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Baumbach

As I sit through the first projection of Baumbach’s Marriage Story, starring Scarlett Johanson and Adam Driver, I could not help but sing Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard to Do in my mind, as the movie perfectly recreates that bittersweet mood filled with nostalgia that characterises the song.

Marriage Story begins with a beautifully edited sequence narrated via voiceover where spouses Charlie and Nicole enumerate the things that they adore about each other; as glimpses of their shabby-chic life colors the screen, the delicate and romantic score created by Randy Newman underlines the familiar ambience, matching the warmth of the scenery.


Soon we discover that these declarations are not part of a spontaneous act of affection: a mediator has asked the pair to write these notes to free their separation from hostility. As Nicole refuses to read her thoughts we understand that the title, which seemly held the promise of a heart-warming story, actually announces a tale on a decaying love where resentment will not be withholden.

Baumbach’s script grasps the blurriness that defines sentiments at the end of a relationship. Inspired by the author’s divorce, the film dialogue does not spare the observer from witnessing two good people at their worst, two characters that scrape all the resentment from the bottom of their hearts and vomit it on each other. 

The whole narration is marked by a question: what went wrong between Charlie and Nicole? Of course along the way we are able to at least rough out the dynamic that led to the collapse of their love, but the author does not point his finger at the causes, since he would rather offer an objective point of view on the fragility of a relationship that, as a living being, keeps on changing and evolving. A liaison that unluckily eventually perishes.

It is a tough piece of work, steeped in pain that feels immediate and real, where moments of levity are followed by moments of superb authenticity. The spectator ends up caring deeply for these well-rounded characters, to a point where emotional participation is inevitable: it can be upsetting to watch at times. Baumbach’s direction is intimate and subtle: the camera follows the actors almost voyeuristically, capturing the – literal and emotional – empty space that separates Charlie and Nicole. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan‘s 35mm photography adds refinement to the director’s point of view without embellishing the performance, as Driver and Johansson’s work on the role is flawless.

From the warmth tones that characterise the beginning of the movie, drama progresses but it never forgets moments of clumsy – sometimes surreal – comedy: the result is a well-balanced story that manages to get a few smiles and a few tears while it reveals you a little thing or two on love.

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Around 400 climate activist peacefully took over the Red Carpet at the Venice Film Festival for around7 hours on Saturday, the last day of the Festival. They have been demanding to fight the climate change and they asked to the Biennale a meeting to spread their requests.

The presidente Baratta didn’t allow them to speak at the award night, even if he called the activists “guest” of the Festival.

They have been able to jump on the red carpet in the early morning, when there was less police around and they occupied the red carpet, probably the most iconic place of the festival, where the star they arrive before getting inside the “Sala Grande”.

The protesters have been organizing a Climate Camp in Lido for 5 days, with different meetings about climate change issues, but also against the big Ships crossing the Giudecca Channel in Venice.

After 7 hours they decided to leave and they organized a demonstration in the afternoon around Lido. The protesters got the support of Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, in Venice for the premiere of “The Burnt Orange Heresy”.

“I am glad they’re doing that because they’re the ones that are going to inherit the planet,” Jagger said at a news conference to promote the movie”.

 

Phillips

Phillips decided to infect his New-Yorkesque-looking Gotham with reality, and it never looked so uninhabitable.

Joker portrays the downward spiral that takes Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a mentally ill and impoverished stand-up comedian, on his way to a violent frenzy. 
Alienated by society, who only remembers his existence when it is time to beat him down to a pulp, he is desperate for human connection, which he tries to find in the gaze of every stranger; turned down by everyone he fantasises on meeting his hero Murray Franklin (Robert Deniro), a talk show host.

 Abandoned even by social-services, which are cut down by the state, he is left in total solitude and no medication with his deluded mother. Powerless, we witness the illness peeping out and exploding in the man’s life, as the medical condition that has him painfully and uncontrollably laugh gets worse and worse: we feel the pain coming from his throat, as he tries to stop it unsuccessfully, his face turns into a mask of discomfort with tears at the corners of his eyes.

