Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2023 7:15 pm 
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PRISCILLA well received at Venice


PRISCILLA (Sofia Coppola) got a 7-minute standing ovation. The girls swooned for Australian "Euphoria" hunk Jacob Elordi, who plays young Elvis. (The stars, Elordi and Cailee Spaeny got a dispensation from the unions to attend, this being a small A24 produciton.) Priscilla Presley herself was there and wept and spoke approvingly of Sofia's effort. David Erlich INDIEWIRE) describes this as an "inert but sensitive biopic" about "separation" - Priscilla Presley's - from Elvis, from "the endless shadow of his celebrity," from her own parents, and from all else that "tried to define her before she was able to define herself," themes of women escaping from gilded cages he argues have been Sofia Coppola's from LOST IN TRANSLATION on. But it's not one of Coppola's better movies; it is vague where her other bios of women are precise, Erlich says. Owen Gleiberman of VARIETY calls this film "piercingly authentic" and says "Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi bring the couple to vibrant life in a film that soft-pedals nothing." 4 our of 5 stars from GUARDIAN'S Bradshaw.
Child bride, infant sacrifice, bobbysoxer concubine: Priscilla Presley, wife of Elvis, is all these in Sofia Coppola’s eerily gripping, queasily claustrophobic portrait of marital loneliness, trapped behind the kitschy prison gates of Graceland while the King is away on tour, or shooting movies with glamorous worldly female co-stars and a creepily subservient male entourage. Priscilla becomes Memphis’s very own Lady Diana, with Ann-Margret or Nancy Sinatra in the Camilla Parker-Bowles role. (Bradshaw)
Raves also from Stephanie Zacharack in TIME and David Rooney in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. All in all, it's looking good - and with an inwardness that is a corrective to Luhrman's glitzy but empty ELVIS of last year. Metacritic rating 82%.


HOARD (Luna Carmoon), Says Bradshaw, "is a haunting and deeply strange study of loneliness and hysteria and thwarted sexuality that shows how childhood trauma can bloom in adult life." It's also a memoir of growing up in 1980's southeast London with "promising echoes of early-career Lynne Ramsay and Andrea Arnold, says Stephen Dalton in The Film Verdict. The film initially depicts a mother and daughter odd couple who are household clutterers and nighttime neighborhood gatherers. "Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown into this deeply strange and emotionally extravagant story with its continuous top-note of hysteria: and there's a lot of storytelling substance," wrote Bradshaw. Dalton remembers "Grey Gardens (1975) or The Cement Garden (1993)." The daughter, Maria, grows up and moves on from her mentally peculiar (but un-judged) mum. The film picks up the story with Maria (Saura Lightfoot-Leon) a foster child in her late teens, when Michael ("Stranger Things'" Joseph Quinn), a young man with a similar past, enters her life. IndieWire calls this an "audacious, unsettling British debut." The Telegraph'sRobbie Collin says this is "fresh, authentic and agreeably scuzzy. Its director is one to watch." Critics Week.

Venice Critics Week: GREEN BORDER, SKY PEALS

La Settimana internazionale della critica, Sept. 5, 2023.


GREEN BORDER (Agnieszka Holland) is a "brutal, angry, gruelling drama" that shines a dark spotlight on the horrors faced by refugees in the grim exclusion zone between Poland and Belarus" (Bradshaw, GUARDIAN 4/5 stars). The 2 1/2-hour black and white film, Jessica Kiang says in VARIETY, is "a gripping account of the inhumanity and depravity that ensues when those fleeing persecution are made political pawns" - of Belarusian dictator Lukashenko, who deludes refugees into fleeing over the border to Poland to protest EU policies, leaving them without services and help in a forest. The docu-drama is in chapters shifting from a Syrian family fleeing war; to the wife of a border guard; activists; a psychotherapist. There are tough images here, but Kiang sees GREEN BORDER as basically optimistic because it comes out of the belief that the stories it tells can influence good people and make a difference.

SKY PEALS (Moin Hussain) is a British film about a mixed race Pakistani-Brit working in a petrol, i.e., gas station, where the protagonist mans the all night fast food joint. SCREEN DAILY's Allen Hunter calls the film an "intriguing arthouse tale of alienation," and GUARDIAN's Xan Brooks, giving it another 4/5 stars, calls the setting an "existential fun house" but describes the lead character's night shift as grimly purgatorial, a limbo. It's a distinctively contemporary British tale with a sci-fi edge whose "lugubrious air of weirdness" tends to be "a little remorseless at times" but is nonetheless "an arresting first feature," Brooks concludes. Hunter writes that Hussain "seasons his melancholy story with moments of dry, deadpan comedy" and this suggests "affinities with the films of Aki Kaurismaki." Plus with an edge of the otherworldly in the tale, this sounns like something quite special.


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