Saturday, 3 September 2016

Venezia 73: Staring out at day 3

Frankly, it isn't easy to spend all day in a cinema when the weather is this spectacular - and when you can see the beach from the press workroom. But this is life at the 73rd Venice Film Festival: watch movies and write about them, and if time allows gawk at the stars in press conferences or on the red carpet. Here on the Lido there are two other urgent requirements: finding food and wifi, neither of which is remotely easy. Here are more recent films (and that's Amy Adams again, above) ...

Nocturnal Animals
dir-scr Tom Ford; with Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal 16/US ***.
For his second film as writer-director, Tom Ford takes on an ambitious, three-sided story that's a romantic drama, violent thriller and darkly internal odyssey. Of course it all looks gorgeous, designed and edited to perfection. And it's packed with terrific moments that hit us right between the eyes with intensity and emotion. But some elements outshine the others, which throws things somewhat off the balance.

dir Francois Ozon; with Pierre Niney, Paula Beer 16/Fr ****.
French filmmaker Francois Ozon tackles another genre with this historical drama, which has shades of Haneke in its multi-layered story of forgiveness and redemption. Shot in black and white with moments of blossoming colour, the film harks back to period war dramas due to the visual style and the way the story evolves. But of course, Ozon puts his own subtle spin on everything. And the result is darkly moving.

Summertime [L'Estate Addosso]
dir Gabriele Muccino; with Brando Pacitto, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz 16/It ***
Bright and energetic, this Italian-American drama is packed with likeable characters and perceptive observations. But it's somewhat cursory in the way it approaches both the characters and story, full of picturesque montages with beautiful people in gorgeous locations. And while the core message is strong, the plotting feels rather random.

The Last Things [Le Ultime Cose]
dir-scr Irene Dionisio; with Fabrizio Falco, Roberto De Francesco 16/It ***
While this gentle Italian drama taps nicely into the zeitgeist, it seems to focus more on situation than the people who are caught up in it. The characters each have a journey to follow, and writer-director Irene Dionisio observes them without ever quite getting under their skin. Still, there are some strong moral dilemmas that pull the audience in. And the way it highlights a culture of desperation is haunting.

Coming up: Jude Law in The Young Pope, Dakota Fanning in Brimstone, James Franco's In Dubious Battle...

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