Wednesday, September 22, 2010

67th Venice Film Festival Part 2

By Moira Sullivan 

Stephen Dorff, Sofia Coppola, Ellie Fanning
So much can be said about the Venice Film Festival which ran from 1-11 September. Besides the official competition are several parallel events.

The section Orizzonti, or Horizons presents the best in innovative work with boundary breaking in film.  One film in particular that stands out from the crowd EL SICARIO ROOM 164 by Gianfranco Rosi was filmed inside a hotel room. The subject wears a black mask as he tells the story of being a corrupt policeman in Mexico that worked for a drug cartel. As he tells the story, he draws on a large artist’s pad, sketching the people places and things that he encountered as a man who roughed up and murdered hundreds of people for the crime of owing or stealing money or not fulfilling their duties for the cartel.

This was a short film of images with a smooth cadence that captures the feel of early cinema, the 1950’s era of advertizing and avantgarde film with references to artists such as Georges Méliès, Jean Cocteau and Ferdinand Léger. The images are arranged as a series of attractions with techniques such as multiple exposures and changes in color.

 A SPECIAL MENTION in this section was given to JEAN GENTIL by Laura Amelia GUZMÁN and Israel CÁRDENAS (a Dominican Republic, Mexico, Germany co production). The film is a candid portrait of a Haitian man who loses his job as an accountant and becomes homeless. His journey takes him to the forest where he lives in a shack and occasionally has a student for language lessons. The candidness of the film reveals the soul of a man who has change forced upon him and it is up to him to survive.

This year at the Venice Film Festival a special retrospective was done on a neglected period of Italian film history Italian comedy entitled–Italian Comedy and the State of Things, with 30 films from the early 1910’s to the end of the 1980’s. One extremely wacky film - Io non spezzo... rompo stars policemen Alighiero Noschese as Viganò and Enrico Montesano as Canepari, directed by Bruno Corbucci. The plot involves catching an Italian American crime boss. What is delightful is Viganò's many children who are trained in law and order including his oldest daughter. The zany adventures of these two comics go through a nostalgic period of the sixties with all the pop culture icons..

The 67th Venice International Film Festival was presided over by jury president Quentin Tarantino and the Golden Lion for best film went to Sofia Coppola for Somewhere.
This year a special lion and SPECIAL MENTION from the jury.

For OVERALL WORK was presented to the US filmmaker Monte HELLMAN whose mentor was B movie producer Roger Corman.  Hellman’s repertoire consists of cult classics such as acid westerns with Jack Nicholson. A film that was featured at the Cannes film festival in 2006, Trapped ashes,  was a special horror film.  Hellman’s film Road to Nowhere, a romantic narrative, was in the official competition of this years festival. The jury referred him as “a great cinema artist and minimalistic poet “.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Venice.

© 2010 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date:09 /DD/YY
Movie Magazine International

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

67th Venice International Film Festival

By Moira Sullivan
Robert Rodrigues, Jessica Alba, Danny Trejo - Machete

The 67th Venice International Film Festival ran from 1 -11 September. Sofia Coppola took home the highest award, the Golden Lion for her film Somewhere. It stars Stephen Dorff as an errant and popular film director Johnny Marco who spends his time on partying and women. When his13 year old girl Cleo played by Elle Fanning shows up he is forced to look as his life.  The film is set in a series of hotels, which Coppola said were common dwellings when she was on the road with her father Francis Ford Coppola. Family friend and director/actor Vincent Gallo didn't provide any pre-publicity for his new film Promises Written in Water, in the official competition along with Sofia’s film but it certainly fulfills this festival’s vision for innovative and genre breaking cinema. This new film stands out from the crowd for the official competition and is an achievement that lingers for a long time. It should encourage young filmmakers to do something different, not something that has been done again and again - with their cameras, dialogue, editing and sound. 

