Friday, March 13, 2020

Art/criticism/truth/crime combine in Giuseppe Capotondi's THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY

You may recall the name Giuseppe Capotondi from the crackerjack mystery, The Double Hour, released in the USA back in 2011. Signore Capotondi is back this year with another (sort-of) mystery entitled THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY, which, though not as extraordinary as his earlier film, still provides a lot of surprise, sophistication and fun -- especially if you enjoy movies about art, including a critique of the approaching-nonsensical criticism often written about it.

The filmmaker, shown at left, could not have cast his new film any better, had he a billion-dollar budget to waste. His quartet of performers does an extraordinary job creating full-bodied characters that alternately amuse, surprise, move and entertain us within the brief time  -- just 98 minutes -- that the movie lasts.

That cast includes the increasingly impressive Claes Bang (shown at left, below, and further below, of the recent Dracula series, as well as another very good film about art, The Square), who plays James Figueras, a relatively famous art critic whom we first meet rehearsing for and soon after giving one of his popular talks about the subject.

Into his audience, made up it appears of mostly and probably wealthy seniors, comes a very pretty young woman, Berenice (Elizabeth Debicki, at right, above and below) who remains after the "show" to spar a bit with the speaker and then ends up in bed with him.

Soon after, the two are on their way to Lake Como to meet with a famous and wealthy art collector named Cassidy, who has set up for the art critic a rare-to-impossible interview with a famous and reclusive artist named Jerome Debney.

Now, the rich collector is played by none other than Mick Jagger (above), and what a delight it is to see him acting on screen once again. You will think, 'Why doesn't he do this more often?!' and follow that with, "Well, of course: He doesn't have to; he's Mick Jagger.'  But, damn, he is good.

As the famous artist, we have no less than Donald Sutherland, giving another of his lately low-key and close to perfect performances, so you see what I mean about this great cast. As for the film's plot, it is one of those What's really going on here -- and why? explorations. Which is just fine until, toward the end, the movie takes quite a turn for the nasty.

This is jarring, to say the least, but it is not, TrustMovies thinks, the deal-breaker you might suspect because everything that happens has, in one sense, been prepared via the themes already opened and explored: art, avarice, power and, yes, the patriarchy.

Mr. Bang does a bang-up job in all respects, whether boning up his audience on art or simply boning his lady friend. He's sexy, charming and edgy -- continuing to take his place as perhaps the most prominent homme fatal of our time. Ms Debicki, lovely as always, is here even more vulnerable than she often is.

The excellent screenplay and dialog by Scott B. Smith (from the novel by Charles Willeford) is smart, subtle and sophisticated. By the finale of this artful little movie, you may find yourself with a lot of very mixed feelings. But you'll have been entertained and maybe knocked for a loop or two.

From Sony Pictures Classics, The Burnt Orange Heresy -- regarding that title, which doubles as the name of one of the artist's works, it is, notes the painter himself, "a bone tossed to the critics. They can wear themselves out chewing on it" -- opened last week in a few cities and will hit many more in the weeks to come. Here in South Florida, it will arrive on Friday, March 20, in Miami at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, and in Palm  Beach county at the Cinemark Boytnon Beach and Cinemark Palace, the  Regal Shadowood, the Living Room Theaters and the Movies of Delray. Wherever you live, click here to learn if the film is (or will be) playing at a theater or two near you.

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