A Few of My Favorites By Blagoja Kunovski

in 64th Venice International Film Festival

by Blagoja Kunovski

I would like to throw a spotlight on a group of films from both “Horizons” and “Critic’s Week” programs, furthermore including one from the program “The Days of the Authors”, that I deem worthy of being mentioned with a respect to the strong values that their authors convey.

In his film The Voice Before Bach (Die Stille vor Bach), the Spanish veteran director Pere Portabella writes the structure of a docu-feature and creates an original author’s approach into the soul of J.S. Bach’s music which proves that God exists: “…without Bach’s music men could not reach the highness of the God!” Portabella’s film is a kind of essay inspired by the holiness of Bach’s music and a travelogue through Europe, seeded in Dresden and Leipzig’s St. Thomas church where the 21st century Bach experts play the music of the legendary composer. Combining sequences of historic and present times, Portabella makes a symbolic dedication to Europe’s cultural-musical heritage. The film has been shot in three languages: Spanish, Italian and German and the trans-European traveling is connected by the Leipzig historical food market and the few very originally composed present sequences with the performers of Bach’s music (24 violin cellists playing inside of a tram in motion); the erotic bath of the beautiful Spanish girl-player, to the very simple lorry drivers of Stanway & Sons piano who can also play Bach’s music.

Four films (three French and one Italian) form the quartet which has much in common with the spirit of the main characters as a kind of no-defined lunacy, a madness with-or-without cause in the contemporary life and societies. Each of the films is from a different program: from Horizons: Medee Miracle by Tonino De Bernardi and L’Histoire De Richard O. by Damien Odoul (who in his biographical note puts that he is self taught, with no diploma in film education, born beneath the statue of the Virgin and Child). From the Critic’s Week program, the film 24 Measures (24 mesures) by the actor turned-director Jalil Lespert and the fourth film Andalucia by Alain Gomis from “The Days of The Authors” program stood out.

In each of these films I found a certain resemblance, certain roots, in previous French films. So, 24 Measures and Medee Miracle have a connection with Gaspar Noe’s film One Against All (Seul Contre Tous, 1998)and L’Histoire De Richard O. has something in common with Catherine Breillat films. All the characters conjure up madness; they are victims, outsiders, losers, lonely and abandoned young persons, self-destructive, put in an absurd situation, in desperate need of love, understanding the peace inside them. Some are on the edge of suicide, like Irene (Isabelle Huppert in Medee Miracle) as a current day Medea, a divorced immigrant in France, with two children, who publicly and transparently on the street proclaims: “I want to live!” All four characters in 24 Measures are total losers who, by chance or coincidence, come into contact and depend on one another. The most tragic ending concerns the character Didie (Benoît Magimel) who one night at an airfield in front of Helly (Lubna Azabal) suddenly shoots himself in the head.

With the aforementioned anti-biography, 39-year-old Damien Odoul, author of the film L’Histoire de Richard O., brings in something of his own nature into the main character Richard O (Mathieu Amalric), who, together with his best friend (Stéphane Terpereau) lives an anarchical life, filled up with crazy sex which proves fatal. His love partners are women selected by video tapes who are needed for future erotic films and that is the starting inspiration for Richard O. to involve us in his sex-video anarchy. This courageous film shows us a totally different Amalric who is simply perfect as Richard O. In one typical sequence, being on the bank of the river Sena with a girl, after having mad-sex, Richard O. with all the anarchy in himself yells at the passing boat with tourists: “Hey tourists! Paris doesn’t give a shit for you!”

Another kind of lunacy upsets and follows the main character Yacine (Samir Guesmi) in the film Andalucia, whose frustration and disquietude as a second class citizen in the French society leads him into a kind of paranoia, and that is the main reason that, at the end of the film, the director Alain Gomis allows him to fly, so he can finally be free.