Marriage Story (2019, USA), Noah Baumbach

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Noah Baumbach makes its own Annie Hall and precisely because this film speaks so loudly and with its own voice, let’s list the similarities first and put this out of our way: It starts with a voice-over from the male protagonist speaking about its female companion; the inspiration in Bergman; the love between a male “intellectual, writer, creator” and a female who represents the artistic “body” in the relationship which is to be shaped by the partner; it is set in NY and not only that, the film (and the main character) loves NY, especially in a direct and fierce opposition to LA; it is a film about the love between the characters, but mainly about the ending of the love, and in this regard, it is obviously about the memories that they share.

Regarding the shaping of the body by the male counterpart, it is an artistic endeavor that is seen since the Pygmaleon myth (which was used several times in the cinema, see Luiz Carlos Oliveira Junior in New Queer Cinema), but unlike Annie Hall (and several other examples from the contemporary cinema, such as A Star is Born), this is problematized here.

The film starts with the readings of letters that each one wrote about the other to be read at a therapy session for soon-to-be-divorced couples. They are accompanied by an image collage showing their married and parenting life, giving us a clue how their lives were. At the therapy session itself, it is clear that the break-up is going to be tougher than assumed and they end up not reading the letters aloud.

After a moving to LA from her part, which leads to the enlisting of a lawyer by her, culminating in a legal fight which will leave serious marks on their relationships, but also unveil several problems that were hidden in the first place. What set out to be a bittersweet film about the love that was there, but it’s now gone transforms itself into an ugly – and expensive – war, with the power to endanger and disrupt the relationship forever.

It is then, a couple of months later with all settled, at the last sequence, when he visits her, already with a new boyfriend and all, that their son learning to read finds the letter and starts to read aloud and ask for help of his father, who then reads the letter she wrote months ago and at the beginning of the film but was never read. The emotions flow on his face and his voice – and at her face, slightly out-of-focus at the background – are clear. But not only that: the spectator, also, is led to tears. If at the beginning of the film, the letters in themselves were moving and the montage was very well made, creating a great start for the film, when read at the end, we already have an emotional attachment to them. It becomes not only their memories but also our memories of everything that went through the last two hours and a reminder of how and why they were in love at the first moment – and capable of being loved as well.

The film is full of amazing little moments: be it in the category of film style, such as when their images are intertwined (photo above), or when it goes out to show the New York and Los Angeles scenario (when he’s on the phone and goes to the streets of NY among the crowd is amazing), but mostly when the actors are kind of free to move around and explore. The theater scenes are when Johannson shines the most and Driver has a star moment when he burst out a Sondheim music in the middle of the restaurant. Drama musical at its best!

Just as in a good Allen (or Bergman) film, the actings here are top-notch. Adam Driver and especially Scarlet Johannson are superb and full of emotions delivering the roller-coaster of feelings presented by Baumbach; their characters are sweet but psycho at some moments, therefore honest and multidimensional and their acting show this; Laura Dern and Alan Alda are amazing as two lawyers with different kinds of strategies but the same caring for their clients (Ray Liotta in a small part also shows a lot of strength). It is, in the end, a very humane and sentimental film, giving voice to those complex characters going through difficult times.

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67th SSIFF

I am back here to O Raio Verde to write more film reviews and more about the 67th San Sebastián International Film Festival a little. While Mateus is in Greece studying the Olimpic Games, I will be here in Spain, amazed by baque language and this Festival.

I wished I could have written more film reviews at Venice, but it didn’t happen and it’s also fine. Maybe here at San Sebastián I would write more, as I am unfortunetely not surrounded by my friends. I don’t know anyone here, well not yet.

I have already checked the festival programme and I am excited about some movies and also some Q&A’s. I definetely want to see Jayro Bustamante talking about La Llorona, maybe I watch it again.

I also want to try to watch Roberto Gavaldón movie (in Restrospective Section of the festival), especially one with Maria Félix, just to remember my first semestre at UFF and those events of Cineclube Sala Escura at Cinemateca do MAM -RJ.

So keep up with me through this whatever that is.

Sei lá, mil coisas!

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76. Venice Film Festival

So my time at Venice Film Festival came to an end. It’s a super nice venue, I really liked it. And to whom it may concern, I have some highlights movies I have watched in this 76. Venice Film Festival:

– La Llorona, Jayro Bustamante

– Hava, Miryam, Ayesha, Sahraa Karimi

– Babyteeth, Shannon Murphy

– This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection, Jeremiah Lemohang Mosese

– La muerte de un burocráta, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

And here it’s the rest of the list with the other movies, with my personal avaluation from 1* (bad) to 5* (good).

– Revenir, Jessica Palud (***)

– Burning Cane, Philip Youmans (****)

– Mes Jours de Gloire, Antoine de Bary (***)

– Atlantis,Valentyn Vasyanovych (***)

– The Painted Bird, Václav Marhoul (**) _ I needed to leave in the middle, too much for me.

– Ensayo de un crime, Luis Buñuel (****)

– Wasp Network, Olivier Assayas (***)

– Babenco – Alguém tem que ouvir o coração e dizer: parou, Bárbara Paz (****) _just won the Bisato D’Oro, the best documentary.

