Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2023 11:41 am 
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More Venice 2023

A piece in The Film Verdict by Max Borg suggests that DOGMAN is one of three new movies by "controversial" directors (filmmakers with some sexual scandal around them) all debuting at Venice. Americans appear generally touchier about such "scandals" than Europeans. Besson was just found not guilty of rape; THE PALACE by Roman Polanski has shown; and Woody Allen's Paris-set COUP DE CHANCE is also scheduled to premiere at Venice. These three "scandals" are or course unrelated and of different vintage; However Besson was safer opening his new film outside France and Polanski and Allen's films recently have not even opened in the US, so the connection is valid.

WOODY ALLEN (who's 87) has been "rapturously received" at Venice and generously interviewed ("#MeToo has been good for women, but cancel culture can be ‘silly’.") He reiterates that he has done nothing in his films but generously represent women and treated actresses uniformly well. He shot his new film - to be shown soon at Venice - in Paris and in French. It is called COUP DE CHANCE ("Stroke of Luck"). Here's the TRAILER. There are four main actors, : Lou de Laâge, Valérie Lemercier, Melvil Poupaud and Niels Schneider. It's about a happily married couple, then the wife meets a guy she knew in school and trouble develops. Blurb: "Two young people's bond leads to marital infidelity and ultimately crime."

The new Woody Allen is very good.

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NIELS SCHNEIDER AND LOU DE LAÂGE IN COUP DE CHANCE

COUP DE CHANCE (Woody Allen). While there was scuffling and demonstrators at the outset of the screening, Allen's French-language film shot in Paris COUP DE CHANCE. ("Stroke of Luck"), a "drama of upper-middle-class murder"- premiered today at Venice (Sept. 5, 2023), is his best since BLUE JASMINE, or maybe since MATCH POINT, says Owen Gleiberman in VARIETY. I wonder if we'll get to see it. Reviewing Allen's career, Gleiberman notes that he's long been very good at murder - witness CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and MATCH POINT - and that his last two comedies, Rifkin’s Festival (2020) and A Rainy Day in New York (2019), barely allowed to be seen in the US, are "dreadful," and "He’s now 87, and when it comes to comedy it really has begun to feel like he’s a squeezed-out lemon." But drama - that's another matter. This one, in French,
Quote:
is rooted in a jaded Continental knowingness about matters of love, marriage, adultery…and getting rid of the people who are gumming up your life. The film has a jaunty tone of deadpan glee, abetted by its soundtrack of ’60s jazz nuggets, notably Herbie Hancock’s "Cantaloupe Island."
He can imagine Allen standing to one side and "chuckling at the human folly he's showing you." These aren't pseudo-profound world-weary philosophical types, just straightforward guys, and there's no Woody Allen stand-in. What happens is Alain (Niels Schneider) runs into Fanny (Lou de Laâge) on the street in Paris, who he had a crush on when they wre in high school together in the US. An affair starts. Jean (Melvil Poupaud), Fanny's rich husband, finds out and plans to have Alain killed. Alain is the guy we like, but this plot twist is fun, like something in a Patricia Highsmith novel. Gleiberman, a reviewer at the top of his game, loves this movie, and his review of it is a delight to read.

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FANNY ARDANT IN THE PALACE

THE PALACE (Roman Polanski) is a bomb, in sharp contrast to the filmmaker's 2019 feature, J'ACCUSE/AN OFFICER AND A SPY. Though banned from Anglophone countries, the latter was an historical film about the legal resolution of the Dreyfus Case that was outstanding in several respects. Not THE PALACE, which Xan Brooks in a GUARDIAN review (one star out of five) calls a "tacky hotel farce," and "a dismal comedy," and other reviewers unanimously condemn as a tiresome bore. It's focused on supposedly funny, but not, events at a big Alpine luxury hotel on the eve of Y2K. It has Fanny Ardant with a pooch that takes a crap on her bed, John Cleese as "Arthur Duncan Dallas III, a supposedly 97-year-old Texas plutocrat, here on vacation with his 22-year-old bride," and Mickey Rourke with a red face and wearing a blonde wig. TRAILER (with a bonus: Italian subtitles). The Venice audience walked out in droves.

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EVIL DOES NOT EXIST

EVIL DOES NOT EXIST 悪は存在しない (Ryu Hamaguchi) is an "enigmatic eco-parable" that "eschews easy explanation," writes Peter Bradshaw (4 out of 5 stars). "Compositional quirks and unhurried direction turn this tale of a Tokyo company buying up land near a pristine lake into a complex and mysterious drama." Ryu (Ryusuke) Hamaguchi is the hottest Japanese director: his past films are HAPPY HOUR (2015), ASAKO I & II (2018), and in 2021, two films, WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY and DRIVE MY CAR (the latter the best foreign film Oscar winner). EVIL DOES NOT EXIST is about encroachment on a seemingly idyllic place near Tokyo whose stream water is so pure it's gathered in cans for a local noodle restaurant. Then buyers arrive to turn the area into a "glamping" (glamorous camping) site whose septic tank will blatantly poison the local water source. This company’s plans endanger both the ecological balance of the area and the local people’s way of life. But are they evil? All is ambiguity here in what Bradshaw acknowledges may not be Hamaguchi's best work, but he finds so interestingly ambiguous that it haunts and fascinates him. It's already been snapped up for North American distribution by Sideshow and Janus Films.

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LÉA SEYDOUX AND GEORGE MCKAY IN LA BÊTE

LA BÊTE/THE BEAST (Bertrand Bonello), an ambitious time-shifting, "trippy mind-melt" sci-fi relationship movie, received five out of five stars from Peter Bradshaw. He says "Léa Seydoux’s audacious drama throbs with fear," as "Seydoux and an impressive George MacKay meet across three different eras in what is maybe Bertrand Bonello’s best movie yet" (previous films: ON WAR 2008, HOUSE OF TOLERANCE 2011, SAINT LAURANT 2014, NOCTURAMA 2016, ZOMBI CHILD 2019). THE BEAST is a languorous sci-fi time-twister that will be polarizing. It "follows Twin Peaks: The Return down the rabbit hole of dream logic, spanning three time zones in a surreal but compelling examination of human relationships," writes Damon Wise for Deadline. Others find the film "ambitious but airless" (Guy Lodge, Variety) - but I am a fan of Seydoux, and George McKay keeps getting better. The "Beast" idea is drawn from Henry James' one of a man's horrible future lying in wait for him like a beast in the jungle. But reviews suggest the result is more Lynchian than Jamesian. The film has the couple in different versions of themselves successively in 2044, 2014, and 1919. David Erlich of IndieWire calls this a "magnificent sci-fi epic." The critics are lvery much liking it: Metacritc rating : 81%. THE BEAST CLIP .

COMING....PRISCILLA (Sofia Coppola). OFFICIAL TEASER.

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