Daily | Venice and Locarno Openers


Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis in ‘Birdman’

Venice and Locarno have all but simultaneously announced their opening night films. The 71st Venice Film Festival (August 27 through September 6) will open with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, “a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton)—famous for portraying an iconic superhero—as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.” Birdman also stars Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts—and here’s the trailer:

Luc Besson’s Lucy will open the 67th Festival del film Locarno (August 6 through 16) and will likely occasion at least one think piece on Scarlett Johansson as a sort of carrier for our post-human fantasies and anxieties. She’s played a clone in Michael Bay’s The Island (2005), a body-less OS in Spike Jonze’s Her and a man-digesting alien in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Lucy is “a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic,” as the official synopsis puts it. The trailer:

Lucy opens in the States on July 25; American audiences will have to wait until October 17 for Birdman.


“We have passed through the looking-glass of Guy Debord’s ‘society of the spectacle’ and found that, after all, we are still functioning, everyday, human beings.” Adrian Martin writes about “archive fever” in his new column for De Filmkrant.

“With a celebration of Orson Welles and his film, theatre, and radio legacies already underway in Palo Alto, less than a year before the centennial of his birth next May,” writes Brian Darr at EatDrinkFilms, presenting “a look at just a few of the mysteries about Welles’s life and work that still puzzle fans and scholars in 2014.”

In 1967, Raymond Durgnat reviewed Yoko Ono’s Film No. 4 (known to some as Bottoms) for Films and Filming. You can now read the piece at chained and perfumed.

“If one were called on to explain to a young cinemagoer now the position in the 1980s of the British painter-turned-director Peter Greenaway,” writes Ryan Gilbey in the New Statesman, “it might be helpful to say that he combined the intellectual mischief of Slavoj Žižek, the formalist precision of Wes Anderson, the provocations of Lady Gaga and the commercial appeal of chlamydia.” So where have his audiences gone, Gilbey wonders. As for Goltzius and the Pelican Company (2012), “It can’t be a coincidence that Greenaway has returned to the play-within-a-film format of his most hated work [The Baby of Mâcon, 1993] to denounce the hypocrisy of those who claim to prize intellectual and artistic inquiry only to yank up the drawbridge when reality bites.”

The Telegraph‘s Tim Robey calls Goltzius “one of his friskier, wittier films this side of the millennium.” More from Nigel Andrews (Financial Times, 4/5).


New York. Jodie Mack‘s Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project (2013) screens on Wednesday as part of Rooftop Films‘ summer series. In the New York Times, Nicolas Rapold chats with Mack and suggests that her “work is part of a well-established tradition in experimental animation with music that includes the coolly radiant geometric patterns of the abstract pioneer Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye’s jazzy jigs of shapes and figures, Mary Ellen Bute’s balletic auralike Synchromy films and the myth-spinning collages of Harry Smith. But in some ways, Ms. Mack’s most formative influence is right there in the title.”

Tristana (1970), “one of the greatest films from Buñuel’s extremely rich late period, bookended by Diary of a Chambermaid (1964) and his final movie, That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), exemplifies the director’s skill in skewering the entitled classes,” writes Melissa Anderson for Artforum. “The mordancy of this project—which Buñuel, co-writing with Julio Alejandro, adapted from Benito Pérez Galdos’s 1892 novel (they set the film roughly three decades later)—is further heightened by the tarnishing of [Catherine] Deneuve’s porcelain perfection.” Tristana screens on July 19 and 20 as part of BAMcinématek’s Buñuel series, running through July 31.

Los Angeles. “In its 32nd year, Outfest… finds itself in a celebratory mood,” writes Haley Goldberg in a preview for the Times. “In a historic ruling last summer, the Supreme Court declared a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and now 19 states have legalized same-sex marriage. It’s a major shift from the state of LGBT rights in 1982 when UCLA students first conceived the festival.” More from Ernest Hardy in the LA Weekly: “Outfest, in an extraordinarily strong year of programming, has put together a lineup of films that captures some of the nuances of the conversations LGBT folk are having with and about themselves.” Today through July 20.

San Francisco. Every Saturday this month, Kala Art Institute is presenting Gravity Spells: Bay Area New Music and Expanded Cinema Art, a “unique performance series [celebrating] the release of a limited edition hand-made gatefold double LP of music paired with four DVD’s of original film featuring collaborations by: Craig Baldwin with Maggi Payne; Paul Clipson with Tashi Wada; Lawrence Jordan with John Davis and Kerry Laitala with Ashley Bellouin and Ben Bracken. The publication includes a 50-page booklet of writing and images bound in a hand-made letterpress cover.”

Portland. Wes’s World: Wes Anderson and His Influences opens on Saturday at the Northwest Film Center and runs through the end of August. On a related note, the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth has a 30-minute doc on the making of The Royal Tenenbaums (2001).

DC. The National Gallery of Art’s series From Vault to Screen: Canyon Cinema 16 mm opens on Saturday and runs through August 31.

Toronto. Techno/Human: The Films of Mamoru Oshii is on at TIFF Bell Lightbox from Saturday through July 25. Jason Anderson for Artforum: “Oshii’s futuristic visions are infused with his unique brand of dualism, one that freely pursues heady ruminations about technology’s transformative effects on human consciousness while continuing to indulge the visceral thrills and visual panache expected by anime’s traditional fanboy constituency.”

London. In conjunction with the BFI’s Dennis Hopper season (through July 31), Paul O’Callaghan writes up the “ten best” performances.


Scarlett Johansson (her again!) and Jonah Hill are “in talks” to join George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes in the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar, reports Variety‘s Justin Kroll. “The story follows a Hollywood fixer in the 1950s who is working to keep a studio’s stars in line.”

Also: Penelope Cruz is joining Sacha Baron Cohen, Rebel Wilson and Mark Strong in the comedy Grimsby. And Dave McNary reports that Kate Lyn Sheil “will join Guy Pearce, Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult in the sci-fi movie Equals.”

New subtitled trailer for the Dardennes’ Two Days, One Night

Guillermo del Toro’s television series The Strain “arrives this summer, Crimson Peak will drop in 2015 and Pacific Rim 2 is slated for 2017 (with the franchise also spawning an animated show),” notes the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth. But before PR2, del Toro wants to make what he calls “another very small movie, black and white, really, really bizarre.”


Rosemary Murphy, “who appeared as the neighbor Maudie Atkinson in the classic 1962 film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird,” died on Saturday at the age of 87, reports Carmel Dagan in Variety. “The actress appeared in features including Woody Allen films September in 1987 and Mighty Aphrodite in 1995 and had appeared in a number of films in recent years: 2007’s The Savages, with Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman; [and] 2008’s Synecdoche, New York, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman.”


Listening (180’01”). In Illusion Travels By Streetcar #21, Barry Anderson, Stuart Collier, Brian Risselada, John Calvin Story and Tom Sutpen discuss Frederick Wiseman’s first films.

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