"Nocturnes for the King of Rome" is the lofty title of an experimental gamble that quickly falters, as director Jean-Charles Fitoussi tries to justify a feature-length film lensed via a cell phone. Despite a smattering of images that evoke pointillist or impressionist paintings -- or maybe pixilated Navajo rugs -- the proverbial actor reading from a telephone book would be more entertaining. Don't call us, we'll call you.
With poignant eloquence, an unseen and elderly German composer evokes his musical writer's block over pixel-plagued shots of contempo Rome. An interminable (and apparently unrelated) formal party outdoors makes one long for the frenetic pacing of, uh, "Last Year at Marienbad." Despite decades of music videos in which even the most random combo of sound and picture often work, Fitoussi tries to marry classical snippets with mobile phone-shot docu-drivel in an arbitrary, tone-deaf manner. Archival war footage and clips from "La dolce vita" appear stranded in the glaucomatous narrative hodgepodge.
Camera (color, DV), Fitoussi; music, excerpts form works by Frederic Weibgen, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Schubert and others. Reviewed at Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, May 10, 2006. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics Week, special presentation.) Running time: 70 MIN.