Magazine article Screen International

Let the Smart Season Begin

Magazine article Screen International

Let the Smart Season Begin

Article excerpt

Summer is for inane, mindless spectacle, but autumn and winter - as if the harsher weather demands it - bring on the thinking movies.

The Venice Film Festival started last night with the world premiere of George Clooney's fourth film as a director, The Ides Of March, an elegant portrait of lies, deceit and corrupted ideals in the run up to a Democratic primary in the US. We all know that Clooney is a very clever man, but this film - based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon - acts as a crucible of the issues in today's politics and will get people talking, while wrapped up in an engrossing package of intrigue, mystery and fine acting.

But then, if anyone were to forget, Venice is the start of the serious movie season when a bombardment begins of thoughtful, provocative films featuring moral quandaries and shocking behaviour. It's puzzling how the year has become so divided in the mainstream movie business.

Summer is for inane, mindless spectacle, but autumn and winter - as if the harsher weather demands it - bring on the thinking movies.

The next few days at Venice will see a David Cronenberg movie about Jung and Freud, a Roman Polanski movie about the perils of modern parenting, and a Steve McQueen movie about sex addiction. Politics, sex, parenting, psychoanalysis, it's all about to be unleashed upon us after a summer of movies so banal that we literally haven't had to exercise our brains while watching them.

Well, Clooney isn't about to make any bland concessions for those jelly-brains among us. The dialogue in The Ides Of March is fast and furious; he doesn't hammer home any message but leaves us to draw our own conclusions about who's on screen. Nobody is all good or all bad in the film; if anything, they are all more bad than good. It's a world of ambiguity, where moral choices are not clear cut, where you walk out of the film buzzing with ideas of your own about what you've just seen. …

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