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Thread: VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 - competition films

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    VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 - competition films

    VENEZIA 80

    Wed, Aug 30, 2023 – Sat, Sep 9, 2023



    Maestro (Bradley Cooper)

    Competition Films


    BASTARDEN (THE PROMISED LAND)
    Director Nikolaj Arcel

    Main Cast Mads Mikkelsen, Amanda Collin, Simon Bennebjerg, Melina Hagberg, Kristine Kujath Thorp, Gustav Lindh / Denmark, Germany, Sweden / 127’

    DOGMAN
    Director Luc Besson

    Main Cast Caleb Landry Jones, Jojo T. Gibbs, Christopher Denham, Clemens Schick, Grace Palma / France / 114’

    LA BÊTE
    Director Bertrand Bonello

    Main Cast Léa Seydoux, George MacKay / France, Canada / 146’

    HORS-SAISON
    Director Stéphane Brizé

    Main Cast Guillaume Canet, Alba Rohrwacher / France / 115’

    ENEA
    Director Pietro Castellitto

    Main Cast Pietro Castellitto, Giorgio Quarzo Guarascio, Benedetta Porcaroli, Chiara Noschese, Giorgio Montanini, Adamo Dionisi, Matteo Branciamore, Cesare Castellitto, Sergio Castellitto / Italy / 115’

    MAESTRO
    Director Bradley Cooper

    Main Cast Carey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Josh Hamilton, Scott Ellis, Gideon Glick, Sam Nivola, Alexa Swinton, Miriam Shor / USA / 129’


    Priscilla (Sofia Coppola)

    PRISCILLA
    Director Sofia Coppola

    Main Cast Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi, Dagmara Dominczyk / USA, Italy / 110’

    FINALMENTE L’ALBA
    Director Saverio Costanzo

    Main Cast Lily James, Rebecca Antonaci, Joe Keery, Rachel Sennott, Alba Rohrwacher, Willem Dafoe / Italy / 142’

    COMANDANTE
    Director Edoardo De Angelis

    Main Cast Pierfrancesco Favino, Massimiliano Rossi, Johan Heldenbergh, Arturo Muselli, Giuseppe Brunetti, Gianluca Di Gennaro, Johannes Wirix, Silvia D’Amico, Paolo Bonacelli / Italy / 120’

    LUBO
    Director Giorgio Diritti

    Main Cast Franz Rogowski, Christophe Sermet, Valentina Bellè, Noemi Besedes, Cecilia Steiner, Joel Basman, Filippo Giulini, Alessandro Zappella / Italy, Switzerland / 175’

    ORIGIN
    Director Ava DuVernay

    Main Cast Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Niecy Nash-Betts, Audra McDonald, Nick Offerman, Connie Nielsen / USA / 135’

    THE KILLER
    Director David Fincher

    Main Cast Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard, Kerry O’Malley, Sophie Charlotte, Emiliano Pernía, Gabriel Polanco / USA / 118’

    MEMORY
    Director Michel Franco

    Main Cast Jessica Chastain, Peter Sarsgaard, Brooke Timber, Merritt Wever, Elsie Fisher, Jessica Harper, Josh Charles / Mexico, USA / 100’

    IO CAPITANO
    Director Matteo Garrone

    Main Cast Seydou Sarr, Moustapha Fall / Italy, Belgium / 121’

    AKU WA SONZAI SHINAI (EVIL DOES NOT EXIST)
    Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi

    Main Cast Hitoshi Omika, Ryo Nishikawa, Ryuji Kosaka, Ayaka Shibutani / Japan / 106’

    ZIELONA GRANICA (GREEN BORDER)
    Director Agnieszka Holland

    Main Cast Jalal Altawil, Maja Ostaszewska, Tomasz Włosok, Behi Djanati Atai, Mohamad Al Rashi, Dalia Naous / Poland, Czech Republic, France, Belgium / 147’

    DIE THEORIE VON ALLEM
    Director Timm Kröger

    Main Cast Jan Bülow, Olivia Ross, Hanns Zischler, Gottfried Breitfuss, David Bennent, Philippe Graber / Germany, Austria, Switzerland / 118’

    POOR THINGS
    Director Yorgos Lanthimos

    Main Cast Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, Suzy Bemba, Jerrod Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, Vicki Pepperdine, Margaret Qualley, Hanna Schygulla / UK / 141’

    EL CONDE
    Director Pablo Larraín

    Main Cast Jaime Vadell, Gloria Münchmeyer, Alfredo Castro, Paula Luchsinger / Chile / 110’

    FERRARI
    Director Michael Mann

    Main Cast Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Sarah Gadon, Gabriel Leone, Jack O’Connell, Patrick Dempsey / USA / 130’

