Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Venezia74: Red carpet time on Day 1

The 74th Venice film festival kicked off today on the Lido with the world premiere of Alexander Payne's new comedy drama Downsizing (see below), and Payne was on the above red carpet along with stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig. Damon is still be around on Saturday for the world premiere of Suburbicon. It was a warm, summery day here today, and I spent most of it in cinemas, seeing four films....

dir Alexander Payne; with Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig 17/US ***
Alexander Payne eschews his usual organic style of storytelling for something more pointed and constructed. The premise is ingeniously conceived and thought out down to the (ahem!) smallest details, and as the plot develops a variety of big issues make themselves known. This may provide a connection to present-day issues, but it makes the film begin to feel rather pushy. And the ideas themselves become stronger than the narrative... FULL REVIEW >

First Reformed
dir-scr Paul Schrader; with Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried 17/US ***
Paul Schrader once again takes a provocative look at religion in America in this dark and twisty drama that has all kinds of repercussions from today's headlines, from climate change to extremism. Anchored by very strong performances, the film gets increasingly intense as it continues, implying in unmistakable ways that it's headed for something awful. Although Schrader himself seems unsure about where he wanted it to go.

Nico, 1988
dir-scr Susanna Nicchiarelli; with Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair 17/Italy ****
This biopic about the final years of the iconic German-born musician-actress strikes an intriguing tone from the start, diving into the firsthand accounts of people who travelled with her around Europe. It feels remarkably personal, with a bold, gritty edge that echoes the intensity of both Nico's singing and Trine Dyrholm's thunderous performance. Some elements of the film feel a little undercooked, leaving the audience perhaps misled about the details. But it's an involving film packed with rivulets of emotion that pull the audience in.

The Devil and Father Amorth
dir William Friedkin; with William Friedkin, Gabriele Amorth 17/US ***.
Whether this is a documentary or a witty found-footage style thriller, it's a lot of fun. William Friedkin picks up on themes from his 1971 classic The Exorcist as he heads off to Rome to witness his first exorcism firsthand. What happens is freaky, but it's so hyped up by the tabloid-TV presentation and a gonzo horror score that it's impossible to take seriously. Still, it's fast-paced and gripping. You won't be able to look away, even thought you'll want to.

I'll be attempting to do this kind of post each day here - as my schedule allows. Meanwhile, I'm tweeting instant mini-reviews and instagramming photos. I'll also try to get the odd full review up on the site when I get a chance. But with four films per day, it may be tricky.

Everything here is a world premiere, by the way! Tomorrow: The Insult and Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water...



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