It is a slow and hard to watch fall down the rabbit hole, far from the aestheticization of mental-illness depicted by other representations of the Joker (Jared Leto’s unbearable laugh comes to mind): this Joker will not provoke a collective hysteria, as there is nothing attractive in the character played by Phoenix, in fact the actor’s skinny body, with bones sticking out, seems to cut the screen. The main actor successfully captures the metamorphosis of a mind in tumult, scene by scene he is able of always adding a little bit more to his character.

“What I liked about Arthur is his light” Joaquin Phoenix

This Joker is different from all the others we have seen before as it is the result of a distinct way of approaching the genre; director Phillips confirmed that it was hard to get DC’s approval:

“It was a difficult movie, but in the end the studio accepted our version of the story” Todd Phillips

The screenplay, resulting from Phillips and Scott Silver joint effort, stars a criminal whose delusions shape him into a monster; whilst the script seemly asks us to empathise with his protagonist, it is almost impossible: the brutality of the realness we are watching makes empathy unimaginable. Surprisingly real violence only explodes a few times during the narration, but when it does it floods the screen.

Gradually would be the word that depicts this movie at its best, as step by step, it takes the audience to a journey into madness: society’s.
 A gigantic poster of Chaplin’s Modern Times dominates the Gotham Theatre facade as Arthur looks for Wayne: whilst Phillips said there is nothing political with this movie, it is hard not comparing it to the current state of things, where the alienation of the weakest classes is globally spread and the cities are collapsing under the weight of a linear economy. This tale is definitely the product of its time, meaning that it raised various doubts on the depiction of “the Other”, but during the movie there is no pointed finger, there is no hero, not a positive character either, just the mere observation of a cynical society infected to the core.

During the Venice International Film Festival Phillips and Phoenix had the theatre under a spell for hours; as Lawrence Sher’s beautiful cinematography had the audience keeping their eyes really open. The film resulted in a well-deserved thunderous applause.

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kore-eda

In one of their most well-known songs Handsome Boy Modeling School “sang” “You can’t hide from the truth because the truth is all there is”, it is quite a good rule to live by, yet one of golden rules of cinema asks for something different: reality is sacrificed to the demon of creativity, as the voracious appetite of the seventh art asks for it.
Both the points stated above are poignantly proved and debunked, at the same time, by Hirokazu Kore’eda’s last work: La Vérité.

This movie, starring Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, features dialogues both in French and English, a choice that raised many questions since there are no similar precedents in the Japanese director’s filmography. But Kore-eda’s ability to capture intimacy did not suffer from such decision, if anything his incredible wit shines greatly through the words of his bilingual script. 

La Vérité depicts the story of Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) a – almost fallen – star of French cinema. When she publishes her memoirs her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) a screen-player returns from New York to Paris, with her husband (Ethan Hawke) a B movie actor and her daughter, to celebrate what seems to be a jolly moment. The reunion though quickly turns into a moment of confrontation as the book written by the protagonist is far from reality: as hidden truths are revealed, resentments bursts.

As the narration proceeds to display the story of a great diva, publishing her memoirs as an act of resistance asking “forget me not”, it is hard to discern Catherine Deneuve from her vibrant and cynical – yet lovable – character: the French actress manages to portray a narcissistic actress whose obsession for the world of cinema has taken its toll on her life. We met her giving an interview to promote her book entitled “The Truth”, yet when confronted by her incredulous daughter, she blatantly admits that as a performer she would never say the truth as “it is not interesting”.

Kore’eda’s dialogues are marked by a delicate comedy, a gentle humor capable of capturing a story that is in between worlds, among fiction and realism within his own creation, as his beautifully crafted narration masterfully puts to test the viewer, asking him to discern whether or not the protagonist is true to herself and to understand if such tailored character is always acting, even when she is seemly being open and honest. This is the strength of the movie: it is the result of a meditation on roles, lies and how sometimes it is so hard to discern what is real, above all when the mind is so easy to trick and memories can be deceitful. 

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Lido is ready to welcome its guests once again: the 76th Venice International Film Festival will take place from August 28th to September 7th, 2019.

