SHORT TAKE: “Barney’s Version” (***)

Posted by · 7:25 am · September 10th, 2010

Venice Film Festival Too few film reviews open with the wisdom of Feargal Sharkey, so it brings me great pleasure to begin this one by saying that a good heart these days is, indeed, hard to find. That’s the chief conclusion to be taken from not just the narrative but the execution of “Barney’s Version,” […]

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VENICE: ‘Black Venus,’ ’13 Assassins,’ ‘Attenberg,’ ‘A Sad Trumpet Ballad’

Posted by · 10:16 am · September 9th, 2010

On my way to Tom Tykwer’s latest, so no time for an intro. Further rounding up highlights (and lowlights) of the Venice competition lineup: Expectations were appreciably high, and the press screening queue consequently doubled back on itself, for Abdellatif Kechiche’s historical drama “Black Venus” (**1/2) – after all, Kechiche had a hit on the […]

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SHORT TAKE: “The Town” (***)

Posted by · 5:29 am · September 8th, 2010

Venice Film Festival Many actors-turned-directors use their outings behind the camera to express something of themselves that they feel hasn’t been enabled by the filmmakers they’ve worked with thus far: personal passions or preoccupations, social or political responsibilities, alternative thespian workout plans or simply a craven desire for awards they haven’t been able to win […]

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VENICE: ‘Post Mortem,’ ‘Essential Killing,’ ‘Promises Written in Water’

Posted by · 5:18 am · September 7th, 2010

One week into the Venice Film Festival, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m feeling a little worse for wear. (Okay, and more than a little hung over on free Prosecco.) Yesterday didn’t exactly soothe matters, serving up as it did two of the festival’s most mortifying Competition films – one of which, Alex de […]

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OFF THE CARPET: Commence au festival (season)!

Posted by · 2:08 pm · September 6th, 2010

Without question, the film launching full speed ahead and into the Oscar season this week is Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech.” I truly haven’t heard an unkind word about the film all weekend here in Telluride, and I imagine that goodwill will continue into the Toronto fest this week as well. I can easily see […]

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SHORT TAKE: “I’m Still Here” (**1/2)

Posted by · 9:11 am · September 6th, 2010

Venice Film Festival “This is the moment where the fucking good guy wins,” yells an evidently kite-high Joaquin Phoenix at a hapless member of his entourage, midway through his brother-in-law Casey Affleck’s debatable documentary portrait of the star’s much-publicized career meltdown. It’s a little difficult to spot the victory – or, indeed, the good guy […]

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9/6 Oscarweb Round-up

Posted by · 6:34 am · September 6th, 2010

• Jeffrey Wells attempts to sum up the season’s beginnings with his own nuggets of insight regarding Venice and Telluride. [Hollywood Elsewhere] • Kelly Reichardt compares “Meek’s Cutoff” to the Iraq War. [The Hollywood Reporter] • Reports of paramedics assisting folks stricken by the intensity of “127 Hours.” (Though I’ve heard it was just altitude […]

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VENICE: ‘Potiche,’ ‘A Letter to Elia,’ ‘Robinson in Ruins’

Posted by · 10:59 am · September 5th, 2010

Hey, did you miss me yesterday? Don’t answer that. Sorry for the radio silence, but Saturday proved to be both my busiest and most rewarding day at Venice, serving up five films — none of them stinkers, and one of them perhaps my favourite of the fest so far. After capping the day’s viewing with […]

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SHORT TAKE: “Meek’s Cutoff” (****)

Posted by · 1:56 am · September 5th, 2010

Venice Film Festival “But nothing happens,” complained several friends to whom I had (perhaps a little too zealously) recommended Kelly Reichardt’s previous feature “Wendy and Lucy,” her pocket masterpiece about the mental unravelling of a stalled drifter in the great American nowhere. It’s hard to say whether such viewers will be appeased or even further […]

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VENICE: ‘The Sleeping Beauty,’ ‘Silent Souls’

Posted by · 10:44 pm · September 3rd, 2010

Blame Sofia Coppola. Or at least blame Los Angeles. For immediately after the former’s summery, sun-bleached “Somewhere” kicked off this morning’s activity, the Lido clearly decided to rebel against Coppola’s aesthetic and started gathering its clouds. Shortly before noon, the beachfront was a mere blur under a torrential downpour of rain, robust sponsors’ umbrellas blown […]

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OSCAR TALK: Ep. 30 — Reporting from Telluride and Venice

Posted by · 11:41 am · September 3rd, 2010

Welcome to Oscar Talk. In case you’re new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, a one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty […]

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REVIEW: “Somewhere” (***1/2)

Posted by · 6:21 am · September 3rd, 2010

Venice Film Festival Who’d be Sofia Coppola? (As an artist, I mean – I’m sure plenty of women would gladly trade for her beauty, wardrobe and Parisian rock-star husband.) No sooner had her bijou, highly personal breakthrough picture netted her an Oscar, atop countless critical valentines, than an acidic chorus of detractors began chiding her […]

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VENICE: ‘Reign of Assassins,’ ‘Happy Few’

Posted by · 6:34 pm · September 2nd, 2010

“How many films did you see today?” It’s an innocent-sounding question that you nonetheless feel oddly cautious answering at a festival. Did I see too few? Do they think me a lightweight? Should I squeeze in a midnight screening of that Iranian peasant musical I really have no interest in seeing, just to beef up […]

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‘Black Swan’ still the talk of the Lido

Posted by · 10:09 am · September 2nd, 2010

Two days into the Venice Film Festival, and still the only film I consistently hear people talking about is “Black Swan” — even as the film accrues its share of detractors, it seems Venice fest director Marco Müller has broken the traditional curse of festival curtain-raisers, kicking off this year’s Lido activity with a film […]

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SHORT TAKE: “Miral” (**)

Posted by · 5:06 am · September 2nd, 2010

Venice Film Festival Coming as it does from a filmmaker whose previous work has bent over backwards to reclothe and perfume the unglamorous body of the prestige biopic, the opening beats of Julian Schnabel’s latest, “Miral,” couldn’t be more prosaic. For a good few minutes, the credit sequence offers the eye little more than a […]

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VENICE: ‘Norwegian Wood,’ ‘The Black Sheep’

Posted by · 6:26 pm · September 1st, 2010

Hey, did you get that I kinda liked “Black Swan?” I hope you did, because it’s really the only thing to write home (or, indeed, to you) about from my first official day at the Venice Film Festival – a day that looked better on paper than in practice, owing a little each to the […]

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REVIEW: “Black Swan” (****)

Posted by · 6:18 am · September 1st, 2010

Venice Film Festival It’s the juvenilization of the term “fairy tale” that has led many people to associate them inextricably with happy endings. At their most literary, fairy tales can be moral and often very unhappy narratives of yearning, obsession and eventual redemption, even if it comes with rather a large sacrifice attached; Hans Christian […]

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Buon giorno, Venezia

Posted by · 9:54 am · August 31st, 2010

When you step off the plane and the first faces you encounter — not yet out of the baggage claim, even — are those of a friendly, familiar PR team who immediately furnish you with a press release, it’s fair to say that you’re very much at a film festival, even if Venice hasn’t yet […]

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