Saturday, August 31, 2013

2013 Venice International Film Festival: Day 4

Nicolas Cage on the red carpet 30/08/2013 © la Biennale di Venezia
  • Day 4 - Saturday, August 31

  • Screening today:

    In competition, from the USA, Night Moves by Kelly Reichardt.

    The American director returns to Venice after winning the SIGNIS award in 2010 with Meek's Cutoff. Reichardt's latest, is the story of three radical environmentalists in a plot to blow up a hydroelectric dam. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard.

    Also from the USA, Child of God by James Franco.

    Another American director who is showing up everywhere (he also stars and co-wrote Gia Coppola's debut film Palo Alto which premiered in Telluride yesterday and screens in Venice tomorrow in the Orizzonti section). Franco's first film in competition on the Lido is a grisly tale adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel. It stars Scott Haze, Tim Blake, and Nelson Jim Parrack.

    The third film in competition today, from the UK, Philomena by Stephen Frears.

    Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star in a story of a mother's search for the son that was taken from her fifty years ago.

    Venezia 70 Competition Film
    Night Moves
    directed by Kelly Reichardt
    USA, 112'

    Synopsis:
    A tale of suspense and a meditation on the consequences of political extremism. When do legitimate convictions truly demand illegal behaviors? What happens to a person’s idealism when they find their back against the wall?.
    Critical Reception:

    "Precisely the sort of intelligent, measured thriller Reichardt’s admirers would expect from her brand of patient realist filmmaking, a picture that starts slow but quietly gets its hooks into the attentive viewer." Justin Chang (Variety)
    "After a terrific first hour that crescendos in an extended sequence of quiet yet potent white-knuckle suspense, the film loses some traction in the more challengingly paced second half." David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "There’s an almost docudrama-like feeling to proceedings, although Reichardt avoids the tropes of that genre—the photography is carefully composed, the editing steady and measured." Oliver Lyttelton (The Playlist)
    "Eisenberg binds the film together, his admirably spartan central performance is as cool and collected as Delon in Le Cercle Rouge." David Jenkins (Little White Lies)
    "This is Reichardt's most accessible film to date, less esoteric than "Wendy and Lucy" and "Meek's Cutoff," but still as lucid, intelligent and considered." Matt Mueller (Thompson on Hollywood)
    "This is mesmerically assured and tensile film-making, with two complex and plausible performances at its core, and the shin-stinging kick of a Chaucerian moral fable." Robbie Collin (The Telegraph)
    "After Meek’s Cutoff expectations were high for Reichardt’s next film, and there is a niggling sense that Night Moves fails to deliver on a number of counts." Mark Adams (Screen Daily)
    Venezia 70 Competition Film
    Child of God
    directed by James Franco
    USA, 104'

    Synopsis:
    Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee, Child of God tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man who is described as “a child of God much like yourself perhaps.” Ballard’s life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.
    Critical Reception:

    "Franco, for the most part, proves himself to be a faithful adaptor. If anything, his obvious love for the book is all too evident as he reproduces chapter divisions and visualised quotations before our eyes." John Bleasdale (Cine-vue)
    "Franco has emerged with an extremely faithful, suitably raw but still relatively hemmed-in adaptation that compares favorably with his earlier films, yet falls short of achieving a truly galvanizing portrait of social and sexual deviance." Justin Chang (Variety)
    "Many will categorically dismiss its crude aesthetic and uneven tone, but others will surely be willing to find art in its seeming artlessness." David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "Lead Scott Haze, who is alone on screen for much of the time, holds nothing back in his strong and sometimes alarmingly deranged performance as Lester." Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    Venezia 70 Competition Film
    Philomena
    directed by Stephen Frears
    UK, 94'

    Synopsis:
    Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a “fallen woman.” When her baby was only a toddler, he was taken away by the nuns for adoption in America. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him but with no success. Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary political journalist who happened to be intrigued by her story. Together they set off to America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also create an unexpectedly close bond between Philomena and Martin.
    Critical Reception:

    "A gently powerful and absorbing film that will have audiences veering between tears and laughter." Mark Adams (Screen Daily)
    "This is Frears' strongest film in quite some time, the simplicity of the material giving rise to a series of ever-more-complex and subtly articulated spiritual quandaries." David Jenkins (Little White Lies)
    "After three days of tangy and taxing art-house pictures, the Venice Film Festival has delivered its first bona fide crowd-pleaser." Robbie Collin (The Telegraph)
    "Transcends the news story and inscribes it within the heavens of beautiful and sad stories that move us through cinema" Domenico La Porta (Cineuropa)
    "It's all about veterans Dench and Coogan, who make a delicious, if a tad too predictable, duet, milking the British class system for non-stop humor that they seem able to turn on and off like a faucet." Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "Thankfully, not every human interest story is trashy by nature. Not every happy ending is therefore also a lie. Philomena, which bowed to rapturous applause at the Venice film festival, is an ongoing, confounding delight of a film." Xan Brooks (The Guardian)
    "It’s an undeniable whopper of a yarn and, coming after a string of middling efforts from Frears, easily the director’s most compulsively watchable picture since “The Queen.”" Justin Chang (Variety)
Screening tomorrow (Sunday, September 1):
  • Parkland by Peter Landesman (In Competition)
  • The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki (In Competition)
  • Miss Violence by Alexandros Avranas (In Competition)
  • Palo Alto by Gia Coppola (Orizzonti)

See our other #Venice2013 coverage:

6 comments:

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I usually watch Kelly Reichardt's work, so interested to see what she comes up with next. Night Moves sounds a bit like a sister film to The East (2013)-which I also want to see.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I'm curious about Child of God. Mostly because the synopsis gave me one mental image and the Reception swayed me otherwise.

I'm also reminded I need to watch Meek's Cutoff. It's on my list, collecting dust.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

The one I want to see the most is Night Moves as I'm a big fan of Kelly Reichardt and really want to check out her early work for a possible Auteurs piece on her soon.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah they do sound a bit alike, though probably with much different pacing.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yes, it looks and sounds nice and disturbing. Looking forward to it.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I do like her work as well. I've only seen two of her films so far, Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy. Been meaning to watch Old Joy for awhile.

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