember it and Spezi wasn’t convicted. Like my clown, Spezi had to relieve himself of that day’s alcohol consumption. Fearing that a negligent mother label might forever hamper her chance of a future in politics, Claudia aimed the finger of blame in Spezi’s direction. Though one wishes the filmmakers could have found a less gratuitous manner of revealing the information than crosscutting one character’s jailhouse testimony with Angela reading her essayed story aloud in English class.

There’s much to predict, most notably the identity of the true villain in the piece, but that’s not enough to discourage viewership. Besides the obvious entertainment reasons, parents should show this to every potential bad egg in the land. It’s impossible to hide from technology, and this engaging tale of how technology is used to solve a crime should make even the rottenest of eggs think twice before committing one. ★★★

Video on Demand and New Release Roundup

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway — Gone is co-screenwriter Rob Lieber (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) and in his is place freshman scribe Patrick Burleigh. Lieber brought a sense of uncontrollable mayhem to Beatrix Potter’s bucolic landscapes and the mixture of live action and CG animation had reached such a level of refinement, I actually found myself singing the praises of a “studio that regularly begot cartoon child abuse in the form of Alvin squeakuels.” Part 2 found me screaming, “ALVIN!” Director Will Gluck is back, this time helming a largely dialogue-driven adventure that follows sensible Mr. McGregor’s (Domhnall Gleeson) attempts to steer his wife Bea’s (Rose Byrne) instincts to sell her soul in exchange for a sequel to be published by Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo). A master of the art of merchandising, he envisions Peter as the villain. The idea of feral animals learning to live in captivity is dropped almost before it’s mentioned. Anything would have been more interesting than treating the characters like children. And one guesses positive messaging makes for dull bunnies. Why else would McGregor and Nigel resort to fisticuffs to settle their score? It’s not hard to lie to someone looking to be loved, and in the end, the film becomes precisely what it mocked. 2021. — S.M.

Siberia — Clint (Willem Dafoe!) operates a bar in the remotest corner of Siberia, where he lives a life of self-imposed exile, barely capable of communicating with most of his patrons. Lusting after a pregnant flasher as her nana chatters away unintelligibly is one of the film’s kinder moments. Even after the pack dogs that once led him become his staunchest followers, one can’t help but notice the regret that haunts every one of Clint’s moves. If one needs to question Clint’s sudden decision to pack up shop to take a journey on a dogsled, chances are a picture steeped in the kind of logic that could only exist inside Clint’s head isn’t the picture for you. He’s a man looking to reclaim his soul by coming to terms with his dreams, and the transitions from one state of fantasy to another are quite jarringly effective: a trip down some cellar steps becomes a nightmare slide down a mountainside, while a man squandering his pocket change on video slots is suddenly (deservedly?) attacked by a marauding bear. As with any great experimental artist, the further director/King of New York Abel Ferrara moves from the neighborhood, the closer he gets to home. Watch it wherever finer films are downloadable. 2021. — S.M. ★★★★

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Security: When one screen just won't do!
Security: When one screen just won't do!

The company Grandpa Bill Marks worked for threw an annual picnic that encouraged employees to invite family members for an afternoon of games, barbeque, and enough beer to keep back teeth at high tide. Having wandered into the forest preserve and away from the crowd, my older cousin Barbie (she was six) and I spotted one of the “clowns for the kiddies” the invite promised standing before a tree, his back to the two of us. He turned with a start, splashing himself in the process. Why call up this golden memory after watching Netflix’s Security expose cog after cog in the daily underpinnings of a posh Italian seaside resort? For this reporter, it’s one of those rare “life imitates art” moments.

Roberto (Marco D’Amore), owner of the security company that has rigged Forte dei Marmi with enough cameras to power a studio, likens the raked sand on the private beaches and overly-orchestrated facade to a picture postcard. Paradise is hardly a setting conducive to crime, but this is a winter tale set in the off-season. When violence does turn up on a neighbor’s front stoop, the mini-monitor where once a doorbell stood reveals Maria (Beatrice Grannò), a battered young woman pleading for help. Rather than get involved, it’s best to ring security and let them sort it out. On his way home from answering the call, Roberto pulls over a drunk driver whom he recognizes as Dario (Giulio Pranno), the son of his ex-lover Elena (Valeria Bilello).

Curzio Pilati (Fabrizio Bentivoglio) jokes that many of its wealthy residents consider Forte dei Marmi a second home. Or third. Or fourth. But it’s the only home Roberto’s wife Claudia (Maya Sansa) has ever known. She’s old enough to recall a time when locals didn’t lock their doors before going to bed. The “undesirables” changed all that. Pilati, a powerful captain of industry who happens to have haphephobia and dreads being touched, has thrown his support behind Claudia’s campaign to become the town’s first woman mayor. Perhaps Roberto’s time might be better spent tweaking both his surveillance equipment and his home life, and not playing junior crime solver.

