Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:25 am 
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Gorgeous abstract suffering women

There doesn't seem to be much experimentation (or sometimes even inspiration) in Italian film at the moment. So Masbedo (joint nom d'artiste of Nicolò Massazza and Jacopo Bedogni) fill a dire need with their fusions of photography, art video, and narrative film. Their first feature in this vein is The Lack, which focuses on women suffering a sense of loss or deprivation, I think. It's an absolutely gorgeous film, but its classification as narrative feature has to be qualified with the notation that it's really a collection of six rather abstract, not directly connected, films. It gets the label from admiring critic attached to most beautiful, abstract movies that make little narrative particular sense: "pure cinema."

It's also not particularly "Italian," coming at us at the outset with two women, Eve (Lea Mornar), Xiu (Xin Wang), Anja (Giorgia Sinicorni), who are notably exotic. They and Nour (Ginevra Bulgari), Greta (Emanuela Villagrossi), and Sarah (Cinzia Brugnola) are linked by location, being shown navigating a dream landscape of deprivation and loss amid certain barren Aeolean islands. Some scenes were also shot in Iceland. Cinecitta is also listed. Photography is by Gherardo Gossi and Giuseppe Domingo Romano, editing and sound design is by Benni Atria. Iacopo Bedogni and Niccolò Massazza have been respectively described as "a former professional basket player, graduate in mathematics and then photographer" and "a psychoanalysis scholar, poetry and Lacan enthusiast, and former musician. "

It seems natural to be reminded of the Belgian couple of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Rorzani, who have crafted two similarly exquisite, narratively moot features that I've seen at Lincoln Center and MoMA's New Directors series of 2010 and 2014, Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears. A unifying feature for Cattet and Forzani is their fondness for Italian Dario Argento-style slasher-horror "giallo," frequently in evidence; and in their second long outing they moved away from separate segments into a single connected narrative, even if the narrative was repetitious and hard to parse and gorier than previously.

It is as hard to sustain (as it may be to watch) beautiful but narratively deprived films like this, and understandable that Masbedo filled out The Lack by approaching a theme sex times over. Here the unifying thread, aside from the slightly vague one of "lack" (mancanza) is emotion. These ladies are upset. The artists show a flair for finding striking locations and shooting them ingeniously. Some of their sequences, such as the first one, feel like emotionally extreme noir romances; others are more surreal an grotesque and threaten to slip into Cattet-Rorzani "giallo" territory.

The Lack was originally presented as a special event at Venice Days, at the Venice Film Festival 31 August 2014. Screened for this review as part of the June 2015 Open Roads: New Italian Cinema series at Lincoln Center, NYC.
Thursday, June 4, 9:15pm (Q&A with MASBEDO)
Thursday, June 11, 4:45p


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