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Quickie Recap of the Venice Film Festival 2019 - New Movies on the Horizon

Waiting for the stars at the Venice Film Festival - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Attending the Venice Film Festival is like traveling to another world, a place where cultures from all over the globe present their unique views of life. It is a place to be entertained, a place to learn, and a chance to meet people from many different countries -- people who can travel and speak freely, as well as people who have trouble getting a visa just to attend. It is about freedom of expression, and how important that freedom is for humanity to thrive.

La Biennale di Venezia has made it easier for those not connected to the film industry to attend screenings, with accreditation for students 26 and under, and those over 60, in addition to the single tickets that can be purchased for a specific film. At the major screenings in the Sala Grande, the public watches the movie with the stars themselves.

I didn't get to see as many movies as I would have liked this year, but here is a short recap of the ones I did see, with letter grades.

1. Joker

I thought Joker was a exceptional, and wrote about it here: Joker is a Masterpiece - Winner of Venice's Golden Lion, Coming Soon to a Theater Near You. Joquin Phoenix is brilliant. Winner of the Venice Film Festival's top prize. Grade: A

2. J'Accuse - An Officer and a Spy

The Venice Film Festival was criticized by several members of the international press for including Roman Polanski's film in its lineup. But the film is excellent and well-researched. It is the story of the famous Dreyfus Affair in France, when an innocent Jewish artillery officer was convicted of treason. The story is told from the point of view of Georges Picquart, the head of counter-intelligence, who refused to buckle under political pressure to keep the status quo. J'Accuse won the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize. The film is in French. Read the review at The Guardian. Grade: A-

3. Roger Waters Us + Them

Roger Waters celebrated his 76th birthday at the Venice Film Festival with his film Us + Them, which was recorded during his concert tour in Amsterdam last year. The film is so powerful that I have to remind myself that I was not actually at the live concert because it feels like I was there. The film is only screening at select theaters around the world on a couple of dates in October, and promises “state-of-the-art visual production and breath-taking sound" -- a promise I can assure you it fulfills. Here's the link to the Us + Them booking site to see if you can score tickets. Grade: A

Roger Waters - Us + Them - Photo: Maxim Italia
4. The Burnt Orange Heresy

Slick, intriguing and elegant. The dark side of the art world. Starring Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland and Mick Jagger. See the review at The Hollywood Reporter. Grade B+

5. Marriage Story 

The story of a Hollywood divorce, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johannson. I thought it was terrific, and wrote about it here: I Loved Marriage Story! A Film about Divorce at the Venice Film Festival. Grade: A

6. Ad Astra

Brad Pitt as an astronaut with father issues. I thought it was way too slow, but a lot of critics liked it. A man's movie. Read the review at Variety. Grade: B-

7. La Vérité - The Truth

This French film starring two of my favorite actresses, Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, by the Japanese director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, is basically about the relationship between a movie star and her screenwriter daughter. It was a bit too cutesy, and I couldn't really connect. Read the review at The Hollywood Reporter. Grade: C

8. Seberg

Kristin Stewart is terrific as actress Jean Seberg who was outrageously and illegally targeted by the FBI in the late 60s for her involvement with the Black Panthers. The film has flaws, but it is interesting to confirm that there are people in the United States government who abuse their power and actually enjoy destroying the lives of civilians. Read the review at Variety. Grade: B+

9. The Laundromat

Stephen Soderbergh attempts to explain the Panama Papers and why there is such a gap between the super-rich and the rest of us. Answer: they are a bunch of crooks. Starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas. Soderbergh spoke about how quickly he shot the film, and it shows. Don't see it in the theater; wait for it on Netflix and don't miss the Meryl Streep surprise at the end. Read the review at ScreenDaily. Grade: B-

10. Citizen K

I always enjoy Alex Gibney's documentaries. This one is about Russian oligarch, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was actually at the Venice Film Festival. I was surprised to learn that there were only seven oligarchs that controlled half of Russia's economy. Read the review at Variety. Grade: B

Lily Rose Depp & Timothée Chalamet - Photo by
Vittorio Zunino Celotto Getty Images
at Harper's Bazaar
11. The King

What makes The King fascinating to watch is Timothée Chalamet as Henry V. A lot of critics didn't like it, but I agree with Owen Gleiberman at Variety. And by the reaction of the fans on the Red Carpet, I think Gleiberman is right. Grade: B+

Handsome is the wrong word for this actor. He’s beautiful, and the camera drinks him in. “The King” gives Chalamet one of the choicest roles he’s had, but when you take an actor who looks like this and cast him as a young king, it’s not just about how fascinating the role is — the film is capturing the elevation of his stardom. And Timothée Chalemet, I predict, could be the biggest movie star of his generation. As he demonstrates in “The King,” he’s got it — not just the talent (though he’s a superb actor), but the ability to fix an audience with his stare, so that even when he’s doing nothing much at all, what he’s looking at or thinking about becomes the story the movie is telling.

12.  Saturday Fiction

I was completely confused while watching this black and white spy thriller set in Shanghai on the days leading up to Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 until I realized it was a story within a story, or rather, within a play. Gong Li is another one of my favorite actresses, and she is riveting to watch. Read the review at Indiewire. Grade: B-

13. Waiting for the Barbarians

At the press conference, Johnny Depp said, "there is no sadist without the masochist." There is some pretty gruesome torture going on in this film about colonists keeping their control over "barbarians" set in an unnamed country. Read the review at The Guardian. Grade: B+

Sunset in Venice - Photo: Cat Bauer
The process of how a movie evolves from creation to execution to critical response to the eyes of the audience is fascinating. By the time we get to watch a film, it has been through its own drama. That human beings have even figured out how to make movies, and that we love to watch them, is one of life's most mysterious and exciting wonders.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

This post first appeared on Venetian Cat Bauer - The Venice, please read the originial post: here

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Quickie Recap of the Venice Film Festival 2019 - New Movies on the Horizon


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