With two weeks to go there are still multiple opportunities to see Loro (3 stars, MA, 150 minutes), the ambitious new feature from leading Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty, television’s The Young Pope). A journey through the late political years and amoral orbit surrounding mogul turned controversial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the film delves once more into hermetic worlds where the only disruption is deadpan absurdism. An opening disclaimer removes the film from biography, and it’s less an overview that a rumination on character and excess. Berlusconi is at first just “him him”, a distant all-powerful figure a provincial fixer, Sergio Morra (Riccardo Scamarcio), hopes to entice with willing young women. Played with oily charm and billionaire bluster by Sorrentino’s masterful collaborator Toni Servillo, the tycoon is mainly concerned with winning back his distant wife before ego and hubris divert him. The film suggests Berlusconi lives in a world modelled on his populist cable television networks, but the set-pieces – whether a party carnal life cycle or a coruscating domestic argument – never quite reach a substantive whole the way 2008’s Il Divo, Sorrentino’s portrait of a very different Italian Prime Minister in Giulio Andreotti, did.
THE FILMS OF LUCRECIA MARTEL
acmi.net.au. Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Friday, September 27 to Tuesday, October 9
The Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel has made just four feature films since 2001, but each in its own way has been notable in theme, composition, and mood. Anchored by her new work, the becalmed exploration of colonialism’s corruption that is Zama, this collection spotlights the complete quartet of Martel’s movies. The finest remains 2008’s The Headless Woman (4 and a ½ stars, 15+, 87 minutes), a study of inequality and male power in a privileged family told through a dentist and mother, Veronica (Maria Onetto), who comes to believe she may have run over and killed a child. She transmits her distress through passive confusion, and the dynamic around her – with its echoes of Argentina’s history of “disappeared” people – makes full use of Martel’s mastery of deeply framed shots where the centre and periphery convey different narratives. “Those people are different,” says an elderly relative watching an old wedding video, and her words suggest what has happened in this chillingly convivial world.