Film Reviews by Adam Ray Palmer – Venezia76 Special

It’s that time of year once again, for the third year running… it’s my Venezia76 special. The 2019 edition of the Italian film festival boasted a stellar programme, with many of the features being critically acclaimed across the board. I’m following suit with the praise as all three of the movies I critique in this column received maximum marks from Cineroom. So, without further ado, let’s get into it…
Ad Astra
A space epic with huge daddy issues. James Gray’s latest big screen offering stars the charismatic machine Brad Pitt as a steely astronaut, facing an enormous intergalactic task to help save mankind. All this hullabaloo is down to his father (Tommy Lee Jones), say the big wigs at the top of tree, and so Major Roy McBride (Pitt) must travel to Neptune to try and stop the mighty power surges that are attacking the solar system, risking demolition to everything in it. Now this may sound absolutely barmy, and you’d be right – but it’s one helluva mighty ride. It’s poignant with tremendous visual effects and a lingering score. A must-see in a cinema.
In cinemas: 18th September 2019
Marriage Story
Netflix were back at the Venice Film Festival with this year’s Roma. Last year they campaigned heavily for Alfonso Cuaron’s flick to go on for Oscar glory, and the same can be said in 2019 with Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. The duo play husband and wife going through a gut-wrenching, bicoastal divorce. Noah has gone from strength to strength with his movies, and this is his most accomplished yet. It’s simply majestic, topped off with Academy Award-baiting performances from the two leads. Johansson is simply sensational, and you’d be mad to bet against her being a front runner in the ‘Best Actress’ category. Netflix are doing bits!
In cinemas: 6th December 2019
Joker
I know what you’re going to say, another Joker film, already?! Well, this one is worth your time. You’d be right in thinking that this is the third different actor to play the ‘Clown of Crime’ in a decade. We had the unrivalled Heath Ledger, the forgettable Jared Leto and now we have one of the best actors working today, Joaquin Phoenix, donning the painted smile. Heath paved the way for a masterful cinema character, and now Phoenix has certainly cemented the villain as one of the greatest baddies of all time. Joker movie is a standalone origin story not seen before on the big screen, it’s a gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, a man disregarded by society, and out for revenge. The movie is disturbing, haunting and affecting – especially with the flawless cinematography and a powerful score. Whilst it is certainly troubling, it’s also an absolute masterpiece. It’s an interesting time to be releasing this film, especially with society as its most fragile. Todd Phillips’ message is clear: Arthur Fleck doesn’t start living until he is dead inside…
In cinemas: 4th October 2019
From the Lido island…
A couple of highlights for me this year was meeting Kristen Stewart once again, five years after our first interview – she is a delight. Also had the pleasure of meeting the cinema legend, Spike Lee this year at the world premiere of American Skin – he is one cool chap.
The biggest achievement this year is getting on the Joker movie’s trailer and TV spot – such a high. An enormous movie and a proud moment. Look out for Cineroom’s star rating on them!
Overall, this festival is by far the best on the planet and delivers on every front. The films, the hospitality and of course the beautiful country and weather. If you’re yet to visit Venice, book yourself a ticket.
Here’s a few of the best pictures from the festival…