Monday, September 03, 2012

Day 5 and 6 - 69th Venice International Film Festival

Unintentionally skipped a day but here I am, back to the movies that interest me from those two days.

Venezia 69

Lemale Et Ha'Chalal (Fill The Void) by Rama Burshtein

I'm very curious about this film as not often we have an opportunity to view Hasidic traditions in film much less from a female director point of view, who on top is a Hasidic Jew by choice, not birth. Add that she says "The Orthodox world is so interesting it does not need to cope with the secular. It can be very interesting and the drama can be very strong inside" and my curiosity grows more. The synopsis.

Tells the story of an Orthodox Hassidic family from Tel Aviv. Eighteen-year-old Shira is the youngest daughter of the family. She is about to be married off to a promising young man of the same age and background. It is a dream-come true, and Shira feels prepared and excited. On Purim, her twenty-eight-year-old sister, Esther, dies while giving birth to her first child. The pain and grief that overwhelm the family postpone Shira’s promised match. Everything changes when an offer is proposed to match Yochay—the late Esther’s husband—to a widow from Belgium. Yochay feels it’s too early, although he realizes that sooner or later he must seriously consider getting married again. When the girls’ mother finds out that Yochay may leave the country with her only grandchild, she proposes a match between Shira and the widower. Shira will have to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty...

Maybe synopsis sounds similar to other movies, but seems that this film goes could go deeper as suggested in the director's statement.

Love and relationships form the main object of my interests. To be honest, careerism, independence, and self-fulfillment are less important to me than love, my husband and my family. What drew me to the world of the Jewish faith was its approach to decoding the enigma of relationships between men and women. This process stunned me. Lemale Et Ha’Chalal tells a love story based on the spirit. It resembles the experience and feeling of an early love, which resides only in the heart, and is based on nothing reasonable. The humming of the heart towards another, combined with a desire that is consciously restrained, is the winning formula for my heart in seeking long-lasting delight.

I'm always fascinated by films that show me the unfamiliar so even when story could be familiar, so film continues to be must be seen for me. First reviews from trade magazines tend to be highly positive with some emphasis on film as a film. Great.

To The Wonder by Terrence Malick

Too soon to have to think about a Malick film, especially when I did not enjoyed much his last one. But obviously film is must be seen for me even when got both applauses and boos at press screening and not positive reviews. My biggest surprise is to find that according to press conference comments, Olga Kurylenko is the "real" star of the film as others like Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams have smaller roles. But, as always, Malick's film is a mystery that will be solved when you see it, no matter what media has said. The synopsis.

After visiting Mont Saint-Michel— once known in France as “the Wonder”—at the height of their love, Marina and Neil come to Oklahoma, where problems soon arise. Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile, who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews his ties with a childhood friend, Jane. An exploration of love in its many forms.

Of course synopsis doesn't say much and no surprise, there is no director's statement. So the mystery continues. My only hope is that I enjoy this movie more than his last but against my hope is still the shadow that Ben Affleck is acting here and I do not like his performances. Sigh.

Can help but to share that many Malick die-hard fans immediately went to question "bad" reviews/comments in twitter and elsewhere. So funny. One example: "Screw the boos: I'm in love with Terrence Malick's To The Wonder". Then, my favorite harsh-critic says film shows his "B-side", lol.

By the way, Malick just finished filming another film, Knight of Cups. Hope film will not be in Cannes next year, but since he has become a "film machine" there are two other projects that could get there. Only one has some info, Voyage of Time, which seems is an examination of the birth and death of the universe, oh! not again. Film is narrated by Emma Thompson and Brad Pitt, both could look very nice at any red carpet. Sigh.

Autoreiji: Biyondo (Outrage Beyond) by Takeshi Kitano

Simply love Takeshi Kitano. His film and his performances. So, no surprise that this film is must be seen for me. The synopsis.

The Sanno crime family has grown into a huge organization, expanding its power into politics and legitimate big business. The Sanno’s upper ranks are now dominated by young executives, and the old-guard members are penting up resentment while being pushed to the sidelines.

