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The Playlist

Watch: First Trailer For Abel Ferrara's 'Pasolini' Starring Willem Dafoe

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 1, 2014 5:15 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Pasolini
Abel Ferrara has always been known for creating characters and stories that delve into the most extreme of human behaviours, but for his latest couple of films, he's tackled real life people whose actions speak for themselves. Earlier this year the filmmaker unveiled "Welcome To New York," the fictionalized tale of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and now just a couple of months later, Ferrara is in Venice where he's premiering "Pasolini," a feature about famed and controversial filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. And a pretty great first trailer has arrived.

Venice Review: Larry Clark’s ‘The Smell Of Us’ Featuring Michael Pitt... And Larry Clark

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • September 1, 2014 2:29 PM
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  • 8 Comments
The Smell Of Us
A prime example of what we’ve just now dubbed “le cinema du entre-jambes,” or “crotch cinema,” Larry Clark’s “The Smell of Us” is a film so horrible it manages to significantly outdo the repulsiveness of its title. Having waded through Clark’s entire back catalogue some time ago (the things we do for Film Criticism), we were semi-apologists for his last movie, “Marfa Girl,” in which amid the sine qua non teen sex we thought we detected the green shoots of a more narrative-based direction, as well as some coherent characterization. “The Smell of Us” however, jettisons any good will we may have had for the filmmaker in its portrait of disaffected youth (what else?) in Paris. This film revels in mindlessly repetitive and 100%, no-question-about-it exploitative, sequences of pretty young men engaging in various sexual activities. But that’s not to say Clark has nothing new up his crusty sleeve — this time out he appears on camera alongside the objects of his lurid attention. Thus we have achieved an event horizon of skeeziness.

Venice Review: ‘Far From Men’ Starring Viggo Mortensen And Reda Kateb

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • September 1, 2014 9:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Far From Men, Viggo Mortensen
Taking the conventions of Western films to different countries, planets, time periods or political situations is hardly new, but when it's done well, it never gets old. The French-language “Far From Men,” aka “Loin des Hommes,” from writer/director David Oelhoffen, which transposes classic Western archetypes to the Algerian Civil War, is a terrific reminder of just that. It does not reinvent the wheel, nor is it a po-mo deconstruction of the Western myth or a pastiche. It is simply a great, traditional Western: the language and cultural details may be different, but the sparse elegance and moral conundrums are familiar and as resonant as ever. Based on Albert Camus’ short story “The Guest” and boasting a fitting yet never clichéd soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and a pair of flawless lead performances from Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kateb, “Far From Men” is a quietly grand, beautiful film.

Watch: First 3 Clips From HBO's 'Olive Kitteridge' With Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins & Bill Murray

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 31, 2014 1:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Olivia Kitteridge
Prestige drama at film festivals is no longer just the domain of movies. Television is now becoming a regular part of fest programming (Jane Campion's "Top Of The Lake" at Sundance and Bruno Dumont's "P'tit Quinquin" at Cannes Directors' Fortnight are recent examples) and this week at Venice, HBO's "Olive Kitteridge" will get a glitzy premiere. And you can now catch a glimpse of the forthcoming miniseries with three new clips.

Watch: Trailer For Roy Andersson's Trilogy Finale 'A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 31, 2014 11:11 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
While the word "trilogy" usually conjures thoughts of blockbusters, it's a term that's not unfamiliar to the arthouse world. Richard Linklater closed off his 'Before' series last year and now a beloved international filmmaker is getting ready to finish on his own series. Roy Andersson will be premiering "A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence" at the Venice Film Festival, and the first trailer is here to provide a peek at the director's unique perspective.

Venice Review: Fatih Akin’s ‘The Cut’ Starring Tahar Rahim

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 31, 2014 8:32 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Cut, Fatih Akin
When Turkish-German auteur Fatih Akin pulled “The Cut” from the Cannes slate citing “personal reasons,” the rumor mill went to work overtime. Certainly, Cannes would have seemed like the natural home for the filmmaker’s next opus, so if, as was suggested, he had not been guaranteed the competition slot that his profile surely demanded, what could the reason be? Politics? Pique? Some internecine beef we weren’t aware of? Within all that gossip, however, one possible explanation never really entered the mix: that the film would not be very good. Akin’s track record alone, including such terrific, joltingly energetic, critically lauded and awarded titles as “Head-on” and “The Edge of Heaven” (the first two films in a thematic trilogy that “The Cut” is mooted to complete) seemed to put that beyond the realm of possibility. And in truth, it’s not not very good. It’s close to a disaster.

Venice Review: David Gordon Green's 'Manglehorn' Starring Al Pacino, Harmony Korine, Chris Messina And Holly Hunter

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 30, 2014 8:43 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Manglehorn
A bee's nest beneath a mailbox. A boat bedecked in copies of a photograph. A cat who’s swallowed a key. A mime, a buffet, an earthquake, a multi-vehicle car accident inexplicably strewn with smashed watermelons. David Gordon Green’s slow, indulgent but fathomless “Manglehorn” contains all of these motifs and more, sometimes playing out in double exposure, sometimes woozy slow motion, often counterpointed by Al Pacino’s gravelly narration. It should all be a terrible mess, and certainly it’s less accessible than Green's genre-tinged “Joe” or the sweetly straightforward “Prince Avalanche.” But it’s also fascinating to those of us willing to let its meditative currents take us through a mosaic of moods, mysteries, magic and melancholy. This is all anchored by a quietly assured performance that not only may be among the most atypical of Pacino’s career, but may also be one of his best.

Venice Review: Barry Levinson’s ‘The Humbling’ With Al Pacino And Greta Gerwig

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 29, 2014 7:17 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Humbling
"Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything" is a line from Shakespeare's description of the final stage of life made famous in the "All the world's a stage" monologue from "As You Like It." It is quoted early on in Barry Levinson’s incoherent adaptation of what is by most accounts a substandard Philip Roth novel, “The Humbling,” clearly marking the film's themes of aging and the diminishment that comes with it. But "toothless, sightless, bland and empty" could also serve as a harsh but pretty accurate description of the film itself: a missed opportunity that squanders the talents of a pretty stacked cast and jeopardizes the audience’s patience and care for its spoiled characters for too long.

Watch: First 2 Clips From Venice/TIFF Drama 'Far From Men' Starring Viggo Mortensen

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 29, 2014 3:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Far From Men, Viggo Mortensen
There is no shortage of serious movies hitting the festival circuit this fall, but only one of them boasts the distinction of being based on the short story "L'Hôte" by Albert Camus. That's right, the philosopher's work is behind the latest from writer/director David Oelhoeffen, and with "Far From Men" hitting both Venice and TIFF in the next couple of weeks, two new clips are here to go with the trailer that landed a week ago.

Venice Review: 'She's Funny That Way' Starring Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Jennifer Aniston & Many Surprise Cameos

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 29, 2014 12:27 PM
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  • 1 Comment
She's Funny That Way aka Squirrel To The Nuts
If you've so much as read the headline of this review, you're probably already thinking too hard about Peter Bogdanovich's star-studded "She's Funny That Way," which is but a trifle, designed to melt in your mouth like candy floss. In fact, it goes out of its way to avoid anything that even faintly smacks of realism or meaningfulness; it just wants you to like it.

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