    ADAGIO
    Director Stefano Sollima

    Main Cast Pierfrancesco Favino, Toni Servillo, Valerio Mastandrea, Adriano Giannini, Gianmarco Franchini, Francesco Di Leva, Lorenzo Adorni, Silvia Salvatori / Italy / 127’

    KOBIETA Z... (WOMAN OF)
    Director Małgorzata Szumowska, Michał Englert

    Main Cast Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, Joanna Kulig, Bogumila Bajor, Mateusz Wieclawek / Poland, Sweden / 132’

    HOLLY
    Director Fien Troch

    Main Cast Cathalina Geraerts, Felix Heremans, Greet Verstraete, Serdi Faki Alici, Els Deceukelier / Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France / 102’


    Festival Line-up Screening schedule (Public) Screening schedule (Pass holders) Venice Immersive Introduction by Roberto Cicutto Introduction by Alberto Barbera Director Regulations Technical specs Venice Production Bridge Accreditation Dates and deadlines Biennale College Cinema Classici fuori Mostra Permanent activities Archive


    Hors saison (Stéphane Brizé)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-15-2023 at 02:37 PM.

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    REVIEWS FROM VENICE 2023


    THE KILLER

    Everybody here has watched or is watching OPPENHEIMER (and I'm even plodding through the 700-page biography) and BARBIE (men rewatching it to figure out the feminism stuff). But from Venice are coming reviews of some expected big releases.

    For some high-profile reviews from Venice see The Film Verdict.

    MAESTRO (Bradley Cooper) Directed by him and starring him as Leonard Bernstein, the famous married but not-so-closeted gay conductor. Will it figure at awards time? I don't know, except surely for makeup and prosthetics, which he wears to look like Lennie throughout. The Film Verdict's review says the film "soars and sweeps in some passages while falling flat in others." The focus is on the man's marriage, and his violations of it. What matters is that he was a great ambassador of classical music to the American public, with things like his TV Young People's Concerts, which were wonderful; and he was a titanic interpreter of Beethoven. So, the marriage? Nobody played Lennie like Lennie. But the Verdict review points to an historical focus: "The screenplay by Cooper and Josh Singer (Spotlight) acknowledges the broader complications of the closet in 20th century America, and how it often forced gay and bisexual men into conventional marriages with women if only for the sake of appearances." Coming on the Netflix streaming site. This is looking better than expected, according to the YouTube "Oscar Expert". It's flying pretty high, with a Metacritic rating of 81%.OFFICIAL TEASER.

    FERRARI (Michael Mann), starring Adam Driver as the Italian auto magnate. Driver "established" himself as "Italian" playing in HOUSE OF GUCCI. But I didin't find HOUSE OF GUCCI worth reviewing - and is there anything Italian about him, really? The YouTube "Oscar Expert" and his twin have said this is just Adam Driver walking around in sunglasses and it does look a bit that way. If you've watched a lot of Italian movies as I have you may find it hard to grasp the need, at this stage, of watching Americans on screen walking around playing Italians with or without sunglasses. The durable Peter Bradshaw in his GUARDIAN revidw (he's also been at Venice) calls it "watchable" and gives it 3/5 stars. It costars Shailene Woodley as Enzo Ferrari's mistress and Penelope Cruz as his wife. Isn't a multintional English language bippic like this sort of old hat? Well, in fact Michael Mann hasn't made a movie in eight years. Sounds like a juicy role for Penelope though, as Laura, the wife, who handles the books and carries a pistol in her purse while transporting the payroll, and at the same time grieving her son who died the year before of kidney failure (all this is in 1957). You'll find this and more in TThe Film Verdict review. . Everyone agrees the film is at its best during its often-terrifying racing sequences. (As SCREEN DAILY explains, FERRARI is one of a few films granted a waiver by SAG-AFTRA. It was made with low pay by a small studio, and due to this Driver was one of the few big American stars allowed to go to Venice this year.) Metacritic rating: 74%. OFFICIAL TRAILER

    THE KILLER (David Fincher) may be a more hopeful prospect, but not a home run. The Film Verdict review says: "David Fincher brings his considerable style and craft to this procedural about a professional assassin, but not even Michael Fassbender can make the character distinguishable from a thousand other cinematic hired guns." Still for genre fans this surely is a potentially exciting prospect. Oddly, Vernice this year has three films about hired killers, by Harmony Korine, Richard Linklater, and Fincher. I wouldn't expect there to be much competition here and sure enough, Bradshaw calls Fassbinder "terrific" as a "philosophizing hitman," and in his GUARDIAN review gives the movie 5 out of 5 stars. Bradshaw took pleasure in this film and takes great pleasure in writing about it and if you like reading reviews you'll enjoy his review of KILLER. Here's how it begins:
    David Fincher’s horribly addictive samurai procedural, adapted by Andrew Kevin Walker from the graphic novel by Alexis Nolent, stars Michael Fassbender as the un-named titular hitman: an ascetic who in the movie’s sensationally low-key opening sequence tells us about dealing with the job’s biggest challenge: boredom. He internally monologues on this subject, and many others, including his views on the amorality of the universe and the music of the Smiths, while sitting high up in a rented WeWork office space with his long-range rifle, next to a five-star Paris hotel, waiting, waiting, waiting, for the VIP guest to show up in the suite opposite and get a bullet in the head.
    This will be another Netflix offering. Metacritic rating: 72%. THE KILLER TEASER.

