Tuesday, August 05, 2014

2014 Cinema Biennale Check #3 - Born in USA Directors

I have been complaining allover and to everyone that this year La Mostra seems to me too much American, too much Gringo and too much one sided type of cinema style. Sigh. But well, we have to find why European festival programmers are so attracted to include so much American cinema while completely ignoring Latin American cinema.

We have to start with one America born director that has a movie NOT produced with American money: Abel Ferrara.

Abel Ferrara

Born in The Bronx, NY in July 1951 Ferrara has many films for the small and big screen plus has travelled different genres including documentary but perhaps he is better known for his 1992 Bad Leiutenant and 2011 4:44 - Last Day on Earth that competed at the 68th Venice fest. One of his latest films is 2013 Welcome to New York that failed to be picked up for theatrical distribution and was released on VOD, yes is the fictionalized version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case starring Gérard Depardieu.

I do not particularly enjoy Ferrara cinematic style and definitively I am VERY concern about his latest film, Pasolini, which -of course- I have to watch as can't resist to see what any director does with the last days of one of my favorite directors of all times and the maker of my #1 film of all times: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Then the cast is great with all the European actors but I cannot understand why he chose an American actor to play Pasolini, even when is Willem Dafoe that lately has been doing European cinema and yes, has given us great performances like in Lars von Trier's Antichrist. Deep inside my I wish film will be a good one as Pasolini deserves greatness even when telling about his controversial death. Alright I admit it, I am absolutely biased to anything and everything Pasolini, so take all my comments with a grain of salt.

Basic info about Pasolini
Director: Abel Ferrara
Scriptwriter: Abel Ferrara and Maurizio Braucci
Length: 86 min
Production countries: France, Italy and Belgium
Production companies: Capricci Production, Urania Pictures, Tarantula, Arte France Cinéma, Dublin Films
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Riccardo Scamarcio, Giada Colagrande, Valerio Mastandrea, Maria de Medeiros

Un jour, une vie. A Rome, la nuit du 2 novembre 1975, le grand poète italien et réalisateur Pier Paolo Pasolini est assassiné. Pasolini, le symbole d'un art aux prises avec le pouvoir. Ses écrits sont scandaleux, ses films persécutés par les censeurs, beaucoup l'aiment, beaucoup le détestent. Le jour de sa mort, Pasolini passe ses dernières heures avec sa mère adorée, puis avec ses amis proches et part enfin, au volant de son Alfa Romeo, à la quête d'une aventure dans la cité éternelle. Au lever du jour, Pasolini est retrouvé mort sur une plage d'Ostie, aux abords de la ville. Dans un film onirique et visionnaire, entre réalité et fantasme, Abel Ferrara reconstruit le dernier jour de la vie de ce grand poète avec son acteur fétiche, Willem Dafoe, dans le rôle de PPP.

Synopsis in English (too short)
A look at the final days of Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and the confusion surrounding his death in 1975.

Ramin Bahrani

Have to be honest, I know absolutely nothing about this director as I have seen NONE of his 11 films (shorts, TV series, feature length) but let see if we can talk a bit about him to learn something interesting. Born in North Carolina on March 1975 and perhaps better known for his Goodbye Solo (2008) and At Any Price (2012) both screened at Venice fest with the last one competing for a Golden Lion and the first winning the 2008 FIPRESCI prize. Seems that this is his third time at Venice with a feature film (more times with short films) and his second in the main competition. In 2007 he was at the 2007 Cannes parallel section, Director's Fortnight with Chop Shop that some consider his best work up-to-date.

His latest film 99 Homes is in La Mostra main competition and there is only one thing that calls my attention: Michael Shannon has a lead role; then there is one thing that does not call my attention: Andrew Garfield has a lead role. Sigh. Maybe I will check film to learn about director and see what I know will be a great performance by Shannon.

Basic info about 99 Homes

Director: Ramin Bahrani
Scriptwriter: Ramin Bahrani and Ammir Naderi
Language: English
Length: 112 mins
Production countries: USA
Production company: Noruz Films, Hyde Park - Image Nation LTD
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern

Unemployed contractor Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) and his family are evicted from his childhood home by shady real estate agent Mike Carver (Michael Shannon). Desperate to get his home back and settle his debts, he makes a deal to work for the powerful, ruthless Carver, despite his hatred for him and all that he stands for. Soon, Dennis finds himself evicting other homeowners, conducting insurance fraud, and flipping houses to hedge funds. The money is really good, and the opportunity is unlimited. Dennis is back on his feet and earning more than he ever has in his life. But his new-found lifestyle at the cost of others' misfortune has led him to a crossroad: Should he continue to "play the game" and reap the rewards that are within his grasp, or sacrifice it all and take down the smug and dangerous Carver?

David Gordon Green

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas on April 1975 he is better known for films that well, I have seen excerpts while changing channels like infamous Pineapple Express (2008) or his fest circuit acclaimed and winner of the Berlinale Silver Berlin Bear for Best Director, Prince Avalanche (2013) that no, wasn't able to finish watching, sigh.

His latest film Manglehorn has an interesting cast, especially when you consider that Harmony Korine is listed as an actor (he's the infamous director) but Holly Hunter's work and some of Pacino's work are always refreshing master classes in performing. Maybe I'll be able to finish watching this movie, we'll see.

Basic info about Manglehorn
Director: David Gordon Green
Scriptwriter: Paul Logan and David Gordon Green
Language: English
Length: 97 mins
Production countries: USA
Production company: Worldview Entertainment, Dreambridge Films, Mukat Filmed Properties, Rough House
Starring: Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine

Angelo Manglehorn is a small town locksmith who never got over the love of his life. Clara was a beautiful, idealized woman who left him heartbroken 40 years ago. He still writes her letters obsessively as he tries to find her and get back the woman of his dreams. Manglehorn is the journey of this magical man, his son, his cat and a beautiful new woman trying to help him put the pieces of his heart back together.

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