This vulnerable spot in the Sanno hierarchy is exactly what anti-gang detective Kataoka has been looking for, as the police force prepares a full-scale crackdown.

With secret plots and dirty tricks, the ambitious Kataoka instigates confl ict between the Sanno and their long-time ally, the Hanabishi, in the hopes that they ultimately destroy each other. But Kataoka’s trump card is the arranged release from prison of Otomo, the rumored dead boss of a family once crushed by the Sanno. 

Otomo’s surprise return adds to the deception and betrayal among the families as everyone watches out for the other’s next move. It’s impossible to guess who will come out on top in this fierce power game. It’s not over until it’s over.

Another gangster film as is the sequel to Autoreiji (Outrage). Seems film has been controversial for including scenes/references to Japan's recent disaster.

Après mai (Something in the Air) by Olivier Assayas

Not one of my favorite French directors but this film calls my attention beyond my love for French cinema as tells about the famous 70's Paris revolts. The synopsis.

Paris, in the early 1970s. Gilles is a young high school student completely swept up in the political and creative effervescence of the times. Like his schoolmates, he wavers between radical commitment and more personal aspirations. Passing from sexual relations to artistic revelations on a journey through Italy and ending in London, Gilles and his friends have to make crucial choices in order to find themselves in a tumultuous age.

Seems that at least some of his own experiences had to inspire this film, check the director's statement.

I don’t really believe in autobiography at the cinema. One always writes about recent and distant memories that are more or less distorted and more or less idealized. This is particularly the case when talking about adolescence, an age when our strongest images are etched almost unbeknownst to us. Instead I believe in youth as a source of inspiration, as an intimate truth that we should constantly measure ourselves against. I grew up during the 1970s. I didn’t choose them and I am returning to them. This violent, confused and contradictory period, overshadowed by the events of May 1968, continues to be the object of misunderstandings. I experienced those years and I am their worst witness, my face to the ground, a tributary of an irreparably falsified perspective. But perhaps that is not the worst point of view for understanding the chaos of those years...

Lately Assayas seems to be the only French filmmaker willing to talk about what many call "ugly" recent incidents in French history as first was Carlos and now Paris in the '70s. Yes, I'm curious to see his vision.

Out of Competition

Den skaldede frisør (Love is All You Need) by Susanne Bier

Defined by many as more mainstream than her previous films plus "a crowd pleaser" seems that director is taking a break from doing great movies. Tend to believe those comments thanks to the presence of Pierce Brosnan in film; still, does not discourage me from watching as a must be seen. The synopsis.

The film is a warm, funny and life-affirming story about how, just when you think it’s all over, it just might be about to begin. With warmth, affection and confidence, Susanne Bier has shaken a cocktail of love, absurdity, humor, raucous dialog and delicately drawn characters that will leave no heart untouched. Two very different families meet in a beautiful, old Italian villa, in the middle of a lemon grove. The occasion is a romantic wedding, meticulously planned to the smallest detail. Of course, nothing goes according to plan and yet everything works out in the end. Den skaldede frisør is a liberatingly different comedy, which will inspire hope in anyone with their heart in the right place.

Even if I know is not related at all (except for Brosnan), synopsis plus trailer make me think about Mama Mia! (lol). Anyway here is the director's statement.

I wanted to make a film about vulnerable people; about the things in life we’d rather suppress but, if depicted with humor, might lift our spirits. In Ida and Philip we found main characters whose vulnerability carried both the weight of the subject matter and the lightness of a humorous touch. We transported them to the most romantic place imaginable, alongside a host of comedic characters. We used humor and romance as means, not of softening their hardship, but of demarcating it more clearly, to allow the contrasting universes to emphasize each other. That way we could portray each of our characters, in all their fortune and misfortune, with the precision and tenderness they deserve.

Don't have high expectations for a great movie, expect good entertainment with great actors under the hand of an acclaimed director; still, deep inside me hope for a surprise.


Leones by Jazmín López

Debut film by Argentinean López calls my attention for the project credentials plus the lack of formal narrative to use symbols and magic realism. I believe could be a film of extremes, either is a great film or a pretentious disaster. Hope to find which after I see it. The synopsis.

