Happy almost Saturday! This week’s “global TV to watch” includes two titles, one a telefilm, the other a series, that center on lovable losers who become successful.
In Italy, June 2 is Festa della Repubblica, or Republic Day — a day that commemorates the 1946 vote by Italians for Italy to be a republic (vs. monarchy) following the end of World War II and the fall of fascism in the country. So let’s celebrate this Italian national day with two titles, neither of which has anything to do with politics, both of which can make you laugh out loud.
Mixed by Erry
This film is delightful, filled with heart, humor, and music (from Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” and Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky,” to the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love)” and the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)“). Based on a true story, Mixed by Erry follows Enrico “Erry” Frattasio (Luigi D’Oriano, What a Beautiful Surprise), his older brother Peppe (Giuseppe Arena, La febbre), and their younger brother Angelo (Emanuele Palumbo, Nostalgia), as they grow from street urchins in the Forcella district of Naples in 1976, to wealthy young men who run the leading record label in Italy in 1991. Except their business and accompanying fortune are built on pirating copyrighted music, making bootleg mixtapes (and later CDs) of said music, and selling said tapes — first to locals in Forcella, then across Naples and the south of Italy and beyond.
Had it not been for Erry’s love and knowledge of music, his talent in putting together tunes for his mixtapes, and a word of advice to him from a kind adult, the brothers’ lives probably would have followed along the same path from their childhood, when they helped their father brew and bottle tea that he would sell as whiskey at an open-air market. So ultimately it works in their favor that wannabe deejay Erry can’t get a gig as one, that many of Peppe’s associates sell smuggled goods, and that Angelo can count on friends from prison to help the brothers when they need it. All that plus the guts to go to a loan shark for the start-up capital. The mixtape business proves to be a success, eventually growing to a storefront called Erry’s Record Store, where the tapes sell like hotcakes, and a distributor model that has other businesses selling the mixtapes for them. Meanwhile, a hard-nosed, gum-chewing cop from the financial police finds out about the Frattasios and targets them for a take-down and jail time, only he can never catch them and get the proof he needs… until…
Mixed by Erry is currently available for streaming globally exclusively on Netflix.
Tear Along the Dotted Line
This animated series for adults had been on my watchlist since it debuted a year and a half ago, so with its follow-up, This World Can’t Tear Me Down, launching a week from today, it was high time I watched it. Now I’m kinda kicking myself for not having watched it sooner. Live and learn. Which could be a theme of Tear Along the Dotted Line, which takes its title from a line in the series.
Based on the popular comics by Zerocalcare (pen name of Michele Rech), the six-episode comedy-drama follows the character Zerocalcare (voiced by himself), a cartoonist in Rome who reflects on his life while setting off on a trip by train with his friends, Sarah and Secco (also voiced by Zerocalcare through Episode 5), along with his conscience, zoomorphized as an armadillo (voiced by Valerio Mastandrea, The Vertical Line). Their mutual friend is Alice (Zerocalcare again), the girl Zero had a crush on and the only person he told that he wanted to write comics when he was seventeen.
From tutoring kids in subjects he’s not well-versed in and sending résumé after résumé without any goals, to landing a job he doesn’t want and then actually writing comics for a living, Zero gives us glimpses into certain times of his life across the six episodes, such as being the teacher’s pet in 1995, and junking up his house in the present day. Zero speaks rapid-fire fast and he tends toward ranting, whereas his armadillo conscience is less dramatic when he expresses himself. Armadillo is also funnier. (The most hilarious scene in the entire series features the armadillo clapping; I howled in laughter for a good fifteen to twenty seconds, at least.) I don’t think I’m as neurotic as Zero (do neurotics think they’re not?), but I can relate to some of what he talks about, like stressing about what to watch and saving shows for when I’m in a “better mood.”
Amongst the laugh-out-loud and other humorous moments are a number of profound insights about life from Zero, Armadillo, or another character. To wit: “If I’m missing something inside, how can I find it outside?” And “If you don’t have control over your home, you don’t have control over your life.” (That might sound trite at first, but think about it.) It’s brilliant stuff, this.
Tear Along the Dotted Line is currently available for streaming globally exclusively on Netflix.
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