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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

'Human Capital' DVD: 'Rashomon'-style 'After School Special'/Social Commentary Hybrid

HUMAN CAPITAL DVD & Online Streaming

The very aptly named 2014 Italian drama "Human Capital," which is being released to the general public on DVD on July 7 2015, provides yet another reason to join the uber-awesome (independent and foreign) Film of the Month Club of "Capital" distributor Film Movement. Members often get these titles ahead of everyone else.

Knowing the greatness of "Capital" created expectations of finding award wins. Seeing that it has an astonishing 42 (mostly major) wins and another 29 nominations validates the future classic status of the film.

These awards strongly reflect the accomplishments of director/screen writer Paolo Virzi. He achieves perfection regarding casting, getting perfect performances from those actors, juggling several (often interacting) perspectives, and maintaining a perfect pace.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the trailer for "Capital" provides a wonderful primer on the themes and style of this exceptional film. The final scene in this preview contains a major spoiler that also arguably is the best scene in the movie.


The basic story of "Capital" is that Massimiliano "Masi" Bernachi, who is the roughly 18 year-old son of "one-percenter"  hedge fund manager Giovanni Bernachi and trophy wife/former actress Carla Bernachi is the prime suspect in a fatal Christmastime hit-and-run collision between his brand-new SUV and a bicyclist. It is almost certain that said automobile is the one that did the hitting and running; the mystery relates to whether an extraordinarily drunk Masi is culpable. As the liner notes for the DVD point out, the story unfolds through witnessing the relevant events via the shifting perspectives of the usual suspects and those who are near and dear to them. This is in contrast to the more traditional narrative of an investigator snooping around.

The larger story, which is both timeless and particularly relevant in our current economic times, revolves around the relationships between the Bernachis and the middle-class Ossola family. Serena Ossola having a "complicated" relationship with classmate Masi is the primary basis for the interaction between the families.

Dino Ossola, who is the father of Serena, becomes involved with the Bernachis on becoming a literally last-minute substitute tennis partner of his. This largely token overture emboldens Dino to assertively get Giovanni to agree to let him invest in which Dino believes to be the miracle investment fund. Anyone who has every seen a movie that has this type of relationship can predict Giovanni becoming increasingly annoyed regarding Dino being a puppy who refuses to take the hint after an intent to merely politely pat him on the head once and then send him away. For his part, Dino equally predictably sustains an unsustainable loss regarding his financial investment.

Each chapter of "Capital" depicts the events leading up to the aforementioned accident and the resulting fallout from the perspective of one individual mentioned above. This provides a good framework both for divulging new clues and learning more about the character around whom the story currently centers. Like any good mystery, the conclusion involves an unexpected but believable twist.

Another twist comes at another literally last minute regarding the full extent to which the term "Human Capital" applies to the compelling events. The ongoing themes include exploring the degree to which we value ourselves and others and whether someone would readily throw us under a bus (pun intended.)

In other words, Virzi turns what could have been a cliched story about two families with vastly different lifestyles into a true art-house film that artfully combine elements of the classic Japanese film "Rashomon," Italian cinema complete with moments of wild over-emoting, an "After-School Special," '80s style character dramas, and the aforementioned crime dramas.

Movement does equally well regarding the choice for the bonus short film that accompanies every Club selection. The wonderfully tense 9-minute German film "Job Interview" can be considered a Cliff Notes version of a lamestream cinema thriller.

Virtually all of the action in "Interview" occurs in the office of a mid-level manager. The seemingly benign candidate-selection process in that setting soon escalates into psychological terror that perfectly composed background music accompanies. The "Tales from the Crypt" dark humor adds a nice touch.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Capital" or "Interview" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.