At this point, I think I’m meant to bemoan the notion of a virtual festival and mourn the loss of the community movie experience that just can’t be replicated by watching the movies at home in your playroom. I miss all of this in theory too, but in practice I have found it very easy to do without it. Thanks in large part to a crippling fear of travel, there is no way I would attend this festival in a typical year with a normal physical event; having the chance to experience it, even in a virtual edition, was undeniably a great pleasure for me. The even greater thrill was the fact that, despite all the obstacles and complications, the lineup of films on display was very solid. At least a few titles may well end up at the top of my list of the best movies of 2021.
This year the festival’s top prize, the Golden Bear, went to “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porno”, a Romanian entry by Radu Jude as wild and scandalous as its title. The film opens with a few minutes of a homemade sex tape starring Emi (Katia Pascariu) and her husband indulging in some reasonably kinky fun. Sadly, Emi is a schoolteacher and when the tape somehow goes online, she is called to a parent court to decide whether she should be fired. Jude divides her film into three distinct sections: In the first, we observe Emi from afar as she walks around Bucharest trying to prepare for the big reunion as strange and sometimes violent behavior unfolds around her. The second section is an essay filmmaking exercise in which Jude presents a sardonic overview of Romanian history via “a short dictionary of anecdotes, signs and wonders” which underscores a pervasive sense of moral hypocrisy in the country. The final segment features Emi being toasted by the sneering, salacious parents and her thornless supervisor – everyone sitting outside and masked (apparently in accordance with COVID regulations but adding an extra edge to the proceedings) – and trying to defend herself to a point. finale that I can’t even begin to describe except to suggest that John Waters might have even rubbed his eyes in sheer disbelief. Admittedly, the movie is jagged at times, and some viewers may find their patience strained during the long midsection (which, while it’s fun and makes a number of highlights, perhaps takes a bit too long for its). own good). However, the things that work – including the big jokes, a wonderful central performance by Pascariu, and the convincing blend of wit and anger shown by Jude throughout, especially in the brilliant final section – are worth it. be viewed. It will surely be one of the most talked about films on this year’s festival circuit.
This central part will undoubtedly remind some viewers of the work of Jean-Luc Godard and indeed, the ever-powerful specter of the French New Wave could be felt in many of this year’s films, for better or for worse. At the last end of this ladder is “The world after us” a tedious entry by Louda Ben Salah-Cazanas about a potential writer (Aurelien Gabrielli) who gets a contract to write his first novel, but is so busy wooing his new girlfriend (Louise Chevillotte) and scams to pay for it apartment he rented on impulse so they could actually do any work. “What do we see when we look at the sky?” is a Rivette-style maxi-cinema exercise by Georgian Alexandre Koberidze that begins as a romantic comedy with a classic, cute opening as the two lovers meet on the street and are so instantly stunned they make a date without even swap names. Alas, they end up suffering from a curse in which the two wake up the next morning looking completely different and unable to find each other. As they go about their business, gradually approaching each other without even realizing it, Koberidze gives us a full idea of the surrounding community, especially their local devotion to the upcoming Cup. world. While the film has its undeniable charms, the 150-minute runtime ultimately turns out to be too good a thing, even though the number of raves it has received elsewhere makes me think it could improve on when it comes down to it. ‘a second viewing.