In Contention

Why there’s no Gosling “dilemma”

Posted by · 6:40 am · September 13th, 2011

Kris wrote a thorough piece yesterday on the vast number of hard-working actors this year who seem to have two or more dogs in the Oscar hunt — one to which many of you responded with even more names to add to the conversation. In many cases, talk drifted away from serious awards potential and […]

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Wenders on why ‘Pina’ needs 3D

Posted by · 5:22 am · September 13th, 2011

Since seeing the film in February, I’ve been something of a broken record saying that Wim Wenders’s marvellous performance film “Pina” — which has been drawing rave responses at Toronto, and was recently submitted as Germany’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar — single-handedly restates the case for 3D, a technology that any […]

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Tailoring ‘Tailor’

Posted by · 5:56 pm · September 12th, 2011

One craft aspect I didn’t get around to praising in last week’s review of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is the immaculate costuming by Jacqueline Durran — a designer with only 11 feature credits under her belt, yet one who already seems something of an institution. Durran is one of those rare designers capable of equal […]

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Iran’s ‘A Separation’ latest to enter Oscar race

Posted by · 8:15 am · September 12th, 2011

I’d say this was a no-brainer, but one should never underestimate the ability of countries to shoot themselves in the foot when selecting their submissions for the foreign-language Oscar. Happily, Iran has done no such thing, picking Asghar Farhadi’s critically beloved festival sensation “A Separation” as their pony this year. It’s a choice that I […]

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Toronto reception takes ‘360’ back to zero

Posted by · 6:10 am · September 12th, 2011

The warning signs were there for “360.” An umpteenth reworking of “La Ronde” didn’t seem an obvious fit for either Fernando Meirelles or Peter Morgan — a pretty dispassionate writer even on his best form, he came badly unstuck last year when he veered from his fact-based template with “Hereafter.” Meirelles, too, is seeking to […]

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Venice awards make a stand

Posted by · 11:05 am · September 11th, 2011

To judge from the press reaction to yesterday’s Venice Film Festival awards, you could be forgiven for thinking that Michael Fassbender won every single one of them, plus an extra certificate for full attendance. That’d hardly be surprising in any circumstances, given Fassbender’s growing celebrity and the media’s reliable aversion to world cinema. Best Actor […]

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VENICE: Delicious ‘Damsels’ breaks the Closing Night curse

Posted by · 9:57 am · September 10th, 2011

“Oh, Christ, that means it’s going to be shit,” wailed a friend of mine, an ardent devotee of long-dormant American auteur Whit Stillman, when the director’s new film, “Damsels in Distress,” was announced as the Closing Night film of this year’s Venice Film Festival. I consoled him that it needn’t be the case, but only […]

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VENICE: What will win… and what should

Posted by · 2:13 pm · September 9th, 2011

This year’s Competition strand of the Venice Film comprised 23 films — a large-ish number by major festival standards, and yet it still feels remarkably thin. Admittedly, I’m viewing the field with a slight eyepatch on, having only seen 17 of the 23 films. Yet compared to last year’s lineup — where the successes ranged […]

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VENICE: ‘Texas Killing Fields,’ ‘Faust,’ competition stragglers

Posted by · 7:39 am · September 9th, 2011

After a ten-day, 23-film Venice Competition that started slowly but respectably, hit a healthy stride midway through and began wheezing with exhaustion in its closing stages, things have finally ground to a permanent halt with “Texas Killing Fields” (**), the sophomore feature from Ami Canaan Mann — daughter of Michael,  who predictably takes a producer […]

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‘Pina’ among latest entries in foreign Oscar race

Posted by · 1:54 pm · September 8th, 2011

I predicted on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that Wim Wenders’ 3D dance film “Pina” would be selected as Germany’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and that it could well be a surprise shortlist entry if the executive committee gives it a leg up. The first half of that forecast panned […]

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VENICE: ‘Killer Joe,’ ‘The Exchange,’ ‘4:44: Last Day on Earth’

Posted by · 10:11 am · September 8th, 2011

With two days to go until wrap-up, and a host of journalists having defected to Toronto, one can feel the air not-so-slowly hissing out of the Venice balloon. And while this certainly has its upsides — it no longer takes half an hour to get an espresso as the festival café, for example — it’s […]

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London Film Festival unveils Weisz-bookended lineup

Posted by · 2:26 pm · September 7th, 2011

I’m not going to spend too much time on the London Film Festival lineup, which was announced in all its glory this morning — partly because I’m still at Venice and am experiencing disturbing festival double vision, and partly because I’ve already seen a number of its choicest selections. As usual, festival director Sandra Hebron […]

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Beatty, Bonham Carter among 2011 BAFTA LA honorees

Posted by · 1:37 pm · September 7th, 2011

I’ve never been precisely sure what BAFTA Los Angeles is, or what it is that they do — I do know that I’m wary of any group that is chaired by “So You Think You Can Dance” overlord Nigel Lythgoe, but that could be irrational on my part. I do know, however, that have their […]

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REVIEW: “Wuthering Heights” (***1/2)

Posted by · 5:41 am · September 7th, 2011

Venice Film Festival British filmmaker Andrea Arnold would have been 16 years old when Kate Bush topped the UK pop charts with “Wuthering Heights,” a swirling art-rock ballad that stripped the Emily Brontë novel for which it is named down to a few key lines and narrative details, but evoked its grand-scale tragic romance in […]

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REVIEW: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (***1/2)

Posted by · 8:22 am · September 5th, 2011

Venice Film Festival An uncharacteristically dark Venetian downpour greeted this morning’s premiere screening of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and if some flashbulbs of lightning last night hadn’t already previewed the turn in weather, I’d suspect the pervasively, necessarily drab atmospherics of Tomas Alfredson’s artful John le Carré adaptation of bleeding out from the screen and […]

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VENICE: ‘Dark Horse,’ ‘Chicken With Plums,’ ‘Sal’

Posted by · 4:53 am · September 5th, 2011

(Review of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” landing later this morning. Hang tight.) Todd Solondz has forged a loyal friendship with the Venice Film Festival across the second half of his career: all three of his last features have premiered here. Their mutual devotion somewhat surprises me, given that both Solondz screenings I’ve now attended on […]

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‘Turin Horse’ among latest foreign Oscar entries

Posted by · 7:18 am · September 4th, 2011

This news has been hanging around for a few days, but amid the Venice hubbub, I haven’t found a moment to post it until today — though we did address it briefly in Friday’s Oscar Talk. With less than a month to go until the deadline, the pile of official submissions for the Best Foreign […]

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REVIEW: “Shame” (***1/2)

Posted by · 5:36 am · September 4th, 2011

Venice Film Festival If “Hunger,” artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen’s remarkable debut feature, was a study of a body strenuously denied its fundamental needs, his satisfyingly rigorous, explicit follow-up, “Shame,” traces the very different damage done by a body over-gifted with wants. A sternly formalist parable on the pruning and stunting of relationships both familial and carnal […]

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