Five years ago, Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone came up with a film called Dogman, about a dog groomer who gets lost in a criminal spiral. Thursday in Venice, the most American of French filmmakers, Luc Besson, proposed a film entitled DogMan, about a dog keeper who gets lost in a criminal spiral. There the comparisons end. The Dogman of Garrone was remarkable. Besson’s is bad ass.
The consummate ridicule of his film did not prevent the filmmaker from Grand Bleu and Subway from being warmly applauded at a press conference on Thursday, as if we had wanted to publicly congratulate him for having survived his financial and legal setbacks. of recent years. In June, Besson was cleared of rape charges in France by actress Sand Van Roy. A dozen other women accuse him of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Those who believe that the backwash of the movement
I just wondered, after seeing DogMan, why it was deemed appropriate to select Besson’s film in competition as well. This New Jersey-camped Europudding features Douglas (Caleb Landry Jones), a child martyr turned stray dog sitter, who makes ends meet by impersonating Edith Piaf as a drag queen and offering “protection” to honest people of his ilk. neighborhood against criminal gangs (music from The Godfather as a bonus).
A young psychiatrist is called in as backup when Douglas is arrested driving a truck full of dogs, dressed as Marilyn Monroe and suffering from gunshot wounds. Then begins a cheap psychological tango, dialogues with theses as a bonus, to eradicate the evil at the root, that is to say, of course, in the wounds of childhood.
Doug’s having been heavily mortgaged: his father put him in a cage for many months (a French news item that inspired the screenplay in Besson), with only dogs as companions, whose company he prefers to that of humans. He communicates so well with his canine companions that his dogs, to whom he reads Shakespeare (!), steal jewels for him from opulent houses and even pass him the salt. No, it’s not a figure of speech.
The characters of DogMan are all more caricatural, Manichean and improbable than each other (the redneck father and brother, the Latin American criminals), so much so that we sometimes have the impression of discovering a film for young audiences like 101 Dalmatians. Everything rings false and nothing is subtle, starting with the melodramatic music, in this Silence of the lambs of the poor with a scenario without tail or head that confirms everything except the “great comeback” of Luc Besson.
Opinions will no doubt be divided on Pablo Larraín’s most recent film, El Conde (The Tale). The Chilean filmmaker (No, Neruda, Spencer, Jackie) has imagined a fun and delirious story of vampires where the dictator Augusto Pinochet takes on the features of a royalist vampire adorer of Marie-Antoinette who fled France after the Revolution.
This black-and-white film relies on dark humor à la Ari Aster and quirky à la Roy Andersson, in an almost Bergmanian aesthetic with a hint of South American magical realism. As if Béla Tarr were abandoning himself to a purely sardonic story or that Dreyer had imagined a calculating Joan of Arc.
However, it is Irréversible by Gaspar Noé that we spontaneously think of at the start, because of a horribly violent scene which announces a gore film at will, where blood spurts when hearts freshly extracted from dying bodies are sent to the mixer for a power shake with extraordinary rejuvenating properties.
The soundtrack of classical and lyrical music lends itself perfectly to this particularly cynical dystopia, coupled with a family fable about corruption, avarice and greed.
Contacted by the Pinochet children, who can no longer wait for their inheritance, a young nun who speaks French tries to seduce the old dictator to better exorcise him. While his faithful servant foments a plot with his wife. And I won’t tell you why the narrator is a Briton… You can judge this joyous delirium yourself from September 15 on Netflix (which Venice does not snub, unlike Cannes).
“You’re going to hear me repeat things I’ve said to you before, but in English!” Monia Chokri told me when I met her at the Lido. She wasn’t quite right. The Quebec filmmaker and actress gave a master class on Thursday afternoon, at the invitation of the Giornate degli Autori section, as part of the “focus” on Quebec at the 80th Venice Film Festival.
About fifty people, mostly young film students, were at the Sala Laguna to hear him talk about his career, from the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts to directing his third feature film, Simple comme Sylvain, which hits theaters September 22 in Quebec.
Writing is an act of humility, even sometimes of shame, she said of her experience as a screenwriter, a process that she finds long, trying, but certainly rewarding. We feel that scriptwriting and directing are her main creative engines at the moment, more than acting, even if she plays a small role – as a slightly overwhelmed mother – in her new film, presented in world premiere at the most recent Cannes Film Festival.
“The first thing I always say in a master class is to choose your producer wisely,” Monia Chokri advised the students. “It can change a life,” she added, before recounting how her producer Nancy Grant had offered to finance the shooting of her first short film, Someone Extraordinary, for her 30th birthday.
There was inevitably talk of his friend Xavier Dolan, who co-produced with Nancy Grant Bertrand Bonello’s film, The Beast, presented in official competition at the Mostra this weekend. “In Italy she is well known for her work with the beloved Xavier Dolan,” the interviewer clarified, introducing Monia Chokri, headliner of Nicole Palo’s Emma Peeters, selected at Venice in 2018.
As she did with considerable impact at Cannes, the filmmaker insisted on the importance of respect and kindness on film sets. She also regretted that the cinema is now more or less reserved for the wealthy, the cost of tickets in cinemas being equivalent to that of a one-month subscription to a digital platform.
She is not against platforms, quite the contrary, and salutes in passing the importance for moviegoers of Criterion and Mubi, especially during the pandemic. “It doesn’t bother me that people see my films at home”, says the one who campaigns for the democratization of cinema, still as necessary according to her, but become an “art of the rich”.
I have retained, because I can judge the accuracy of her remarks, this warning that she gave to budding artists: in the context of a festival, do not rely too much on the critics of journalists, who are exhausted because they see three or four films a day. When they love, they love excessively, and when they hate, they hate excessively. I’m going to meditate on this sentence while looking for qualities in Luc Besson’s new film…