70th Venice Film Festival day two: Wolf Creek 2, The Canyons and Night Moves
The second day of screenings at the Venice Film Festival delivered three upcoming movies: Wolf Creek 2 by Greg McLean (out of competition), The Canyons by Paul Schrader (out of competition) and Night Moves by Kelly Reichardt (in competition).
Wolf Creek 2 by Greg McLean
Set in the Australian outback, the movie follows the adventure of two backpackers who end up being the prey of psychopathic serial killer Mick Taylor, already the villain and main character of Wolf Creek, one of the most successful Australian movies of the last decade.
Like the first film, Wolf Creek 2 presents the landscape as a distinct and powerful character; at first, it seems like paradise, but it can quickly transform into a place of nightmares. Mick and the landscape are one and the characters who cross him, or it, do so at their own risk because, like the awkwardly charming Mick, the outback can turn terrifying in the blink of an eye.
The plot gets a twist when the assassin and the backpackers incidentally encounter British tourist Paul Hammersmith (Ryan Corr) driving on a highway – and this is where the movie claims to be based on true events.
The Canyons by Paul Schrader
What to expect when the writer of Taxi Driver (Paul Schrader), now director, the author of American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis), the most famous porn actor of our generation (James Deen) and the Disney-actress-turned-party-girl Lindsay Lohan team up for a nearly zero-budget thriller movie set in LA?
Well, thriller might not be the most fitting adjective considering the tension is very low – its goofiness actually sparked some laughs during the press screening – and maybe Schrader and Easton Ellis are not at their best, but the movie has its moments of true cinema.
The plot is the classic triangle: Tara (Lohan) lives with Christian (Deen) because he is rich and takes care of her, however she still feels something for her ex-boyfriend Ryan (Nolan Funk), who is still in love with her. Both Tara and Ryan haven’t seen each other in years but suddenly meet again when Ryan’s girlfriend, Gina, proposes him for the lead character of a Z movie produced by Christian.
James Deen delivers a surprisingly good vanilla performance – there are also a couple of adult moments in which he can express himself – and there are several long shots that raise the technical quality of the picture.
Night Moves by Kelly Reichardt
Night Moves is an eco-thriller telling the story of three young radical environmentalists coming together to execute the most intense protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam that in their eyes represents the wastefulness of modern society.
The picture doesn’t explore the background and reasons of each of the three lead characters; it focuses on their state of mind during the preparation, execution and aftermath of the attack. Their initial certainties slowly crumble when something goes wrong and the trust binding them begins to fall apart.
Jesse Eisenberg (Josh), Dakota Fanning (Dena) and Peter Sarsgaard (Harmon) are the perfect actors to depict these three young eco-terrorists who are driven to act without a full understanding of the consequences of what they are doing. Their introversion and the sense of rebellion that keep their dream alive turns out to be without solid grounds.
Another good movie from indie cult icon Kelly Reichardt, whose talent when it comes to representing the insecurities and indecisiveness of people is unique.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
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