My Most Anticipated Films at the Venice Film Festival - Keith Simanton

by keithsim | last updated - 1 month ago

The 79th Venice Film Festival starts 8/31 and finishes up 9/10. The world's oldest film festival has, since director Alberto Barbera came aboard, become a launching pad for Oscar hopefuls and winners and this year there's a queue of them waiting to unspool in the Sala Grande on the Lido. There's grand stuff both in and out of competition and you'd need the whole time to take it all in. And that's not even including the extraordinary VR programming that runs alongside it.

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1. Blonde (2022)

NC-17 | 166 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
49 Metascore

A fictionalized chronicle of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe.

Director: Andrew Dominik | Stars: Ana de Armas, Lily Fisher, Julianne Nicholson, Tygh Runyan

Votes: 20,884

No, it's not the incredibly talented Ana de Armas playing arguably the most iconic Hollywood star of all time that makes this my #1 most anticipated film. No, it's the return of director/writer Andrew Dominik to the narrative feature format. He's been doing documentaries lately, both of musician Nick Cave, and his film THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is in my top 20 for the last 20 years. I'm also a huge fan of KILLING THEM SOFTLY, an elegant, lyrical piece of violence that got one of the only "F" Cinema-Scores. And Cave's is doing the music. And Plan B. is producing and those folks only do quality, it's like a "thing" with them.

2. The Whale (2022)

117 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
64 Metascore

A reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins

I was lucky enough to be in the Sala Grande (the impressive main theater at VIFF) when Aronofsky's mother! premiered. Jennifer Lawrence looked nervous for possibly the only time ever. And soon we knew why. The room was respectful at the end, dutifully applauding but the movie died in that room. What a triumph for him to return with what looks to be a resurrection for, not only him, but also for Brendan Frasier, who is already getting Oscar buzz. The director pulled Mickey Rourke's career out the disposal with THE WRESTLER and it looks like the same is going to happen here.

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

R | 109 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
90 Metascore

Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them.

Director: Martin McDonagh | Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

Votes: 533

I'm quite a fan of McDonagh (THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURI) and here his leads from IN BRUGES reunite. Farrell is having a very good, very varied 2022.

4. Bardo (2022)

R | 174 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
51 Metascore

Follows a renowned Mexican journalist and documentary filmmaker who returns home and works through an existential crisis as he grapples with his identity, familial relationships, the folly of his memories.

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Stars: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Griselda Siciliani, Ximena Lamadrid, Íker Sánchez Solano

Votes: 271

According to the press release Iñárritu returns to shoot in Mexico for the first time (really? didn't he shoot some of BABEL at the border?) since AMORES PERROS. He's one of our most versatile directors but who knows what will come of this? It's supposed to be a comedy but I'm not buying it. Will it be mournful a la BIUTIFUL or 21 GRAMS? A satire like BIRDMAN? A massive allegory like THE REVENANT? Very excited to find out.

5. White Noise (I) (2022)

136 min | Comedy, Drama, Horror

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
68 Metascore

White Noise dramatizes a contemporary American family's attempts to deal with the mundane conflicts of everyday life while grappling with the universal mysteries of love, death, and the possibility of happiness in an uncertain world.

Director: Noah Baumbach | Stars: Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Jodie Turner-Smith

Votes: 281

It's opening the festival so our friends in the Biennale (the arts & culture arm that runs the festival) must have seen something they loved about it. But I could not stand, not stand, MARRIAGE STORY, though people I love loved it while I loved MEYEROWITZ STORIES, MISTRESS AMERICA, and FRANCES HA. Come on, latter movie-influence!

6. Copenhagen Cowboy (2022– )

Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A young heroine, Miu who travels through Copenhagen's criminal netherworld.

Stars: Per Thiim Thim, Ramadan Huseini, Zlatko Buric, Angela Bundalovic

Votes: 42

I love suffering with Nic Refn, whose unique visual style is like a fever dream Michael Mann had on too much Nyquil, and this looks to be a show that will treat me like St. Sebastian.

7. Don't Worry Darling (I) (2022)

R | 123 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
48 Metascore

A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company could be hiding disturbing secrets.