Vincent Gallo took home a best actor award however from another film: Essential Killing. 
The midnight film on opening day was Robert Rodriguez’ and Ethan Maniquis’ Machete. With a face that looks like he might have had too many close encounters with a sharp instrument, Danny Trejo plays Federale Machete, and courts the bad guys and the likes of Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan. This rock n' roll extravaganza spared no details in providing adrenaline-rushing entertainment. Highlights are the machine gun toting Lindsay Lohan dressed as a nun (playing the daughter of a drug dealer), the punchy ICE agent Sartana (Jessica Alba) and resistance fighter Luz, (Michelle Rodriguez). Danny Trejo, Robert Rodriquez and Jessica Alba were in town for the world premiere. John Woo said he was pleased to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Festival. When festival director Marco Mueller called him with the news he admitted to being shocked, but Mueller convinced him that his avantgarde style really fit at Venice.
At a panel discussion held on September 3, Woo was joined by the cast and crew of a film that he produced that opened at the festival: Reign of the Assassins, starring Michelle Yeoh. The film directed by Chao-Bin Su is the story of the origins of Kung Fu in China. Michelle Williams as Emily Tetherow is the middle ground behind Meek's Cutoff a film directed by Kelly Reichard in the official competition.  It is about three covered wagons with settlers trying to make it across the rough in Oregon, in what was later to be called "Meek’s Cutoff".

Numerous shots position the wagons and the bonneted women, and the landscape for a good part of the introduction to the film. But when Emily spots "The Cayuse" (Rod Rondeaux), a Native American, while gathering firewood the settlers go after him and tie him up. Emily Tetherow knows he can bring the settlers to safety.                                
Swedish actor/director Pernilla August presented her film Beyond at International Critics Week. The film is based on a novel by the Finnish author Susanna Alakoski.  The Swedish title is an expression used for housing areas in Ystad in Southern Sweden composed primarily of Finnish immigrants and referred to as "pigsties".
The story is about a Finnish couple whose relationship is troubled due to alcoholism. Finnish actors Ville Virtanen and Outi Mäenpää play the parents.Young Leena is played by (Tehilla Blad) who takes care of her younger brother Sakari (Junior Blad) The film critically looks at adult children of alcoholics with insights into how such a childhood leaves emotional wounds that take years to heal. Noomi Rapace and Tehilla Blad play the younger and older Leena and were both featured in the Millennium Trilogy based on the novels by the late Stieg Larsson. 
Next week more from the Venice Film Festival.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Venice

© 2010 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/05/10
Movie Magazine International

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Satoshi Kon - Tribute

By Moira Sullivan

It is with great sadness to hear the news that the Japanese anime director Satoshi Kon passed away on August 24 at the age of 46.  Kon received the diagnosis that he had pancreatic cancer on May 18 with little time left to live. In a blog written to his fans Satoshi Kon during this time he remarkably shared with us how dishonorable he felt it was to leave the world before his parents, and humbly admitted to other shortcomings.  He repeatedly used the expression “Sorry to leave before you “ in his endearing testimony. This was an incredible opportunity to share in not only the life but also the reality of Mr. Kon in his final days. He leaves several memorable films in his legacy.  
Kon began his career as a manga artist and later worked with anime. He never made a live action film and preferred to draw his films. His debut film was Perfect Blue, in 1997, followed by Millennium Actress in 2001, Tokyo Godfathers in 2003 Paprika in 2006 and the television series Paranoia Agent made in 2004.  He was also deep in production on his fifth film The Dream Machine at the time of his death, another one of his concerns in leaving so suddenly.

Studio Madhouse produced Kon’s films where he served as staff director. As opposed to Hayao Miyazaki, Kon’s anime can be seen as colorful and inventive narratives with adult themes. Whereas Miyazaki works with mythical creatures, often with girls who learn how to become independent, Kon makes humans and their follies the focal point. In the case of Millennium Actress and Paprika his characters have superhuman powers and pass through different dimensions of reality. In Millennium Actress a famous actress interviewed about her career after she has retired shows her life as if were a film in this anime. In Paprika a doll expresses that the Internet and dreams are very much the same, a view that is particularly Satoshi Kon,  because one goes underground into a subconscious state.  As such there is a visually stunning parade of dolls, furniture and appliances, and the incongruity of the objects clearly represents the fragmented architecture that is the stuff of dreams. One can only wonder how Kon would have developed in the coming years, each film an improvement on his previous work and his ability to convey hyperrealism. His characters were not all good or all bad, and embody defects that define the human condition such as in Tokyo Godfathers  where he presents an unlikely set of guardians for a child. But in all that he created, he showed that reality was also a virtual world. And that we can learn just as much from it.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Venice

© 2010 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/02/10
Movie Magazine International