CANNES -- Someone desecrates a university library in Bologna by nailing spikes into 100 books. That's the visual metaphor for this blunt filmic instrument that questions mankind's accumulated learning and wisdom. Every bit as hammer-handed as his story's perpetrator, filmmaker Ermanno Olmi has banged out a tedious piece of philosophical sop. Audiences will respond in like kind, nailing this one to the cinematic trash heap.

A narrative mishmash, "Centochiodi" starts out as a whodunit and then preens into a philosophical rant. Soon after the discovery of the damaged books, we surmise the culprit. He resembles former Laker/now-actor Rick Fox, but for the purposes of this pomposity, he's a Christ figure. In veritas, a Gucci Jesus with a convertible black sports car, a university professorship and a way with the ladies. Truly, a charismatic fanatic with an enlarged martyr/savior complex.

After the ostentation of abandoning his turbo-car and tossing his wordly possessions into the river, our Christ figure wanders less than 40 days and comes upon an old shed by the river. Lo, he clears brush, grazes on pizza and puts a gleam in the eye of a local bakery girl. Verily, the local townsfolk flock to him, absorbing his sophomoric wisdom and drinking his wine. At this point, the scenario sojourns from New Testament to Frank Capra as a little people vs. the big bulldozers subplot barges into the Jesus-ry. On and on, basically, to Palm Sunday but, thankfully, to no resurrection.

Aesthetic contributions are in sync with the film: pompous and tedious.

Cinemaundici Rai Cinema
Director: Ermanno Olmi
Screenwriter: Ermanno Olmi
Director of photography: Fabio Olmi
Production designer: Giuseppe Pirrotta
Music: Fabio Vacchi
Editor: Paolo Cottignola
Professore: Raz Degan
Panetiera: Luna Bendandi
Running time -- 94 minutes
No MPAA rating