Friday, August 29, 2008




A Belgian film about a man who takes advantage of his neoghbor,s housefire to fake his death and disappear to a remote island where he has bought what he thought was a nice piece of real estate. He has been living in fear that his beautiful wife will leave him, and is dispirited, disappointed and depressed. He finds that his island paradise is in ruins because some kind of insect had invaded the island and ruined commerce. Life is extemely hard and after five years he returns home to find his wife, who has remarried.


This is again a watchable film but another downer. The main character never grows up or gets over his maliase. Life is all … nothing.




Now, this was an interesting film by Barbet Schroeder … SINGLE WHITE FEMALE… who specializes in difficult films. The last time I was in Venice, in 2000, his OUR LADY OF THE ASSASINS was in competition and it was really hard to watch.



Benoit Magimel is Alex, the crime fiction writer


This new film, however, is about a French crime novelist, Alex,  who bases himself on the work of a Japanese crime novelist who has never been seen in public. Alex, however, prides himself on creating a fictional unviverse where good triumphs over evil, the opposite of the Japanese writer.


When Alex goes to Kyoto on a book tour for his first novel published in Japan, his Japanese mentor … so to speak … threatens him on a call in TV show. Then, the publisher treats Alex and his driver, Ken, to an evening at a geisha house.


This is where the dictum or cliche, ... things are not what they seem... really comes into play.


IN JU are the letters for yin and yang in Japanese … acccording to the press material. There is a lot of yin and yang going in and out of balance in the film and the lack of Alex,s ability to negotiate the line between fiction and reality.. or his incredible immaturity or auteurial arrogance turns out to be very costly indeed.


This is a difficult because of the mix of sex and violence, yet an almost brilliant film. Unfortunately, some of us on the jury figured it out before the end so it seemed almost facile. Well filmed, certainly, if not too convoluted anddeliberately over constructed for its own good.




There is a track going on here that is like a master class in film. I missed the session on Fellini, but this one on Pasolini made up for it, I think.


In 1962 Pasolini was asked to make a film made up of newsreel footage showing icons of the past, from 1946 through 1963 …  and how they can influence the future. He was making the entire thing when the producer decided to add in three other directors. So Pasolini,s first version wasn,t released … from what I can tell. So here filmmaker Giuseppe Bertolucci put together both versions and this is what we saw. Pasolini wrote the script and it is very poetic. In fact, he puts politics and poetry together. He was a Marxist so the ideology is dated, but some of the narration would fit world situations today. He also liked Pope John XXIII and … finishes off giving a very poetic eulogy on beauty to Marilyn Monroe who had recently died. I think film students will love this ,montage,. There is some amazing and memorable commentary on film, power, religion, and art by Pasolini that make it worth seeing.




This ensemble film is the directorial debut of a young Norwegian woman. It brings together several people over a few days in a small town in Norway in the early summer… it begins and ends with car crashes so these jarring events frame the film. It is beautifully filmed … and another downer. The film is not in competition but since I had time I went to this screening because there was a panel after. I didn,t have to ask why she made such a pessimistic film against a beautiful landscape because everyone wanted to know this. She said it was … ironic. Oh how very European this festival is!! Anyway, the message of the film for her was that your life is the pits if you don,tget your act together. The female figures all go against the stereotype of what most consider to be of the strong and independent Scandanavian woman. This was a surprise to the audience, and even to the key actress in the film who was present. She was surprised, when she researched the role, that abuse of women occurs even in her country. There was kindness in the film, but also great cruelty, both subtle and explicit. And there was one young girl whose father had raised her almost as a house captive, who must go out into the world when he dies … all alone, with no money. She only wants to go swimming, and because of the kindness of strangers, she finds the sea. Not so happy for everyone else.

No comments: