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AFI FEST Books Polanski's Carnage as Gala Centerpiece, Adds Screenings

by Anne Thompson
October 18, 2011 6:10 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

Following the lead of Venice and the New York Film Festival, this November's AFI FEST has booked Roman Polanski's four-hander comedy Carnage (December 16) as its gala centerpiece at Mann's Chinese on November 5th. Adapted by Polanski and Yasmina Reza from her hit play God of Carnage, the movie stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly. Here's a round-up of reviews and look at the film's award prospects.

AFI FEST will open November 3rd with Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar and will run through the 10th at Hollywood's Chinese Theatre complex, the Egyptian and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Luc Besson’s The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh, Simon Curtis's My Week With Marilyn, starring Michelle Williams, fest fave The Artist, starring Cannes Best Actor-winner Jean Dujardin, and Steve McQueen’s Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are also centerpiece galas. The lineup to date is here and below, with more in the offing.

Galas
Opening Night

J. EDGAR: As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life. DIR Clint Eastwood. SCR Dustin Lance Black. CAST Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench. USA. World Premiere.

Centerpiece Galas
THE LADY: Luc Besson tackles the inspiring true story of Burmese activist, leader and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, exquisitely portrayed by Michelle Yeoh. DIR Luc Besson. SCR Rebecca Frayn. CAST Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, Jonathan Raggett, Jonathan Woodhouse, Susan Wooldridge, Benedict Wong. France/UK.

CARNAGE: Roman Polanski directs a dream cast of Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly in a razor-sharp, acidly funny comedy of ill manners. DIR Roman Polanski. SCR Yasmina Reza, Roman Polanski. CAST Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly. France/Germany/Poland.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN: Michelle Williams gives a luminous performance as Marilyn Monroe, ably supported by Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench in this intimate portrait of the tragic Hollywood icon. DIR Simon Curtis. SCR Adrian Hodges. UK.

THE ARTIST: Silence is golden in director Michel Haznavicius’ delightful and dialogue-less black-and-white feature about Hollywood’s bumpy transition from silent films to “talkies.” DIR/SCR Michel Hazanavicius. CAST Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle. France.

SHAME: In director Steve McQueen’s searing follow-up to HUNGER, Michael Fassbender delivers a fearless portrayal of a man spiraling out of control into sexual addiction. DIR Steve McQueen. SCR Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen. CAST Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie. UK.

Special Screenings Selection

BUTTER: Jennifer Garner stars in this comedy about a Midwestern housewife who embarks on a ruthless campaign to conquer the world of competitive butter carving. DIR Jim Field Smith. SCR Jason A. Micallef. CAST Hugh Jackman, Ty Burrell, Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Garner, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, Pruitt Taylor Vince. USA.

CORIOLANUS: In his directing debut, Ralph Fiennes masterfully adapts Shakespeare’s gripping tragedy about power, politics and pride into a bracingly modern and urgent political thriller. DIR Ralph Fiennes. SCR John Logan. CAST Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain. UK.

I MELT WITH YOU: Four friends gather for an annual birthday celebration in Big Sur and come face to face with the hard truths of who they have become. DIR Mark Pellington. SCR Glenn Porter (based on the story by Glenn Porter and Mark Pellington). CAST Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino, Sasha Grey. Canada/USA.

INTO THE ABYSS: In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog probes the human psyche to explore why people kill-and why a state kills. Like a modern IN COLD BLOOD, Herzog's investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory. DIR Werner Herzog. USA. Sunday, November 6, 5:30 p.m., Rigler Theatre, Egyptian and Monday, November 7, 1:15 p.m., Chinese 3

THE KID WITH A BIKE: Awarded the Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Film Festival, this tale of redemptive love bares the Dardennes’ evocative signature style. CAST Cécile de France, Thomas Doret, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Egon Di Mateo, Olivier Gourmet. Belgium/France/Italy. Tuesday, November 8, 8:00 p.m., Rigler Theatre, Egyptian and Thursday, November 10, 11:00 a.m., Chinese 1

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME: Jason Segel shines as Jeff, a late-blooming loser whose minor errand for his mom (Susan Sarandon) becomes a major search for his destiny. DIR/SCR Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass. CAST Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon. USA.

MELANCHOLIA: Denmark’s most celebrated and notorious filmmaker returns with a drama about depression, severely dysfunctional families, and the end of the world. DIR/SCR Lars von Trier. CAST Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Brady Corbet, Cameron Spurr, Charlotte Rampling, Jesper Christensen, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Kiefer Sutherland. Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany.

MISS BALA: Gerardo Naranjo’s haunting and elegant film tells the story of a beauty pageant hopeful swept up in the violent world of Mexico’s drug cartels. DIR Gerardo Naranjo. DIR/SCR Gerardo Naranjo, Mauricio Katz. CAST Stephanie Sigman, Noe Hernandez, James Russo. Mexico.

PINA: Wim Wenders captures the world of choreographer Pina Bausch and her dance company in spectacular 3D with thrilling performances of many of her most famous works. DIR/SCR Wim Wenders. CAST Ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. Germany/France.