– Moffie, Oliver Hermanus (***)

– Qiqiu, Pema Tseden (****)

– Mosul, Matthew Michael Carnahan. (****)

– Eletric Swan, Konstantina Kotzamani (****)

– Out of the Blue, Dennis Hopper (***)

That is list of the films I watched during the festival, which ends today. Unfourtunetely, I haven’t been able to see the shorts selection and many others. But I left with a feeling of wanting more. Who knows I come next year…

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Some backstage things

So I haven’t told anything yet about the festival itself. I am here for the first time with a Student Accreditation, which it’s quite good, because we (Letícia and Maja) could watch some screenings for the press and industry only.

We watched La Llorona (Jayro Bustamante), Revenir (Jessica Palud) and Burning Cane (Philip Youmans) like that. The cinemas are concentrated in a spot in Lido. The same island from Morte a Venezia from Visconti. We even went to the beach.

To be in Venice feels like to be in a movie. I have seen this city so many times in my life in so many different contexts and movies too. We need to take a boat-bus everyday to come to Lido, that reminds me the time when I lived in Niterói and needed to go to Downtown of Rio de Janeiro. Same same, but different.

For the moment, that is all. I haven’t seen George Cloney yet. But it doesn’t matter I saw the cast and crew of La Llorona and they are so cute.

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Balloon, by Pema Tseden

The second day of watching movies here. This one is a tibetean movie from the young director Pema Tseden and it’s called Qiqiu (Balloon), from the Orizzonti Program of Venice Festival.

It’s another movie in the countryside on the mountains. I think I watched till now many movies here that are not sited in the cities. This one is about a sheep farmer’s family and drama starts when the small two boys found some condoms. In a playfull way they made some ballons out of it.

It seems cleary that the introduction of these condoms disturbs the conservetive constellation of this family and their neighbours.

It’s an interesting film about how religion (tibetean budism), family tradition (typical patriarcal gender roles) and tabu (condoms). It’s a local story, but somehow very relatable with many realities around the World.

Even though the movie wants at some certain level to give to the female main character an empowerment and agency of her own body decisions (she rides a motorcycle to the local hospital, she asks for the condoms), the male characters have more saying and are more developed than the femle’s one.

Nevertheless, Qiqiu is an entertainment film worth to be watched. And the kids are just cute.

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The Presence of the Absents

This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection!, by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, is an amazing movie. I was just amazed yesterday. Each frame, each camera movement, the sound, everything in this movie was captivating. One of those movies that you remember the images… they stick in your mind.

For those in Brazil, who haven’t seen yet Bacurau, by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. Go!

This movie has a similar plot to Bacurau. Also about a small village trying to resist. Of course, it’s not the same. But I had to make this parallel. This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection! is actually centered on Mantoa, an old lady, who lives in a small village on the mountains in South Africa.

The villagers will need to move out, because of a construction of a dam. Mantoa, who has lost their son and husband, convinces her fellow habitans and the major to stay. She doesn’t want to move the graves and also wants to die and be buried at her village.

As the time passes and the deadline approaches, the forces of “progress” threat the order and lives of this village, called Nasareth. And in a beautiful uncanny way the reaction of this main character and her neighbours.

There is also an interesting presence of the dead people of this community. Their absence is really present, especially in the life of the widow Mantoa. She still mourns her dead son and husband.

PS: Ok, I just tripped a little here. This movie is not that much similar to Bacurau. But it made me think about it and relate them together for many reasons. The main one are the characters, who resist and fight. But if you are in Brazil, go watch Bacurau. And if you have the chance to watch This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection from Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, please, watch it!

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La Llorona, by Jayro Bustamante

OMG! Ok! First film took me by surprise. I just saw La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), by Jayro Bustamante, at the 76. Mostra Internazionale D’Arte Cinematografica de Venezia. It’s a movie from Guatemala (La Casa de Producción) in Co-Production with France (Les Film du Volcan). And it’s also in the special selection of this year’s TIFF in Toronto and San Sebastián Film Festival.

The movie is a horror film? It starts like a drama, but then goes to many elements from horror genre. The plot is about the trial of a General of Guatemala, that is being charged of the crimes during the military dictatorship. Many people were tortured, violated and killed. Especially the native population, the Maya Ixil.

The majority of the movie sets in this big house, where this General lives with his family. The protests outside, from a raged population, that lost relatives and friends at the dictatorship’s period, which was fighting against “the danger of communism”.

The constellation of this family or this house is made by a personal security, his wife, his daughter and granddaughter, and of course the maids, all of them from the ethny Maya Ixil.

After the trial, where the “justice” is made and he is guilt of all the crimes, the maids live the house, except Valeriana, one of the oldest housekeeper. They receive another maid, Alma, that no one knows exactly she is from. During the hole movie, even before the arrival of the new maid, all the characters are somehow disturbed. Not only by the protests outside, but also from nightmares of the violent past of the male figure.

Jayro Bustamante’s strong images of the characters, especially the female’s one, give a real cathartic feeling, at least for me, of revenge for all those, who want resist facism and its consequences. And with this time of raising white supremacy, this film brought to tears (yo soy la llorona).

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