    Other Venice feature premieres: POOR THINGS (Yorgos Lanthimos), COMANDANTE (Edoardo De Angelis), DOGMAN (Luc Besson).

    Wes Anderson was at Venice for his 39-minute Roald Dahl adaptation about a rich man who sets out to cheat the gambling casinos, THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR, but due to the actors' strike, he came and stood on the red carpet alone, without cast or crew members. The film has a limited theatrical release Sept. 20, and goes to Netflix Sept. 27. It stars Benedict Cumbrerbatch, Richard Ayodade, Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, and Rupert Friend. TRAILER.


    ADAM DRIVER IN FERRARI

    FERRARI is "stuck in the slow lane," says the BBC reviewer Nicholas Barbour, and an "international cast delivering English dialogue in a variety of Italian accents" "probably should have been confined to a Super Mario Bros movie"; but others find FARRARI to be a sleek and polished work worthy of a craftsman like Mann, who hasn't made a film since his 2015 cyber drama BLACK HAT. The Metascore is 74%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2023 at 12:13 PM.

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    VENICE continued

    Some weird ones


    EMMA STONE AND MARK RUFFALO IN POOR THINGS

    Other Venice feature premieres: POOR THINGS (Yorgos Lanthimos), COMANDANTE (Edoardo De Angelis), DOGMAN (Luc Besson).

    POOR THINGS (Yourgos Lanthimos). Emma Stone teams up with Lanthimos again as "an unusual heroine on a grotesque picaresque journey who defies the gender roles of the Victorian era and instead discovers her own agency," says the reviewer for The Film Verdict. But Bradshaw states it more simply: "Stone gives a hilarious, beyond-next-level performance as Bella Baxter, the experimental subject of a troubled Victorian anatomist, in Lanthimos’s toweringly bizarre comedy [epic]." Mark Ruffalo plays her lover, and Willem Dafoe plays her caretaker, professor, and master. This film already has some highly favorable reviews - the YouTube Oscar Expert twins attribute "unanimous buzz" to it, with a 94% rating on Metacritic and a rave from Justin Chang of the LA Times, etc. etc. This is an extremely grotesque and surreal story, and clearly a go-for-broke, risk-taking performance for Emma Stone that will be much talked about. People are saying this is Lanthimnos' best movie. Look at clips - the TRAILER - and you'll see how eye-popping and richly varied it is. The lead, Emma Stone's "Bella," is a young woman's dead body revived with the brain of a fetus, so she is learning basics of life - fast. Strange though this is, it's an Oscar contender. "The Oscar Expert" twins are predicting this will win the Best Actress Oscar for Emma. Metacritic rating: 94%. Lanthimos' (THE FAVOURITE was Metacritic 90%.) .

    COMANDANTE (Edoardo De Angelis) is an Italian film, and with Italian cinema's current primary film actor Pierfrancesco Favino again carrying the leqd - and the film - as Salvatore Todaro and putting a positive spin on Italy's role on the fascist side in WWII. The commander (Pierfrancesco Favino) is very much the friendly face of the Italian war effort. Set for the most part aboard the submarine Comandante Cappellini in the early 1940s, it is a dramatization of the sinking of the Kabalo, a Belgian ship carrying British war supplies, and the subsequent rescue of 26 shipwrecked Belgian mariners from a watery grave by Todaro and his crew - out of the goodness of their hearts, after they've sunk their boat. Bradshaw says "you'll enjoy it if you don't think how wrong it is," but what he gives it is 2/5 stars. The Film Verdict says COMANDANTE is "told with old-fashioned gusto and retro sentimentality. . . with star Pierfrancesco Favino injecting life into the film." A positive spin on Italy's part in WWII? It's an outlier. It was opening night film at Venice, the filmmaker's first time in the festival. As has been said before of Favino in a role, they're saying only he could have carried this off successfully, but he does. A promotion of the nobility and superiority of Italians above everyone else that non-Italians are unlikely to buy but Italians will love. Venice has given it an international profile. But in case you're wondering about international critical response the Metascore is 43%.


