This year’s festival (the 70th) features a couple of big name productions you’ve likely already heard about right here at Pajiba (Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem, starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and The Swinton (first images include the header and these):
and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity starring Clooney and Bullock), and perhaps a couple you haven’t: Ki-duk Kim’s Moebius (Has anyone seen Pieta, because I’m a little frightened?)—which has been banned in the director’s home country because of scenes containing incest and self-castration—and Xavier Dolan’s Tom at the Farm. Here are a few standouts from the impressive list; in total Venice will host screenings of 53 new films from 33 countries. Additionally, to celebrate it’s 70th year, Biennale di Venezia has invited 70 filmmakers (who have participated at the festival at least once) to make a 60 to 90 second film; participating directors will be revealed daily at the Biennale website.
1. Child of God
Directed by (and starring) James Franco (My Own Private River, As I Lay Dying, also starring Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson and Jim Parrack. Adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s ultra dark and depressing novel about Lester (Haze), a loner who holes himself up in the mountains of Tennessee. Without going into too much detail, suffice to say Lester is violent and depraved—the book made me feel sick and a little dirty. Kudos to Franco for his perfect Lester casting.
Directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil, We Don’t Live Here Anymore), starring Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver and Emma Booth. Based on Robyn Davidson’s award-winning memoirs of her journey (with four camels and her dog) from Alice Springs, Australia through the desert to the Indian Ocean. Photographer Rick Smolan (Driver) met up with Davidson (Wasikowska) a few times during her nine-months of travel to take pictures; the two had an intermittent relationship. Tracks was filmed in Southern Australia and the Northern Territory.
Here’s the real Rick Smolan speaking about how he met Robyn Davidson and got involved in her journey:
3. Under the Skin
Directed by Jonathan Glazer (Birth), starring Scarlett Johansson, Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Paul Brannigan. Scarjo as an alien in human form, travels across Scottland to gather people for [redacted]… Based on the Michael Faber novel.
Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity), starring Judi Dench, Steve Coogan and Sophie Kennedy Clark. Based on a true story of an unmarried Irish woman whose newborn son was taken away by Catholic nuns and sold to an American couple. After decades of searching, a chance encounter provides Philomena (Dench) help with her search.
5. Night Moves
Directed by Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy and Lucy), starring Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Alia Shawkat. This “ecoterrorist thriller” chronicles three radical environmentalists who plan to blow up a dam. The production seems to have overcome a suit alleging Night Moves was plagiarized from Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang.
Peter Landesman’s directorial debut, starring Zac Efron, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, Colin Hanks, Tom Welling, Marcia Gay Harden, James Badge Dale, Ron Livingston and Mark Duplass. Based on Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F Kennedy, the film analyzes events at Parkland Memorial Hospital the day Kennedy was killed. Produced by Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, among others.
Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, All the Real Girls), starring Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Sue Rock. Adaptation of Larry Brown’s “brutal” novel about a “hard-drinking” tormented ex-con (Cage) who meets a 15 year old (Sheridan [Mud, Tree of Life]), looking for escape from his hellish home; the pair form an unusual bond.
Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón (Opening film)
Ana Arabia, Amos Gitai
Child of God, James Franco
Die Frau des Polizisten (The Police Officer’s Wife), Philip Groning
L’intrepido, Gianni Amelio
La Jalousie, Philippe Garrel
Jiaoyou, (Stray Dogs), Tsai Ming-liang
Joe, David Gordon Green
Kaze Tachinu, Hayao Miyazaki
Miss Violence, Alexandros Avranas
Night Moves, Kelly Reichardt
Parkland, Peter Landesman
Philomena, Stephen Frears
Sacro GRA, Gianfranco Rosi
Es-Stouh (The Rooftops), Merzak Allouache
Tom at the Farm, Xavier Dolan
Tracks, John Curran
Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer
The Unknown Known: the Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld , Errol Morris
Via Castellana Bandiera, Emma Dante
The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam
Out of Competition:
Die Andere Heimat — Chronik einer Sehnsucht (Home from Home — Chronicle of a Vision), Edgar Reitz
The Armstrong Lie, Alex Gibney
At Berkeley, Frederick Wiseman
The Canyons, Paul Schrader (worrisome)
Che strano chiamarsi Federico Scola racconta Fellini, Ettore Scola
Feng Ai (‘Til Madness Do Us Apart), Wang Bing
Locke, Steven Knight
Moebius, Kim Ki Duk
Pine Ridge, Anna Eborn
Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Aramaki Shinji
Summer 82 When Zappa Came to Sicily, Salvo Cuccia
Ukraina ne Bordel (Ukraine Is Not Brothel), Kitty Green
Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei (Walesa. Man of Hope), Andrzej Wajda, Ewa Brodzka
Wolf Creek 2, Greg McLean
Yurusarezaru mono, (Unforgiven), Lee Sang-Il
Algunas Chicas, Santiago Palavecino
Bauyr (Little Brother), Serik Aprymov
Eastern Boys, Robin Campillo
Jigoku de naze warui (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?), Sono Sion
Mahi Va Gorbeh (Fish and Cat), Shahram Mokri
Je m’appelle Hmmm…, Agnes B.
Medeas, Andrea Pallaoro
Il terzo tempo, Enrico Maria Artale
Palo Alto, Gia Coppola
Piccola Patria, Alessandro Rossetto
La prima neve, Andrea Segre
Ruin, Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Michael Cody
The Sacrament, Ti West
Still Life, Uberto Pasolini
Vi ar bast! (We Are the Best!), Lukas Moodysson
La vida despues, David Pablos
Wolfskinder (Wolfschildren), Rick Ostermann
Amazonia, Thierry Ragobert (Closing film)