Freaks Out (2021)

Freaks Out
Director: Gabriele Mainetti
Writer: Nicola Guaglianone, Gabriele Mainetti
Cast: Claudio Santamaria, Aurora Giovinazzo, Pietro Castellitto, Giancarlo Martini, Giorgio Tirabassi, Max Mazzotta, Franz Rogowski
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7.5.2022

Content Note: sexual assault, sexism, (critical treatment of) ableism, medical experiments

1943 in Italy. Israel (Giorgio Tirabassi) runs a circus with his four artists Cencio (Pietro Castellitto), Matilde (Aurora Giovinazzo), Fulvio (Claudio Santamaria) and Mario (Giancarlo Martini) – who actually all have supernatural powers that fuel their performances. The five try their best to stay out of the Nazis’ way, though there is the Circus Berlin stationed in Rome – supposedly the best circus in the world, headed by Franz (Franz Rogowski), a pianist with 12 fingers. Franz has superpowers of his own: he has seen the future and knows that it doesn’t look good for the Nazis. He is convinced that he has to find four superpowered people to prevent the Nazis from losing and he will do anything to find them.

I enjoyed Freaks Out for the most part. It is marred by the male gaze, but it’s entertaining and manages to combine comedy and Nazi horrors in a good way.

The film poster showing the four "freaks" in their performance poses, as well as Franz (Franz Rogowski) wearing a Nazi robe.
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Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot [They Call Me Jeeg] (2015)

Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot
Director: Gabriele Mainetti
Writer: Nicola GuaglianoneMenotti
Cast: Claudio SantamariaLuca MarinelliIlenia PastorelliStefano AmbrogiMaurizio TeseiFrancesco Formichetti
Part of: /slash Filmfestival (Secret Society Screening)
Seen on: 2.10.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Enzo (Claudio Santamaria) is a small time crook who works for Zingaro (Luca Marinelli). One night he has to run from the police and his only chance to escape is a jump into the heavily polluted Tiber river. It works and Enzo heads home. When he wakes up the next day, everything is different: Enzo now has superpowers and with them the chance to start fresh. Or at least to become a more competent robber. But superpowers won’t go unnoticed, neither by Zingaro nor by Enzo’s neighbor Ale (Ilenia Pastorelli).

Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot takes on USAmerican comic and superhero lore, mixes in a bit of manga and transplants them to Italy – an idea I generally liked. Unfortunately they took every single problematic trope with them in the process, leaving me less than impressed with the result.


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