Director: Olivia Wilde | Stars: Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde

Votes: 21,889

The guaranteed glamour magnet of the festival is this film by Wilde, with all the tales of drama that swirl around it (Shia was fired! No he wasn't! Papers served at Cinema-Con!). The trailer presents an intriguing STEPFORD WIVES-like scenario though.

8. Tár (2022)

R | 158 min | Drama, Music

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
91 Metascore

Set in the international world of classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra.

Director: Todd Field | Stars: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer

Votes: 385

Todd Field did very quiet, very purposeful movies, like 2001's IN THE BEDROOM and 2006's LITTLE CHILDREN. And then he stopped. And now he's back with something that looks more BLACK SWAN than anything else.

9. Other People's Children (2022)

103 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
76 Metascore

A childless woman forms a deep bond with her boyfriend's young daughter.

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski | Stars: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, Chiara Mastroianni, Callie Ferreira-Goncalves

Votes: 209

Rebecca Zlotowski made GRAND CENTRAL, a movie that was generally overlooked in 2013, and I still can't figure out why. Looking forward to this and hoping it fares better for her.

10. Dead for a Dollar (2022)

R | 107 min | Thriller, Western

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  
64 Metascore

The film follows a famed bounty hunter who runs into his sworn enemy, a professional gambler and outlaw that he had sent to prison years before.

Director: Walter Hill | Stars: Rachel Brosnahan, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Hamish Linklater

Votes: 516

It's out of competition, which gives me pause, but who could miss a Western, with this cast, from Walter Hill (48 HRS., THE LONG RIDERS)? Not me.

11. Master Gardener (2022)

107 min | Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
58 Metascore

A meticulous horticulturist who is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate and pandering to his employer, the wealthy dowager.

Director: Paul Schrader | Stars: Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Quintessa Swindell, Eduardo Losan

Votes: 146

Also out of competition is the latest from Paul Schrader who appears to be aping Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood for plain old productivity and stick-to-it-tiveness. CARD COUNTER was a return to form for this old lion, proving he's still got teeth.

12. Dreamin' Wild (2022)

110 min | Biography, Drama, Music

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Musical duo Donnie and Joe Emerson spend everything they have to produce a record in the 1970s.

Director: Bill Pohlad | Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Walton Goggins, Beau Bridges, Casey Affleck

Votes: 53

I'm a bigger fan of Bill Pohlad the producer (lots of Terrence Malick and Plan B. stuff) than as a director (I found LOVE & MERCY to be a noble whiff) but he might have found his groove behind the camera on this one.

13. Living (2022)

PG-13 | 102 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
79 Metascore

An English-language adaptation of the script of "Ikiru" (1952), set in London in the 1950s.

Director: Oliver Hermanus | Stars: Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Adrian Rawlins

Votes: 215

I haven't seen any of director Oliver Hermanus's other films (sorry, Oliver, I'll try to rectify that) but taking on one of Kirosawa's earlier successes is gutsy, particularly as IKIRU was slow, delicate, and so beholden to the particulars of the Japanese culture. Of course the post-WWII British society had its own set of rules and strata. It will be intriguing to see how much of it translates and how much Mermanus ditches altogether (I can't imagine he going to do IKIRU's long drunken wake).

14. The Son (I) (2022)

123 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
60 Metascore

Peter has his busy life with new partner Beth and their baby thrown into disarray when his ex-wife Kate turns up with their teenage son, Nicholas.

Director: Florian Zeller | Stars: Vanessa Kirby, Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern

Votes: 247

Florian Zeller's unforgettable THE FATHER landed Anthony Hopkins another Oscar and early world is this is a memorable, giving Hugh Jackman the chance to shine this time.

15. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (2022)

113 min | Documentary

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
88 Metascore

It follows the life of artist Nan Goldin and the downfall of the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical dynasty who was greatly responsible for the opioid epidemic's unfathomable death toll.

Director: Laura Poitras | Stars: Nan Goldin, David Armstrong, Marina Berio, Noemi Bonazzi

Votes: 114

If you watched "DOPESICK," like me, then this documentary by Poitras (who did the memorable CITIZEN FOUR) is a must.

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