Enzo Avitabile Music Life Screen 4 articles

Enzo Avitabile Music Life

2012

Enzo Avitabile Music Life Poster
  • In certain respects, non-fiction isn’t a good fit for [Demme]. The same generosity of spirit that informs his best work turns his docs... into mushy hagiographies. Enzo Avitabile Music Life, Demme’s awkwardly titled portrait of the celebrated Italian saxophonist and singer-songwriter, features enough music to be worthwhile for fans and curious newcomers, but it’s a snooze whenever Avitabile doesn’t have an instrument in his hand or a microphone in front of his face...

  • After a remarkable trilogy of concert films with Neil Young, the latest music documentary from Jonathan Demme, “Enzo Avitabile Music Life,” turns the spotlight on the mushier notion of world music. Not that the sounds of all nations gathered by the Neapolitan musician and groove ambassador Enzo Avitabile, the film’s focus, don’t have soul. But the fuzziness of Mr. Avitabile’s sentiments on boundary-blind unity is echoed in the movie’s slack, tag-along portraiture.

  • There is the expected choice footage of jam sessions with musicians from all over the world, each playing a rare instrument that Avitabile wants to record for posterity, and recalling the soul-stirring dynamism of the director’s Neil Young trilogy... The scenes of the film’s exuberant, frizzy-haired protagonist wandering Naples and revisiting old haunts, however, seem much more unfocused—a ramshackle search for insights into the man’s art and life...

  • Even if the film never transcends its subject matter, Demme's light touch adds up to a charming portrait, only rarely fumbling into hagiography. Its lowest point sees Avitabile scatting a poem patterned off of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech before a symphony orchestra, jarringly intercut with zoomed-in digital footage of a draped black corpse and its surrounding crime scene.