RAMPART: Woody Harrelson gives a ferocious performance as a dirty cop who is embroiled in the Los Angeles Police Department’s infamous Rampart corruption scandal. DIR Oren Moverman. SCR James Ellroy, Oren Moverman. CAST Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon. USA.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN: Tilda Swinton gives a remarkable performance as Eva, a reluctant mother whose life is shattered beyond repair by her son’s Columbine-like atrocity. DIR Lynne Ramsay. SCR Lynne Ramsay, Rory Stewart Kinnear. CAST Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller. UK.

New Auteurs Selections: highlights first and second-time feature film directors from around the world.

ATTENBERG: Awaiting her father’s impending death, 23-year-old Marina explores her newly awakened sexuality through lessons from her only friend Bella and with Spyros, a visiting engineer. DIR/SCR Athina Rachel Tsangari. CAST Ariane Labed, Vangelis Mourikis, Evangelia Randou, Yorgos Lanthimos. Greece.

BONSAI: In Cristian Jimenez’s wry and nostalgic tale of love and literature, struggling writer Julio revisits and revises his memories of his college romance with Emilia. DIR/SCR Cristián Jiménez. CAST Diego Noguera, Natalia Galgani, Gabriela Arancibia, Trinidad González, Hugo Medina. Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal.

BULLHEAD: Bullhead is a gripping portrait of Jacky (Matthias Schoenaerts), a cattle farmer whose ‘juicing’ has transformed him into a bull of a man. DIR/SCR Michaël R. Roskam. CAST Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Barbara Sarafian, Frank Lammers. Belgium.

HANAAN: In this gritty crime drama, Stas, a drug-addicted cop, retreats to the Uzbek mountains to kick his habit and plot revenge for a friend’s death. DIR/SCR Ruslan Pak. CAST Stanislav Tyan, Bahodir Musaev, Ilbek Faiziev, Dmitry Eum, Ruslan Pak. Russia/South Korea.

THE LONELIEST PLANET: Intensely in love and engaged to be married, a young couple finds their journey through the Caucasus Mountains abruptly spun off course by one crucial action. DIR/SCR Julia Loktev. CAST Gael García Bernal, Hani Furstenberg, Bidzina Gujabidze. USA/Germany.

MICHAEL: In his debut film, director Markus Schleinzer crafts a superb thriller about seemingly normal Michael and his relationship with 10-year-old Wolfgang. DIR/SCR Markus Schleinzer. CAST Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger, Christine Kain, Ursula Strauss, Viktor Tremmel, Gisela Salcher. Austria.

OSLO, AUGUST 31: In Joachim Trier’s follow-up to REPRISE, a young man fresh out of rehab journeys through Oslo confronting the ghosts of his past and an uncertain future. DIR Joachim Trier. SCR Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier. CAST Anders Danielsen Lie, Malin Crépin, Aksel M. Thanke, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava, Øystein Røger, Tone B. Mostraum, Kjærsti Odden Skjeldal, Petter Width Kristiansen, Emil Lund, Johanne Kjellevik Ledang, Renate Reinsve, Andreas Braaten, Anders Borchgrevink. Norway

RESTLESS CITY: New York City is gorgeously photographed in this story of an African immigrant in love with music and a beautiful woman he cannot have. DIR Andrew Dosunmu. SCR Eugene Gussenhoven. CAST Dania Gurira, Anthony Okungbowa, Sy Alassane, Sky Grey, Babs Olusanmokun. USA.

SNOWTOWN: In his feature film debut, director Justin Kurzel brings to the screen the horrifying true story of Australia’s most notorious serial killer. DIR Justin Kurzel. SCR Justin Kurzel, Shaun Grant. CAST Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris. Australia.

Young Americans Selections: features work by emerging U.S. filmmakers.

THE COLOR WHEEL: Bickering siblings JR and Colin embark on a comedic and cathartic road trip through the diners, motels and thrift stores of the Northeast. DIR Alex Ross Perry. SCR Alex Ross Perry, Carlen Altman. CAST Carlen Altman, Bob Byington, Kate Lyn Sheil, Ann Bak-Kvapil, Ry Russo-Young, Alex Ross Perry, Craig Butta, C. Mason Well, Roy Thomas.

THE DISH & THE SPOON: Hellbent on revenge, rage-filled Rose seeks out her husband’s lover but is derailed when she strikes up an unlikely relationship with a quiet teenage boy. DIR Alison Bagnall. SCR Alison Bagnall, Andrew Lewis. CAST Greta Gerwig, Olly Alexander, Eleonore Hendricks, Amy Seimetz, Adam Rothenberg.

DRAGONSLAYER: Dragonslayer captures the life and times of Josh “Skreech” Sandoval, a local skate legend and new father, as his endless summer finally collides with the future. DIR Tristan Patterson.

GREEN: Genevieve, an intellectual New Yorker, moves to the rural South with her boyfriend, where a friendship with a local woman sends her spiraling into jealousy. DIR/SCR Sophia Takal. CAST Kate Lyn Sheil, Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine.

SPARK OF BEING: Award-winning experimental film director Bill Morrison masterfully retells the classic tale of Frankenstein, using meticulously repurposed found footage. DIR Bill Morrison.

WUSS: Mega-dork Mitch is a substitute teacher who finds himself forced to take a stand when his students take their ridicule too far. DIR/SCR Clay Lifford. CAST Nate Rubin, Alicia Anthony, Alex Karpovsky, Jonny Mars, Tony Hale, Chris Gardner, Jennifer Sipes.

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