Films Shine on Venetian Silver Screens

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Dunia Sarkis, Staff Columnist

Venice shines in the August sun. The lagoon is a bright blue-green, and the clouds look as if they were painted onto the light blue sky. The bridges and buildings seem frozen in time. I’m dripping with sweat, but that doesn’t matter; I’m in Venice! The vaporetto pulls into the Lido, and I carefully make my way to the Palazzo del Cinema for the first time in two years.

Welcome back to another edition of “Are You Still Watching?” We are taking a break from our regular programming to make our way to the silver screen.

This summer, I attended the Venice Film Festival. As you may imagine, I was absolutely over the moon about this, and I jumped at the chance to do some “reporting” (excitedly jotting down notes after every screening) on some of the films and series. Most of these films have since been officially released (or have release dates in the near future), and I am here to share my thoughts on some of the ones I attended and whether they are worth watching.

In total, I watched seven films and series: “Between Miracles,” “Les Promesses,” “Madres Paralelas,” “The Lost Daughter,” “Dune,” “Scenes From a Marriage,” and “Costa Brava.”

I had few expectations going into my first movie, “Between Miracles,” a restored Italian film from the 70s that my parents dragged me to. My father loves old Italian films, so I indulged and went. But I was very pleasantly surprised by how great this movie was.

It follows a boy, Benedetto, into adulthood, but he never really matures emotionally. He remains incredibly childish and is unable to find a stable career. Despite his inability to support himself, he continues to be a subject of miracles throughout his life.

I found the film incredibly funny (the scene after his communion made me laugh so loud that I got weird looks from people around me) and beautiful, in both its message and its visuals. If following subtitles doesn’t bother you (or if you speak Italian—lucky you!), I can’t recommend this movie enough.

After watching “The Lost Daughter,” directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, I spent a couple of hours trying to gather my thoughts and piece together what had just happened. These are my favorite kinds of films: ones I can spend hours digesting, discussing, and dissecting.

No matter how hard I try, I don’t believe I can give an effective synopsis of this film that conveys its true energy, but this is the best I can do: Leda, played by Olivia Colman, is an academic spending her vacation on a beach in Italy. Her interactions with the other guests at the hotel bring to light events from her past, and we get a glimpse into her experience as a mother.

The film exudes the intense feeling of growing anxiety; every little, odd moment feels like a build- up to something bigger. I was on edge the whole movie, prepared for the worst. Though it almost felt unfinished by the end, once I had time to think it through, I understood the message and hope you will, too. As high school students, we certainly don’t need more anxiety in our lives, but I found this film captivating and definitely worth the watch.

The movie I anticipated watching the most this summer, “Dune,” directed by Denis Villeneuve, did not disappoint. I have not read the book and, on occasion, got a little bit lost in the plot, but I was still incredibly entertained the whole way through.

I am not the most qualified to be reviewing this movie, as I am not typically a huge fan of sci-fi, but the whole experience of this film blew me away. The visuals and special effects are so impressive and larger-than-life that it’s overwhelming. The music boosted the conflict without drawing too much attention to itself, which is exactly the right balance for a film. Seeing “Dune” in theaters, if possible, would be the ideal way to view this film; it would not have the same effect or magnitude on a smaller screen.

One disappointing aspect was the fabulously talented Zendaya, who is advertised as being one of the main characters, only appearing in a small role. Hopefully, she’ll make a more prominent return in the sequels.

I’m so thankful I was able to see such great movies, and I hope you’ll consider checking them. Always feel free to start a conversation with me about any film or series; I’m more than happy to talk your ear off about my opinions and hear more about yours.

Now, back to the show(s)!