Sunday, 4 September 2016

Venezia 73: Feeling holy on days 4 & 5

The sun has been out in force over the first week of the 73rd Venice Film Festival - not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the blistering high-20s C (mid-80s F) - and it looks like next week will be more of the same. Meanwhile, the cinemas are air conditioned to shivering point. Anyway, I decided to finally take advantage of this beautiful place and visit the beach this weekend. Lovely! Hopefully I can carve out a few hours soon to go visit the main islands of Venice - I still haven't seen them, except from across the lagoon. But then I'm here for the movies, and here's what I saw this weekend (that's Jude Law, above)...

The Young Pope
dir Paolo Sorrentino; with Jude Law, Diane Keaton 16/It ****
The first two episodes of Paolo Sorrentino's controversial TV series were screened as a feature at the Venice Film Festival. It's a ripping drama that dares to take a playful tone as it sets up the tension between this hot new Pontiff and the establishment he is deliberately trying to rattle. So while it's a lot of fun, it's also rather pointed and ultimately chilling in where it ends up.

dir-scr Martin Koolhoven; with Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce 16/Ned ***.
With a cool, clear eye, Dutch filmmaker Martin Koolhoven creates an expansive Western that vividly captures the perspective of a woman in a harshly male-dominated world. It's a ripping tale, told out of sequence in four overly-gruesome chapters that weave into an epic tale of retribution. There are a few niggling plot points, and the brutality sometimes feels almost celebratory, but the characters and themes are provocative and haunting.

Four Days in France [Jours de France]
dir-scr Jerome Reybaud; with Pascal Cervo, Arthur Igual 16/Fr **
There's a great story at the centre of this rambling, indulgent French drama. it has great characters, strong themes and lovely locations, and yet filmmaker Jerome Reybaud never manages to let the audience into his reasons for anything on-screen. Random scenes, unexplained motivations and a generally aimless structure make it feel even longer than its nearly two and a half hours.

The Untamed [La Región Salvaje]
dir Amat Escalante; with Simone Bucio, Ruth Jazmín Ramos 16/Mex ***.
From Mexico, this defiantly original film mixes relational melodrama with an unusual kind of monster movie. As it circles around a group of people whose interconnections are seriously tortured, a primeval creature complicates things in very strange ways. As a result, the film is almost overpoweringly foreboding. But it's strong group of characters and instantly recognisable situations make it impossible not to get sucked into the madness.

Indivisible [Indivisibili]
dir Edoardo De Angelis; with Angela Fontana, Marianna Fontana 16/It ***
A brittle sense of humour drives this offbeat drama set in a gritty seaside town in Italy. The central story is a bit too quirky to believe, but the gimmick provides enough of a hook to hold the audience's interest and provide some emotional resonance as well. But frankly, once things are set in motion, there aren't many places this story can go.

I'm still planning out what I will see on Monday, but I am aiming to kick the day off with Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge.

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