Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Venezia 73: It's a battle on days 6 & 7

Working at a film festival can be exhausting. Not only do you see three or four films every day, but you need to find time to write about them all as well. And also perhaps meet your normal work deadlines at the same time. Plus, you're in a strange city, searching for food! And also since it's a new place you want to take some time off and explore. Well, here at the 73rd Venice Film Festival, on Tuesday I finally had a chance to take the water bus over to the city's famous main islands - my first visit ever. I've travelled all over the world, but nothing prepared me for the thrill of Venice! After a three-hour walk in a rather enormous, convoluted circle, I'm in love with this city (and happy that it's only a cheap flight rom where I live). Then I was back on the boat across the lagoon to see more movies on the Lido. Here's what I saw yesterday and this morning (that's Andrew Garfield, above)...

Hacksaw Ridge
dir Mel Gibson; with Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington 16/Aus ****
With this big-hearted war epic, Mel Gibson uses warm, glowing drama and smiley corniness to distract from the harrowingly gruesome battle sequences. This means that most scenes are hard to watch for a variety of different reasons. But at the centre, this is a genuinely rousing story of real-life courage. And the war scenes are unusually riveting.

The Bad Batch
dir-scr Ana Lily Amirpour; with Suki Waterhouse , Jason Momoa 16/US **
For her second feature, Ana Lily Amirpour has a big, bold idea that's like Mad Max descending on Burning Man. But it isn't post-apocalyptic: it's a reflection of right-wing attitudes that are sweeping the globe, marginalising anyone who doesn't fit the status quo. So it's frustrating that the film is so difficult to engage with. Characters are cool and dispassionate, dialog is stiff and the pacing is uneven.

dir-scr Kim Rossi Stuart; with Kim Rossi Stuart, Camilla Diana 16/It **.
Like a cinematic mid-life crisis, this is an almost overpoweringly self-indulgent comedy-drama from Italian filmmaker Kim Rossi Stuart.  Not only is his central character an annoying, infantile jerk, but the film itself is simplistic in its themes and obvious in its metaphors. It's breezy enough to be watchable, but only just.

Heal the Living [RĂ©parer les Vivants]
dir Katell Quillevere; with Tahar Rahim, Anne Dorval 16/Fr ****
Openly emotive and darkly resonant, this French drama quite literally centres on matters of the heart. It's beautifully assembled and acted on various fronts. And even if filmmaker Katell Quillevere  sometimes drifts closely toward sentimentality, the movie remains a clear-eyed portrait of a group of people facing various sides of a life or death battle.

A Woman's Life [Une Vie]
dir Stephane Brize; with Judith Chemla, Jean-Pierre Darroussin 16/Fr ***.
An intriguingly deconstructed life story, this 19th century adaptation of the Guy de Maupassant novel plays out over some 25 years pivoting on emotions rather than plot. This makes it intriguingly compelling, even if the loose filmmaking, cool performances and impressionistic editing keep everything somewhat aloof. But it has powerful things to say about human nature, especially how we as individuals perceive the world around us.

Upcoming films include Pablo Larrain's Jackie, Terrence Malick's Voyage of Time: Life's Journey, Andrei Konchalovsky's Paradise and Nick Hamm's The Journey.

No comments: