Monday, September 3, 2012

69th Venice Film Festival: Report

The 69th Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia better known as the Venice International Film Festival opened this past Wednesday so it's time to catch up with the strong line-up of some of the year's most anticipated titles.

The festival runs until September 9, and as always, you can find the latest info and developments right here.

  • Day 1 - Wednesday, August 29
  • Opening Film - Out of Competition
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist
    directed by Mira Nair
    India India, Pakistan Pakistan
    "Mira Nair's latest immigrant saga saddles itself with a laborious narrative structure and half-baked thriller elements in a misguided attempt to open up what should be an intimate, introspective story." - Justin Chang (Variety)
    "A commendably argumentative but airlessly diagrammatic plea for parity in the still-ragged post-9/11 dialogue between Islam and the West." - Guy Lodge (In Contention)
    "Absorbing and intriguing, but in the end the film never finds the right pacing or structure to satisfy the dramatic arcs." - Mark Adams (Screen Daily)
    Lydia Dean Pilcher, Mohsin Hamid, Kate Hudson, Riz Ahmed, Mira Nair, Liev Schreiber
  • Day 2 - Thursday, August 30
  • Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    Betrayal (Izmena)
    directed by Kirill Serebrennikov
    Russia Russia
    "Features a standout performance by German actress Franziska Petri as a cheated and eventually cheating wife whose surface poise is riven by forces of passion she can barely control." - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    "Strong performances and stylish direction are undermined by some seriously credibility-stretching plot developments in this overwrought, overlong Russian tale of adulterous passions." - Neil Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Anchored by incandescent perfs from German thesp Franziska Petri and Macedonian actor Dejan Lilic, both dubbed seamlessly into Russian, the film becomes more entrancing as it goes along. - Leslie Felperin (Variety)
    Oleg Lukichev, Sabina Eremeeva, Albina Dzhanabaeva, Kirill Serebrennikov, Franziska Petri, Dejan Lilic
    Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    directed by Xavier Giannoli
    France France, Belgium Belgium
    "This well-made, finely acted French comedy, which rolls on oiled tracks for its first 45 minutes of madness, is actually more curious than funny and never spreads its wings beyond its initial premise." Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "It’s a potentially powerful, pertinent premise but the story inevitably deflates somewhat after the first hour or so." - Lisa Nesselson (Screen Daily)
    "With its cipher protag, it's impossible to buy into the premise emotionally, making the pic play like a bloated 112-minute reality show with superior production values." - Boyd Van Hoeij (Variety)
    Cecile De France, Kad Merad
  • Day 3 - Friday, August 31
  • Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    Paradise: Faith (Paradies: Glaube)
    directed by Ulrich Seidl
    Austria Austria, France France, Germany Germany
    "Depending how you look at it, there’s a pitch-black comedy buried in here or a redeeming shred of empathy at the tail end of two grueling hours. Either way, it’s strictly for the faithful." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "The film was mostly a very pleasant surprise, and one that contains some of the most memorable moments of film we’ve seen this year." - Oliver Lyttelton (The Playlist)
    "There is something unethical about the laughter evoked by Faith, and one perhaps can't help but think there is something essentially disingenuous about the entire Paradise project." - John Bleasdale (Cine-Vue)
    Maria Hofstatter, Ulrich Seidl
    Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    At Any Price
    directed by Ramin Bahrani
    "Certainly one of the most impressive reactions to the recent economic crisis that cinema has produced so far" - Oliver Lyttleton (The Playlist)
    "May be the most "mainstream" film Bahrani has made yet, but I think it's a huge step forward in his career, it shows how much he continues to mature each project." - Alex Billington (FirstShowing)
    "The unapologetic, occasionally ungainly symmetry of such plotting should make it clear that Bahrani is working in a very different register here to the delicately observational indie miniatures on which he built his reputation." - Guy Lodge (In Contention)
    Hallie Elizableth Newton, Ramin Bahrani, Zac Efron, Maika Monroe
  • Day 4 - Saturday, September 1
  • Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    It Was the Son (È stato il figlio)
    directed by Daniele Ciprí
    Italy Italy
    "although the film’s faintly surreal depiction of the Mediterranean island’s freaks and foibles is entertaining enough, it fails to gel into a satisfying story." - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    "This cruel satire on the Italian South certainly has curiosity value, but it ends up feeling too flat and bleak to make a serious splash at the boxoffice after its Venice and Toronto bows." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Alfredo Castro, Fabrizio Falso, Toni Servillo, Daniele Cipri
    Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    The Master
    directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
    "After one viewing, The Master already feels like a landmark American movie. It makes words like ‘bold’ and ‘extraordinary’ seem utterly inadequate." - Robbie Collin (The Telegraph)
    "The film rather meanders to its conclusion rather than ending on a satisfying dramatic high. But take nothing away from The Master – it is a strikingly well made film that pulls no creative punches." - Mark Adams (Screen Daily)
    "In a film overflowing with qualities but also brimming with puzzlements, two things stand out: the extraordinary command of cinematic technique, and the tremendous portrayals by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman." - Todd McCarthy (The Master)
    "The writer-director's typically eccentric sixth feature is a sustained immersion in a series of hypnotic moods and longueurs, an imposing picture that thrillingly and sometimes maddeningly refuses to conform to expectations." - Justin Chang (Variety)
    "a visual triumph, crammed with magnificent, painterly imagery and electricity-charged scenes that will linger long in the memory" - Matt Mueller (Thompson on Hollywood)
    "Neither a masterpiece nor, exactly, a Hubbard exposé. It’s an overlong study of a drifter in postwar America who joins the retinue of a charismatic spieler with similarities to Hubbard, and to other high-octane peddlers of the good life." - Richard Corliss (Time)
    Daniel Lupi, JoAnne Sellar, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Day 5 - Sunday, September 2
  • Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    Fill The Void (Lemale et ha'chalal)
    directed by Rama Burshtein
    Israel Israel
    "There's so much skill on display that auds disinclined to look kindly on pics presenting marriage as a woman's ultimate goal will struggle to find technical faults." - Jay Weissberg (Variety)
    "Burshtein conveys everything she needs with the utmost love, care and attention, helped by a well-chosen cast, intelligent use of camera and a meticulous choice of sets and costumes." - Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)
    "Not just a charming and accomplished first film, Fill the Void qualifies as one of Venice’s most exotic competition entries." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Rama Burshtein, Irit Sheleg
    Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    To The Wonder
    directed by Terrence Malick
    "It’s a certainty that the film will prove divisive as its predecessor, but we found the director’s latest to be a beautiful, hearfelt and raw piece of work." - Oliver Lyttleton (The Playlist)
    "Played like a slighter (and more repetitive) version of "The Tree Of Life" in most respects, its flowing, exquisite imagery and elegant soundscape certainly pleasing to the eye and ear but the moves and motives of its sketchy characters failing to offer enough substance to nourish the spirit." - Matt Mueller (Thompson on Hollywood)
    "The pictures are pretty, the music is pretty, the existential voice-overs are pretty: but after almost two hours of wistful, message-larded prettiness, Malick’s latest visual symphonic poem has us squirming in our seats." - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    "Many are already saying that To the Wonder is just a patchwork of leftovers from The Tree of Life, and that’s harsh, even despite the end-credits confirmation that footage from Malick’s previous film has in fact been used." - Tommaso Tocci (Press Play)
    "It's perhaps Malick's simplest, most relatable evocation yet of paradise lost, and if the helmer can be accused of idealizing his subject, he's rendered it with a strong sense of emotional stakes." - Justin Chang (Variety)
    "However accomplished Malick’s technique might be in some ways, this mostly comes off, especially in the laborious second hour, as visual doodling without focused thematic goals." - Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Nicolas Gonda, Olgo Kurylenko, Romina Mondello, Sarah Green
