lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

04 September, 2010

Violence and sex in European films.

I would like to comment on the vital and simultaneously fragile issue of the incorporation of violence and sex in European films. Obviously we have many times experienced films which include a plethora of taboo images as well as spectacles of sex and violence. These spectacles undeniably excite viewers in ways that they would deny in their regular “polite” society. Unlike real-life violence, bloodshed and killing on screen give many viewers intense aesthetic pleasure. Therefore, cinema as a powerful medium is capable of arousing and stimulating an audience’s unconscious desires and fantasies through the conveyance of such aggressive spectacles, something which is fostered by the fact that a normative society restricts outward manifestations of sexual or brutal behavior. In a world that is saturated with violent and aggressive messages, we cannot take for granted that all viewers are aware of the boundaries between real-life and imagination or they have high levels of critical ability; intense movie violence can help to stimulate an individuals’ impulses in a way that he or she acts on them, hence, the image projected on the screen can reinforce the illogical dispositions of some viewers. Moreover, I would say that European cinema frequently borrows images, characters and occasionally story situations from the American one which is essentially typical of the popular culture. Inevitably, Hollywood exerts its influences on a global level both economically and stylistically and we should never forget that generally blood, killings, brutality and cruelty stimulate attention as well as curiosity and ultimately increase profitability, because they are tabooed and “deviant” characteristics and modes of conduct of our society.

Venice Days - the third and the fourth

I guess it’s the best to start with basics. It’s September the 4th, Saturday, my fourth day on biennale. I’m having a really good time so far, even though today’s movies were a bit disappointing. Actually I was going to write about the previous day, but due to some technical difficulties I wasn’t able to post anything yesterday. So now I’m about to write about my impressions from the last couple of days ;)

Let’s start with Friday. It was a really busy day and I have some mixed feelings about it. There was some good stuff, like Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies (the best movie so far!) in Giornate Degli Autori section or “La pecola nera” in Venice 67 competition. But not everything went so well that day.

When I left our apartment at about 10:30am (yeah, missed the morning screenings, I made it up today) it was already getting cloudy and windy, but the storm really took off in the most crucial moment and disturbed the debate. At first it seemed the weather is actually genre appropriate as today’s topic was “Fear knocks at the door: Public and private violence”, so thunderbolt was a perfect addition to a punch line. Among many guests who showed up today there was a director of Incendies, Denis Villeneuve and Andrea Serge, the director of Il sangue verde, movies from Giornate Degli Autori section. The third director who joined the meeting was Antonio Capuano, whose Dark Love was screened on Thursday. Each of them had an opportunity to briefly introduce his movie and its connection to the subject we discussed. It was only after about 5 minutes of speaking that mister Capuano realized that everybody around the table has actually seen his movie.

Unfortunately before we had a chance to get to any conclusions or crucial points the wind and the rain made it impossible to continue the debate. However it was not a complete waste of time as we left Villa with at least two interesting pieces of information: Denis Villeneuve made Incendies, film about violence, as a result of his struggle with his own fear towards it. As a matter of fact he really seemed like a kind, sympathetic person and I believed him when he said that he had no idea what he wass making a movie about (in a context of violence of course). The second thought that seemed important to me is that you can actually get to know the character of the director by observing how he is making violent movies or violent scenes. I encourage everyone to see Incendies sooner or later, so you can get a chance to find out something about Villeneuve as well.

Anyways, after the debate was so brutally disturbed by Mother Nature I decided to take advantage of the weather and try to get to the main competition screening of La pecora nera. Rain must have scared the potential viewers, as there was almost no cue and the movie turned out to be really good. The plot was twisted, dialogs generally very well written and often very witty. It is also worth mentioning that main character was brilliantly played by Ascanio Celestini. But the best was yet to come and by that I mean Denis Villeneuve's movie I mentioned before. It was not only superbly played, but also had a great pace, surprising, but very well adjusted soundtrack and what’s probably most important – interesting plot. The director was not afraid of banality in some scenes, quite the opposite, he turned them into one of the biggest strenghts of his movie. I will leave further comments to Anca ;)

Today (Saturday that is) situation was reverse. The debate went very well, despite a difficult topic, but I wasn’t so lucky with the movies. Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere seemed to me like a shadow of her brilliant debut Lost in translation. The scenography was nice (“fabulous” would be a better word actually), the cast was beautifull, the pace was slow, seems just like the first time, right? It’s not that there is no depth (there isn’t), it’s just that it is a really boring movie. Not mentioning ridiculus ending or sick amounts of product in hair that the main character is waking up with every day. Unfortunately today’s Giornate screening (Ocean Noir) didn’t make my day any better. Hopefully John Turturo and his Passione will help me end this day with better spirits. Fingers crossed!

SCHEDULE - Saturday, September 4th


27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
The Soul of Cinema: memory and roots

Sala Darsena
Followed by Q&A