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The Playlist

Venice Review: Xavier Dolan's 'Tom A La Ferme'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 1, 2013 8:20 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Tom At The Farm Xavier Dolan
Few filmmakers in modern times have had such a meteoric rise at such an early age as Xavier Dolan. The French-Canadian wunderkind, a former child-star (and still occasionally a voiceover actor for local dubs, with roles including Ron Weasley in the 'Harry Potter' films) premiered his first film at Cannes aged only 20, and has returned to the festival twice more, rising up through the sidebars with "Heartbeats" and "Laurence Anyways."

Venice Review: Gia Coppola's 'Palo Alto' Starring Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer & James Franco

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 1, 2013 5:01 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Cinema's just about old enough at this point that we've seen a few three-generation acting dynasties—the Fondas, the Hustons, the Barrymores. But if there's a family that's produced three generations of directors, they're certainly escaping us right now. But enter Gia Coppola. The 26-year-old is, as you might imagine from the surname, the granddaughter of "The Godfather" helmer Francis Ford Coppola, which makes her the niece of his director children Sofia and Roman (Gia's father, Gian-Carlo, was Francis' eldest, killed in a boat accident in 1986 not long after her conception).

Venice Review: JFK Drama 'Parkland' Starring Zac Efron, Billy Bob Thornton & Jacki Weaver

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 1, 2013 10:14 AM
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  • 15 Comments
Ever since "PT 109," which detailed his WWII war record and was released while he was still in office, President John F. Kennedy has been catnip to Hollywood. After all, he was good looking, charismatic, had a dark secret life of womanising, among other things, and of course, was assassinated three years into his presidency—an event that inspires debate and conspiracy theories to this day. He's been the subject of great films (Oliver Stone's "JFK") and bad ones (recent miniseries "The Kennedys"), and been played by everyone from Cliff Robertson to James Marsden (in "Lee Daniels' The Butler"). This November marks the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dealey Plaza, and as such, it was inevitable that there'd be some kind of film to mark the occasion. We just wish it wasn't as terrible as "Parkland," which premieres (in competition, inexplicably) at the Venice Film Festival today.

Venice Review: Hayao Miyazaki's 'The Wind Rises'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 1, 2013 8:26 AM
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  • 3 Comments
This year's Venice Film Festival has already seen a number of filmmakers push outside their comfort zone. Alfonso Cuarón made a 3D blockbuster set entirely in zero gravity. Kelly Reichardt made a thriller. Stephen Frears made a good movie. But no departure has been greater from a filmmaker than the one that Hayao Miyazaki takes with "The Wind Rises."

Venice Review: Stephen Frears' 'Philomena' Starring Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 31, 2013 1:09 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The term "Oscar bait" is one that, unfortunately, gets bandied about a lot this time of year. At worst, it's used to refer to every faintly serious-minded film released between July and December. At best, it describes a very particular kind of middlebrow drama that seems to have been created from the ground up with the sole purpose of appealing to the Academy—think "The Iron Lady" or "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," to name two recent examples. Stephen Frears' "Philomena" appears on the surface to fit into the latter category.

Venice Review: James Franco's Cormac McCarthy Adaptation 'Child Of God'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 31, 2013 11:33 AM
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  • 8 Comments
James Franco might not be the first person to debut a film he'd directed at each of the three major European festivals in the same year (Ulrich Seidl recently managed the feat with his 'Paradise' trilogy, albeit not in the same calendar year). But it's an undoubtedly impressive run, especially given that Franco has spent the same period of time starring in two legitimate blockbusters in the shape of "Oz The Great And Powerful" and "This Is The End," as well as working on his umpteen other projects of various shapes and sizes.

Venice Review: Kelly Reichardt's 'Night Moves' With Jesse Eisenberg & Dakota Fanning

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 30, 2013 5:00 PM
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  • 12 Comments
Night Moves, Jesse Eisenberg
After the acclaimed trio of “Old Joy,” “Wendy & Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” Kelly Reichardt was already proving hard to pin down. The three films that made her name (plus her lesser-known earlier works “ Ode” and “River Of Grass”) are immediately recognizable as the work of the director, but very different from each other thematically, if perhaps not formally. Whatever her next move was going to be, it was going to be interesting, but few would have predicted that it would be “Night Moves” – a crackling little suspense thriller/morality play indebted to Dostoyevsky and Hitchcock. But while it’s a left turn, it’s at least as good as the films that came before it, and still with the same recognizable DNA intact.

Venice Review: David Gordon Green's 'Joe' Starring Nicolas Cage & Tye Sheridan

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 30, 2013 4:39 PM
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  • 9 Comments
“Joe” unites a pair of talents somewhat on the comeback trail. David Gordon Green’s once-lofty critical reputation—the filmmaker was once lauded as a successor to Terrence Malick—took something of a hit after a left-turn into poorly-received studio comedies like “Your Highness” and "The Sitter," but this year’s “Prince Avalanche” seemed to mark a return to the lo-fi indies he made his name with. Meanwhile, Nicolas Cage’s status as a major star and as one of his generation’s most acclaimed actors has been threatened in recent years by a series of low-rent pictures, seemingly taken for the paycheck alone, which have seen the actor increasingly descend into either self-parody, or deep boredom.

Venice Review: Philip Gröning’s Three-Hour Domestic Violence Drama ‘The Police Officer’s Wife’

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 30, 2013 1:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
To a certain audience, the return of Philip Gröning is big news. The German director has been working for twenty years or so, but his last film, 2005’s “Into Great Silence,” a documentary about the Carthesian monks of the French Alps, really saw him win recognition, becoming a favorite on the festival circuit and winning the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. It’s taken eight years, but Gröning has returned, and not just with a new film, but with his first fiction feature in thirteen years in the shape of “The Police Officer’s Wife,” which screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival today.

New Pics From Fall Festival Films Including 'Devil's Knot,' 'Night Moves,' 'The Sacrament,' 'Wolf Creek 2' & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 30, 2013 10:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Cinephiles are earning their airmiles over the next couple of weeks as Venice, Telluride and TIFF explode with literally hundreds of films, all looking for attention, distribution and/or awards season consideration. But among the mix of high profile titles are some down 'n dirty genre flicks too. Either way, we've got a batch of new images for your eyeballs from a number of movies traveling the globe so let's get to it.

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