Friday, August 31, 2007

Notes from Venice - Day 2/3

Boyd from European Films here, reporting on the ongoing Venice Film Festival

Mood:
sleepy
Weather: hot, with occasional outbursts of rain and even hail
Films seen: Sleuth, 24 Mesures (24 Measures), Michael Clayton, Nessuna qualità agli eroi, Small Gods, In the Valley of Elah
Gripe of the day: wet carpetPeople currently on the same square mile of earth as I am: Takeshi Kitano, Ang Lee, Tony Leung, Jude Law (pictured right by Fabrizio Maltese), Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, George Clooney, Brian De Palma, Tilda Swinton, Irène Jacob, Bruno Todeschini, Elio Germano, Mathieu Amalric, Arnaud Desplechin

The weather is getting worse her in Venice after a sultry start, and the same could be said of the films, though of course it would be hard to expect all 60 films playing in the various sections of the festival to be on the same level as opening film Atonement.

It was confirmed today that several stars will not be attending the festival (they must have seen the weather reports!), including French diva Isabelle Huppert (whose film Medée Miracle will close the Horizons section) and the otherwise ubiquitous ScarJo, who opened the festival last year with De Palma's The Black Dahlia. The latter should have been in town to promote The Nanny Diaries, but perhaps the general tendencies of the US reviews (ouch!) made her decide that facing a battalion of ready-to-shoot foreign journalists wasn't exactly her idea of a late August getaway.

George Clooney, however, never turns down a Venice invitation, and he is in town to present the legal thriller Michael Clayton. Normally good-humored, the man crowned "mag-nifico" by the Italian press (because of an advertisement in which he pronounces the word thus) had a difficult moment during the press conference when asked why he was doing all these ads? Obviously, "for the money" is not an answer that will score you any Brownie points with the general public. Clooney was visibly at a loss for an answer, finally trying the sarcastic "Me? In commercials?"

Before delving in to some reviews, let me say this: I would have liked to share with you my thoughts on several other films, but I will have to restrict myself as the festival has imposed an embargo on writing about films until after the public screenings, which sometime can take place over 24 hours later than the press screenings. So check back next time for my ideas on In the Valley of Elah and Michael Clayton.

What I can talk about is Sleuth, Kenneth Branagh's update of a 1970 play and a 1972 movie that also starred Michael Caine. It is a "delicious little devil of a movie in its own right" as I note in my full Sleuth review on european-films.net, though it still remains a small film to my eyes, especially because it retains its stagey feel throughout the film: it is essentially two men talking for 90 minutes.

It came as something of a shock to see that that is the film that leads the Competition score board for the moment, as published in an Italian-language daily distributed during the festival. It has the highest ratings of both the Italian critics and the members of the Italian audience that are part of an audience jury, followed by Lust, Caution and then Atonement. Comparing this to the reviews in the English-language press, it seems to be rather the contrary, with Atonement being on top. What gives...

In the various sidebars of the festival, one can find a lot of offbeat choices, including the first feature as a director from French actor Jalil Lespert (Human Resources). The film is called 24 mesures and presents several connected stories that play out on Christmas eve. Before you say "no more interconnected stories, please," you must know that the actors playing the leads in the four story strands are Lubna Azabal (the girl from Paradise Now) who steals the show, Benoît Magimel (yum!) and Bérangère Allaux and Sami Bouajila (double yum!). So there. Read my full review of 24 mesures.

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

i want to make a point from 1978 - 1998 only 2 actresses won the oscar for playing real people living or not spacek in 80 and 95's sarandon win ,1999 - 2006 6 actresses have won for playing a real person swank in 99,roberts in 00,kidman in 02,theron in 03,witherspoon in 05 and mirren in 06,what does that say about jolie, blanchett,cotillard,moore,keener,johnasson & hathaway all play real people this year.

NATHANIEL R said...

i love George's nickname. Calling him "the Clooney" is so, well, dull in comparison.

Perhaps we should all adopt "mag-nifico" in future discussions. Are you with me?

Anonymous said...

It came as something of a shock to see that that is the film that leads the Competition score board for the moment, as published in an Italian-language daily distributed during the festival. It has the highest ratings of both the Italian critics and the members of the Italian audience that are part of an audience jury, followed by Lust, Caution and then Atonement. Comparing this to the reviews in the English-language press, it seems to be rather the contrary, with Atonement being on top. What gives..."





Please investergate the deception around Sleuth as a fan of Jude I need the info.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's been mentioned in the last 24 hours, but Jude Law is beautiful.

NATHANIEL R said...

it's probably been mentioned in the last 24 seconds... but it bears repeating

rural juror said...

Correction: Jude Law WAS beautiful before he had a comb over and slept with women too young for him.

Have I told you how jealous I am. You are seeing some wonderful movies (I'd imagine)

rural juror said...

and if Susie Sarandon gets to be amazing in 'In the Valley of Elah', then it will be worth it.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

So is Lust, Caution any good? Actually, I'm sure it's good - but how good?

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Never mind me, I scrolled down