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Venice 2014 Line-Up: New Films By David Gordon Green, Ramin Bahrani, Andrew Niccol & Peter Bogdanovich

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 24, 2014 5:30 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Venice 2014
It feels like film festival announcements get earlier and earlier every year. There's still a week of July left, and we've already had major announcements from TIFF, NYFF and even London and Tokyo (which don't happen until November, and will be opening with "The Imitation Game" and "Big Hero 6" respectively). But before any of those arrive, we've got the 71st Venice Film Festival, and after unveiling their big-ticket opener with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman," the rest of the line-up for the official competition was announced in Rome this morning.

Alejandro G. Inarritu's 'Birdman' Starring Michael Keaton & Emma Stone To Open 2014 Venice Film Festival

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 10, 2014 6:41 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Birdman
The big three European festivals are Berlin, Cannes and Venice, and the openers for the first two of those lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous this year: Berlin nabbed Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel" to kick off their fest, while Cannes was stuck with the clanging disaster of "Grace Of Monaco." Venice have kept their pick under wraps, until now, but fortunately, it should be closer to the Berlin pick in quality...

The Fall Festival 50: Our Wishlist For The Venice, Telluride And Toronto Film Festivals

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • June 30, 2014 3:48 PM
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  • 24 Comments
2014: Fall Film Festival wishlist
So while the rest of the world, (pretty much literally, it seems) goes to see “Transformers: Abandon Hope” our choice is either to kvetch and moan and rend our clothes about the Death of Culture and People These Days, or to retreat into our nice comfy wheelhouse/padded cell, humming gently to ourselves, catching the odd fly and pretending the moviegoing public has not just awarded $300 million in 3 days to the worst tentpole of the year. And right now, the cowardly but sanity-protecting latter path is the one we’re going to pursue (though we reserve the right to kvetch etc. elsewhere). With June at its end and the days getting shorter, we’re looking down the road, beyond the unstoppable, all-devouring toy franchise behemoth that’s probably about to blot out the sun, toward the fall festival season, and the films that we expect, hope or surmise we might see at the big trio of Venice, Telluride and Toronto, or the lower-profile NYFF or AFI Fest in the unlikely event of us surviving the Summer.

Venice 2013: Our 5 Favorite Films Of The Festival, Plus Our Complete Coverage

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 9, 2013 12:55 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It's farewell for another year to mosquitos, vaporettos and incomprehensibly rude Italian film critics who insist on checking their email mid-screening, because the 70th Venice Film Festival wrapped up on Saturday. For a festival that had seen quite a few twists and turns, it felt appropriate that it ended with Bernardo Bertolucci pulling a few surprises, shunning the more lauded films in the line-up to bestow the Golden Lion on "Sacro GRA," the first Italian film to win the top prize in fifteen years and the first documentary to ever manage the feat.

Venice Review: Amos Gitai's Shot-In-One-Take 'Ana Arabia'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 9, 2013 7:43 AM
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  • 2 Comments
If there was one stylistic trend at Venice this year, it was bravura, lengthy shots. The festival kicked off with the twenty-minute opening shot of "Gravity," and the rest of the festival sometimes felt like some kind of who-can-hold-a-shot the longest competition, with Steven Knight's "Locke" and Tsai Ming-Liang's "Stray Dogs" also getting in on the real-time act. But if this competition had a winner, it was undoubtedly Amos Gitai, with his latest film "Ana Arabia."

Venice Review: Golden Lion Winner 'Sacro GRA'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 8, 2013 3:09 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It's a good thing that "Sacro GRA" won the Golden Lion, the Venice Film Festival, yesterday (making it the first documentary to win the top prize in the 70-year history of the festival). Because, quite frankly, it's just about the only reason you'd come to read this review. Its director, Gianfranco Rosi, isn't a major name outside Italy, and its subject matter -- the lives of those who live or work on or near the GRA, the enormous ring-road that circles Rome -- was also more targeted to the home crowd. It's great that a documentary has broken through and won the Lion, but we're a little baffled that a film as unremarkable as this one was the one to do.

Venice Review: Errol Morris’ Donald Rumsfeld Documentary ‘The Unknown Known’

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 5, 2013 9:43 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The Unknown Known, Errol Morris
As we inch towards another potential war in the Middle East, the last couple are still being pored over by filmmakers. We’re still likely some time away from the definitive takes on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we have seen a few solid films telling those stories in the last decade or so albeit tending to focus on the men on the ground, rather than the architects of the conflict. The men who planned and executed the wars might have been out of office for some time, but they’re not showing any particular willingness to talk things over. Well, except one. Sort of.

Venice Review: Patrice Leconte’s ‘A Promise’ Starring Rebecca Hall, Richard Madden & Alan Rickman

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 5, 2013 9:23 AM
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  • 0 Comments
He’s fallen out of favor a bit in the last few years, but there was a time when Patrice Leconte was one of the most popular foreign filmmakers in the U.S. While he was never a favorite with the hipper critics, over the 1990s and early 2000s, films like “Ridicule,” “ The Girl On The Bridge,” “The Man On The Train” and “Intimate Strangers” became staples on the festival circuit, won BAFTAs and Cesars, and became sizeable arthouse hits Stateside.

Venice Review: Steven Knight’s ‘Locke’ Starring Tom Hardy

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2013 6:54 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Locke Tom Hardy
Of all the genres, the single location film is perhaps one of the hardest to get right. For one, you need a hell of an actor (or actors) to hold the attention for even the briefest of running times. You also need a story that coherently keeps the actors in place, with enough of a hook to keep you involved. And you need to keep things visually interesting enough to stop it being too static without being showy. It’s a big ask, Hitchcock was the master of the style, and there are a select few other examples, but most turn out poorly.

Venice Review: Sam Fuller Documentary 'A Fuller Life'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 2, 2013 12:57 PM
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  • 10 Comments
Like most right-minded film fans we're big fans of Sam Fuller (check out our list of essential films from the director). Kicking of his career as a crime reporter and novelist, Fuller soon found his way to Hollywood and after serving in World War Two as an infantryman, became a film director. Generally favoring low-budget and independently-produced pictures, but not averse to working within the studio system (he had a good relationship with Daryl Zanuck), he knocked out a string of genre classics — from "Pickup On South Street" and "Four Guns" to "Shock Corridor" and his epic autobiographical masterpiece "The Big Red One" — that quietly influenced many of your favourite directors.

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