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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Day 4 - 69th Venice International Film Festival


To be blunt, I'm starting to feel what most media seems to have been feeling since the beginning of the festival. We are one day short of half the fest and yes, I'm losing interest. So today I'll be talking only about the films that I wish to see.

Venezia 69

The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson

Not everything that Paul Thomas Anderson has done appeals to me but his latest film with the amazing cast and puzzling story and after his great There Will Be Blood definitively is must be seen for me. Already press tweets are praising movie but directly or indirectly admit that for many will not be easy to "get it"(even my favorite film critic is asking to see it twice and he has a deadline), which for me means that movie has to be very good. Great.

Joaquin Phoenix is in Venice and saw excerpts of the press conference video as I gave up and won't listen any more to the annoying voice of the Italian translator. Still was nice to see him as well as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anderson. Didn't pay much attention to what they were talking as this is one movie that I don't want spoilers beyond the basic movie info. So, let's check the synopsis.

A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master unfolds the journey of a Naval veteran who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future—until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.

Exactly the kind of synopsis that I like as tells nothing about film and at the same time tells everything. So I deduce that if film is or is not about Scientology is up to us viewers to conclude after we watch film. Good. Not surprisingly there is no director's statement at the fest official site.

What do I expect from this movie? Outstanding performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, also from Amy Adams; a complex, brainy, not-easy-to-crack, story; a masterful creation by Anderson. High expectations, isn't? But I had them before today, before reading the very short tweets, these only confirm what I was already expecting. Good.

Movie reviews started to crowd the net and if you wish to know more about movie suggest to check them. News mostly from Italian media: Joaquin Phoenix strong contender for Copa Volpi Best Actor.

È stato il figlio by Daniele Ciprì

Highly enjoy Toni Servillo performances and from what I have seen in trailer I believe this could not be the exception. Trailer and story synopsis suggests that film seems like what I call "regular Italian movie" which doesn't mean is bad, just that is not outstanding cinema. Check the synopsis.

The Ciraulo family lives on the outskirts of Palermo. Nicola, the father, manages to support everyone by selling scrap iron from disused ships. Although their life is tough, it’s peaceful. One day a stray bullet, fired by a mafia hit man, kills the youngest daughter. The family’s desperation is immeasurable. There is a glimmer of at least some economic hope when the Ciraulo’s neighbour Giacalone advises Nicola to apply for compensation for mafia victims. Assuming that the money will soon arrive, the family starts spending it before they have even received it, getting into debt with everyone. Nicola falls into the hands of a moneylender, a friend of Giacalone’s. When the money finally arrives, there is not much left once they have paid off their debts. The Ciraulo family do not have a bank account. The money sits on the table with the whole family sitting around it while they decide how they should invest it. Each idea receives short shrift from Nicola, who finally comes up with his own: to buy a Mercedes. A Mercedes is a symbol of wealth, for many people the only real sign that you have escaped poverty. But for the Ciraulo family the Mercedes becomes the symbol of the Misery of Wealth, a tool of defeat and ruin.

Can't deny that story could be an interesting exploration if director goes beyond what has already been said about sudden wealth, but definitively is Servillo performance what makes film must be seen for me. For your reference, the following is the director's statement.

In this film I rediscovered something of the characters who had inspired me in the past and who will always be dear to me. For example, Busu is a lot like Tirone (the cyclist in Cinico tv) who does a bit of wheeling and dealing to scrape together a bit of cash and does not have relationships with women. This helped me to feel that this was “my” story without betraying Alajmo’s novel. È stato il figlio is the result of my own experiences and the complicity of everyone who accompanied me on this journey. The Ciraulo family could be our family and is the projection of the breakdown in human relations and cultural limitations.

Out of Competition

Cherchez Hortense by Pascal Bonitzer

I see everything with Kristin Scott Thomas, an actress that I have highly enjoyed in English roles but adore her in French films, thus this film is must be seen for me. Not really familiar with director but have seen a few movies with male lead, Jean-Pierre Bacri and enjoyed some of his performances. So film seems like one that I will enjoy besides watching the lead actress. The synopsis.

Damien is a professor of Chinese civilization who lives with his wife, Iva, a theater director, and their son Noé. Their love is mired in a mountain of routine and disenchantment. To help keep Zorica from getting deported, Iva gets Damien to promise he’ll go to his father, a state department official, for help. But Damien and his father have a distant and cool relationship. And this mission is a risky business which will send Damien spiraling downward and over the edge...

Film is competing for the Queer Lion because seems from what I read that Damien's father is gay, which unravels more the story told in the synopsis. The director's statement explains better what film is about.

Illegal immigration is not the subject of Cherchez Hortense. If I had to put a word to it, I would say it’s about identity, or the visible portion thereof (which explains the title). My movie is a comedy, which means hopefully it will get some laughs and also that it ends well. Still, as in any comedy, the characters go through some very dramatic stuff—particularly the hero, Damien, who is being pulled in many directions at once. When Damien finally sees that the abstract commitment to an unknown person which is demanded of him actually coincides with the actual interest he has taken in a young woman encountered by chance, he realizes just how wrong he has been and finally swings into action. What Agnès and I have tried to achieve through this comedy is an exploration of self-confidence, which isn’t given but earned, or conquered. It’s about identity, an identity crisis, which for Damien spells an impossible confrontation with his father. But two other characters—who never meet and who are at first glance very different—both deal with this issue—Sebastien, the aforementioned father, and Aurore/Zorica, the young woman who’s on Damien’s mind. So to sum up the story that Agnès de Sacy and I have tried to tell here, let’s say it’s about a guy (Damien) who has to become visible so that a girl (Aurore) can remain invisible and, conversely, about giving up invisibility in order to finally live life to its fullest.

Yes film is a comedy and I really don't like French comedies, so let's hope the drama in film keeps my attention and allows me to enjoy film.

Photo of the Day

Beautiful photo of Nadine Labaki at last night 2012 Gucci Award for Women in Cinema ceremony.

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