ENJOY THE MOVIES
Home is where the heart is. And as they say in this film: a house is not the same as a home. Being house-less is not the same as being homeless. That's a lesson we can all learn. Nomadland is the third feature film made by acclaimed filmmaker Chloe Zhao, following her massive success with the indie film The Rider in 2017/2018. This time she follows a lonely drifter named Fern as she travels around various places in the United States of America in a van she calls home. She lives and sleeps in the van, and finds cheap places to park and stay in order to live off-grid, inexpensively, and without any other baggage to carry around. But it's not an easy life, and Fern still must find some work to pay for food and other expenses. Nomadland is the most soulful film of the year. It's utterly gorgeous, a poetic journey into the van-life of modern nomads.
The show must go on… and the Golden Lion must roar. The 77th Venice Film Festival wrapped up this weekend on the Lido, and awards were handed out despite this pandemic year changing the whole festival. The top prize at Venice is a Golden Lion (in honor of the iconic lion that is the symbol of the city) and it's one of the greatest achievements in cinema along with the Palme d'Or. This year's winner is Nomadland, the somber and poetic Americana film from The Rider director Chloe Zhao starring Frances McDormand as a woman living out of her van. It is a quieter year at the Venice Film Festival than usual, with less films playing at the festival overall, and a reduced number of people in attendance (for safety reasons and due to travel restrictions). But the festival insisted it go on anyway, despite Cannes cancelling this year. But they still brought outstanding work from all over the world. The full list of Venezia 77 winners can be seen below.
The internet is a fame machine. It can turn nobodies into world famous celebrities in the blink of an eye. We all know how it works, of course, but is internet fame really a good thing anymore?
Probably Definitely not. But everyone is still addicted to fame and fortune and money, even if it's just to watch someone else become famous. Especially the younger generations, so many teens need that attention and adoration to feel good about themselves. First Ingrid Goes West, then Spree, and now Mainstream - a subgenre is forming about how toxic and horrible social media is and how we're all a part of it. Mainstream is director Gia Coppola's second feature film (following Palo Alto) and it's a loud, wild, crazy film that does not shy away in literally straight up telling the viewers that they we are all involved in this delusion even if we don't want to admit it.
What do two idiots, one giant fly, and Adèle Exarchopoulos have in common? Absolutely nothing! Except for a desire to eat good food and enjoy themselves in the summer sun. Mandibules is the latest creation from wacky French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux (of Rubber, Wrong, Reality, Deerskin) and it's an amusing, lighthearted, unquestionably enjoyable film about uh, two idiots, one giant fly, and Adèle Exarchopoulos. It's super weird, super French, buddy comedy ridiculousness. But that's the magic of Quentin Dupieux - he makes entirely original and entirely entertaining films. And this one clocks in at only 77 minutes, which is both just long enough, and also not long enough. You'll see what I mean once you watch it, because just as it's getting real good, it's over. Then again, better to not ruin it when everything else is pretty much perfect.
Life is not only happiness and love and wonderful moments, as much we all wish it were. With all the good in life, there is also the bad, and every last one of us struggles greatly with the weight of emotions during these tough times when they find us. Each one of us responds and reacts differently, and it's not always easy to pull yourself back together after a tragedy. Pieces of a Woman is a film by Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó, and writer Kata Wéber, and to be blunt: it's a film about grief. Not just grief itself, but about all five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. It is an exceptionally emotional film, realistic in its depiction of people dealing with grief, and also vividly cinematic. It's the kind of film what will break you and then, through an honest depictions of good people, rebuild you by the end.
"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!" Yes - preach! We all know who she is, we've all seen her speeches. Greta Thunberg is an inspirational hero, a passionate activist and defender of this beautiful planet we all live on. I Am Greta is a new documentary profile of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Nathan Grossman. It's an emotional, intimate, gratifying doc film following closely her rise to power the last few years. A stirring story of hope - hope in younger generations. The film doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the table, Greta has already been doing her best to make everyone aware of what's going on with our planet, but it is still a deeply satisfying watch. It really moved me to tears.
There's nothing like watch a good film that leaves you with that warm embrace of cinema. Apples was my first screening of the 2020 Venice Film Festival, an interesting experience considering we're all wearing masks and sitting at least 1 meter (or ~3.3 feet) away from everyone else in the theater. But I'm happy to report it's an absolute delight. Apples is the feature directorial debut of a Greek filmmaker named Christos Nikou, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Stavros Raptis. Nikou is a bit of protégé of famed Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos; he worked as the second assistant director on Dogtooth years ago. Now he's ready to make his mark as a filmmaker in his own and his feature debut is worthy of our admiration. It's a very tender, understanding film that reminds us to live in our own way, no matter how hard that might be.
The show must go on… That's the classic show business phrase that really is the best way to describe what's happening this week. "Meaning that regardless of what happens, whatever show has been planned still has to be staged for the waiting patrons." The 77th Venice Film Festival kicks off today in Italy. Even though every other festival, including Cannes and Telluride, has been cancelled this year, Venice must go on. Even Toronto, which will have some screenings in the city, has shifted almost entirely online instead. But here in Italy, they're trying the opposite. Is it all about ego? Who knows… The red carpet is now sheltered by a giant wall that provides "social distancing" for the celebrities, but it basically just turns the festival into a private no-fans, industry-only event. Which may be for the better anyway? But is definitely a sign that this is no ordinary year for film festivals. Yet there are films to show, and they're still premiering for these two weeks.
The Venice Film Festival has officially announced its selection of films playing at the historic film festival in 2020. Venezia (as it is known) will be the very first major festival to return this year ever since everything shut down in March. Celebrating their 77th year, and with no intention of cancelling despite safety concerns, the festival has revealed a bevy of documentary and feature films that will be premiering on the Lido at the end of the summer. Venice 2020 runs from September 2nd to September 12th. The two highlights of the line-up are: The Rider director Chloe Zhao's new film Nomadland starring Frances McDormand, and Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino's doc film Salvatore, about a "Shoemaker of Dreams". We are planning to cover the festival, at least to see how a festival works in this strange coronavirus time. And, of course, to see if there are any unique discoveries worthy of breaking out worldwide. Full list below.