“I am the monolith. I’m a block of black, cold rock, standing in the middle of the desert. We are a forest of eucalyptus. Those who look at us from afar can see us one next to the other, but when the observer comes closer, he will realize that we’re far more apart than he thought”. That’s how the stream of consciousness of Tião’s bovine ends, at the end of a surreal journey full of unsolved questions, to which, maybe, there’s no answer.
“Io sono il monolito. Sono un blocco di fredda roccia nera eretto in mezzo al deserto. Noi siamo un bosco di eucalipto. Chi ci guarda da lontano ci vede uno accanto all’altra, ma se il nostro osservatore si avvicina, si accorgerà che siamo più distanti di quanto crede”. Così termina il flusso di coscienza del bovino di Tião alla fine di un viaggio surreale colmo di interrogativi irrisolti, ai quali, forse, non c’è risposta.
Article by: Matteo Merlano Translation by: Lorenzo Matarazzo
Los Angeles, December 31 1999, at the dawn of the new millennium tensions and chaos rule a militarized city, slave to a new drug which is powerful and unstoppable: Deck, i.e. other persons’ experiences recorded on mini-disc and directly wired to the brain of the user. Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) is the biggest “experiences’” dealer around, but when he receives a clip containing a Deck fix showing the truth about the homicide of rapper Jeriko One, leader of the rising afroamerican rebellion, his life takes a dangerous turn.
Set only four years after the moment of shooting, Strange Days predicted the future in a rather disturbing way. Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman director who cleared the Action genre through the customs of male-only directions (masterpieces such as Point Break and Near Dark are works of hers) and gives us the image of a Los Angeles which is nocturnal, violent and full of tensions and contradictions (a big part of the credit goes to the script from James Cameron, Bigelow’s ex-husband) where the characters wander like ghosts searching for Life, not theirs, but other people’s, the one which is “transferred” in the brain like a file from a Usb drive. No one is safe in this world and to escape sadness everyone is willing to do anything. A movie filled with a 90s’ atmosphere, from the aesthetic choices (fast montage and a photography reminiscent of the one used in videoclips) to the Hip Hop, Techno and Post-Punk countercultures, up to the human side, where in a society which lacks direction the only salvation is true love, when it is absolute and romantic. Great soundtrack: Tricky, Deep Forest, Peter Gabriel and Skunk Anansie, to name a few.
Perfect cast with Fiennes, at ease and troubled at the same time in this scenario, a Juliette Lewis who is more beautiful and reckless than ever and Angela Basset, who carries on the role of tough women so dear to Cameron (Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and Linda Hamilton in Terminator), as well as a disturbing Vincent D’Onofrio, playing a corrupted and psychopathic policeman.
It is unbelievable how much of the vision from Bigelow and Cameron came true. At the time of production racial tensions had reached their peak because of the police killing of Rodney King in 1992. Today they have emerged again for the same reason in many places around the United States. A militarized L.A. sadly reminds of the big European cities of these weeks. After the 13 November tragedy in Paris and after other similar events, Strange Days appears extremely contemporary. A must see which helps to understand the dark, crazy and “strange” days that we are living in now, year of the Lord 2015.
‘Per tutta la vita’ is the first film in this section curated by Paolo Virzì. The main theme of the film is divorce, examined from different points of view. The director Susanna Nicchiarelli (already established for two feature films, in particular Cosmonauta in 2009) decided to deal with this social phenomenon for the anniversary of the referendum in 1974, which led Italy to take sides on whether to legalize or not divorce.
The documentary treats this theme on various ways, though focusing the attention on personal stories represented on the screen. In fact, the protagonists are more or less common people reporting their opinion of divorce, according to their “skills” and experiences.
Monica, a zoologist, talks about monogamy in several species, starting with birds, passing for wolves and monkeys, up to human beings. Silvio, a divorce lawyer, describes the legislative and technical aspect of it. Although, as his wife Sveva, steps in his talk, he lets himself go in most personal confessions. Guido and Paola, parents of the fitter of the documentary, recall the history of their love at first, then their marriage and finally divorce.
The interviews alternate with family filmstrips of director Nicchiarelli (narrated in voiceover by his parents, still happily married) and original shoots from Rai archives. The last ones show old electoral slogans of politicians Berlinguer and Fanfani and some advertising pro-divorce starring Gianni Morandi and his family.
This mixture of evidences and sources highlights the desire of the director to find out the real meaning of marriage and divorce, also underlining how that meaning changed in time.
Is monogamy a natural or a social fact? Does the woman manage to break free from her role of mother and wife after the referendum? These questions do not need to an answer because the aim is pay attention to these and, through this document, research events and opinions, which help to developing a clear viewpoint.
The atmosphere is unique, both deep and personal, as it involves the participation of relatives and friends of the director. During the vision of her wedding shoot, Nicchiarelli’s mother states with clear awareness that divorce acquired real meaning only when women understood their freedom and their own social role, which was unimaginable before 1974.
In the end, she adds that the expression “per tutta la vita” (“for a whole life”), after 1974, changed its meaning from absolute to relative.
The Italian section of TFF DOC opens with ‘Habitat – personal notes’ (Habitat – Note personali), with which Emiliano Dante returns to the festival after his debut, five years ago, with Into the blue.
His goal is the same: to film the urban tragedy of L’Aquila. The main characters are the director himself and his former tent-mates: Alessio and Paolo.
Emiliano lives in one of the houses built by “project C.A.S.E.”. His girlfriend, Valentina, still lives in her old house; Alessio is a real estate agent and lives with Gemma in a house where they pay a low rent, since the earthquake damaged it. Paolo, who has become a painter after the tragedy, does not know what to expect from his life and from his daughter’s birth.
