This year’s Venice International Film Festival concluded yesterday by giving the Golden Lion to the Venezuelan film Desde Allá (From Afar). Unfortunately I’m not in Venice, but I thought it would be appropriate to squeeze in a review for last year’s Golden Lion winner, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence from Roy Andersson.
God exists. He lives in Brussels with his teenage daughter. And he’s a jerk.
This is the premise of Jaco Van Dormael‘s latest feature: Le Tout Nouveau Testament (The Brand New Testament). The film focuses on Ea, sister of Jesus, or J.C. in this universe. Her father, who happens to be God, is an abusive and pettiful creature, who rules the world through his computer. He shouts at his wife, beats his daughter, and makes up rules for mankind, such as “the other line at the cash register will always move faster.” He’s a prick who enjoys the suffering of his little toys, people. J.C. escaped years ago, and now his sister is ready to step into his footsteps and write her own testament.
About a year and a half ago I saw a play called Na de Repetitie / Persona (After the Rehearsal / Persona), a two parter based on Bergman‘s films. They worked extremely well together, both questioning the relevance of art in everyday life. This wasn’t the first time I saw a theatre adaptation of one of Bergman‘s films. Scènes uit een huwelijk (Scènes from a marriage) is probably the best play I’ve ever seen. Both are directed by Ivo Van Hove (Toneelgroep Amsterdam), who recently won the Olivier Award for directing A view from the bridge at the Young Vic.
Going into a screening of this film, there are a couple of things an audience should know. In 2010 Jafar Panahi, was arrested for making a film against the Iranian regime. Since then he has not been allowed to make films, leave the country or participate in interviews. Taxi, however, is his third film since the ban, and even though it’s filmed entirely within the confined space of a taxi, it shows us the streets of Tehran. We’re out in the open, right under the nose of the Iranian government.
Almost a year after the film premiered at Cannes, today* Clouds of Sils Maria finally gets a limited release in the US. Over the last ten months the film has been gathering a number of accolades, including a César Award for best supporting actress for Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Still Alice).