Before and after Pope: why should we have to watch Sorrentino?


This is a pretty nice question, mostly rhetorical, that needs to be answered; but still, why should we have to watch and feel excitement about Paolo Sorrentino’s movies. One of the iconic directors, such as Lynch, Kubrick, Ritchie and Tarantino. Paolo is that kind of artist, a director whose authentic style and `signature` are far beyond the normal expression, but his unique, easy madness is beloved and demanded.

From the series The New Pope

Perhaps,an extraordinary perspective in movies is the one and only thing he has in common with other gifted creators, nevertheless his philosophy stands out in the pictures we have seen, as his well-known,perfect visuals and,the last but not the least to impress, we also observe him to be an original thinker, with personal opinions. It’s so easy to absorb, even though ironically called genial, because here minds us about the truth of life, its taste and,no less exciting, its aftertaste.

The recently launched series ` The New Pope` by Paolo Sorrentino, continues the familiar story about Young Pope Pius XIII  (Jude Law) in 10 episodes with John  Malkovich in the main role. Sorrentino explores religion and revealed temptation, excitement, obsession and bureaucracy through the heart of Catholicism, the heart of the world faith -the Vatican. As a footnote to Sorrentino`s imagery, which informs lots of his cinematography, it is wrong to accept the Vatican hierarchy, the embodiment of counteracted laws and canons through primitive human factors, although it was designed for public attention.

From the series The New Pope

Pius XIII (Jude Law) was  a man who was upset with God and justice, but until the last moment remained His Viceroy, faithful and unique in a sense. At first glance, the character who connects us with Sorrentino’s intentions seems to be ordinary, for who is Lenny (Pius XIII)  after all? An abandoned, offended, unhappy child at heart who became disillusioned with the world, with people, and even with God, discerning in each other’s eyes shame and manipulation. His tempers are usual for gifted protagonists such as detectives, brilliant maniacs, doctors, killers. Lenny is cynical and fair, scanning people and is not afraid to overtake them or confuse with a sharp word; but still sensitive, kindly, infantile, and simple. In the case of the Young Pope, he has the gift of healing people, and therefore must wander in an eternal inner struggle. Painful surfing along the bottom of soul adds fuel to the fire of unlimited migration from the willingness to embrace religion to absolute rejection. He seems to be distant from and close to freedom at the same time. As is often the case for all of us, Lenny can’t escape from his painful memories and illusions, and is imprisoned by them and yet daresto become real, even while pretending to let go of things.

`Who is that? – It`s our new Pope`

So, the special Sorrentino manner is reflected either in movies or in series, in colorful screen images, in stylish studio interiors, in impressive actors and scenarios filled with popular quotes and phrases. Nothing to fear, that’s why, probably, half-naked women are dancing go-go around the neon cross in the sacral chamber – the primary title video, accompanied by Sofi Tukker single `Good Time Girl`. From the first second of the series, it catches all the attention and possible reaction to the nun, while showing the cleaning of the comatose Pope Pius XIII, transmitting the hot feelings of the naked pope’s body. This is the absurd part of the media aesthete Sorrentino.

John Malkovich – The New Pope

The music list maintains the incredible variety that could be observed in the previous season. Hopefully, you will remember that episode, when Pius chose his official outfit accompanied by the song `I`m sexy and I know it`. The whole ambiance and music are from different galaxies, but it is this connection of sanctity and revolution that inspire an  eagerness to tune into the next series in order to make sure something beyond incompatibility is going on here, including all the intelligent conversations about ancient art objects, icons, and the proximity of the saints, all from the still-young Pope.  It is interesting to note that many episodes in the new series were filmed in the actual Vatican chapels, while in the first season this was forbidden and most of scenes were shot at the studio, in spaces constructed to resemble the Sistine Chapel.

Jude Law, Paolo Sorrentino and John Malkovich

Although the second season was designed to stand alone, it’s impossible to watch it without looking back at earlier episodes. There are a lot of `young` connections and cameos, which were of primary importance duringmultiple episodes at the beginning. But, what changed? Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), who was sent to Africa by Pope Pius XIII to run the religious communitiesthere, does not return to thescreen. Anyway, she was close toPope Pius, but after the new papal election,John Malkovich inherits the Pope’s throne and the new ecclesiastical robes. In the first episodes, after Lenny’s fatal disease and thefailed attempt to electa new pontifex in the personof Francis III, the alternative Pope supervisor from the first season, don Tommaso (Marcello Romolo), a period ofconfusion aboutthefuture of the Church endangersthe Vatican’s chances for a stable existence. Actually, it was more the fortuitously-timeddeath of Francisc III, than a confluence of circumstances – he died of aheart attack, and afew days later fiveVatican ambassadors goto the second member of conclave, Sir John Brennocks (John Malkovich), who becomes thenew Pope,Ioannes Paulus III.

What is new? Except for the jokes, the famous stars stand ontheir own – Marilyn Manson and Charlize Theron, for instance. Marilyn Manson givesthe Pope a self-portrait and afterwards showsthe amazing photos of his newborn nephew. It is touching, but inconceivable.

Actually, another thing to captivate in Paolo Sorrentino movies is the full mergerof the characters into the conflictsof the plot. He forcesthem not just to observelife, butto speakthroughstrict contact with the events. In other words, in the film `The Great Beauty’, the gluttoniesof bohemian and bourgeois society allow the main character, 65-year-old Jap Gambardello (Toni Servillo), toreview the people around him and find himself trapped in the graspingbonds of the elite. However, during hisentirelife he has been willing to be the `party king` and thenafter all of that startsthinking about love, about life, about children, about sincere feelings. Another philosophy in `Youth`, dreamingand thinking about death go hand-in-hand with dailylife. This is part of Sorrentino’s constant reflection on thestrength required to fulfillpotential in time, leaving a trail for heirs.

Bothhisconcept of  imagery and the unlimited range of it provide the main things you need beforewatching Paolo Sorrentino’s remarkablemovies. Neither a single key idea, nor a simple focus imposed by theplot, is wide enough to grasp all the perspectives he gives in a movie, above all that dare to embrace freedom in `The Great Beauty`, `Youth`, ` L`Amico di famiglia` and particularly in `Popes`.

Photos: IMDB

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