    CALEB LANDRY JONES IN DOGMAN

    DOGMAN (Luc Besson). The summary on IMDb is "A boy, bruised by life, finds his salvation through the love of his dogs." But the review by Catherine Bray for GUARDIAN ("the most ludicrous film you’ll see all year, maybe ever") explains that it gets more implausible than that because he trains the dogs to get revenge for him and steal diamonds for him (to "do his criminal bidding"). Damon Wise on Deadline says "It skews a little close to Todd Phillips' Golden Lion winner Joker in terms of weirdness and (especially) wardrobe, but it also offers the perfect showcase for star Caleb Landry Jones, who imbues a boisterously insane action thriller with heart and soul in what must surely be a career-high performance." Living apart from humans and training his dogs to commune perfectly with him, Doug (Jones) is also a wheelchair-bound drag performer of Édith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich songs who was much abused as a child and could get no other job than as drag performer. But it's more complicated than that... and is all being recounted to a woman psychologist. In her Variety review Jessica Kiang calls this a "ludicrous howler" and "irredeemably boneheaded." Besson did the writing as well as directing. (NB: The title may be distinguished from Matteo Garrone's 2018 Dogman by its internal capitalization as DogMan but reviewers are not following this.)
    __________________________________
    P.s.: A piece in The Film Verdict by Max Borg suggests that DOGMAN is one of three new movies by "controversial" directors (filmmakers with some sexual scandal around them) all debuting at Venice. Americans appear generally touchier about such "scandals" than Europeans. Besson was just found not guilty of rape; THE PALACE by Roman Polanski has shown; and Woody Allen's Paris-set COUP DE CHANCE is also scheduled to premiere at Venice. These three "scandals" are or course unrelated and of different vintage; However Besson was safer opening his new film outside France and Polanski and Allen's films recently have not even opened in the US, so the connection is valid.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2023 at 12:35 AM.

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    More Venice 2023

    WOODY ALLEN (who's 87) has been "rapturously received" at Venice and generously interviewed ("#MeToo has been good for women, but cancel culture can be ‘silly’.") He reiterates that he has done nothing in his films but generously represent women and treated actresses uniformly well. He shot his new film - to be shown soon at Venice - in Paris and in French. It is called COUP DE CHANCE ("Stroke of Luck"). Here's the TRAILER . There are four main actors, : Lou de Laâge, Valérie Lemercier, Melvil Poupaud and Niels Schneider. It's about a happily married couple, then the wife meets a guy she knew in school and trouble develops. Blurb: "Two young people's bond leads to marital infidelity and ultimately crime."


    FANNY ARDANT IN THE PALACE

    THE PALACE (Roman Polanski) is a bomb, in sharp contrast to the filmmaker's 2019 feature, J'ACCUSE/AN OFFICER AND A SPY. Though banned from Anglophone countries, the latter was an historical film about the legal resolution of the Dreyfus Case that was outstanding in several respects. Not THE PALACE, which Xan Brooks in a GUARDIAN review (one star out of five) calls a "tacky hotel farce," and "a dismal comedy," and other reviewers unanimously condemn as a tiresome bore. It's focused on supposedly funny, but not, events at a big Alpine luxury hotel on the eve of Y2K. It has Fanny Ardant with a pooch that takes a crap on her bed, John Cleese as "Arthur Duncan Dallas III, a supposedly 97-year-old Texas plutocrat, here on vacation with his 22-year-old bride," and Mickey Rourke with a red face and wearing a blonde wig. TRAILER (with a bonus: Italian subtitles). The Venice audience walked out in droves.


    EVIL DOES NOT EXIST

    EVIL DOES NOT EXIST 悪は存在しない (Ryu Hamaguchi) is an "enigmatic eco-parable" that "eschews easy explanation," writes Peter Bradshaw (4 out of 5 stars). "Compositional quirks and unhurried direction turn this tale of a Tokyo company buying up land near a pristine lake into a complex and mysterious drama." Ryu (Ryusuke) Hamaguchi is the hottest Japanese director: his past films are HAPPY HOUR (2015), ASAKO I & II (2018), and in 2021, two films, WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY and DRIVE MY CAR (the latter the best foreign film Oscar winner). EVIL DOES NOT EXIST is about encroachment on a seemingly idyllic place near Tokyo whose stream water is so pure it's gathered in cans for a local noodle restaurant. Then buyers arrive to turn the area into a "glamping" (glamorous camping) site whose septic tank will blatantly poison the local water source. This company’s plans endanger both the ecological balance of the area and the local people’s way of life. But are they evil? All is ambiguity here in what Bradshaw acknowledges may not be Hamaguchi's best work, but he finds so interestingly ambiguous that it haunts and fascinates him. Metacritic rating: 81%.It's already been snapped up for North American distribution by Sideshow and Janus Films.


