Saturday, August 31, 2019

# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival – J’Accuse – Roma. Polanski – Seberg – Benedict Andrews

photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

#Venezia 76 - La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival

J’Accuse – An Officer and A Spy – Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski tells the story of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young promising officer of the French Army, who on January 5, 1895, is degraded for spying for Germany and is sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in the Atlantic Ocean off French Guiana. Among the witnesses to his humiliation is Georges Picquart, played by Jean Dujardin who is promoted to run the military counter-intelligence unit that tracked him down. But when Picquart discovers that secrets are still being handed over to the Germans, he is drawn into a dangerous labyrinth of deceit and corruption that threatens not just his honour but his life.

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Louis Garrel, Emmanuelle Seigner, Gregory Gadebois. 

  photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

 “The film is about the Dreyfus Affair, a subject that has been on my mind for many years. In this vast scandal, probably the greatest of the late 19th century, judicial error, miscarriage of justice and anti-Semitism intertwine. During the twelve years it lasted, the Dreyfus Affair tore France apart, causing a genuine upheaval all over the world. It still stands as a symbol of the iniquity that political authorities are capable of in the name of national interest.”

Roman Polanski

Director’s statement

   photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

J’Accuse - Jean Dujardin

Contessanally: what starts out as a traditional period film turns out to be a masterful, gripping film – bravo maestro – highly recommend.

photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

#Venezia 76 - La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival

Benedict Andrews – Seberg

out of competition

Inspired by true events, the film tells the story of A bout de souffle – Breathless - star and darling of the French New Wave, Jean Seberg, who in the late 1960s was targeted by the illegal FBI surveillance program COINTELPRO.  Seberg’s political and romantic involvement with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal made her a target of the FBI’s ruthless attempts to disrupt, discredit and expose the Black Power movement.   An ambitious young FBI agent, Jack Solomon, is assigned to surveil her, only to find his fate dangerously interwoven with her own.

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Jack O’Connell, Margaret Qualley, Zazie Beetz, Yvan Attal, Stephen Root, Colm Meaney, Vince Vaughn, Anthony Mackie, Jade Pettyjohn, Grantham Coleman, James Jordan.

  Photograph ASAC - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

“I discovered Jean Seberg when my high-school French teacher screened Ã€ bout de souffle for our class. I was blown away. I never forgot her amazing, effervescent performance. She redefined what presence and truth meant onscreen. I’m fascinated by Jean’s contradictions, by her combination of fierce independence and emotional openness, her loneliness and her naiveté, her idealism and lust for life. Under the ruthless gaze of the FBI, the threads of Jean’s life come apart. Like the character of St. Joan whom she played for Otto Preminger, Jean passes through the fire. Surviving breakdown and loss, she transforms volatility into hard-won grace.

Benedict Andrews

Director’s statement

  photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

Seberg - Kristen Stewart

Contessanally: spot on for right now - political thriller – loved late 1960s sets and fashion.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival – Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach – Ad Astra – James Gray

  photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival
Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach

Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is an incisive and compassionate portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Julie Hagerty.

photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

Movies are what have healed some of my darkest moments and helped me understand what I thought was beyond me. Sitting in a movie theatre, allowing the empathy machine that is cinema work on me. Divorce is the story of so many marriages, and a source of shame and isolation. The legal system of divorce is set up to divide, necessarily. It divides people, family, property and time. It keeps everyone in their own narratives and obfuscates the other person’s point of view. But I wanted to construct another way of looking at it, a more generous offering. I wanted to find the love story in the breakdown. Hope in the middle of courts and documents and rules. Movies are an antidote to divorce. A world not of division but of love.
Noah Baumbach
Director’s statement
Contessanally: Too long, a bit boring and a bit funny.

  photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival
Ad Astra – James Gray

Astronaut Roy McBride, Brad Pitt, also producer of the movie, travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland.

  photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

“I’d read this quote from Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote 2001: A Space Odissey: “Either we’re not alone in the universe, or we are, and both are equally terrifying.” And I thought, well, I’ve never seen a movie about us being alone. The idea of space travel is both beautiful and horrifying at the same time. I’m hugely in favor of space exploration, but sometimes exploration is also just a means of escape. This led me to a personal place, a father/son story. I hope people understand that at some point it is incumbent on us both to cherish exploration and to cherish the Earth. The Earth and the human connection are worth preserving at all costs.”
James Gray
Director statement

Contessanally: Fast paced thriller, outer space travel, gripping in parts, solitude, a man’s movie.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019

# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival – La Verite - Kore-eda Hirokazu - Pelikanblut - Katrin Gebbe

photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival
La Verite - Kore-eda Hirokazu

The opening film at the Venice Film Festival is Kore-eda Hirokazu’s La Verite – The Truth.  Fabienne is a star of French cinema. She reigns amongst men who love and admire her. When she publishes her memoirs, her daughter Lumir returns from New York to Paris with her husband and young child. The reunion between mother and daughter will quickly turn to confrontation: truths will be told, accounts settled, loves and resentments confessed.
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Clementine Grenier, Ludivine Sagnier.

  Credits L. Champoussin – 3B-Bunbuku-MiMovies-FR3

Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

“If I wanted to take on the challenge of shooting a first film abroad—in a language not my own and with a totally French crew— it is because I had the chance to meet actors and collaborators who wished to make a film with me.  La verite is the result of this confidence. What makes a family a family? Truth or lies? And what would you choose between a cruel truth and a sweet lie? These are the questions I have never ceased to ask myself through this film. I hope who see it will seize the opportunity to find their own answers.
Kore-eda Hirokazu
Director’s statement

Contessanally: good script, good acting, predictable, enjoyable.

  photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia
# Venice76 – La Biennale di Venezia - Film Festival
Pelikanblut - Katrin Gebbe

Katrin Gebbe’s Pelikanblut – Pelikan Blood - tells the story of Wiebke lives together with her nine-year-old adoptive daughter Nicolina on an idyllic horse farm. After many years of waiting, she now has the chance to adopt Raya, a five-year-old girl, to provide Nicolina with the longed-for sister. The first weeks are harmonious, and the siblings get along great. But shortly thereafter, Wiebke realises that Raya, initially shy and charming, is becoming increasingly aggressive and poses a danger to herself and others. The mother will soon have to cross borders and take extreme decisions to protect her cubs.
Starring: Nina Hoss, Katerina Lipovska, Adelia-Constance Giovanni Ocleppo.

photograph - courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

“Pelikanblut explores the nightmare vision of parenthood. The title refers to the Christian image of the mother pelican that feeds her dead offspring with her own blood and as a result brings them back to life. It is a metaphor for self-sacrificing love and faith. The protagonist of my film as well cuts her own sacrificial path in order to heal her emotionally ‘dead’ child. She starts a questionable treatment and becomes more and more obsessed with finding a solution for her dilemma.”
Katrin Gebbe

Contessanally: gripping psychological thriller.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Venice: Punta della Dogana – Luoghi e Segni - Exhibition

 Punta della Dogana
Luoghi e Segni

At Punta della Dogana, until December 15, the exhibition Luogo e Segni is conceived by Mouna Mekouar, independent curator, and Martin Bethenod, Director of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana.

Liz Deschennes – FPS (60)

  photograph Pino Dell’Aquila - courtesy Palazzo Grassi - copyright Archivio Carol Rama – Torino

The exhibition is named after an artwork by Carol Rama, above, displayed in the exhibition, which presents over 100 works by 36 artists, among whom 17 are presented for the first time in a Pinault Collection exhibition in Venice. It is an itinerary through some inner geography where nature, creation and poetry intertwine, and draws particular inspiration from the writings of the poet and artist Etel Adnan, with whom many artists on display share a very strong connection. The artists show their peculiar relationships with their own urban, social, political, historical, intellectual contexts.

Carol Rama – Luoghi e Segni – 1975
plaster - photographic film and marker on canvas

“Another form of paradoxical reflection, one which does not refer so much to the image of places in the present as to that of their memory, of their absence. The work Ann Veronica Janssens (…) or that of Cerith Wyn Evans, are housed in a room looking onto the island of Giudecca. Which is where Ann Veronica Janssens showed for the first time in Venice, in a building directly opposite, on the other side of the canal. And it is the same island on which Cerith Wyn Evans had installed his memorable beam of light for the Biennale in 2003.”
Martin Bethenod
Cerith Wyn Evans – We are in Yucatan and Every Unpredicted Thing – 2012- 2014
Ann Veronica Janssens – Untitled – White Glitter – 2016

“Another theme, closely related to the former, is that of the special affinity that binds the artists, between them and to Etel Adnan in particular, be it of mutual esteem and inspiration or a more intimate bond, friendship or love. Roni Horn and Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Simone Fattal and Etel Adnan, Liz Deschenes and Berenice Abbott, Tacita Dean and Julie Mehretu, Philippe Parreno and Etel Adnan but also works resulting from the collaboration between Anri Sala and Ari Benjamin Meyers, or Charbel-joseph H. Boutros and Stéphanie Saadé... All these ‘conversations’ map the implicit geography of a cohesive way of thinking between individualities coming from different horizons but all inhabited by poetry.”
Martin Bethenod 

 Berenice Abbott – New York – 1935

“The inclusion of works like Roni Horn’s Well and Truly and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (Blood) is, in my view, a way of fleshing out a proposal that, while at the heart of the history of Punta della Dogana, seeks to extend/explore it further. It creates a web of connection between past and present, highlighting phenomena of superimposition, or even fusion, that are at work in the fabric of any exhibition as well as in the history of any collection.”
Mouna Mekouar

Roni Horn - Well and Truly – 2009-2010

Felix Gonzalez-Torres – Untitled – 7 Days of Bloodworks
1992 - detail

Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros – Stephanie Saade – Souffles d’Artistes

 Rudolf Stingel – Untitled – 1990

Tatiana Trouve – The Guardian – 2018

Nina Canell – Days of Inertia – 2015

Anri Sala and Ari Benjamin Meyers – The Breathing Line – 2012

Anri Sala – 1395 Days Without Red - 2011

Roni Horn - White Dickinson – series – 2006-2010

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