A Second Chance for Vincere

A scene from Marco Bellocchio's Vincere

When a film you did not particularly enjoy wins a critics award, it dredges up a series of thoughts and questions. This happened to me when Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno received the National Society of Film Critics Award for best actress. Mezzogiorno was rewarded for her portrayal of Ida Dalser, Benito Mussolini’s alleged first wife, in Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere. I saw most of Vincere at the Cannes Film Festival and from what I remembered, it was not my favorite film.

This was my first impression:

Vincere, however, is another story. I walked out after an hour and a half. The biopic tells the story of Mussolini’s first wife, Ida Dalser, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno. Dalser married Mussolini in 1914 but the Italian dictator denied their marriage. She spent much of her life confined in asylums. The film does not do this compelling story justice. It is poorly constructed with too much emphasis on found footage. It does not concretely establish the foundation of the relationship, making Ida an unsympathetic character. All in all, not worth the 30 minute wait in the rush line.

I admit that I didn’t give Vincere a fair chance. Of course I have many excuses for why I walked out. It was the middle of the festival and I was exhausted. I had just seen Pedro Almodovar’s Los Abrazos Rotos that morning… and I was exhausted.  I had to be at my internship at 1 p.m. and the movie started at around 11:30. After the wait in the rush line and a first hour that I found less than enjoyable, leaving early made sense.

Then I forgot about Vincere. It barely made a dent in my memories of Cannes.

After learning that Mezzogiorno was named the best actress over favorites like Natalie Portman and Annette Bening, I realized that maybe I should give Vincere my full attention.

After watching Vincere in its entirety, some of my opinions are the same. It is a compelling story but the interpretation was scattered.  The found footage can be jarring and off-putting. Ida Dalser is a character who teeters on the edge of sympathetic, crazy, and irritating.

What struck me more profoundly is how Vincere is all about seduction. The opening sequence is of Mussolini, played by Filippo Timi, delivering an emphatic challenge to God to strike him down if God does exist. In the audience is Ida Dalser watching Mussolini with a piercing stare as she becomes seduced by his charisma, energy, and rhetoric. This is followed by the first use of found footage and Carlo Crivelli’s operatic score. The word, Vincere, is flashed over phallic imagery of smokestacks that can easily be interpreted as weaponry. The footage segues into images of industry, trains, cathedrals, and fashion models – images that are representative of Milan. The found footage and newsreels provides the historical context for Mussolini’s rise to power and it shows how Mussolini seduced the Italian people. It is fascinating how Mussolini’s sexual seduction of Dalser is equated with his rise to political power.

Dalser holds no power over Mussolini, yet he controls every aspect of her life. Mezzogiorno’s performance as this scorned woman resigned to living in asylums takes center stage. I’m still not crazy about Vincere but it is Mezzogiorno’s mesmerizing performance that carries this film.

“Vincere” means “to win” which is an ironic title because no one – not Dalser, the Italians, and certainly not Mussolini – wins at the film’s conclusion. Except, maybe, the audience. I see that now.

2010 Cannes Lineup Announced

The 63rd Cannes Film Festival (can I go back yet?) has announced its lineup for the 2010 festival. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is set to open the festival on May 12. Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe and Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger are screening out of competition.

But I am more excited for the In Competition and Un Certain Regard screenings.  Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu, Abbas Kiarostami, Mathieu Almaric, Mike Leigh, Manouel de Oliveira, Jean-Luc Godard and Cristi Puiu all have films screening.

The complete lineup is after the jump:

Continue reading “2010 Cannes Lineup Announced”

Touring La Palais And Festival Preparations

The past few days have been busy.

We’ve been touring Cannes, Cannes la Bocca and La Palais, the actual building where the film festival takes place. Also, we’ve have been sitting in hours (literally hours) of lectures about how to pitch a film, how to navigate the market, how to see films. But when there is free time (like now) it is nice.

Here are pictures of La Palais and the festival preparation, including the unglamorous red carpet.

Tomorrow, I’m going to work in the press office and then I should be able to head over to the red carpet for the premiere of Up. But I’m not completely sure yet. I’m also going to start heading out to different screenings once the festival gets under way tomorrow.

Cannes 2009: I think I just went into cardiac arrest

Here is an alleged line-up for Cannes. I’m assuming that most of or all of these films are competing for the Palme d’or, if they compete at all). I still cannot believe I’m going to Cannes in May!

Broken Embraces (dir. Pedro Almodovar)
Antichrist (Lars Von Trier)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
Bright Star (Jane Campion)
Taking Woodstock (Ang Lee)
The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch)
Forgiveness (Todd Solondz)
A Serious Man (Joel and Ethan Coen)
The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh)
The Informant (Steven Soderbergh)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam)
Ondine (Neil Jordan)
Agora (Alejandro Amenabar)
Looking For Eric (Ken Loach)
White Material (Claire Denis)
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe)
Thirst (Park Chan-wook)
Face (Tsai Ming-liang)
Vengeance (Johnny To)
Nymph (Pen-ek Ratanaruang)
Mother (Bong Joon Ho)

The official line-up is announced in Paris on April 23.

2008 Cannes Lineup Announced

2008_Cannes_Film_Festival_posterThe Juries and Official Selections of the 61st annual Cannes Film Festival have been announced.

Sean Penn will head the Feature Film Jury, which also includes Sergio Castellitto, Natalie Portman,  Alfonso Cuaron, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Alexandra Maria Lara and Rachid Bouchareb.


The 19 films competing for the Palmes D’Or are:

ÜÇ MAYMUN (THREE MONKEYS) – (director Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

LE SILENCE DE LORNA (dir. Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne)

UN CONTE DE NOËL (dir Arnaud Desplechin)

CHANGELING (dir Clint Eastwood)

ADORATION (dir Atom Egoyan)

WALTZ WITH BASHIR (dir Ari Folman)

LA FRONTIÈRE DE L’AUBE (dir Philippe Garrel)

GOMORRA (Gomorrah) (dir Matteo Garrone)

24 CITY (dir Jia Zhangke)

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (dir Charlie Kaufman)

MY MAGIC (dir Eric Khoo)

LA MUJER SIN CABEZA (dir Lucrecia Martel)

SERBIS (dir Brillante Mendoza)

DELTA (dir Kornel Mundruczo)

LINHA DE PASSE (dir Daniela Thomas, Walter Salles)

CHE (dir Steven Soderbergh)

IL DIVO (dir Paolo Sorrentino)

LEONERA (dir Pablo Trapero)


More information on the 2008 Cannes Film Festival here.