    LÉA SEYDOUX AND GEORGE MCKAY IN LA BÊTE

    LA BÊTE/THE BEAST (Bertrand Bonello), an ambitious time-shifting, "trippy mind-melt" sci-fi relationship movie, received five out of five stars from Peter Bradshaw. He says "Léa Seydoux’s audacious drama throbs with fear," as "Seydoux and an impressive George MacKay meet across three different eras in what is maybe Bertrand Bonello’s best movie yet" (previous films: ON WAR 2008, HOUSE OF TOLERANCE 2011, SAINT LAURANT 2014, NOCTURAMA 2016, ZOMBI CHILD 2019). THE BEAST is a languorous sci-fi time-twister that will be polarizing. It "follows Twin Peaks: The Return down the rabbit hole of dream logic, spanning three time zones in a surreal but compelling examination of human relationships," writes Damon Wise for Deadline. Others find the film "ambitious but airless" (Guy Lodge, Variety) - but I am a fan of Seydoux, and George McKay keeps getting better. The "Beast" idea is drawn from Henry James' one of a man's horrible future lying in wait for him like a beast in the jungle. But reviews suggest the result is more Lynchian than Jamesian. The film has the couple in different versions of themselves successively in 2044, 2014, and 1919. David Erlich of IndieWire calls this a "magnificent sci-fi epic." THE BEAST CLIP. The critics are very much liking it: Metacritc rating : 81%.THE BEAST CLIP



    COMING....PRISCILLA (Sofia Coppola). OFFICIAL TEASER.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2023 at 07:30 PM.

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    PRISCILLA well received at Venice


    CAILEE SPAENY IN PRISCILLA

    PRISCILLA (Sofia Coppola) got a 7-minute standing ovation. The girls swooned for Australian "Euphoria" hunk Jacob Elordi, who plays young Elvis. (The stars, Elordi and Cailee Spaeny got a dispensation from the unions to attend, this being a small A24 produciton.) Priscilla Presley herself was there and wept and spoke approvingly of Sofia's effort. David Erlich (INDIEWIRE) describes this as an "inert but sensitive biopic" abou t "separation" - Priscilla Presley's - from Elvis,from "the endless shadow of his celebrity," from her own parents, and from all else that "tried to define her before she was able to define herself," themes of women escaping from gilded cages he argues have been Sofia Coppola's from LOST IN TRANSLATION on. But it's not one of Coppola's better movies; it is vague where her other bios of women are precise, Erlich says.Owen Gleiberman of VARIETY calls this film "piercingly authentic" and says "Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi bring the couple to vibrant life in a film that soft-pedals nothing." 4 our of 5 stars from GUARDIAN'S Bradshaw.
    Child bride, infant sacrifice, bobbysoxer concubine: Priscilla Presley, wife of Elvis, is all these in Sofia Coppola’s eerily gripping, queasily claustrophobic portrait of marital loneliness, trapped behind the kitschy prison gates of Graceland while the King is away on tour, or shooting movies with glamorous worldly female co-stars and a creepily subservient male entourage. Priscilla becomes Memphis’s very own Lady Diana, with Ann-Margret or Nancy Sinatra in the Camilla Parker-Bowles role. (Bradshaw)
    Raves also from Stephanie Zacharack in TIME and David Rooney in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. All in all, it's looking good - and with an inwardness that is a corrective to Luhrman's glitzy but empty ELVIS of last year. Metacritic rating 84%.


    SAURA LIGHTFOOT LEON IN HOARD

    HOARD (Luna Carmoon), Says Bradshaw, "is a haunting and deeply strange study of loneliness and hysteria and thwarted sexuality that shows how childhood trauma can bloom in adult life." It's also a memoir of growing up in 1980's southeast London with "promising echoes of early-career Lynne Ramsay and Andrea Arnold, says Stephen Dalton in The Film Verdict. The film initially depicts a mother and daughter odd couple who are household clutterers and nighttime neighborhood gatherers. "Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown into this deeply strange and emotionally extravagant story with its continuous top-note of hysteria: and there's a lot of storytelling substance," wrote Bradshaw. Dalton remembers "Grey Gardens (1975) or The Cement Garden (1993)." The daughter, Maria, grows up and moves on from her mentally peculiar (but un-judged) mum. The film picks up the story with Maria (Saura Lightfoot-Leon) a foster child in her late teens, when Michael ("Stranger Things'" Joseph Quinn), a young man with a similar past, enters her life. IndieWire calls this an "audacious, unsettling British debut." The Telegraph's Robbie Collin says this is "fresh, authentic and agreeably scuzzy. Its director is one to watch." Critics Week.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-15-2023 at 10:15 PM.

