Ratataplan | Chicago Reader

Ratataplan

This was comic writer-director-performer Maurizio Nichetti's first feature (1979), a string of episodic sketches, some of which blew me away when I first saw them. (Nichetti subsequently made Ho fatto splash, The Icicle Thief, and Volere volare.) This eccentric debut movie, still possibly Nichetti's best, was so disliked by New York critics that it never opened here, though it played briefly on cable in the early 80s. The inventive sound track recalls Tati, and the poetically skewed view of the modern world has a quirky flavor all its own. The diminutive, cartoonish Nichetti plays a character named Colombo who alternately works as a waiter and tries to organize a theatrical group with friends; he also builds a precise replica of himself to go disco dancing in a club. The opening sequence is breathtaking, the rest a bit spotty; but the film is certainly worth a look. The title, incidentally, is a made-up word that's supposed to sound like a drumroll.

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