Thursday, July 28, 2011

Venice stacks favorites big and small

Toronto is a massive canvas, but you do suffer sensory overload with all those films playing against one another. I prefer the smaller and more tightly knit atmosphere around Cannes and Venice, because it just seems so much more homely. Festivals are best suited to beautiful cities, and Venice is putting together what seems like a perfect list of competitors. Of course there will be quite a few that don't stack up, and I'm getting ready for that bitter sting of disappointment. Many are making their sophomore attempts, which is usually when the one hit wonders are cut apart from rest.

Of course there's the debut film of the festival, George Clooney's The Ides of March, but that trailer seems a bit too clean for a tale of hubris. It looks like the sort of sophisticated film that will get Academy attention more than most. I'm obviously not looking for the films that will play better with the Academy. I'm looking for quality, and it's better found in other places. Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has been gaining interest over the past month, and it still looks pretty intense and visually dynamic like Alfredson's last film. Maybe not a huge awards play, but definitely one I'm willing to follow.

David Cronenberg is playing most of the major festivals with A Dangerous Method, and I'm still worried that it's playing things a little too safely. I'm much more excited to see Fassbender in Shame, Steve McQueen's followup to Hunger. I've already expressed trepidation, but that about equals my excitement. Roman Polanski is pushing Carnage after a major resurgence with The Ghost Writer, and the film might play surprisingly well, but I use the word surprisingly for a reason. There's also the out of competition films playing towards the main stream, including Contagion and W.E., Madonna's latest feature.

I'm most interested by the small name directors, like the previously mentioned Steve McQueen, but also Andrea Arnold, who really impressed me with Fish Tank. She now has Wuthering Heights, which could establish her as a person to watch, or not. What also escaped me was that Yorgos Lanthimos and Marjane Satrapi, of Dogtooth and Persepolis fame respectively, are both making big returns. Lanthimos has Alps, and Satrapi has Chicken with Plums. Here's hoping they manage to capture once again what made their first films so great. So if there's anything important I'm brushing over, which there probably is, please let me know in the comments.

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