Venice 2021: the sixties nightmare of Edgar Wright and the flight of Led Zeppelin

At the Mostra, the sixties are revived in two exciting films, Last Night in Soho and Becoming Led Zeppelin.

Will we one day be done with the sixties? This is the question that Edgar Wright asks in Last Night in Soho, his fantastic thriller presented out of competition in Venice: a wrinkled exhilarating, which questions the power of fascination of a cultural obsession dating back more than half a century. In order not to spoil anyone’s pleasure, of course not much of the plot will be revealed here – Wright having expressly asked festival-goers, as it is now, not to spoil his film. Let us just remember the premises: a young Englishwoman who dreams of becoming fashion designer, Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), arrives from her native London countryside, in the frenetic district of Soho. Eloise is a naive, innocent girl, not at all of her time, who spends her time listening to the Kinks and fantasizing about Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe in Breakast at Tiffany’s. She also has the particularity of communicating with her mother who died when she was little and will find herself propelled, via a kind of psychic time tunnel, in London. mid-sixties, where she will then evolve in the guise of an apprentice singer named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy, still extra-terrestrial). But this pretty unreal cocoon will turn out to be more worrying than expected …

Death of Diana Rigg: Edgar Wright pays tribute to the actress of Last Night In Soho

Edgar Wright tackles this fantastical world full of references (from giallo to No spring for Marnie Passing by Repulsion), he invited in supporting roles venerable legends of Swinging London, Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg (whose last role is, and to whom the film is dedicated) but has, as in Baby Driver, this astounding ability to fully embrace the freshness and innocence of its protagonists and to create a juvenile, childish cinema, which is never satisfied with being a simple citation mille-feuille.

Wright has a story to tell, and he’s telling it. Last Night in Soho will therefore be a real ghost train ride, with suspense, euphoric musical swerves, chills, visions, full of emotions and, on arrival, stashed at the bottom of the packet of popcorn, a rather radical questioning on the dark side of the sixties, their violence, their horror, their corpses in the closet. Incidentally, it is the deadly dimension of our passion for the myth of the sixties (and the reactionary part of retro-mania in general) that Wright questions, in a double movement of fascination and repulsion. It’s a film with dark ideas made up of delicious colored candy. Once upon a time… in Soho, sort of.

Becoming Led Zeppelin
Dick Barnatt / Getty

Symbolically buried by Edgar Wright, the sixties are gloriously resuscitated in Becoming Led Zeppelin, exciting documentary (presented out of competition) which tells, as its name suggests, the formation of Led Zeppelin during the sixties, from the meticulous constitution of the group by the conductor Jimmy Page to its launching in orbit, in 1969, thanks to the release of his first two albums. He is a model of the rockumentary genre, for the simple reason that its director Bernard MacMahon has only one thing in mind: music. Make it heard and make it understood. The film tells very precisely the “vision” that Page had had and which would propel rock in a new era. The three survivors of the group testify (John Bonham, the drummer who died in 1980, intervenes off), they are of a class and a crazy intelligence, but it is especially the use of the archives, precise, meticulous, which hit. The first hour and a half of this long film (2h17) takes the time to recreate the cultural and musical context that allowed Led Zeppelin to take flight. A detailed, captivating introduction that brings the entire English music scene of the sixties to life (Page and bassist John Paul Jones were renowned studio musicians and performed for almost every big star of the time) and takes on its true meaning sense when, suddenly, the music of Led Zep resounds, explodes and that the film then manages to make us feel the stupor which seizes the world listening to this bewildering surge of sonic fury. We know this music by heart but we had rarely heard it as well as in that film.

Last Night in Soho, by Edgar Wright, in theaters October 27.
Becoming Led Zeppelin, by Bernard MacMahon, soon.
Trailer of Last Night in Soho :

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