Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Pure cinema' at Venice?

In Amir Naderi's "Cut," one of the most divisive records in the 68th annual Venice Film Festival, a Japanese cinephile subjects themself to a steady flow of physical abuse within the title of "pure cinema." Recognized by estimable tastemakers like Positif's Michel Ciment and ignored by my Variety friend Leslie Felperin as "overweeningly pretentious," Naderi's picture -- surely the very first movie to incorporate the dramatic unveiling from the protagonist's listing of the 50 finest films ever -- would be a serving of high-finish critical catnip, catering most probably towards the most stringent and rarefied notions of the items a movie ought to be.I'll allow Naderi and the self-flagellating alter ego to determine what is meant by "pure cinema," an idea favorite by Hitchcock but never a simple someone to parse. Still, I suspect the "Cut" contingent might have did not approve of point about this year's Venice selection, given picking a such mainstream-contaminated individuals as Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion," from that impure well-known as Hollywood, and also the Wallis Simpson romance "W.E.," from that impure well-known as Madonna. (I am truly sad to possess skipped "W.E.," which appears to possess been a greatly enjoyable experience for fans and detractors alike.)Obviously, if pure cinema is understood to be filmmaking liberated in the classical influences of literature or theater, you might instantly have to eliminate a few of the greatest-profile game titles competing. Countering the the usual understanding that Hollywood rarely looks towards the theater for dramatic inspiration any longer, the play was greatly the one thing at Venice this season.The very first three game titles to screen competing counseled me attracted from legit sources: George Clooney's political drama "The Ides of March," greatly broadened from Love Willimon's play "Farragut North" Roman Polanski's four-way snipefest "Carnage," faithfully modified from Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage" and David Cronenberg's period piece "A Harmful Method," largely attracted from Christopher Hampton's "The Speaking Picture." (Incidentally, it had been Hampton who converted "God of Carnage" from French into British, though Polanski's film utilizes a different interpretation.)Ongoing the theater trend was among the later competition records, "Killer Joe," William Friedkin's second Tracy Letts adaptation following his cultish "Bug." From competition, festival honoree Al Pacino revealed his "Wilde Salome," a documentary tribute to some play that he's lengthy nursed an individual passion.These various stage-to-screen adaptations had their merits, though even the best revealed a possibly inevitable formal tension. If Cronenberg's Jung-versus.-Freud psychodrama struck me because the most effective from the lot, it's largely since the helmer and Hampton have selected to embrace instead of understate the talkiness from the material, honing its ideas right into a razor-sharp, intellectually bracing text that turns argumentation into potent drama.Novel adaptations, too, were built with a formidable competition presence, and not even close to despoiling the Lido's motion picture Eden, many of them found inventive movie methods to tough literary problems. Tomas Alfredson's "Mess, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," which handled the unenviable task of blending John Le Carre's modern spy classic into approximately two hrs, surprised everybody by not creating a mad dash with the material, but rather moving with similar hypnotic sophistication and easy the director's earlier "Let the correct one In."Working further outdoors the back-up, Andrea Arnold fashioned something raw and vital together with her revisionist, racially billed "Wuthering Levels." Although the film might be about 15 or twenty minutes shorter and it is marred by some inexpert performances from the largely non-professional cast, its real star, d.p. Robbie Ryan, captures images of these wild, untamed beauty regarding justify this umpteenth stab at Emily Bronte's novel. (It had been certainly scheduled about the right day, as individuals people hurrying to determine it found ourselves swept up inside a brief but decidedly Bronte-esque windstorm.)But no literary reinvention demonstrated more experimental or challenging than Alexander Sokurov's nearly 2 1/2-hour "Faust," an uncategorizable oddity that offered because this year's designated high-art endurance test (every fest needs one). A willfully eccentric reading through from the Goethe text, the Russian auteur's latest opus was by turns tiresome and moving, alternating passages of exquisite beauty with spasms of grotesque imagery that appeared nearer to old-school Cronenberg compared to actual Cronenberg film competing. Pure cinema? Not quite there wasn't a wordier, more exhaustingly subtitle-heavy film competing.At the chance of being known as a cinema purist myself, my very own personal faves happened to possess no associations with pre-existing texts, and even performed remarkably for their directors' visual talents. The most powerful film I saw in Venice, "Shame," is really a wrenching drama of sexual addiction where the bold, muscular arrangements are as strongly significant because the kudo-worthy performances of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. And Greek helmer Yorgos Lanthimos did not dissatisfy me or any other "Dogtooth" lovers with "Alps," a bizarre, disquieting tale of deceit and mental transference that feels less shocking and out-there than its Oscar-nominated predecessor but demonstrates much more formal command.A mastery of mise-en-scene also distinguished "People Mountain People Ocean," a strikingly composed second feature from Chinese helmer Cai Shangjun, who required the 2010 surprise-film slot. Good because the movie was, "surprise" required on the new and uncomfortable meaning following the film's first screening was canceled because of subtitling issues and also the second screening was interrupted for any full half an hour following a false fire alarm sent audiences running for that exits. Of many technical glitches that affected Venice this season, in the frequent schedule changes and screening delays towards the improper three dimensional projection at Shimizu Takashi's "Tormented," the "People Wait People Worry" incident was undoubtedly probably the most embarrassing it befell a gifted new director making his debut on the exclusive worldwide stage basically compounded the indignity."People Mountain People Ocean" offered to suggest in the unevenness of the year's Asian selection, usually among Venice's strong suits. Ann Hui's tender, moving "An Easy Existence" would be a lovely option for your competition rather less so were Wei Te-sheng's bombastic "Players from the Rainbow: Seediq Bale," a kind of Taiwanese "Apocalypto" crippled by sprawling overlength (which was the short version), and Sion Sono's "Himizu," among the busy Japanese maverick's less with excitement received records. Elsewhere within the program, the concept of slotting Asian films simply with regard to slotting Asian films arrived at an arguable nadir with "The Wizard and also the Whitened Lizard," a CGI-clogged bore which had no real business premiering in a major festival.Still, by this writing, we haven't yet see "Existence Without Principle," the anticipated new film from Hong Kong genre master Johnnie To. Does it result in the "Cut" cut? You never know, but my very own personal pick for the reason that department could be "Inni," the most recent concert film in the popular Icelandic group Sigur Ros. Shot in black-and-whitened and managing a haunting, emotion-drenched 75 minutes, it's as pure an event from the cinema as I have had, and one of several causes of Venice audiences to become grateful. Contact Justin Chang at

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