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    TELLURIDE: What about SALTBURN? Mixed reviews.


    BARRY KEOGHAN IN SALTBURN

    SALTBURN (Emerald Fennell) is not at Venice. It's just been shown at Telluride. A review by Sophia Ciminello appealing today on IMDb suggests this best role yet for Barry Keoghan will live up to expectations: a story of a poor boy at Oxford invited to a huge ancestral estate for the summer by a posh boy he idolizes (Jacob Elordi). It turns out something like if Brideshead Revisited's friendship turned nasty and exploitative and was condensed into a few days and into Academy ratio. Likely to attract buzz. My trouble is that I was ultimately unimpressed by the director's attention-seeking debut, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN. Isn't this the thing where younger generation filmmakers take something that was beloved and beautiful (like the Masterpiece Theatre "Brideshead") and redo it as a horror movie. On the other hand I've been waiting for Barry Keoghan to spring into the foreground. This is his moment (even better than The Banshees of Inisherin). But Justin Chang in the LA Times is witheringly dismissive of this film, saying it's ill-timed, overblown, and worst of all, that Keoghan is unappealing and unconvincing. Todd McCarthy in Deadline isn't nearly so harsh. He's approving, saying in the lead "Keoghan shows a fine range," though he feels the film's second half is overblown and imbalanced. The balance seems in favor; but strong voices are negative. David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter), Peter Debruge ([I]Variety[/I) and David Erlicxh (IndieWire) are three well-known critics who are dismissive of SALTBURN. Giving these weight, with Justin Chang's pan at the bottom ("Saltburn is shocking only in its puerility. No sophomore effort should feel this sophomoric"),Metacritic arrives at a current rating of only 60%. But there are many who like it, including Todd McCarthy.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-05-2023 at 12:10 AM.

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    Venice Critics Week: GREEN BORDER, SKY PEALS

    La Settimana internazionale della critica, Sept. 5, 2023.


    POSTER FOR CRITICS WEEK 2023S[/I]

    GREEN BORDER (Agnieszka Holland) is a "brutal, angry, gruelling drama" that shines a dark spotlight on the horrors faced by refugees in the grim exclusion zone between Poland and Belarus" (Bradshaw, GUARDIAN 4/5 stars). The 2 1/2-hour black and white film, Jessica Kiang says in VARIETY, is "a gripping account of the inhumanity and depravity that ensues when those fleeing persecution are made political pawns" - of Belarusian dictator Lukashenko, who deludes refugees into fleeing over the border to Poland to protest EU policies, leaving them without services and help in a forest. The docu-drama is in chapters shifting from a Syrian family fleeing war; to the wife of a border guard; activists; a psychotherapist. There are tough images here, but Kiang sees GREEN BORDER as basically optimistic because it comes out of the belief that the stories it tells can influence good people and make a difference.

    SKY PEALS (Moin Hussain) is a British film about a mixed race Pakistani-Brit working in a petrol, i.e., gas station, where the protagonist mans the all night fast food joint. SCREEN DAILY's Allen Hunter calls the film an "intriguing arthouse tale of alienation," and GUARDIAN's Xan Brooks, giving it another 4/5 stars, calls the setting an "existential fun house" but describes the lead character's night shift as grimly purgatorial, a limbo. It's a distinctively contemporary British tale with a sci-fi edge whose "lugubrious air of weirdness" tends to be "a little remorseless at times" but is nonetheless "an arresting first feature," Brooks concludes. Hunter writes that Hussain "seasons his melancholy story with moments of dry, deadpan comedy" and this suggests "affinities with the films of Aki Kaurismaki." Plus with an edge of the otherworldly in the tale, this sounns like something quite special.


    FARAZ AYUB IN SKY PEALS
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-08-2023 at 10:56 PM.

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    The new Woody Allen is very good.


