Greetings from the end of Day 1 at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. This is my first time at this festival - and my first visit in Venice itself (although I was born in Venice, California, if that counts for anything). I'm staying here on the Lido, not far from the Palazzo, Casino and other rather fabulous venues, but my life consists of attending unglamorous press screenings and scrabbling around for food (there are no cafes nearby) and wifi (which seems like a luxury). Today's films included the festival opener, and I spotted Emma Stone on the red carpet...
La La Land
dir-scr Damien Chazelle; with Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone 16/US ****.
This colourful musical about Los Angeles is both a celebration and a cautionary tale about the city of dreams. Its buoyant tone and fizzy performances make it a joy from start to finish, even when things turn rather dark along the way. Writer-director Damien Chazelle proves that Whiplash was no fluke: this is a bravura display of pure cinematic joy.
The Light Between Oceans
dir-scr Derek Cianfrance; with Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander 16/NZ ***
Fans of sweeping romantic epics will enjoy this florid love story, its emotive performances and picturesque scenery. Those who find tortured melodrama just a touch exhausting will find it a bit of a chore to sit through. But it’s beautifully made and well-acted by a fine cast. An even if it doesn’t have much to say thematically, there’s at least some intriguing moral twistiness. (That's Vikander and Fassbender, above.)
dir-scr Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson; with Baldur Einarsson Blaer Hinriksson 16/Ice ***.,
Dark and sometimes very grim, this Icelandic teen drama tackles a serious topic in an intensely personal way. Set in a rural area, the small community ramps up the emotions to the breaking point, pulling the audience into the story with serious force.
I'll add to this blog as I get the chance, and upload reviews to the site when possible. Tomorrow's films are Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, Alice Lowe's Prevenge, Gabriele Muccino's L'Estate Addosso and the Filipino drama Pamilya Ordinaryo.