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Venice Film Festival 2018 – Day 1 & 2 – Highlights

 

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Posted September 13, 2018 by

 
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Venice Film Festival 2018 – Day 1 & 2 – Highlights

It’s this time of the year, when the film elite gathers on a tiny island in Venice to celebrate cinema over gelato, pizza and spritz. And for the last decade, to have a preview of pretty much 80% of the future Oscar nominees and winners, to come in few months time.

And this year, the stars have aligned again for the Mostra Del Cinema of the Venice Biennale, with the 75th edition’s competition being the most exciting one could wish for.

The festival opened on Wednesday night with Damien Chazelle’s epic biopic on Neil Armstrong titled First Man and starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. A precisely executed galactic journey, the film follows NASA’s attempts to send its first man on the moon, while the tension with Russia and the post war turbulence is still throwing a shadow on the unstable American society of the 50s. After completely exceeding everyone’s expectations with La La Land, few years ago here in Venice and subsequently at the Academy Awards and the Box Office where the film became a worldwide phenomenon, Chazelle returns with his third feature film as an auteur of the modern cinema as many have already titled him. First Man is captivating, with a breathtaking opening scene, another top-notch Soundtrack from Justin Hurwitz, responsible for La La Land’s turned-to-classic tune. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy deliver decent interpretations of the Armstrong family characters, with as much flexibility as recent history and records can give, but essentially Gosling recreates the icon of a man known for his rigid spirit in a more human-like and less out-earthy hero.

Venice Film Festival

The second day of the festival was marked with one of the most anticipated films since Cannes, after not making it on time for the Croisette – Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favorite. The period drama focusing on the age of Queen Anne in England stars Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weizs is a fast-paced, humorous and utterly exhuberant, following the Greek director’s hunger to evoke from his characters and audience timely emotions even they themselves are unaware of. Manoeuvring from scene to scene with an almost poetic rhythm, Lanthimos’ sarcasm takes a few levels up what could seemingly be a conventional story of power and revenge, with the difference that women are in the epicentre of the ruling – they set and play with the rules in an enigmatic extravaganza. Returning to the Mostra 7 years after his 2011 landing here with Alps, Lanthimos has most certainly scored one of the Golden Lions next Sunday and looks readier than ever for the Oscan run.

Venice Film Festival 2018

Netflix’s Roma by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) came next in the Venezia 75 Competition, leaving mixed feelings due to its long, melancholic journey in the life of a native Mexican maid whose life comes upside down with an unexpected pregnancy, while the family she works with undergoes their own melodrama and the country is in state of uncertainty. Mexico City in the 70s serves as a background to this utterly personal homage to what the director always praised as an iconic, ever-lasting childhood memory – his Latin American Roma. And indeed, he loves his characters, they are ghosts of his early years in the Mexican capital and bittersweet reflections of a fading lifeline. The story itself is nothing unseen in any Latin American family drama, given here with a more neo-realistic, full black & white and simplistic, linear approach with very little character development and long, at times repetitive, but essentially a life-portrait with its necessary ups and downs that create an easy and very watchable experience, even more so if on Netflix. (Streaming on the platform from December.)

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