Everyone opens up sincerely to their friend Emiliano, behind the camera, without filters or victim complex: they are just hopeless. They are afraid of this ghost city, and some of them have tried to follow their friends, emigrating; but something has made them come back. “What do you dream of, Emiliano?” is a question that seems to look at the future, but it is actually the same old nightmare: the earthquake.
A peculiar documentary that does not open with a banal overview of the city ruins, but with the characters driving the 14 kilometers that separate them from the city. The new houses were built quite far from L’Aquila, in order to ease the reconstruction of the city center; but the clothes hanging from the balconies reveal that the clock has stopped on April 6, 2009.
A black and white movie to represent a city forgotten by the media, where there is nothing left to do. Emiliano Dante, producer, director, scriptwriter and actor reveals the loneliness and the dereliction still felt in L’Aquila. “I don’t want to conclude with an overview of the torchlight procession in memory of the tragedy” says the main character, “because here in L’Aquila we feel lonely”. A sincere and intimate look, far from a political critique.
Normandy, France. A newlywed couple moves to a small town looking for peace, serenity and all the other things that country life can offer. Her name is Gemma, Gemma Bovery (Arterton), English pronunciation. The monotonous life of their neighbour, the baker Martin Joubert (Luchini), is suddenly turned upside down by the arrival of what could be the incarnation of his favourite literary character. The fantasy of the baker is unleashed: how could he not see the ghost of the heroine of Flaubert in the name, in the manners and even in the fate of that woman?
After Coco avant Chanel and Two Mothers, the French director deals with a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, author of Tamara Drewe (similarly taken from Far from the Madding Crowd), whose film version stars the same actress.
Adaptations of Madame Bovary are as countless as various. Jean Renoir, Vincente Minnelli, Claude Chabrol are just some of the directors that dealt with the book, up to the very recent and still not distributed version of Sophie Barthes with Mia Wasikowska.
But this is the first film being directed by a woman. It is a curious case, since almost every shot — at least those including magnetic Arterton — are viewed and filtered through the eyes of Martin. During the press conference of November 22nd in Turin, the director explained how our gaze is encouraged to merge with that of the baker. The simplest gestures, like eating a piece of bread, smelling its crust and mixing the dough become brief moments of delight. The actress is amazing: we never doubt the attractive force she exerts, almost unconsciously, on every man that crosses her path, gravitating around her. Luchini’s eyes widen as he only knows how to do, stunned in front of the sensual movements of the woman. And we are stunned as much as he is.
This is a light and brilliant comedy, but from the beginning we have an inkling of the tragedy. We anxiously follow the life of Gemma, convinced that the tragic fate of Madame Bovary would inescapable fall on her. We flinch at the word “arsenic”. We sigh during the date with the young lover. We delude ourselves that it can end up differently.
Like Martin, we are forced to watch powerless the gradual unfolding of a story that is already written and that we cannot change. The clumsy attempts of the baker to separate Gemma from her lover — not to mention those aimed to protect and warn her — are, in fact, useless.
Anne Fontaine modernizes the timeless story of a bored woman, successfully delves her character in what it has become an archetype.
The film is genuine, funny, gentle. The portrait of a woman of incredible beauty.
Besides the screenings of previews and first works, the Turin Film Festival also celebrates the classics of cinematographic history. The film exhibition has always had a special consideration for the international review; this year it has decided to pay homage to the German cinematography by promoting three of its most relevant films.
After years of absence, Volker Schlöndorff, leading exponent of the New German Cinema, makes his comeback in Italian cinemas with ‘Diplomacy- A night to save Paris’, which is an adaptation of the play by CyrilGely. The German director chooses again the Second World War’s theme after ‘La mer à l’aube’, bringing to the big screen an episode that really happened.
Volker Schlöndorff and Emanuela Martini during the presentation of ‘Diplomacy- A night to save Paris’ (Photo by Bianca Brocchieri).
The action takes place over the night between 24 and 25 August 1944, when the Allies entered in Paris finally ending the war. Although the Nazis were aware of their imminent defeat, the Führer did not surrender and ordered at General Dietrich von Choltitz (played masterfully by Niels Arestrup) to burn Paris. However, with monuments and bridges mined and ready to explode, the order of Hitler, as we know, has never been executed. Even though the ending is obvious, Schlöndorff is able to create a captivating and pressing thriller thanks to the excellent interpretation of Niels Arestrup and André Dussollieras the Swedish console Raoul Nordling, and to the high skills of the director. The Maaurice Hôtel is the stage in which the duel between two star performers takes place: on one side there is Nordling, defender of humanity and symbol of a pacifist moral; on the other side, there is commander von Choltitz, faithful to the Nazi cause and obedient to each command given by his superiors. Proposing a reality as that of World War II, by now engraved on the collective memory, is the pretext that allows Schlöndorff to investigate the nature of the human soul, divided between political duty and a silent reminder of brotherhood. This particular episode has already been brought to the big screen in 1966 by René Clément in ‘Paris brûle-t-il?’, but the German director treats it in an innovative way by avoiding captions and illustrative style, and also combining cleverly evocative pictures of repertory with digital reconstructions of magical Parisian skyline.
The traditional idea of Christmas as a day of meeting with your own partner’s family has already been used and abused. However, the originality added by the authors of Boris (a famous Italian tv series), Giacomo Ciarrapico, Mattia Torre, and Luca Vendruscolo, is the vision of Christmas as a celebration of darkness, doomed to end in tragedy, since the ancient times. It’s as if Murphy’s Law was stubbornly unleashed every year, the same (and cursed) day.