The Venice Film Festival has recently wrapped its 74th year on 9th September. Founded in 1932 this Festival is the oldest and regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and is considered one of 'The Big Three' film festivals that really count on the circuit, alongside Cannes and Berlin. The Venice Film Festival generally takes place in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and in other venues nearby. This years festival took place from 30th August through until 9th September, with Annette Bening announced in July as the President of the Jury for those films in main competition ably supported by the likes of Rebecca Hall, David Stratton and Edgar Wright. The film 'Downsizing' starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Willis, Laura Dern, Jason Sudeikis and and Neil Patrick Harris and as Directed by Alexander Payne, opened the festival, and goes on general release in the US just before Christmas this year.
This years winners and grinners in main competition were as follows :-
* The Golden Lion for the Best Film of the Festival was awarded to 'The Shape of Water' by Writer, Producer and Director Guillermo del Toro. Set in 1962 where a mute janitor and her colleague work in a government laboratory and eventually discover an amphibious creature in a water tank. The janitor, out of loneliness, befriends the creature. Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Richard Jenkins, this film is due for release in the US in early December.
* The Silver Lion was awarded to French drama film 'Custody' Directed by Xavier Legrand and stars Lea Drucker, Denis Menochet, Thomas Gioria and Mathilde Auneveux.
* The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to 'Foxtrot' an Israeli drama film Written and Directed by Samuel Maoz, and starring Sarah Adler and Lior Ashkenazi about a well to do Tel Aviv couple learning that their soldier son has been killed in the line of duty, and the events that led up to their son's death and how it effected the parents in the aftermath.
* The Special Jury Prize was awarded to 'Sweet Country' an Australian Western film Directed by Warwick Thornton and starring Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Matt Day and Ewen Leslie.
* Best Actor awarded the Volpi Cup goes to Kamel El Basha for the French/Lebanese drama film 'The Insult' as Written and Directed by Ziad Doueiri.
* Best Actress awarded the Volpi Cup goes to Charlotte Rampling for the Italian drama film 'Hannah' as Written and Directed by Andrea Pallaoro.
* Best Screenplay was awarded to Martin McDonagh for his Written, Co-Produced and Directed crime drama film 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Abbie Cornish and due for release in the US in early November.
* Also starring in main competition were 'First Reformed' by Director Paul Schrader and starring Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried; 'Lean on Pete' by Screenwriter and Director Andrew Haigh and starring Charlie Plummer (who was awarded the Marcello Mastroianni Award in recognition of an emerging Actor talent), Travis Fimmel, Steve Buscemi, Steve Zahn and Chloe Sevigny; the Italian/American co-production 'The Leisure Seeker' Directed by Paolo Virzi and starring Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren; 'mother!' Written, Co-Produced and Directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer and as Previewed below; and 'Suburbicon' Co-Written, Co-Produced and Directed by George Clooney and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac and set for release in the US in late October. All up twenty-one films appeared in main competition, with a further twenty-two out of competition, and a further 46 in various other categories and special screenings.
* The Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award went to Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
Turning to this week we have a haul of eight latest release movies coming to a cinema near you. Starting off with an origin story that could become the next big action franchise of a young Black Ops Counter Terrorism Agent with a very particular set of skills; then we move to an intense disturbing psychological horror film with a big name Director and a big name cast behind it; and then a highly rated tale set in the Yorkshire dales of northern England on a remote farm where a young farmer has his dead end life set right by a Romanian migrant worker. Then we go to a story of an up & coming rapper who has big dreams and aspirations of making it big and shrugging off the challenges that might prevent her from achieving her goals in life; followed by a historical drama of Queen Victoria and an unlikely servant with whom she forges a close and trusting relationship much to the disdain of those closest to her. Next up is a historical documentary of the civil rights and racial discrimination movement that marked 1960's America told from the perspective of a man who was right in the midst of it; before wrapping up with two animated feature films that will be right on cue for your typical six year old.
Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the eight new release films as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are here warmly invited to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and meanwhile, enjoy your big screen cinema experience during the week ahead.
'AMERICAN ASSASSIN' (Rated MA15+) - this action thriller is based on series of books written by Vince Flynn, with 'American Assassin' being published in 2010. Although it is not the first book in the series of sixteen so far, rather the eleventh, it is a prequel novel that establishes Mitch Rapp as the main character cementing his back story and how he ultimately comes to be an undercover CIA Counter Terrorism Agent. Rapp's primary focus is uncovering and undermining terrorist attacks on the US, and he is an aggressive, opinionated Agent prepared to take measures that are more extreme than might be usually deemed commonly acceptable. His ongoing frustration with procedures, policy and red tape is a major theme throughout the entire series. Vince Flynn died in June 2013 aged 47, and ongoing books in the series are written by Kyle Mills. Antoine Fuqua was originally brought on to Direct, when CBS acquired the movie rights to the series of books back in 2008. Then Edward Zwick was announced to Direct, then Jeffrey Nachmanoff and finally Michael Cuesta, who delivers this film now being released in the US and Australia this week at a budgeted cost of US$40M.
'MOTHER' (Rated MA15+) - this psychological horror film was Written by Darren Aronofsky in just five days, and is also Co-Produced and Directed by him too. His previous screen Directing credits include 'Requiem for a Dream', 'The Fountain', 'The Wrestler', 'Black Swan' and 'Noah' and so far during his career to date he has amassed 35 award wins and 79 other nominations. The film had its worldwide Premier at the very recent Venice Film Festival, and is released in the US and in Australia this week, and the early Reviews indicate generally widespread acclaim. The film here tells the story of a young woman's life, Mother (Jennifer Lawrence) and he husband, Him (Javier Bardem) who live a peaceful, tranquil life in the countryside in a huge mansion that they are gradually rebuilding after a devastating fire. She is working on the design and fit out, and he is a renowned poet and author suffering from writers block. One night unexpectedly a Man (Ed Harris) turns up at their front door enquiring if their house is a Bed & Breakfast establishment, and asks to stay anyway when he learns its not. He strikes up an instant rapport with Him, much to Mother's chagrin. Then the mans wife shows up, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) with her two sons (played by real life brothers Domhnall and Brian Gleeson) who start to undermine Mother. What ensues when it all turns nasty is a story of love, devotion, sacrifice, hope and bloody surprises that will keep you guessing at every turn.
'GOD'S OWN COUNTRY' (Rated MA15+) - this British Drama film is Written and Directed by first timer Francis Lee, and has been critically acclaimed and has so far won eight awards around the film festival circuit including Berlin, Edinburgh and Sundance, and been nominated for seven others. The film was made for a budgeted GB£1M and has been described in The Times Newspaper as the 'Yorkshire Brokeback Mountain'. The story takes us to remote Yorkshire and a farm there where Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor) is a mid-twenty year old no hoper lad living a dead beat life on the family farm with his father Martin Saxby (Ian Hart) and his Grandmother Deirdre Saxby (Gemma Jones). Martin has suffered a stroke in the recent past and is largely incapacitated, and Deirdre is too old to attend to the daily routines on the farm, so much of the day to day workload falls to Johnny. To while away what little personal time he does have, Johnny drinks to excess often alone at the local pub, and engages in casual sex with one night stands that he has forgotten about the next morning. When Martin advertises for a farm hand to help out during lambing season, the only applicant is a Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe Ionescu (Alec Secareanu). Fairly soon, Johnny and Gheorghe strike up a friendship and then an intimate relationship that sets Johnny off on a different path altogether giving his life and his circumstances a new meaning.
With eight new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, taking in an action thriller, psychological horror, a remote farm love story, historical biographical drama, historical civil-rights and racism doco, a wannabe rap artist in the making offering and a couple of animated features remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles afterwards here at Odeon Online. In the meantime, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-