  • Day 6 - Monday, September 3
  • Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    Outrage Beyond (アウトレイジ ビヨンド)
    directed by Takeshi Kitano
    Japan Japan
    "for fans and admirers, Outrage Beyond is a worthy late addition to the canon and a hell of a lot of fun." - John Bleasdale (Cine-Vue)
    "If this initially over-talky film with its reams of intricate exposition takes a while to lift off, it does at last launch the full sushi boat thanks to its entertaining mesh of inventive violence, black humour and an appealingly unglamorous view of Japanese underworld" - Lee Marshall (Screen Daily)
    "It’s too convoluted and slow in cohering to break beyond a small niche internationally, but Kitano cultists will eat it up." - David Rooney (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "The Japanese action aesthete plays it cool and smooth in a picture that exerts a steadily tightening grip, though not until after a first hour of near-impenetrable gangster gab that may leave the uninitiated feeling stranded." - Justin Chang (Variety)
    Takeshi Kitano
    Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    Something in the Air (Après Mai)
    directed by Olivier Assayas
    France France
    "Assayas's film will put many in mind of Bertolucci's "The Dreamers," compared to which it's both springier and less insipid." - Guy Lodge (In Contention)
    "It looks great, it sounds great, it’ll inspire a hundred magazine photo-shoots, and it’s got plenty of substance. But we had our fingers crossed for the picture to be Assayas’ crowning achievement, but it seems we’ll have to wait a little longer." - Oliver Lyttleton (The Playlist)
    "Assayas’ film manages to put together a faithful, and no doubt well documented portrait of turbulence and chaos, out of which something entirely new was supposed, but never did, emerge." - Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)
    Mathias Renou, Hugo Conzelmann, India Salvor Menuez, Carole Combes, Oliver Assayas, Felix Armand, Lola Creton, Clement Metayer
  • Day 7 - Tuesday, September 4
  • Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    directed by Kim Ki-duk
    South Korea South Korea
    "Often weird and freakish, as you would expect a Kim Ki-duk film to be, this gruesome tale about a vile moneylender’s enforcer and a woman who enters his life claiming to be his mother, may well scare off average Western audiences, but festivals and art houses will take it to their heart" - Dan Fainaru (Screen Daily)
    "Tidy, ultimately moving thriller offers up the director's vintage blend of cruelty, wit and moral complexity." - Leslie Felperin (Variety)
    "Kim Ki-duk is back in fighting form in Pieta, an intense and, for the first hour, sickeningly violent film that unexpectedly segues into a moving psychological study." - Deborah Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Kim Ki-duk, Cho Min-soo, Lee Jung-jin
    Venezia 69 - Competition Film
    Lines of Wellington (Linhas de Wellington)
    directed by Valeria Sarmiento
    Portugal Portugal, France France
    "A sprawlingly wide canvas of historical war is painted in old-fashioned but engagingly functional style." - Neil Young (The Hollywood Reporter)
    "In stuffing the ranks with former Ruiz collaborators, Sarmiento sometimes risks spinning the film into a memorial special; an overstuffed revue show, pulling in too many directions. For all that, she delivers the tale with a gusto that would have made Ruiz proud." - Xan Brooks (The Guardian)
    Soraia Chaves, Victoria Guerra, Marisa Paredes, Elsa Zylberstein, Valeria Sarmiento, Joana de Verona


365 moviesandsongs365 said...

Aside from The Master and Fill the void, a shame most of these review cuttings are lukewarm. Thanks for putting this post together, BT.

d_4 said...

Yeah it's sad it sounds so disappointing. I was hoping for more quality, but hopefully they're just being really hard on some of these?

Steven Flores said...

I was a bit surprised by the reaction towards To the Wonder although I wouldn't really take the Venice audience that seriously. They did cheer for such bad movies like Bobby and Crazy in Alabama. Plus, I think people were just baffled at what they saw.

I was disappointed by the reaction towards Mira Nair's new movie but then again, Kate Hudson is in it and she's a terrible actress. There's still a bunch of films I want to see there like To the Wonder, The Master, At Any Price, and Fill the Void.

Scott Lawlor said...

Oh man this is all making me very excited for LFF!!

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