Sunday, 3 September 2017

Venezia74: Hit the road on Day 5

The weather returned to sunshine today, so I took a break in the middle of the day and went for a long walk on the beach. I have another gap tomorrow, and hope to cross the lagoon to Venice for some museum visiting. In the meantime I had three films today. Well, I was supposed to have four, but I did something I never do: I walked out of the French documentary Caniba. After 40 minutes, it was still insufferably pretentious and incoherent, and I remembered that I didn't need to review it anywhere, so I followed the steady flow of walk-outs and had some ice cream instead. These are the ones I watched all the way through...

The Leisure Seeker
dir Paolo Virzi; with Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland 17/US ***.
There's an askance loopiness about this film that blurs the lines between a lively road comedy and a darker exploration of mortality. It helps that it stars the effortlessly offbeat Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, who add layers of edgy subtext to their broad characters and on-the-nose dialog. As it travels down America's East Coast, the film tries to pack in a lot of nostalgia and a whiff of politics, but it's the more internalised moments that are most effective.

Victoria & Abdul
dir Stephen Frears; with Judi Dench, Ali Fazal 17/UK ***
This may be a crowd-pleasing film, but it never seems like director Stephen Frears can make up his mind whether he's making a frightfully British comedy or a historical drama about the final 15 years of Queen Victoria's reign. So it ends up as an awkward mix of the two that feels neither funny nor historical. Thankfully it's anchored by another hugely engaging performance by Judi Dench, who keeps the audience smiling even when the plausibility wobbles.

Team Hurricane
dir-scr Annika Berg; with Zara Munch Bjarnum, Ida Glitre 17/Den ***.
A group of eight 15-year-old girls bare their souls in this colourful Danish documentary, which feels like they made it as a school project. Or perhaps it's a public service programme made to feel down with the kids. It's busy and bursting with lively touches for a generation that thinks anything that isn't "Insta-worthy" is useless. But they also discuss on serious issues like depression, sexuality, body image and eating disorder, all from the vibrant perspective of a teen girl.

Tomorrow: Francis McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Koreeda's The Third Murder and the Hollywood doc My Generation...

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