    NIELS SCHNEIDER AND LOU DE LAÂGE IN COUP DE CHANCE

    COUP DE CHANCE (Woody Allen). While there was scuffling and demonstrators at the outset of the screening, Allen's French-language film shot in Paris COUP DE CHANCE. ("Stroke of Luck"), a "drama of upper-middle-class murder"- premiered today at Venice (Sept. 5, 2023), is his best since BLUE JASMINE, or maybe since MATCH POINT, says Owen Gleiberman in VARIETY. I wonder if we'll get to see it. Reviewing Allen's career, Gleiberman notes that he's long been very good at murder - witness CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and MATCH POINT - and that his last two comedies, Rifkin’s Festival (2020) and A Rainy Day in New York (2019), barely allowed to be seen in the US, are "dreadful," and "He’s now 87, and when it comes to comedy it really has begun to feel like he’s a squeezed-out lemon." But drama - that's another matter. This one, in French,
    is rooted in a jaded Continental knowingness about matters of love, marriage, adultery…and getting rid of the people who are gumming up your life. The film has a jaunty tone of deadpan glee, abetted by its soundtrack of ’60s jazz nuggets, notably Herbie Hancock’s "Cantaloupe Island."
    He can imagine Allen standing to one side and "chuckling at the human folly he's showing you." These aren't pseudo-profound world-weary philosophical types, just straightforward guys, and there's no Woody Allen stand-in. What happens is Alain (Niels Schneider) runs into Fanny (Lou de Laâge) on the street in Paris, who he had a crush on when they wre in high school together in the US. An affair starts. Jean (Melvil Poupaud), Fanny's rich husband, finds out and plans to have Alain killed. Alain is the guy we like, but this plot twist is fun, like something in a Patricia Highsmith novel. Gleiberman, a reviewer at the top of his game, loves this movie, and his review of it is a delight to read.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-08-2023 at 11:59 PM.

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    EL CONDE

    IL CONDE (Pablo Larraín) is a grotesque parody of dictatorship depicting Augusto Pinochet as a vampire - with Margaret Thatcher. "Bitingly funny, bountifully gory and mercifully filmed in black-and-white (by veteran cinematographer Ed Lachman)," says the LA Times ... Larraín's early two films were already horror films in a way, depicting the creepiness of the dictatorship in the 2008 Tony Manero and 2010 iPost Mortem, with the wonderfully louche actor Alfredo Castro, appearing first as a small time hoodlum and murderer, then reincarnated as a morgue worker. This time it's much more overt, with Larraín, Jessica Kiang says in Variety "putting the blackened, flash-frozen heart of Chile’s undead past into a blender, blitzing it to a lumpen pulp and guzzling down the result with grimly comic relish." And with Lachman at work, the images are naturally gorgeous as well as gruesome. Reviews are mixed, with a Metascore of 71%. Even the top-rated review, by David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter, admits that "the midsection slumps just a little."
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-07-2023 at 09:43 PM.

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    JOE BERNTHAL, AUNJANUE ELLIS-TAYLOR IN ORIGIN

    ORIGIN (Ava DuVernay) is the first film by African American woman director ever included in competition at Venice and Hollywood Reporter says made a "major splash," receiving a nine-minute standing ovation. (The photo shows DuVernay looked spectacular as well.) It is about the life of Isabel Wilkerson, first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, her life, and the composition of her bestselling book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which reconsiders racism in the context of wider schemes of caste (status, stratification), starting with a consideration of the killing of black youth Trayvon Martin by a young Hispanic man in Florida to "protect" a posh neighborhood. Bradshaw heralds the intellectual fervor of DuVernay (3/5 stars) but thinks the film's discussion of race and class would work better as a documentary. Or a mini-series? The director's 2016 doc 13th about the incarceration of American black men, after all, was a major work. For the most appreciative and detailed review of ORIGIN see Bilge Eberi's in VULTURE. The Metacritic rating (ORIGIN) 0f 72% shows a mixed critical response. The film seeks to be both essay and melodrama, the achievement of Wilkerson's book interrupted by multiple personal tragedies. The combination may not work for everybody. Maybe, as one reviewer says, we should just read Wilkerson's bbok, which is quite recent, published in 2020. TRAILER .
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2023 at 03:28 PM.

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    LANTHIMOS (CENTER) AND OTHERS AT "IRISH FILM" POOR THINGS PREMIERE - FROM THE IRISH TIMES ROUNDUP

    Venice roundup

    There is a nice survey of the highest profile films of the festival by Donald Clark of THE IRISH TIMES. As he says, Yorgos Lanthimos' POOR THINGS (" a weird, unsettling comedy that manages to be deeply serious about all the things that really matter") is the favorite (or favourite) for the Golden Lion top Venice prize, and it stands to be the third Irish production - despite the Greek director and American star, because originated by Element in Dublin - to win at Venice. (MICHAEL COLLINS and THE MAGDALENE SISTERS were the two previous Irish features that won the Golden Lion.) Clark also has cogent descriptions of FERRARI ("a tidy miniature"), PRISCILLA ("luscious textures"), MAESTRO ("Somewhat sketchy"), EL CONDE ("grim fun"), THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR ("a cleverly nested work"), THE KILLER ("Taut, nippy film...at home to sly comedy... most hotly anticipated of Netflix’s Venice premieres" - which include MAESTRO, EL CONDE, and HENRY SUGAR).

