Thursday, September 8, 2011

Something's Coming

While it may be hard to tell, but the movie seasons are slowly but surely beginning to change.  While perhaps hard to see from the perspective of the regular filmgoer (which sadly I'm apart of) who had to witness a sad past weekend where the brightest thing was a soggy Helen Mirren thriller and Shark Night 3-D (both of which were bested by a month old message picture), the fall festival seasons is most certainly underway.  The Telluride Film Festival has already wrapped, and the shined a few lights on a few noteworthy films coming our way.  The festival, a favorite of the exclusive cinephiles, for that it announces its selection after tickets are already sold.  The exclusives the festival typically brings are the reason it can get away with such things.  Recent films like The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Up in the Air and Juno made their first big splashed at Telluride.  That's not all, however, as the Venice Film Festival is underway-- last year's opening night film-- Black Swan-- made it all the way to an Oscar nomination.  Then comes the big festival orgy of the Toronto Film Festival, which offers even more films than anyone could possibly hope to see in one lifetime, and that it offers that on a yearly basis is quite exhausting.  Later on, comes the New York Film Festival (last year The Social Network opened), this year the honor belongs to Roman Polanski's Carnage.  After that comes the London Film Festival (Fernando Mierelles, director of City of God, opens that festival with his latest ensemble drama 360, starring Rachel Weisz and Jude Law.)  And that's followed by the AFI Film Festival, which will unspool Clint Eastwood's latest J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio...whew!

Roman Polanski's latest, adapted from the Tony Award winning play, God of Carnage, played Venice, with it's very starry cast-- Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Rielly and Christoph Waltz, and was greeted with lukewarm praise, all of which translates to a potentially interesting, but possibly non-awards caliber type of film.  For a film shot in real time, set in one apartment over a group of two squabbling parents, the film reeks of potential stagy-ness.  And the tone of melodrama and overt comedy may harken its chances of awards and a large audience, but still how can one not be curious.

The Daily Telegraph said:
"It's well-acted and giddily enjoyable, if slightly less so once the characters start to analyse their descent into barbarism."

The Hollywood Reporter said:
"Snappy, nasty, deftly acted and perhaps the fastest paced film ever directed by a 78-year-old, this adaptation of Yasmina Reza's award-winning play God of Carnage fully delivers the laughs and savagery of the stage piece..."

A Dangerous Method:
David Croenberg's latest- a period drama and study of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and the girl caught in the middle stars Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortenssen and Keira Knightley.  The film earned mixed reviews from its bow at Telluride and Venice and due to the kinky but seemingly austere nature of the film may not be able to become the film that finally warms the Academy to endless but idiosyncratic talents of Croenberg.  The performances and the technical aspects of A Dangerous Method seem to have earned high praise, but the film seems to have come across as the least-Croenberg-like film he's every created, and a lot of attention was payed to Knightley's performance that seems to be dividing critics.

The Daily Telegraph said:
"It's Knightley that one remembers, for a full-on portrayal that is gutsy and potentially divisive in equal parts."

The Guardian said:
"A Dangerous Mind feels heavy and lugubrious. It is a tale that comes marinated in port and choked on pipe-smoke."

The Hollywood Reporter said:
"Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined, this story of boundary-testing in the early days of psychoanalysis is brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances of Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender."

The Descendants:
The brightest thing potentially from Telluride was Alexander Payne's latest feature starring George Clooney as a husband and father trying to rebuild his family after his wife is struck with a life-threatening ailment.  It's been seven years since Payne unleashed the huge critical sweep (and Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay) Sideways, and should at the very least, on paper, be primed for another awards contender.  While the trailer may have read a bit nondescript and possibly lacking in the usual humor one might expect from Payne, there's bound to be a great deal of attention towards the film, as well as Clooney's performance, and with distributor Fox Searchlight, it's fairly certain a stellar campaign will be mounted.  The next step is Toronto, where perhaps the film will truly sink or swim.

Variety said:
"Some movies aim to distract us; others seek to help us understand. "The Descendants" tackles some of the prickliest issues a contempo family can face -- coping with a loved one's right-to-die decision -- with such sensitivity that it's hardly noticeable you're being enlightened while entertained. As a Hawaiian father of two negotiating complex emotions while his wife lies comatose after a boating accident, George Clooney reveals yet another layer of himself. His involvement, plus the welcome return of "Sideways" director Alexander Payne, will bring in auds; their tell-a-friend enthusiasm should spell sleeper success among catharsis-seeking adults."

