Venice and the dream nightmare of the 1980s

Are we sure we are in Venice in 2022? Because the Festival is showing us that our imagination is struggling to get out of the ’80s. It seems confirmed today by the arrival of Walter Hill, a master of that decade, who had helped open with the already post-ideological gangs of The Warriors. Not to mention the past films in the competition. Luca Guadagnino’s cannibal lovers are outcast children of the America of Ronald Reagan. Argentina, 1985 evokes from its title the historical-political moment where a country attempted to exorcise its demons. The same decade was immortalized in the shots of the great photographer Nan Goldin, portrayed by Laura Poitras (also) in her battle against the overwhelming power of capitalism that has undoubtedly not loosened its grip on the people since then. Not to mention the opening with Noah Baumbach‘s White Noise, where Don DeLillo’s 1980s seems to be the black comedy of our present, amid a poisoned environment, emergencies, conspiracies, quarantines, and the consumerist parade as a diversion from thinking about impending (individual and collective) death. Maybe this is the point: if today’s cinema (and series) likes so much to revoke the 1980s, it’s not only because most of the directors and screenwriters grew up during that decade. And neither because of the fascination with the cultural products of those years. The truth, probably, is that that era, in some ways, is not yet over. We are still orphans of politically strong thoughts and dominated by neoliberal globalization, hidden in our memories, dreams and nightmares that meanwhile have turned digital. We learned to do it in those years, and the technique has been tuned. But something, for a while now, starts creaking in our golden cage, and Venice is warning us. Athena is the contemporary cry of anger of those left behind, the alarm of a social society that is no longer working. Because we are allowed to dream that history is over, but sooner or later we’ll wake up (and cinema as well). And once out of the time loop, the risk is to live in a future we will not like.

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