A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino, 2015)

Matthias Schoenaerts and Ralph Fiennes in A Bigger Splash 
Marianne Lane: Tilda Swinton
Paul De Smedt: Matthias Schoenaerts
Harry Hawkes: Ralph Fiennes
Penelope Lannier: Dakota Johnson
Sylvie: Lily McMenamy
Mireille: Aurore Clément
Clara: Elena Bucci
Maresciallo: Corrado Guzzanti

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay: David Kajganich
Based on a novel by Alain Page and a screenplay by Jean-Claude Carrière and Jacques Deray
Cinematography: Yorick Le Saux
Production design: Maria Djurkovic
Film editing: Walter Fasano

Director Luca Guadagnino made his own bigger splash in 2017 with Call Me by Your Name, but his film called A Bigger Splash attracted admiring reviews two years earlier. Guadagnino has said that the two films and his 2009 I Am Love constitute a "Desire" trilogy. Erotic intrigue is at the heart of A Bigger Splash, which deals not with the eternal triangle so much as a fatal quadrangle. Marianne, a rock star, is recuperating from a throat operation on the island of Pantelleria with her lover, Paul, a documentary filmmaker, when her former lover, a music promoter named Harry, arrives with his daughter, Penelope. Neither Marianne nor Paul is especially pleased by having guests intrude on their solitude, especially since she has been ordered not to speak for a while. Marianne's voice problem is not the only sign of damage in the four characters: Paul is a recovering alcoholic who once attempted suicide, Harry is a manic egotist, and Penelope is a 17-year-old pretending to be 22 and -- we discover later -- speaks fluent Italian, a fact she chooses to hide from the others. She also lives with her mother in the States and neither she nor Harry knew of each other's existence until recently. There is a queasy touch of incestuousness to Harry's attentions to Penelope. Guadagnino and his actors keep the tension among the four characters at a low simmer for most of the film, and even after things reach the boiling point, the film deftly avoids melodramatic excess. Fiennes, usually a more reserved actor, gives an uncharacteristically flamboyant performance as Harry. The film oddly feels a little dated, like a French or Italian film from the 1960s, such as Jacques Deray's La Piscine (1969), the first filming of Alain Page's novel.

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