The Ides of March:
George Clooney's is everywhere, as per usual.  The stars and directs this film, which opened the Venice Film Festival, and while play Toronto.  A timely, political story with an all star cast-- Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, and Jeffrey Wright.  The film received mostly kind, if unspectacular notices.  Yet many seem to assume the film, a very American story, will play better here than in Venice, and if the film reaches out to the uber-Hollywood liberal elite, it could certainly be an awards film.

The Hollywood Reporter said:
"Classy and professional throughout, the technical work gracefully holds all the threads together."

Time Magazine said:
"Clooney sees blustering bustle and edgy familiarity - giant closeups of private conversations - as the contrasts of political campaigns, which are, at heart, all rhetoric and no accountability."

Variety said:
"[An] intriguing but overly portentous drama, which seems far more taken with its own cynicism than most viewers will be."

A film of definite interest that played both Telluride and Venice to a lot of good notice was Steve McQueen's second feature starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.  Defined as an unflinching film about the relationship between a depraved sex addict and wayward sister, the film seems to have gotten a lot of attention, not perhaps as a magnet for upcoming awards, but it's frank, and full-frontal realism.  While much press on the film has noted that the film will likely be rated NC-17, there still seems to be a lot of interest in the story as an alleged bidding war is underway between Fox Searchlight, The Weinstein Company and Sony Pictures Classics.  Whatever there's to make of the outcome, one certainly hopes that McQueen follows through on the promise of his hard-edged, provocative, but ultimately dazzling debut feature, Hunger, which (depending on what year the few of you that caught it, actually saw it-- release dates for the little ones can be confusing-- was the real breakout feature for the formidable Fassbender.)  The film will trek onto Toronto next.

The Guardian said:
"This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie."

This is London said:
"McQueen's film-making is undoubtedly powerful and without compromise, especially during the frequent sex scenes, which depict a man on the edge intent on propelling himself over the cliff."

Directed by Madonna, W.E. was snapped up by The Weinstein Company well before it made its auspicious and critically reviled premiere at Venice.  Described as a Julie & Julia-like biopic of Wallis Simpson (the woman King Edward III abdicated the throne for) and a modern woman obsessed with the tale.  The film stars Andrea Riseborough and Abbie Cornish.  Perhaps the Weinstein's were hoping for a side story of sorts to last years champ The King's Speech.  Either way the film received a critical drubbing, and will surely rouse endlessly curiosity and hisses as it approaches theaters; Madonna just can't get a break in films, can she?

The Guardian said:
"What an extraordinarily silly, preening, fatally mishandled film this is."

The Hollywood Reporter said:
"Madonna's second foray into directing is pleasing to the eyes and ears, but lacking anything for the soul."

Variety said:
"Burdened with risible dialogue and weak performances, pic doesn't have much going for it apart from lavish production design and terrific, well-researched costumes."

Other possible films of interest include Albert Nobbs, the two decades long passion project for Glenn Close, who both stars and scripted the gender-bending tale of a woman who poses as a man in 19th century Ireland.  While reviews were mild, there's still bound to be interest and praise given to Close (who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at Telluride) and who, after five tries and an Oscar track record in the 1980s that rivaled Meryl Streep, still has yet to win the big award.  What the irony that Streep herself as an Oscar bid in her Margaret Thatcher biography The Iron Lady coming out later this year...a festival run is thus far unannounced for that one.  And what of the further irony if eventually when all pans out if Viola Davis ends up becoming the victor for The Help...

Cannes favorites The Artist and We Need to Talk About Kevin also played Telluride, further building potentially buzz.  The Artist, which was snapped by the very busy Weinstein Company earlier this year seems likely to benefit most from the fall festival circuit (it will play Toronto as well), and crowd-pleasing old Hollywood throwback to silent era, might very well be the toast of this coming season, if early reaction is any indication.  Kevin, on the other hand might have a bit more trouble seeing it's rough subject matter-- a family drama centered around a Columbine-like high school shooting.  However the film's star Tilda Swinton has received a lot of acclaim, and received a tribute at Telluride, as did George Clooney, and its distributor, Roadside Attraction (also handling Albert Nobbs) had a good run last year with not so easy sells like Winter's Bone and Biutiful.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...