    There are still competition films not yet reported on here: Michel Franco's MEMORY, Fien Troch's HOLLY, Stephane Brizé's HORS-SAISON, Giorgio Diritti's LUBO, and Małgorzata Szumowsk and Michał Englert's KOBIETA Z... (WOMAN OF). We'll try to catch up on the most important of these today as we await the festival's finale.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2023 at 04:21 PM.

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    MEMORY (Michel Franco) is the Mexican filmmaker's study of time and memory in Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgaard are so good together it makes up for some illogic, some think. Peter Debruge says in Variety this is more upbeat and positive than the austere Franco (the "Michael Haneki of Mexico") usually provides - though she is a recovering alcoholic and survivor of sexual trauma and he suffers from dementia. Hmmm... But Franco is a director that at best can be bracing and there are these two actors Debruge says are "unforgettable" together.

    HORS-SAISON/OUT OF SEASON (Stéphane Brizé) has none of the French director's "socialist anger," says Jay Weissberg in The Verdict, but, inspired by pandemic lockdown, has produced a "studiously low-key, achingly melancholy" film that focuses on the loneliness and pensiveness of a former couple, now married, who reuhite at an off-season resort hotel where a famous actor (Guillaume Canet) is having a boring rest with only old people and selfie-seekers when the ex (Alba Rohrwacher) comes 16 yers after he dumped her.

    It looks like we have three thoughtful two-handers here, including HORS-SAISON with MEMORY and THE BEAST - and Celine Song's PAST LIVES makes a fourth vying for our admiration this year.

    HOLLY (Flen Toch): "follows up the gritty teen angst of her breakout HOME with another youth-focused story, this time poised ambiguously between social realism and the supernatural," says Guy Lodge in Variety.


    SEYDOU SARR IN IO CAITANO

    IO CAPITANO (Matteo Garrone is a return to a theme he treated in 1996 at career outset, migration, this time with a bigger budget allowing the journey from Dakar in Senegal in West Africa, where the protagonist comes from - Seydou (Seydou Sarr), a 16-year-old boy from Senegal.
    moving, dramatic and poetic, contemporary Odyssey of two young people who from Dakar in Senegal decide to face the dangers of the sub-Saharan desert, the torture in Libya, the dangerous journey in a boat full of migrants, to arrive in the promised land: Italy. Seydou and Moussa are the two protagonists, debuting actors.
    This is one of the awards: Seydou Sarr won the MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor. His role is "indelibly played" in a "remarkably mature performance," wrote Leslie Halperin in The Hollywood Reporter. Damon Wise, the Deadline writer, notes the Italian entries are unusually good this year, tending toward genre (ENEA, Pietro Castellitto; ADAGIO, Stefano Sollima) but "Ironically, Matteo Garrone, the one local director in the selection whose actual stock in trade is genre of all stripes — gangster realism (Gomorrah, Dogman), satirical comedy (Reality), and baroque fantasy (Tale of Tales) — arrived this year with a blisteringly topical drama that might be his most traditional, and best, yet." The other big film in the festival on this topic was Agnieszka Holland's GREEN BORDER.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2023 at 08:38 PM.

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    The awards


    YORGOS LANTHIMOS WITH THE GOLDEN AT VENICE80

    General website

    VENEZIA 80
    The Venezia 80 Jury, chaired by Damien Chazelle and comprised of Saleh Bakri, jane Campion, Mia Hansen-Løve, Gabriele Mainetti, Martin McDonagh, Santiago Mitre, Laura Poitras and Shu Qi, having viewed all 23 films in competition, has decided as follows:

    GOLDEN LION for Best Film to:
    POOR THINGS by Yorgos Lanthimos (United kingdom)

    SILVER LION – Grand Jury Prize to:
    悪は存在しない (Evil Does Not Exist) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan)

    SILVER LION – Award for Best Director to:
    MATTEO GARRONE for the film IO CAPITANO (Italy, Belgium)

    COPPA VOLPI for Best Actress:
    Cailee Spaeny in the film PRISCILLA by Sofia Coppola (United States, Italy)

    COPPA VOLPI for Best Actor:
    Peter Sarsgaard in the film MEMORY by Michel Franco (Mexico, United States)

    AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY to:
    Guillermo Calderón and PABLO LARRAÍN for the film EL CONDE by Pablo Larraín (Chile)

    SPECIAL JURY PRIZE to:
    Zielona granica (Green Border) by Agnieszka Holland (Poland, Czech Rep., France, Belgium)

    MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AWARD for Best Young Actor to:
    SEYDOU SARR in the film IO CAPITANO by Matteo Garrone (Italy)

    ORIZZONTI
    For the Orizzonti, Short Film, and other awards, go HERE.

    For fashions of Venice 80, go HERE


    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2023 at 08:33 PM.

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