Quite a week for lineup announcements. Just days ago, we learned that Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, screening out of competition, will open the 69th Venice Film Festival on August 29. On Tuesday, we saw the first round of titles heading for Toronto, followed by the lineups for Venice Days and Venice Critics’ Week. Today, Variety‘s Nick Vivarelli has the first word on the big one, Venice’s Competition.
Olivier Assayas‘s Something in the Air. From Palace Films: “Set in the early 1970s, Gilles (newcomer Clément Metayer) is a high school student in Paris, swept up in the political fever of the time. Yet his real dream is to paint and make films, something that his friends and even his girlfriend (Goodbye, First Love‘s Lola Créton) cannot understand. For them, politics is everything: the social struggle all-consuming. But Gilles gradually becomes more comfortable with his life choices and learns to feel at ease in this new society.”
Ramin Bahrani’s At Any Price. The synopsis from Toronto: “Set in the competitive world of modern agriculture, ambitious Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) wants his rebellious son Dean (Zac Efron) to help expand his family’s farming empire. However, Dean has his sights set on becoming a professional race car driver. When a high-stakes investigation into their business is exposed, father and son are pushed into an unexpected situation that threatens the family’s entire livelihood.”
Marco Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty. The Toronto synopsis: “Italy is cleaved by Eluana Englaro’s drama, who will die after 17 years spent in a vegetative state. This national tragedy will touch and transform various characters, each of them with their own ideology and beliefs. A senator is struggling with his vote on a law he profoundly disagrees with, torn between his conscience and his loyalty towards the leaders of his party. His daughter Maria, a pro-life activist, is protesting in front of the clinic where Eluana is hospitalized. Roberto and his brother are there in opposition, demonstrating for stronger secular values—yet it is with Roberto, the ‘enemy’ that Maria falls in love. These and other converging stories are connected by a unique emotional thread: a reflection on the meaning of life. Starring Isabelle Huppert, Toni Servillo, Alba Rohrwacher, Michele Riondino, Maya Sansa, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Brenno Placido, Fabrizio Falco, Gian Marco Tognazzi, Roberto Herlitzka.”
Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth’s La Cinquieme Saison (The Fifth Season). From the directors of Altiplano. From Flanders Image: “A mysterious calamity strikes: spring refuses to come. The cycle of nature is capsized. Alice, Thomas and Octave, three kids in a village deep in the Ardennes forest, struggle to make sense of the world that is collapsing around them.”
Rama Bursztyn and Yigal Bursztyn’s Fill the Void. Shira, 18, is the youngest daughter in an Orthodox Jewish family living in Tel Aviv, prepares to marry. From what I can make out, anyway. The Israel Film Academy has an image.
Daniele Cipri’s È stato il figlio. Roughly translated from Movieplayer.it: A shootout between gangsters near Palermo results in the death of a poor family’s youngest daughter. As compensation, a black Volvo is parked in front of their door. When the son and his girlfriend scratch the car’s door, the father lashes out at him—and the son seeks revenge.
Francesca Comencini’s Un Giorno Speciale. Roughly translated from MyMovies.it: Based on a book by Claudio Bigagli, the film tells the story of two boys from the suburbs of Rome who get to know each other as they spend a day waiting for a business appointment.
Brian De Palma’s Passion. A remake of Alain Corneau’s Love Crime (2010), DePalma’s first film since Redacted (2007) “stars Rachel McAdams as a businesswoman and Noomi Rapace as her assistant, who become locked in a deadly power struggle that will involve lingerie, showers, and kinky masks,” according to Movieline‘s Jen Yamato.
Xavier Giannoli’s Superstar. From Wild Bunch: “Celebrity—the hell everyone’s dying for. Martin Kazinski is a humble worker. Just another face in the crowd. One morning, as normal, he takes the metro. But it’s not a normal day. People are looking at him. A stranger asks for his autograph; another takes his picture. A third just wants to shake his hand. It must be a mistake, a hoax, some sort of joke. Soon, his name is all over the TV, the radio, the internet. Martin Kazinski—with no particular talent, no connections and no idea why—has suddenly become a celebrity. It’s incomprehensible. But it’s a fact.” With Kad Merad and Cecile de France.
Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta. From AsianWiki: “Working for loan sharks, a cruel man (Lee Jung-Jin) gets money from debtors one way or the other. One day, a woman (Jo Min-Su) appears in front of him, apologizing for throwing him away and insisting that she is his mother.” Twitch has a trailer.
Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage: Beyond. The Toronto synopsis: “As the police launch a full-scale crackdown on organized crime, it ignites a national yakuza struggle between the Sanno of the East and Hanabishi of the West. What started as an internal strife in Outrage has now become a nationwide war in Outrage Beyond.
Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. From the IMDb: “Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith have been best friends since grade school. They live together in a boring college dorm and are hungry for adventure. All they have to do is save enough money for spring break to get their shot at having some real fun. A serendipitous encounter with rapper ‘Alien’ promises to provide the girls with all the thrill and excitement they could hope for. With the encouragement of their new friend, it soon becomes unclear how far the girls are willing to go to experience a spring break they will never forget.” With Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and James Franco.
Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder. The synopsis from Toronto: “After visiting Mont Saint-Michel—once known in France as the Wonder—at the height of their love, Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and Neil (Ben Affleck) come to Oklahoma, where problems soon arise. Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Javier Bardem), who is struggling with his vocation, while Neil renews his ties with a childhood friend, Jane (Rachel McAdams). An exploration of love in its many forms.”
Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb, “the story of a midwife, played by local superstar Nora Aunor,” according to Film Business Asia, “coping with the irony of her own infertility while handling the deprivations of the ‘sea gypsy’ community in the Tawi-Tawi region. As he did with Captive, Mendoza filmed real scenes of child birth for Thy Womb. The cast also includes Lovi Poe, Mercedes Cabral, Raymart Santiago and Bembol Roco.”
Valeria Sarmiento’s Linhas de Wellington. The wife of the late Raúl Ruiz has completed one of his last works. From the official site: “With an original screenplay created by the awarded Mysteries of Lisbon‘s writer, Carlos Saboga, the film gathers a lavishly remarkable cast that collects the major Portuguese actors and special participations of some unique international talents such as Michel Piccoli, Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich and Isabelle Huppert…. On September 27, 1810, the French troops commanded by Marshal Massena, were defeated in the Serra do Buçaco by the Anglo-Portuguese army of general Wellington. Despite the victory, Portuguese and British are forced to march à frente of the enemy, numerically superior, in order to attract them to Torres Vedras, where Wellington had built fortified lines hardly surmountable.”
Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith. The second film in a trilogy begun with Paradise: Love. From UlrichSeidlFilm Production: “Seidl takes a look at what it means to carry the cross in Austria. His most simple yet nonetheless most complicated film shows a woman who spends her vacation proselytizing with statues of the Madonna until her husband, a Muslim, comes back from Egypt. They sing, they pray and they fight. PARADISE: Faith is a filmic Pieta with the stations of the cross depicting a marriage.”
Update, 7/30: “Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master will join the competition roster at the Venice Film Festival, and it might well be part of the Toronto International Film Festival program as well,” reports Deadline‘s Mike Fleming. “I’m told that the film has now been locked, and that Harvey Weinstein will get a prime Saturday slot to launch it into the Oscar-season fray. It certainly ramps up the buzz factor at the festival, partly because critics finally get to decide for themselves how much the title character played by Philip Seymour Hoffman was influenced by L. Ron Hubbard and his formation of Scientology.” And here’s the trailer.