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The Playlist

Venice Review: Sono Sion's Bonkers Midnight Movie 'Why Don't You Play In Hell?'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 30, 2013 10:01 AM
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"Crowd-pleasing" is not an adjective typically associated with Japanese director Sono Sion. For a decade or so, he's been celebrated among cinephiles for his abrasive, challenging films like the four-hour long "Love Exposure" and the post-2011-tsunami "Himizu," which was something of a favourite here in Venice two years ago. But his latest, " Why Don't You Play In Hell?," is something of a departure — an ambivalently loving tribute to both the action movie and filmmaking in general, not so much blood-splattered as blood-drenched. It seems destined to be a midnight movie cult hit, but still feels very much a Sono film.

Venice Review: Bruce LaBruce Makes A Play For The Mainstream With 'Gerontophilia'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 29, 2013 12:22 PM
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Canada's Bruce LaBruce has been one of the more notable cinematic provocateurs of the last couple of decades. Starting off in Toronto's queercore scene, he's won acclaim on the festival circuit thanks to the taboo-busting, sexually explicit likes of "The Raspberry Reich," "Otto, Or Up With Dead People" and "L.A. Zombie" (the latter of which was banned from the Melbourne Film Festival). So when his latest film, "Gerontophilia," opens with a blank screen over which we seem to hear a woman nearing orgasm as she recites the names of "female revolutionaries" including Lizzie Borden and Winona Ryder, you'd be forgiven for expecting more of the same envelope pushing.

Venice Review: John Curran's 'Tracks' Starring Mia Wasikowska & Adam Driver

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 29, 2013 7:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
'Tracks' Starring Mia Wasikowska & Adam Driver
“Tracks” has been a long time coming. Ever since Robyn Davidson wrote her 1979 memoir of her 1700-mile, eight-month trek across the Australian outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, and the book became an award-winning best-seller around the world, Hollywood has been sniffing around it. Multiple attempts to mount an adaptation have been made—Julia Roberts was attached to a version for much of the 1990s—but it finally took the producers of “The King’s Speech” and the oft-undervalued New York-born, Australian-based director John Curran (“We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “The Painted Veil”) to get it made, with the film finally premiering at the Venice Film Festival today. And for many, it’ll have been worth the wait: it’s a very handsome film with a terrific central performance, even if it’s not quite an unqualified triumph.

Venice Review: Israeli Film Academy Best Picture Nominee 'Bethlehem'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 28, 2013 3:50 PM
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Venice has welcomed Israeli films into its line up many times over the last few years: tank-bound war film “Lebanon” was a Golden Lion-winner a few years back, and last year saw “Fill The Void” become something of a crowd-pleaser at the festival. “ Bethlehem,” the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Yuval Adler might have started a little more under the radar than those films: it’s in the Venice Days sidebar, rather than the main competition as its predecessors were. But thanks to a promising trailer, and appearances in both the TIFF and Telluride line-up, the film’s certainly been the center of plenty of talk in the last few weeks.

Venice Review: Alfonso Cuarón's 'Gravity' Starring Sandra Bullock & George Clooney

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 28, 2013 6:22 AM
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  • 24 Comments
Gravity, Bullock, Clooney
Since JFK vowed to put a man on the moon in 1961, space has represented untold possibility. Hope. Optimism. But once we actually got there, we realized what a terrifying place it can be. An endless void, freezing and/or burning, a place without air or life. But most terrifyingly of all, if you die in space, you die alone: thousands of miles above and away from your loved ones. And more than anything, aren’t we most afraid of dying alone? Alfonso Cuaron seems to think so, as that’s the fear that drives his new film, the extraordinary “Gravity.”

The 10 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2013 Venice Film Festival

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 26, 2013 1:01 PM
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  • 3 Comments
If you look at the release schedule for the next couple of weeks, it's clear that we're entering the late August/early September slow season. Half-formed young adult adaptations, thrillers that star Ethan Hawke because Nicolas Cage was unavailable, 3D boyband concert movies and a Riddick sequel, with only "The World's End" and "You're Next" to save the day.

Watch: Clip From Venice & TIFF Selection 'Tracks' Starring Mia Wasikowska

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 25, 2013 3:17 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Tracks Mia Wasikowska
Can you tell we're on the cusp of festival season? More previews are arriving as premieres come closer and closer, and now another has landed, this time giving us a first peek at the Australian film "Tracks" from filmmaker John Curran ("Stone," "The Painted Veil"). And it brings to life a pretty interesting true story.

Venice: First Clip & Image From Real-Time Thriller 'Locke' Starring Tom Hardy, Produced By Joe Wright

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 25, 2013 3:06 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Locke Tom Hardy
While festivals are usually the place where esteemed pictures tend to peacock, they also provide an avenue for edgier, more experimental ventures to get their footing, and Venice will have one we're definitely curious about. And it's not just because of the talent involved, which includes stars Tom Hardy and Ruth Wilson ("Luther," "The Lone Ranger"), screenwriter and director Steven Knight ("Eastern Promises," "Redemption") and executive producer Joe Wright ("Atonement," "Anna Karenina").

Exclusive: Trailer For Venice & TIFF Film Festival Selection And Israeli Film Academy Best Picture Nominee 'Bethlehem'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 22, 2013 11:38 AM
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While Hollywood always tends to flex its muscle at film festivals, packing red carpets with stars, and dominating headlines with highly anticipated movies, the pleasure of hitting places like Venice and Toronto is discovering hidden gems, or acclaimed movies from elsewhere that haven't quite made a wave internationally just yet. And Yuval Adler's "Bethlehem" could potentially make some major noise. It's already taken notice at home, earning 12 nominations from the Israeli Film Academy including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. And now, it's getting ready to show it's stuff for the world.

Venice 2013: Poster, First Look & Official Synopsis For Xavier Dolan's 'Tom At The Farm'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 25, 2013 11:05 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Tom At The Farm Xavier Dolan
We're coming out of the fog, storm and noise of the summer movie season, heading into the the promising months of fall festivals, and it's a good time to be a cinephile. With TIFF unveiling their first wave of titles earlier this week, Venice followed suit this morning giving folks headed to the Lido plenty to get excited about. As always, we'll start getting a peek at those films very soon.

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