Saturday, 10 September 2016

Venezia 73: Into the sunset on days 10 & 11

The 73rd Venice Film Festival wraps up tonight with a flourish. Everyone is second-guessing what might walk off with the awards. The collateral juries (including mine) announced their winners last night, followed by several parties. But I still made it to this morning's press screening of The Magnificent Seven, which easily kept me awake (that's Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee, above). Here are the last few films I've seen, plus my best of the fest...

The Magnificent Seven
dir Antoine Fuqua;  with Denzel Washington,  Chris Pratt 16/US ***
With broad strokes, Antoine Fuqua's remake of the 1960 classic (itself a remake of Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai) is big, loud and entertaining enough to hold the interest amid a sea of Wild West cliches. The characters and morality couldn't be any more simplistic, but the actors inves witty energy that helps make up for the predictable plot and glorified bloodshed. In other words, it's utterly unnecessary, but some audiences love this kind of macho fluff.

Boys in the Trees
dir-scr Nicholas Verso; with Toby Wallace, Gulliver McGrath 16/Aus ***.
Dark and intense in both its honesty and its mythical sensibility, this film explores the idea that man is a social animal that sometimes turns on its own. Writer-director Nicholas Verso creates an astonishingly evocative horror movie that gets deeply personal as it grapples with this and other themes. It may feel somewhat gimmicky, but it's also haunting and important.

Never Ever [À Jamais]
dir Benoit Jacquot; with Mathieu Amalric, Julia Roy 16/Fr ***
Based on the Don DeLillo novel The Body Artist, this French drama has a horror-mystery sensibility that's genuinely freaky. Playing with themes of artistic invention, mental instability and loneliness, it's a haunting story of one young woman sliding beyond the realm of reason. So it's a bit frustrating that the plot feels oddly thin, making its points early on and then going in circles before reaching the striking finale.

My best films of the festival...
  1. Jackie (Pablo Larrain)
  2. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
  3. The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz)
  4. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
  5. The Young Pope (Paolo Sorrentino)
  6. Heartstone (Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson)
  7. Prevenge (Alice Lowe)
  8. Frantz (Francois Ozon)
  9. Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)
  10. Heal the Living (Katell Quillevere)
Update: The festival's main competition awards were handed out tonight:
  • Golden Lion: The Woman Who Left
  • Grand Jury Prize: Nocturnal Animals
  • Actress: Emma Stone - La La Land
  • Actor: Oscar Martínez - The Distinguished Citizen
  • Director: Andrei Konchalovsky - Paradise
  • Screenplay: Noah Oppenheim - Jackie
  • Mastroianni Award: Paula Beer · Frantz
  • Special Jury Prize: The Bad Batch
I'm sticking around in Venice for a couple of days to visit the city - I'd never been here before this trip, so there's a lot to explore! Then it's back to London, and my usual work deadlines, on Monday.

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