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    2019 Venice Film Festival Aug. 28-Sept. 9

    2019 Venice Film Festival Aug. 28-Sept. 9


    PETR KOTLÁR IN THE PAINTED BIRD

    Venice 2019 premieres, sensations

    The Painted Bird (Václav Marhoul). Ian Brooks of the Guardian awards 5/5 stars to this nearly three-hour "tour of hell." People call it "savage," and responding to its scenes of atrocities people reportedly walked out in droves, but reviews are ecstatic. Brooks is deeply glad to have seen it - and says he never wants "to cross its path again." In 35mm black and white. Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier and Barry Pepper are among the cameos. A hard sell in commercial terms. Based on Jerzy Kosiński's short, shocking 1965 novel, thought to be semi-autobiographical, an idea later undercut by accusations in the Eighties that all his work was plagiarized.

    Joker (Todd Philips) also gets 5/5 stars in the Guardian from Xian Brooks. It's an origins story for Batman's nemesis that "landed like a firecracker in this year's Venice" and "audaciously" "invites us to love the monster" whose lonely life as a failed standup in Gotham City it tracks, partly based on a 1988 graphic novel but mainly inspired by Scorsese's Taxi Driver and King of Comedy.

    Scarlet Johansson gives an interview at Venice vouching for Woody Allen: "I love Wody and I believe him." She acted in three of his best films of latter days, Match Point, Scoop and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She is currently in a Hitler satire called Jojo Rabbit (debuting at Toronto) and also Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story (debuting at Venice - see below).

    About Endlessness, Roy Andersson’s "deliciously odd follow-up to A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence." 4/5 stars from Ian Brooks in the Guardian, who calls it "a divine comedy with moments of devilish wit." TRAILER.

    Okay but less enthusiastic reviews (3/5 stars) of David Thewlis in Guest of Honor and Timothée Chalamet et al in David Michôd's Henriad redo, The King. Brooks thinks Chalamet just may not be up to the job of playing Henry V, a role owned previously by Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh.

    The New Pope (Paolo Sorrentino - HBO TV 9-part series). 4/5 stars from Xian Brooks: "Jude Law haunts Paolo Sorrentino’s glorious follow-up to The Young Pope, but Malkovich’s purring pontiff-in-waiting is divine." Venice screened two episodes of the new series. I was a fan of the previous one, which Emily Nussbaum inexplicably eschewed. Exquisite mise-en-scène make each sequence jaw-dropping. John Malkovich is even better than Jude Law was in the first series, says Brooks.

    Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach) got high marks from Brooks. So it premieres here, though it's also boing to be the opening night film at the NYFF. It's also showing at Telluride, Toronto, and London - and likely to get high marks everywhere. The stars are Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, with Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Wallace Shawn and AlanAlda. It's current Metascore is 95% (based on 13 reviews).

    Ema (Pablo Larraín) 4/5. "Gael Garcia Bernal and Mariana Di Girolamo blame each other for quitting on their adoptive son. Is either correct? And will we ever meet him?" - Xian Brooks, Guardian. I loved Larraín's early movies.

    American Skin (Nate Parker) A "well-intentioned but heavy-handed bid to open a dialogue between law enforcement and African-American communities" by the diretor of the ill-starred Birth of a Nation. David Rooney review, Hollywood Reporter]

    Laundromat (Stephen Soderbergh) 4/5 A "nimble, sardonic" movie about money laundering - Philips, Chicago Tribune. Mixed reviews, some negative, resulting in a Metascore currently 59%. "There's a kind of off-putting effrontery about Soderbergh's approach here that rather sours the whole experience. The tone is brittle, the attitude arch, the performances by a savvy and diverse cast uneven"-writes Todd McCarthy in Hollywood Reporter. But Gleiberman in Variety says it's "Soderbergh at his most playful, and also Soderbergh at his most wonkish, and damned, in this case, if the two don’t chime together."

    Saturday Fiction (Lou Ye) "The spy games of pre-Pearl Harbor Shanghai aren't much fun to play and less to watch, in Lou Ye's incomprehensible Venice competition title." said Jessica Kiang in Variety. Screen Daily calls it "frustrating," Indiewire "convoluted." But Hollywood Reporter's Boyd van Hoeij finds it intriguing. In stylish black and white, it stars famous actress Gong Li as a famous actress of 1941. Apart pros and cons, it's on my to-do list for the upcoming NYFF.

    Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello. Italian director Pietro Marcello's film transfers Jack London's novel from early 20th century Oakland to Naples at an ill-defined 20th century moment. Shot in 16mm. In a review well-informed on the Jack London background, David Erlich of Indiewire finds enough flaws to give it only a C+. This one looks good but I really did not like his documentary-fantasy 2015 one (ND/NF) Lost and Beautiful/Bella e perduta. It's in the NYFF.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-05-2019 at 09:52 PM.

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