LA CHIMERA – Review by Diane Carson

Italian director Alice Rohrwacher avoids cinematic clichés, forging a unique blend of complex characters in unusual circumstances and settings. She’s true to form in her latest film, La Chimera, Rohrwacher’s critical assessment of a band of tombaroli, grave robbers in an eccentric 1980s Tuscan community. The foreigner Arthur and his Italian colleagues propel the narrative with unanticipated twists and turns. Pushing us out of a relaxed comfort zone, Rohrwacher includes characters’ direct-address to the camera, singers and dancers presenting alternative perspectives, and magical realism interwoven with Italy’s signature cinematic neo-realism.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 29, 2024: LA CHIMERA

Love and contentment are as elusive as an undisturbed Etruscan tomb in Alice Rohrwacher’s piquant dramedy La Chimera. As it tells the story of a merry group of Italian grave robbers — known as tombaroli — and the inscrutable Englishman who leads them to the caches of objects they happily sell to the highest bidder, the film examines the allure of pursuing something that always seems just beyond your grasp.

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SPACEMAN – Review by Susan Granger

Adapted by Colby Day from Jaroslav Kalfar’s 2017 novel Spaceman of Bohemia, Spaceman is unevenly directed by Sweden’s Johan Renck, who never quite decides whether this is a melancholy marital relationship drama, an existential meditation on loneliness, or cosmic conjecture about the ability of a human to remaining sane while in claustrophobic solitude. Spaceman is ambiguous and inconsequential.

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LA CHIMERA (TIFF 2023) – Review by Rachel West

Move over, Indiana Jones, there’s a new tomb-raiding archaeologist in town in Alice Rohrwacher’s madcap Italian tragi-comedy, La Chimera. Rohrwacher imbues the film with her unique style that feels loose and luxurious. Like the mythical chimera composed of incongruous body parts, the film is a gorgeous blend of style and substance. The story clips along with fast-motion sequences and silent film techniques which paint a truly original picture. Director of Photography Hélène Louvart plays with visuals and aspect ratios using 35mm, 16mm and Super 16 while editor Nelly Quettier brings further oddball energy to the the screen with jump cuts against a soundtrack of infectious Italian rock, folk, and electro-pop.

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LA CHIMERA (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Alice Rohrwacher is back, and the filmmaker who brought us The Wonders (2014) and Happy as Lazzaro (2018) returns with the highly anticipated Palme d’Or nominated (and Palme Dog winning) La Chimera. A generic melange of sped-up slapstick, heist film and romantic fantasy, the film stars Josh O’Connor as Arthur, an archaeologist turned graverobber who returns to the rural Italian home of his lost love Beniamina (Yile Tara Vianello) where he reconnects with her eccentric mother Flora (Isabella Rossellini) and his old tombaroli crew who entice him back into the business of raiding tombs to pilfer Etruscan antiquities. Through Flora he meets the quirky Italia (Carol Duarte), with whom he develops an unexpected connection.

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MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON – Review by Diane Carson

Even before Marcel the Shell became a star in his own film, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, he had gained numerous fans with his 2010 YouTube video and popular books. This probably surprised him the most since this hermit shell stands a mere one inch tall and is invariably humble, but sometimes a very unusual idea works surprisingly well.

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HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL – Review by Diane Carson

Director Gero von Boehm’s fawning documentary delivers an uncritical profile of the unconventional photographer Helmet Newton, who often stunned portrait and fashion circles with his women, nude, posed defiantly and seductively. For Newton, two dirty words in photography are “art” and “good taste.” He is, he proudly asserts, a professional voyeur.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 30, 2019: VITA & VIRGINIA

The real-life romance between writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West takes center stage in Chanya Button’s provocative period drama Vita & Virginia. Exploring sexuality and passion, desire and connection, the film features strong performances by Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki, and a script by Eileen Atkins that effectively incorporates the two literary legends’ own words.

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VITA & VIRGINIA – Review by Cate Marquis

Vita & Virginia is a gorgeously-appointed historical drama based on the facts of the romantic affair between literary giant Virginia Woolf and fellow writer Vita Sackville-West. The drama is directed by Chanya Button, who co-wrote the screenplay with renowned British actor Eileen Atkins, who used the letters between Woolf and Sackville-West as the basis for the stage play on which the film is based. Filled with stunning 1920s costumes and wonderfully lush sets, the film’s visual beauty seems aimed to seduce us, as much as the lively, aristocratic Vita sets out seduce the aloof, intellectual Virginia Woolf.

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VITA & VIRGINIA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

A movie about the legendary literary lesbian romance that directly inspired the creation of one of the great works of fiction, starring the absolutely incendiary duo of Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki? It’s criminal that Vita & Virginia is this dull. This blah. This, somehow, stodgy. There’s no passion to be found here: not sexual, not intellectual. How does this happen?

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