Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Venezia74: Taking aim on Day 8

Italian films are notoriously hit and miss here at the Venice Film Festival, perhaps because so many filmmakers are friends with programmers. So it was great to see one that was so hugely enjoyable this morning, and met with a big roar of approval from the crowd at the screening. I have now seen all of the films in contention for this year's Queer Lion prize, and our jury will meet tomorrow to hash out who our winner will be. Here's what I saw today - I skipped a fourth film tonight, just for my own personal sanity...

Love and Bullets [Ammore e Malavita]
dir Antonio Manetti, Marco Manetti; with Giampaolo Morelli, Raiz 17/It ****
The Manetti brothers find a fresh angle on the usual Naples crime thriller. The plot may be fairly typical, but it unfolds as a musical comedy with terrific songs and a continual stream of hilarious gags. While many jokes may be limited to Italian viewers, the approach is so witty that it crosses over to wider audiences, with a gleefully entertaining mix of dark drama, broad slapstick, some wonderfully elaborate musical numbers and quite a bit of surprisingly resonant emotion.

Sweet Country
dir Warwick Thornton; with Sam Neill, Hamilton Morris 17/Aus ***.
With a gentle pace that echoes the rhythms of life in turn-of-the-century rural Australia, this slow-burning dramatic Western quietly creeps up on the audience. It offers deep themes and detailed character, plus a vivid depiction of the clash between the Aboriginals and the European interlopers. The film's setting may echo other movies, but the tone is distinctly more internalised, exploring the true nature of justice in a seriously unjust place.

The Prince and the Dybbuk
dir-scr Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosolowski; with Rosemary Mankiewicz, Angelo Manzini 17/Pol ***
This experimental documentary explores notorious Polish filmmaker Michal Waszynski. And its rather slippery since its subject continually reinvented himself, erasing his past to forge ever more glamorous futures as a prince in exile. Clearly he was haunted by something from his past, as evidenced in his iconic 1937 film The Dybbuk, about a close friendship between two Yiddish boys. The film's loose structure is frustrating for audiences who would like to know the full story, but the film has hypnotic charm.

Tomorrow is a quieter day: Matthias Schoenaerts in Le Fidele and Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour opus Mektoub, My Love.

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