Films in theaters: Guadagnino, Östlund, Placido’s Caravaggio and the seven years since Bataclan

THENovember cinema is auteur, which does not necessarily mean quality. Here are four films to see in theaters of the city these days.

Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and one of the film cases of the year. The “Triangle of sadness” would be that portion of the face between eyes and eyebrows in which wrinkles nestle, a nightmare – above all – for wearers, models and boys (girls), image and strenuously fought by cosmetic surgery. From the title it is clear how the film talks about appearance, fiction, hypocrisy and how the whole story is about a sort of great deception given by wealth and opulence. A couple of young super-models (he and she) in constant conflict over which of the two earns the most, embarks on a cruise on a luxury yacht together with a group of other rich people. Soon the boat finds itself at the mercy of a storm and, before sinking, becomes the scene of a disgusting series of scatological acts caused by the heavy sea. Is exactly these scenes in which the rich literally find themselves swimming desperately in their own bodily fluids have met with incredible success with audiences and (part of) criticsso much so as to elect Östlund as a refined and biting interpreter of contemporary satire.

To tell the truth, however, the Swedish director seems to move within an elementary and well-known comic-grotesque style, where the lowest instincts of the spectators are teased by vomiting and diarrhea. Without filters and without updating in any way things that cinema (and not only him) has already said, known and digested since time immemorial. Also for this the second part of the film, with the castaways lost on a desert island (and the roles between masters and servants who overturn) knows already seen and remembers something that at best brings the mind back to the commedia dell’artewhile in more prosaic terms to a cinema that here in Italy we know very well and ranges with great freedom from Lina Wertmüller to the Vanzina brothers

(Conca Verde / Anteo Treviglio)

An international production with an exceptional cast for the film that Michele Placido dedicates to the great painter of Bergamo origin. Riccardo Scamarcio in the role of Caravaggio, Isabelle Huppert in that of Costanza Colonna and then Louis GarrelPlacido himself, Vinicio Marchioni, Moni Ovadia, Alessandro Haber, Micaela Ramazzotti… The story begins when Pope Paul V hires a mysterious member of the Inquisition simply called “Shadow” (Garrel) to investigate Caravaggio, his life and friendships – at the moment when the painter, on whom hangs a death sentence for murder, he is in exile in Naples and hopes to be granted pardon by the Pontiff. Since that time through a series of flashback we relive the tumultuous life of Merisi during the Roman years, between fights, bacchanals, religious clashes with the ecclesiastical authority and then great loves, fiery infatuations and strong feelings of friendship in a continuous and tireless search to renew their art. Supported by an overflowing genius but also by an evil of living and by an inexhaustible death tension.

That of Placido, net of didacticism, simplifications (the not exactly Lombard accent of Scamarcio) and the lapses of style (the meeting with Giordano Bruno) is an honest and sincere portrait, which tells the greatest artist of his time as the restless genius that has been handed down by biographers, trying however to update it to the present, assigning it a doubtful character and marked by a free spirituality (as free as its customs are) and almost aware of a sort of predestination to immortality. Despite the dramaturgical excesses of which the film is full it works incredibly. As well as the sequences dedicated to artistic creations: one for all that of the realization of «The death of the virgin», whose extraordinary nature (that of the painting we mean) permeates to the point of giving grace even to a “out of tune” Scamarcio.

One evening seven years ago, on November 13, 2015, Paris was shaken by a series of shocking and terrible terrorist attacks, among the worst that can be remembered. Of the numerous places in the French capital that were the object of attack, the collective imagination has fixed above all one: the Bataclan theater. A concert by the American band Eagles of Death Metal was taking place in the club that evening when gunmen broke into the club, firing and throwing grenades into the crowd. It was a carnage: 90 victims and over 200 wounded. We all remember the news more or less, it is impossible to forget. Above all, forget the violence, death and fear of those moments. Often, however, one does not think about everything else: like who has managed to save himself and continues, despite everything, to get by. Isaki Lacuesta in “One day, one night” tries to dwell on this and tries to tell not the story of those who lost their lives in the Bataclan, but that of those who survived. Like the protagonists Ramón and Céline – he Spaniard and she originally from Nice – a close-knit couple in love who, after having miraculously escaped the attack, begins to deal with what remains: the attempts to make sense of the horror, the panic attacks, the inability to take back one’s life, the will to remember everything and at the same time to remove all memory.

Their (imaginary) lives contain those of all the (real) survivors who did not leave their life at the Bataclan but an important piece of their spirit and soul, impossible to get back. The protagonists see their relationship (with each other, but also with the world all around) crumble, eltheir story tells, in a bigger way, that of a lost generation, without reference points and unable, just like them, to give itself an explanation that can make sense of the horror and at the same time measure the correctness of its opinions, ideas political and social and cultural beliefs. An implosion of values, convictions and intentions for which there is no remedy and which «A year one day» photographs with a disarming lucidity. Not to be missed.

Luca Guadagnino is undoubtedly our director with the most international soul. Loved abroad, he is capable not only of attracting interest – above all – from the Anglo-Saxon cultural world, but also of tune in very casually to that kind of feeling, thinking and telling. It is therefore no coincidence that his cinema is enriched more and more often with faces, places, characters and situations that flee far from Italy. If almost all the latest films (and series) nevertheless maintained a strong link with our country – at least in the choice of locations – the latter “Bones and All” goes very far. Shot entirely in the US, with American actors, and starred in English, the film is the adaptation of the novel of the same name by the American writer Camille DeAngelis and tells the story of Maren (Taylor Russell), a teenage girl who lives with her father in the outskirts of Cincinnati apparently shy, unable to weave relationships and lonely but who instead hides a ferocious soul and unable – in spite of herself – to tame. Her events will lead her to be abandoned by her father and find herself wandering around America like a vagabond in search of her mother whom she has never known. The meeting with Lee (Timothée Chalamet), a boy just older than her but with her own wild nature, will change her life.

We have voluntarily avoided giving too many details – especially one, even if it is something that you discover almost immediately at the beginning of the film – in order not to spoil the surprise, however we cannot but say that “Bones and All” it is a raw film for strong stomachs, full of truculent sequences. Yet it is not a real horror, but rather a sentimental drama in which you can breathe a kind of zeitgeist within which diversity and “monstrosity” are treated as positive values. While the world around becomes a place to look for your own way of being free and try to become exactly what you want to be. Guadagnino, who won the director’s award at the Venice Film Festival, seems to recover the atmosphere of his series “We Are Who We Are” (2020, we talked about it here) transporting the story into a genre cinema that looks straight towards the contemporary. And the result is truly fascinating. It will be a success.

Films in theaters: Guadagnino, Östlund, Placido’s Caravaggio and the seven years since Bataclan