Ciao, Capitalism

A bad economy is no laughing matter, yet the Great Depression birthed the screwball comedy, spawning dozens of cynical variations on romantic and class conflict, such as It Happened One Night and Sullivan’s Travels. Closer to home, Michael Moore’s entire oeuvre employs bitter humor to sweeten his indignation at corporate bigwigs’ assault on job security. So the timing is pretty darn perfect to revisit Ugo Fantozzi, the clumsy, cursed accountant whose hapless shenanigans propelled a series of much-loved Italian comedies between 1975 and 1999. Stand-up comedian Paolo Villaggio, who created the character in print and played him onscreen, had a knack for exposing the cruel indifference of giant companies while mocking the foolishness of the middle class for chasing the carrot of shiny materialism. Fantozzi, the first and best in the long-running chain, wraps the initial Cineforum series programmed by curator Laura Costantino, “Shapes of Power: Man and Authority.” As we’re now at the point in capitalism’s evolution where all jokes about the system are hostile ones, the slapstick antics of the weak and perpetually unfortunate Fantozzi evoke a slightly kinder, gentler world.
Tue., June 1, 6:30 p.m., 2010

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