Roberto also suffers from insomnia, and has taken to spending the night at a client’s home, looking after the place in the owner’s absence. By way of audience clarification, a party guest’s aside reminds the uninformed that if not checked, such a sleep disorder could result in hallucinations. This way, when Roberto falls asleep at the wheel or envisions five Darios seated at a bus stop, even the most unwitting audience member will understand why. What’s keeping Roberto up at night? In part, it’s the discovery that his 17-year-old daughter Angela (Ludovica Martino) is having an affair with Stefano (Silvio Muccino), her college professor. A classmate of Maria’s, Angela and Stefano were both in attendance the night her assault left her with a dislocated arm.

This is not only writer-director Peter Chelsom’s first foreign language film, it also marks a bold departure from his bread and butter genres: comedy and romance (Hear My Song, Funny Bones, Town & Country). But the film is not without its occasional light moment. The Viagra that Claudia discovers isn’t proof that Roberto is having an affair, but that Angela bought them as a romantic aid for whom she perceived to be a worn down Stefano. In both cases, when confronted with the little blue pills, the men respond identically: “I’m 40, not 70.” Roberto doesn’t have a monkey on his back, rather, a hyena on his chest — in the form of Stefano. He approaches their inevitable encounter as an interrogator first, a father second. Rather than doing what’s expected and flattening Stefano, he’s more interested in solving the crime. There will be ample time for fisticuffs later.

The prime suspect in Maria’s attack is the same man who years earlier was believed to have molested a young Angela. When her daughter was seven, Claudia lost track of her at the park. Missing for 10 minutes, she was found behind the carousel and assumed to have been sexually assaulted by Walter Spezi (Tommaso Ragno). Claudia doesn’t remember it and Spezi wasn’t convicted. Like my clown, Spezi had to relieve himself of that day’s alcohol consumption. Fearing that a negligent mother label might forever hamper her chance of a future in politics, Claudia aimed the finger of blame in Spezi’s direction. Though one wishes the filmmakers could have found a less gratuitous manner of revealing the information than crosscutting one character’s jailhouse testimony with Angela reading her essayed story aloud in English class.

There’s much to predict, most notably the identity of the true villain in the piece, but that’s not enough to discourage viewership. Besides the obvious entertainment reasons, parents should show this to every potential bad egg in the land. It’s impossible to hide from technology, and this engaging tale of how technology is used to solve a crime should make even the rottenest of eggs think twice before committing one. ★★★

Video on Demand and New Release Roundup

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway — Gone is co-screenwriter Rob Lieber (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) and in his is place freshman scribe Patrick Burleigh. Lieber brought a sense of uncontrollable mayhem to Beatrix Potter’s bucolic landscapes and the mixture of live action and CG animation had reached such a level of refinement, I actually found myself singing the praises of a “studio that regularly begot cartoon child abuse in the form of Alvin squeakuels.” Part 2 found me screaming, “ALVIN!” Director Will Gluck is back, this time helming a largely dialogue-driven adventure that follows sensible Mr. McGregor’s (Domhnall Gleeson) attempts to steer his wife Bea’s (Rose Byrne) instincts to sell her soul in exchange for a sequel to be published by Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo). A master of the art of merchandising, he envisions Peter as the villain. The idea of feral animals learning to live in captivity is dropped almost before it’s mentioned. Anything would have been more interesting than treating the characters like children. And one guesses positive messaging makes for dull bunnies. Why else would McGregor and Nigel resort to fisticuffs to settle their score? It’s not hard to lie to someone looking to be loved, and in the end, the film becomes precisely what it mocked. 2021. — S.M.

Siberia — Clint (Willem Dafoe!) operates a bar in the remotest corner of Siberia, where he lives a life of self-imposed exile, barely capable of communicating with most of his patrons. Lusting after a pregnant flasher as her nana chatters away unintelligibly is one of the film’s kinder moments. Even after the pack dogs that once led him become his staunchest followers, one can’t help but notice the regret that haunts every one of Clint’s moves. If one needs to question Clint’s sudden decision to pack up shop to take a journey on a dogsled, chances are a picture steeped in the kind of logic that could only exist inside Clint’s head isn’t the picture for you. He’s a man looking to reclaim his soul by coming to terms with his dreams, and the transitions from one state of fantasy to another are quite jarringly effective: a trip down some cellar steps becomes a nightmare slide down a mountainside, while a man squandering his pocket change on video slots is suddenly (deservedly?) attacked by a marauding bear. As with any great experimental artist, the further director/King of New York Abel Ferrara moves from the neighborhood, the closer he gets to home. Watch it wherever finer films are downloadable. 2021. — S.M. ★★★★

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