The day after its world premiere in Venice, Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited “Dune” — or rather, “Dune: Part One” as the film’s sign carries — has garnered generally positive reactions from the film. world press.
Shown out of competition, the film had an effusive reception from admittedly nerdy sites, an audience with which the material has great appeal. But although the traditional media has also reserved praise for the feature, it was less lenient with the adaptation of the homonymous work by Frank Herbert.
Through word of mouth, among the people heard by the report, the feeling that remains is the same as that of critic Glenn Kenny, from the Roger Ebert website —who approved the film—, explained with great power of synthesis in his text. “There’s not much reason to be interested in ‘Dune’ if you don’t like science fiction,” he wrote in the review.
Still, the liveliest already think the film, starring Hollywood stars like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson, has potential for Oscar nominations — even in the more technical categories.
Although it has just premiered, “Dune” will most likely have a sequel — not a “Dune 2” but rather part two of the first film, as Villeneuve has claimed in interviews. That’s because he only agreed to work on the feature if he could split Herbert’s book in half. He says he is already writing the second part, which will only be filmed if “Duna” is a box office disaster.
Also in Venice, Argentine filmmakers Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn returned to the festival where they achieved international prominence five years ago, when the fun “The Illustrious Citizen” gained the attention of critics and judges. At the time, the feature won a well-deserved award for best actor to Oscar Martínez from Buenos Aires.
The duo is now trying for the Golden Lion with the comedy “Competencia Oficial”, official competition in Portuguese, which again features Martínez in the cast, this time alongside Spaniards Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz — the actress had already been on the red carpet last year. fourth (1st), representing the Almodovarian “Madres Paralelas”.
The trio of actors is so good, and the ideas that the script brings are so well-acted, that for a few minutes the film seemed to be the only one to really establish itself as the favorite in this year’s tangled Lion contest. But the narrative irretrievably loses its breath from the middle onwards, although it was received with applause and much laughter by the press.
The plot begins with a wealthy businessman who decides to do something different than just earn more money — he wants to produce a film and be recognized as a sponsor of the arts. He doesn’t understand anything about any of them, but he buys the rights to a famous book and intends to hire an award-winning director to give the production a brand name.
Someone suggests the trendy Lola Cuevas (played by Cruz), a filmmaker with very unique methods of filming and an unshakable self-confidence. When she appears at a press conference, with an air of boredom, she wears kitty glasses that resemble those worn by Lucrecia Martel — is this a joke between the Argentines and their compatriot? Cuevas is smart and probably very talented, but her tyranny on set makes her a viper above all else.
The film she prepares tells of two rival brothers and, for the roles, the character chooses two very different actors.
One of them is Iván, played by Martínez, a thespian respected in intellectual circles, who despises the public and thinks that his art puts him above the rest of humanity.
The other is Félix, played by Antonio Banderas, a womanizing and sexist Spanish movie star, who if he doesn’t have as much prestige as Iván, at least has the affection of the great masses.
In the first hour of the film, the meeting of these three talents (in film and in real life) yields moments of comic glory. Each one tries to show himself more than the other, but the perverse Lola is the one who usually comes out victorious in the confrontations. One of his exercises to “get more emotion” from the cast is to place them under a five-ton rock, held by a fragile winch. The fear of being crushed to death, theoretically, would make the actors have the kind of delivery she seeks.
With a series of episodes showing the rehearsals for the filming, the film scathingly reveals the inconsistencies, and above all the egos, of those three artists. It is a critique of empty stardom, but also of intellectualism as a fetish—the scene in which Iván and his wife listen to experimental music is hilarious, fascinated by the dissonant noises, not realizing that many of them are from someone knocking at that moment on the door of your home.
The film is, above all, about the pleasure of seeing good actors on stage, and that’s why it works so well in this first stage —the role-playing games of Cruz, Banderas and Martínez are always an attraction of magnetic force.
“Our idea was always to show the construction of emotion through the actors’ play. Something we don’t see: the strategies they have to move us. That was the kickoff of the script”, said Duprat, noting that the script had a lot of participation from the leading trio.
“The premise was always to have fun,” added Cohn. “We allowed the performances to flow, the actors had the freedom to act, so that we could capture their spontaneity. The result is a master class of acting.”
The problem is that a narrative film needs something more than just sketches about acting techniques, and unfortunately “Competencia Oficial” only decides to think of a plot itself in the final stretch, when a crime happens. Finally, it leaves a reflection on the power of money and how it overlaps with artistic making, but it is in the satirical vision of human affectations that the film truly stands out.
At first, it would seem that the Italian Michelangelo Frammartino, who competes for the Lion with the film “Il Buco”, would be a candidate for the target of the Argentines’ satire, with his minimalist cinema, which includes long shots of landscapes without anything in fact happen in front of the camera. But this would be an unfair criticism of an intellectualism that exists only up to a point in his work. Frammartino’s cinema is much more accessible than it appears.
You have to be patient, because he never tells a traditional story. Let the images speak for themselves — with a lot of help with editing and sound mixing, it’s true. There is much more calculation behind the alleged spontaneity of, say, his cinema than one imagines.
And if the viewer knows how to look well, the images will tell him many things —“Il Buco” recreates a mission by geologists to a cave in Calabria, trying to find out what is in its background. That’s basically it, with many scenes that actually show nothing but countryside or geological exploration. But there is always something there: an unusual graphics, an unexpected beauty or even an ambiguous character in these images, which we would never notice if Frammartino hadn’t forced us to see them.
It may be ordeal for some, but it is an extraordinary film for those who pay attention to what is on the screen. It just depends on the spectator’s commitment.