July 30, 2007

Venice Lineup

Because the more obsessive of us enjoy keeping an eye on other festivals as well, here's the full lineup of this year's Biennale di Venezia. We can assume TIFF will be announcing several of these in the coming weeks. I can't say I'm too excited by many of the new films, though I'd be tempted, obviously, to see the Rohmer, Chabrol, and Oliviera. The only one I'm really crossing my fingers for is Help me Eros by Lee Kang-sheng, the star of Tsai Ming-liang's films.

Can anyone recommend (or warn us against) any of the lesser-known filmmakers in the Venice lineup?


msic said...

I saw Paulo Franchi's previous film, "The Spectator," and thought it was really bad -- just the worst sort of half-baked existential claptrap. I wouldn't see another film by the guy unless I heard massive positive buzz from trusted sources, and Franchi produced three pieces of ID.

Jiang Wen as a director I like. Big fan of "Devils on the Doorstep," and this one sounds like more of the same -- bawdy Sino-Kusturica, but you know, back when Kusturica was good.

Jose Luis Guerin is quite beloved of many in the highbrow crowd, but I haven't seen his work yet. (No excuse, really -- I recently found a DVD someone burned me of his acclaimed film "Work in Progress" aka "En Construccion," shoved away in a cabinet and forgotten about. I'll report back.

davis said...

Darren, did you catch Lee Kang-sheng's first feature, The Missing? It didn't get a wide release -- in fact I don't think it was released at all -- but I saw it at SFIFF a few years ago. It's really something. I can't imagine it paired with Goodbye, Dragon Inn, which is what he and Tsai originally intended, I believe, but it does have a bit of that ironic balance that I associate with Tsai.

The centerpiece involves a grandmother who runs in circles in a public park, calling out the name of her missing grandchild who wandered off when her back was turned, and the sequence goes on so very, very long, maybe for a quarter of this short feature, that it becomes numbingly abstract.

I happened to see it at a time when Taiwan and China were in the (US) news a fair bit, and the way this grandmother and grandchild plot dovetails with the movie's other, parallel story feels like a political allegory, but I'm not sure he intended that.

I'm really glad to hear he's making another movie.

Darren said...

Lee Kang-sheng's film was just officially announced.

Rob, I haven't seen his first film, but your description makes it sound right up my alley. I remember hearing somewhere that it had been released on an Asian or European DVD with one of Tsai's recent films, but I never tracked it down.

acquarello said...

Guerin's En Construccion is excellent, it's tapping into the early Alain Resnais or Alexander Kluge vibe (Brutality in Stone of architectural ruins as imprints of history.

Regarding Lee's The Missing, maybe it's my projection of his comment, but I think Rob was being tactful in his assessment of what is a pretty mediocre film. I thought Lee was really milking the Tsai association way too much (I mean how long to you need to show the grandmother squat feet up on the toilet then walk back and forth looking for the kid?). It felt like derivative Tsai awkward situations taken to even more uncomfortable excess (in terms of shot length).

davis said...

Me, tactful? :-) No, actually I found The Missing to be quite intriguing. I haven't really talked about the movie with anybody, so I have a feeling I may be in the minority.

And I'm not sure how it would stand up to repeated viewings, either, but it's a bold debut. It's certainly indebted to Tsai, but it's not a rip-off, IMHO. It's no walk in the park, so to speak.

Maya said...

I appreciated The Missing as a freshman effort; though, like Acquarello, took note of its codependency.

Darren said...

I'll see Lee's film out of curiosity and for the chance to experience a Lee Kang-sheng Q&A. The one time I saw him with Tsai, he stared at the floor, shuffled his feet, and stepped up to the microphone only once -- to make a joke about seeing his ass on screen.

Doug said...

Aw, now this is a midnight screening I'd stay up for...