lux film prizeGiornate degli Autori - Venice Days

07 September, 2010

Venice Film Festival – a great, exhausting cinema marathon

September 2010

- I -

I’ve just come back from a 10 pm movie. The 10 pm movie is the one that regardless if you like it or nor, it will still make you fall asleep, at least for one moment. I find this extremely funny, because I’ve been here only for six days, and everybody feels already tired…I’m just curious how it’s going to be on the last few days! Yesterday, most of us went to see the 10 pm Post Mortem (by Pablo Larrain), which was screened in the impressive Sala Grande. After staying in a horribly long line and praying to get in, we finally succeeded and… 30 minutes through the movie, most of the people around me were sound asleep (I’m curious if Tarantino fell asleep too!).

The cinema marathon started 6 days ago, and since then I’ve seen as many films I could in a day. Some of them I liked, some of them I loved, some of them I’ve just forgot as soon as I left the cinema. That’s how it is! You keep in mind only the extremely good or bad screenings, the “normal” ones just go as “normal” as they came. And it is actually impossible not to find something you really like, in 12 days of screenings. But, taste is personal! For example, the best scored movie according to Variety is Detective Dee and the Mystery of Phantom Flame (by Tsui Hark). It is hilarious! For me, this movie was a combination of Matrix special effects with Lord of the Rings' fantasy, in a Detective Colombo context. I do not mean that it was a kitsch, but it wasn’t the best either. The idea was not original, and it also seemed very commercial, the kind of movie screened in Multiplex Cinemas. So how could this kind of Japanese fantasy movie, which had some typical Asian scenes extremely comic for the audience (though they were supposed to be serious), be stared better than Ovsyanki/Silent Souls (by Aleksei Fedorchenko), Miral (by Julian Schnabel), or Potiche (by François Ozon), and the list goes on…

So, yeah, taste is personal, but there were some movies we all agreed that were great. And I’m referring especially to Incendies/Scorched (by Denis Villeneuve, the winner of Best Canadian Film Award in 2009 for Politechnique), the best movie I’ve seen so far! It was extraordinary, speechless! No one actually expected this to be so “different”. When I entered the cinema, all I could remember were Adrian’s words “He’s a nice guy, and nice guys have great movies. Let’s hope this one will be good”, and it was. It is the only one that put me in the uncomfortable situation of not being able to anticipate, which makes it brilliant. Nobody made a sound throughout the movie, so that at the end the room just burst into applause. Moreover, Sala Darsena remained almost full for the Q&A, which brought in front of us “normal” people, so different from the protagonists; a fact which strengthened, once again, my thoughts that it was a very good film. What it is about? This is even a more difficult question to answer, I was thinking today about the storyline, and I realized that it is a movie that you have to see to like it, the simple reveal of the plot may make it seem “banal”. So, a banal idea is turned by Dennis Villeneuve into a very complex movie, the product of a teamwork that it is extremely unpredictable. Nawal Marwan (Lubna) – the winner of The Most Promising Actress at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2004, for Strangers - was extraordinary in this role, she was so convincing and she transmitted so much emotion, that it was shocking to see her other than Lubna. So, the film was shot somewhere in the north of Jordan, and has as a starting point and source of the drama a political conflict in the Middle East. The only drawback may be that at the end it seems a little far-fetched, however the idea is “saved” by the excellent acting of the protagonists. All in all, Incendies/Scorched is a captivating drama, in the context of returning-to-the roots story on Radiohead’s songs.

I also enjoyed Circus Columbia (by Denis Tanovic), but I will let this for a special mention. The animation movie from the Venice Days' competition, Pequeñas Voces / Little Voices (by Jairo Eduardo Carrill and Oscar Andrade) was ok, but controversial at the same time. It stirred many discussions due to the lack of drama this kind of movie should have had. The idea is one with great impact, delicate I would say, an animated documentary based on children’s stories about the violence in Colombia. However, the film is not such dramatic. But after discussing this point, I found out that it was supposed to be a kind of family movie that even children can watch and discuss it with their parents. So, yes, after all it was a nice film for those interested in different techniques of animation, comic and dramatic at the same time, for all ages!

- II -

Every movie gives us a different state of spirit, and we take it very personally. That’s why depending on how much you identify yourself with the situation, or on what feelings it transmits, you may want to see it again in different moments of your live. I, for one, would like to see Ovsyanki/Silent Souls (by Aleksei Fedorchenko) again. Thought the translation was not so good as it didn't mirror the very poetical language it used, it is a very intense movie. At the end of it, I tended not to like it, but now, thinking it over I realize that I would watch it again just for the sake of the story - the passionate love of a man for his dead wife - in the context of Merja funeral customs. Yes, it may be a little boring sometimes, but it is still a touching movie with a strong message.

Today, it was my lucky day. I saw only good movies, and I tend to forget now the infernal time spent in the infinite lines. I have stayed almost two hours in a line to see I’m still here (by Casey Affleck) at Sala Grande, the kind of movie that makes you feel better about yourself. And it was worth it! As it usually happens, the opinions are different, however this would be one of the movies I would like to see again on a Sunday evening with my friends. The film follows Joaquin Phoenix’s drama of not finding his place in this world (he gives up acting dreaming of a hip-hop career, and becomes a joke for the Hollywood industry), but in a very sarcastic way that it actually made the audience laugh all the time. So yes, it is an entertaining movie, funny and dramatic at the same time, which reveals once more that being a star doesn’t solve your problems. But unlike Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere, which has mainly the same idea, this one is more dynamic. Sophia Coppola takes the dramatic part too serious, she wants to make a touching movie, which actually was boring. Of course, the movie has it’s good moments too, funny ones too, but it has no climax, no moment of maximum intensity (as I believe an existential drama like this should be), it does not transmits the complex emotions Johnny experiences… we can just guess them… and it’s just too slow.

P.S. The one thing I enjoy the most in festivals is going to the cinema as a group. I mean, the discussions after the movie are absolutely delicious, everybody has his own opinions and arguments and is very willing to share them. I absolutely love discussing what we’ve just seen, as it makes the film even more interesting!

SCHEDULE - Tuesday, September 7th


27 Times Cinema
Villa degli Autori
What purpose do festivals serve nowadays?

Sala Darsena
Followed by Q&A

Sala Volpi