Created to celebrate Italian culture, focusing on the movie industry, the Venetian film festival transformed massively since 1932, hosting an immense number of directors, actors and artists; the only thing that has not changed during the years is the great interest that this event is able to attract, with yearly raising numbers of attendance: tickets are selling like hotcakes and subscriptions finished at the beginning of the sale.

The edition of 2019 seems then to be the product of a newly found perspective, with Biennale Cinema focusing on themes such as: the reconstruction of past events as glasses that allow a better view on the present, and the seventh art as a medium that can be used to investigate reality rather than being an instrument for escapism.
Despite the premises the festival will present a great number of genres, from thrillers to animation.

Last year, on its 75th edition, of the 21 movies selected to compete for the Golden Lion only one was directed by a woman – earning festival organisers a severe backlash in terms of public image. While Guillermo del Toro passionately spoke about fighting for these numbers to change – to progress toward an industry that recognises women both in front and behind a camera -, directors Barbera and Baratta seemed to struggle to find a satisfying answer when addressed on the issue.
This topic, propelled by the #metoo scandal, certainly was one of the stepping stones that lead this year festival to focus so much on the condition of women in the world – and in the movie business as well -.

Young filmmakers will be the protagonists of this year, but established authors will not miss with ten Oscar winners among the guests and jury, Roman Polanski certainly being one of the most awaited returns; as well as Steven SoderberghPablo Larraín who will come back to the Lido as well after receiving and award at the 73th edition of the festival and Hirokazu Kore-eda who will start the dances with his La Vérité, starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche e Ethan Hawke.
To mention a few other: Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Joaquin Phoenix, Antonio Banderas, Donald Sutherland, John Malkovich, Jude Law, Roman Polanski, Meryl Streep, Louis Garrel, Jean Dujardin, Johnny Deep, Roger Waters e Mick Jagger, Julie Andrews, Pedro Almodovar – who will awared for his brillliant carreer – will be present as well.

While Todd Phillips’Joker is certainly one of the most debated movies participating to the contest, Lido is excitedly awaiting for Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female director from Saudi Arabia, with her The Perfect Candidate, portraying the story of a young doctor who runs for mayor of an ultra-conservative town; Swede Roy Andersson will present his About Endlessness, after being awarded with a Golden Lion for A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence in 2014.
French director Olivier Assayas will bring his Wasp Network, an espionage movie on a group of special agents working for the Cuban government of Castro; the cast features Penélope Cruz and Gael García Bernal.
That’s only a taste! These are only few of the movies that will be presented, unluckily Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman will not be part of it:

Barbera: Martin Scorsese? It is a dream we all cherished, but the film isn’t ready, we’re talking of late November.

Yet the list is rich and varied. The selection for this year’s edition for the competition:

The Truth – Hirokazu Kore-eda (France/Japan) (opening film)
The Perfect Candidate – Haifaa Al-Mansour (Saudi Arabia/Germany)
About Endlessness – Roy Andersson (Sweden/Germany/Norway)
Wasp Network – Olivier Assayas (France/Belgium)
Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach (US)
Guest of Honour – Atom Egoyan (Canada)
Ad Astra – James Gray (US)
A herdade – Tiago Guedes (Portugal/France)
Gloria Mundi – Robert Guédiguian (France/Italy)
Waiting for the Barbarians – Ciro Guerra (US/Italy)
Ema – Pablo Larraín (Chile)
Saturday Fiction (Lan xin da ju yuan) – Lou Ye (China)
Martin Eden – Pietro Marcello (Italy/France)
La mafia non è più quella di una volta – Franco Maresco (Italy)
The Painted Bird – Václav Marhoul (Czech Republic/Ukraine/Slovakia)
Il sindaco del Rione Sanità – Mario Martone (Italy)
Babyteeth – Shannon Murphy (Australia)
Joker – Todd Phillips (US)
An Officer and a Spy – Roman Polanski (France/Italy)
The Laundromat – Steven Soderbergh (US)
No. 7 Cherry Lane (Ji yuan tai qi hao) – Yonfan (Hong Kong)

For the whole list click here.

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