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Venice '11 Review: Jet Li's 'The Sorcerer & The White Snake' Is Wuxia-Lite, With Bad Action & CG

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 2, 2011 6:54 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It might have a highbrow reputation (something anyone who's caught one of the sidebars can confirm), but that doesn't mean that the organizers of the Venice Film Festival don't like to watch a little ass get kicked sometimes. Last year, in fact, was something of a banner year for action at the festival, with "13 Assassins" and 'Detective Dee' in competition, and "Machete," "The Town," "Reign of Assassins" and "Legend of the Fist" all playing out of it. 2011 is a little lighter on the chop-socky, but there is a single film that's here to let film critics scratch their face-punch itch, and that's the Jet Li vehicle "The Sorcerer & The White Snake." Directed by Tony Ching, who not only helmed the classic "A Chinese Ghost Story," but also served as action director/choreographer on the high octane likes of "Shaolin Soccer," "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," so expectations were high that at the very least that we'd see some spectacular fight sequences, and possibly even something that transcends the genre, as "13 Assassins" did last year.
More: Review, Venice

Venice '11 Review: 'Un été brûlant' Is A Thundering Bore That Verges On Self-Parody

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 2, 2011 2:04 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There are certain cliches associated with European cinema -- they're not necessarily always accurate but they do exist. Ask a layman -- a well educated, smart, nice person who might not be quite as subtitle-happy as you or I -- what they imagine they might see in, say, an average French film, and a number of things might come up. Characters who are constantly having extra-marital affairs, for instance. A vaguely homoerotic relationship between two friends. Unbroken four-to-five minute takes. Dialogue talking about 'the revolution.' An actress, perhaps Monica Bellucci, taking her clothes off within the first 45 seconds.

Venice '11 Review: Cronenberg's 'A Dangerous Method' An Insightful Look At Sexuality & The Mind

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 2, 2011 1:24 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The recent career of David Cronenberg has been an interesting thing to watch. Having made his name with a very particular, icky brand of fetish-happy body horror, he hasn't dipped back into that well for a decade now, preferring instead to take his obsessions and use them to spice up what in other hands could be standard fare. And generally speaking, it has worked well: "Spider," "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises" all have much to recommend them, all peculiarly Cronenbergian, but each pushing in a slightly different direction. But now he's made what, on the surface at least, might seem to be his biggest departure to date: a period piece, based on a stage play (one of several in Venice this year -- have movies rediscovered theater as a source of material?), that examines the relationship between the two major forefathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Venice '11 Review: 'Carnage' Is Fun While It Lasts, But Insubstantial & Anonymous

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 1, 2011 12:22 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Compared to his last film, Roman Polanski's "Carnage" must have been a breeze. Not that the shoot for "The Ghost Writer" was "Fitzcarraldo" or anything, but, famously, the project hit a major speed bump in September 2009, while the film was in post-production, when the helmer was arrested in Zurich, and deportation proceedings were begun against him for the statutory rape case that has overshadowed the last thirty-odd years of his career. The Swiss authorities decided not to hand Polanski over, but he still spent months in prison, and was forced to complete post on his Robert Harris adaptation from there.

Venice '11 Review: Madonna's 'W.E.' Is A Royal Disaster

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 1, 2011 3:13 AM
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  • 27 Comments
Just as news of an actor excitedly announcing that they've got a definitely-not-a-vanity-project album on the way is generally greeted with a reaction somewhere between mockery and outright terror, news of a musician moving into the movies is rarely a good thing. But all in all, pop megastar Madonna's made a better attempt than most.

Venice '11 Review: 'The Ides Of March' Is A Gripping Return To Form For Director George Clooney

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 31, 2011 10:28 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Even more so than usual, 2012 should be a particularly fascinating election year. On the one hand, you've got the incumbent, President Barack Obama, a man elected on the promise of hope and conciliation, and a man who's failed to live up to the sky-high expectations placed on him. On the other, you have a band of Republican candidates who have, so far, failed to look anything like contenders, instead seemingly competing in a national crazy-off. We're a long, long way off from finding out the victor, but to get things underway, one of the most politically engaged actor-directors around has opened the Venice Film Festival with a look behind the scenes of a presidential primary race; namely, George Clooney's "The Ides of March." Good timing indeed, but has the star's fourth directorial effort turned out like "Good Night and Good Luck," or like "Leatherheads"?

Mysterious New Sigur Rós Film 'Inni' To Play Venice Film Festival Sidebar Venice Days

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 12, 2011 12:52 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It has been three years since Sigur Rós dropped their last album Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust, a game changer of sorts, one that pushed their epic, brooding and expansive sound slightly to the sound for something a bit more percussive, tribal and poppy than we've seen from the band. Since then, it's largely been radio silence. Frontman Jónsi has embarked on a solo career, releasing the album Go and taking a pretty colorful live show around the world, and of course, he's recently been tapped to score Cameron Crowe's "We Bought A Zoo." But it looks like he's got back together with the band. Earlier this week, Sigur Rós emailed fans with a link that pointed to a mysterious video titled "Inni" without any other info. Well, details are still scarce but this one is getting one helluva splashy debut.

Poster & Trailer For New Venice Film Festival Entry, Johnnie To's 'Life Without Principle'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 9, 2011 3:08 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It looks like the Venice Film Festival committee had one more trick up their sleeve.
More: Venice

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,' 'A Dangerous Method,' 'Carnage,' 'Shame,' 'Alps' Lead Venice Line-Up

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 28, 2011 11:08 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Todd Solondz's 'Dark Horse,' Sam Worthington Starrer 'Texas Killing Fields,' Persepolis Follow-Up 'Chicken With Plums' Also In Competition, Soderbergh's 'Contagion,' Madonna's 'W.E.' Out Of ItAfter a few months of rumors flying around, the line up for the 2011 Venice Film Festival has been unveiled, and to put it mildly, we're a little bit excited. The opening and closing films, George Clooney's "The Ides of March" and Whit Stillman's "Damsels In Distress," had been revealed over the past few weeks, and now, we've got the full selection. There'll be little new for anyone who spied the leaked line-up a few days ago, which seemed to get things about right, but even without the element of surprise, it's an incredibly tantalizing selection.

Whit Stillman's 'Damsels In Distress' To Close 2011 Venice Film Festival

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 26, 2011 5:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Frederick Wiseman's 'Crazy Horse,' Jean Marc-Vallee's 'Cafe De Flore' Head Up Venice Days Line-UpAnnoyingly, the fall film festivals seem to have gotten together and decided to release all their news at the same time, on the same day: just as Toronto was unveiling its line-up, Venice has now announced their closing film, ahead of the full line-up being revealed on Thursday. We already know that George Clooney's "The Ides of March" will open the festival on August 31st, rumors are flying thick and fast about the rest of the line-up, and now, we know the closer, which will wrap things up on September 10th. And it's a doozy.

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