Monday, 7 September 2009

Venice, Day 8 & 9

I took the day off yesterday from the CICAE courses and saw five films at the Mostra: Michael Moore's CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, Claire Denis' WHITE MATERIAL, TOY STORY in 3D, Franco Rossi's classic 1959 MORTI DI UN AMICO and finally Oliver Stone's doc SOUTH OF THE BORDER. I'll run through these briefly:

The morning started at 8.30am with the new Michael Moore doc, which, depending on your opinion on the controversial filmmaker, you will find moving, enraging, funny and completely necessary, or manipulative, crass and simplistic. Moore is the Spielberg of the doc genre: sentimental, populist (and popular), and a master of his craft. I loved it and given the subject matter, I predict it will be another hit after the failure of SICKO outside of the US.

Straight afterwards I saw WHITE MATERIAL, starring Isabelle Huppert as a coffee plantation owner in an unnamed African country in the middle of a civil war. The ingredients for a fantastic film were all there: Denis' superb camerawork, Huppert in another obssesive role, explosive subject matter - but it left me cold. I have a feeling a lot of people will like this.

Me and Bastien (arthouse cinema manager from Belgium) needed some light relief so we went to see TOY STORY in 3D. Director John Lassetter and Festival Director Marco Muller were in attendance. It was by far the best 3D experience I have had - it appeared as though the filmmakers knew, in 1995, that this would eventually be shown in three dimensions.

We killed the two hours till the Stone doc by checking out MORTI DI UN AMICO, a 1959 Italian film (co-written by Pasolini) about two friends in Rome. It was perfect. The classic Italian mix of comedy and melodrama, it was a perfect palate cleanser after Pixar.

Finally, SOUTH OF THE BORDER is the latest in Oliver Stone's series of documentaries (he did COMANDANTE about Castro and PERSONA NON GRATA about Arafat) about enemies of the United States. Basically a series of interviews with leaders of the new leftist governments in Latin America, it's fascinating for someone with an interest in the subject but will have limited theatrical future.

Festival anecdote: as I was waiting to see SOUTH OF THE BORDER, the door to the smaller screening room opened (it was also the exit door for the Sala Grande) and standing in front of me was George Lucas. He said 'excuse me', and I let the bearded Jedi Master through. He's alot shorter than I thought.

Tomorrow is my last day here, and I probably won't have any time to watch any other films. I'll update with some final thoughts tomorrow.

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