Deep in the forest a group of five friends wander around like a lion herd. Lost in their word games, they play and seduce each other while going back and forth into adulthood territory, in a desperate search to avoid their already written story.

What synopsis doesn't mention is that all characters are dead and all committed suicide, which I think is important to know before watching. Director's statement is long with too many words to state something clearly and seems her press conference also had too many (useless) words.

Death is a lived life. Life is a death that comes” (Jorge Luís Borges) A white page, a shape, maybe a point without pre-design, allows me to move eternally into time. Leones is an essay about death, from the point of view of a mortal being, death seen as a beautiful landscape. Youth and its obsessions; death, its beauty and incomprehension. How weak can the human body be in comparison to an intellectual construction? These kids are always in the moment. References to temporality are downplayed, or even denied. They are not only in the moment but immersed in it, anxious and bored, almost beyond temporality. The decay of these flowers and the dirt of their clothes exert pressure on memory. Their extreme presence is more than eternal. End of time: they are not aware of their past. Leones explores the fantastic boundaries of film as a language. The kids are more real than the fi ction of the fi lm. Their purpose is an empty pursuit of arriving—nowhere—Animals. The feeling fi lls the whole space. We have to translate it within ourselves. And only if we stay sensitive towards the world, will we be able to go through it... A correspondence is established. Different times are tied, entangled.

Not really happy with what I read as I'm leaning toward pretentious disaster, but will watch movie anyway.

Venice Days

Blondie by Jesper Ganslandt

Not familiar with director as have not seen his previous films, but film calls my attention for story as seems like an intense drama that I could enjoy.

Then there is always the fact that one of the blonde leads (in photo) was at the Swedish Big Brother show and that's where director met her, as his assignment was to follow her. The synopsis.

Three sisters, all adrift and in crisis, come together again at their childhood home for the celebration of their mother´s birthday. The festivities soon come to an end though, and repressed conflicts rise up to the surface. Old wounds are opened and a new family is born.

European reviews headlines tend to be positive, with some calling film "a splendid portrait of women". Seems like my kind of film.

Acciaio by Stefano Mordini

Film is competing for the Queer Lion and to be honest, is the main reason why film called my attention as story maybe could be not that much interesting. Still, always there is hope that a great lesbian interest film will appear; hope is this one. The synopsis.

Here, the steel worker works on a continuous cycle, twenty-four hours a day and never stops. There, by the sea, on the island of Elba, is a paradise so close, yet so unattainable. 

In the middle, neither here nor there, Anna and Francesca, young but already old, have a friendship as special as love itself. The same love keeps Alessio, Anna´s brother, going. A factory worker to the core, the only girl he wants is Elena, the girl he cannot have. One day love arrives, as powerful as it is unexpected for all, and life suddenly accelerates until it cracks, bleeds and breaks.

International Critics' Week

Äta sova dö (Eat Sleep Die) by Gabriela Pichler

Very curious about film and more with the news that got standing ovations at Venice premiere. Not an easy story for a country that seems doesn't talk too much about its immigrants. The synopsis.

Is not easy for a girl like Raša – a Swedish citizen of Balkan origin and Islamic religion – to find a new job. She is fired from the factory where she used to pack lettuce into plastic bowls. She has not a high school degree, and she has to maintain her beloved father. She attends classes of psychological support for the unemployed and tries her best to find a new job. Under this harsh circumstances, she suddenly realizes that the Country in which she decided to live does not grant everyone equal opportunities.

Other News

Spanish filmmaker David Victori's La Culpa (The Guilt) won the 1st Your Film Festival. Michael Fassbender gave the award that includes US$500,000 to create original online content for YouTube.

Paolo Sorrentino's This Must Be The Place, Francesco Bruni's Scialla, Perfrancesco Favino in A.C.A.B. and Barobar Bobulova in Immaturi, Il Viaggio are the top winners in the Kineo Diamanti Al Cinema awards. To read full list go here.

Not So Serious

After many years not present in the festival, today in Cannes two very famous Italian actresses Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale.

Today's Photo

Michael Fassbender, David Victori and the award.

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