73rd Venice Film Festival

Venezia 73
73rd Venice Film Festival
August 31st to September 10th, 2016

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Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg

by Laura Patricia Jones

Aliens exist, they’re here, they’ve landed and their intentions are unclear.

There have been countless attempts at alien movies over the years – good, bad and ugly. Upon first impression it was unclear as to which way director Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival was going to go – a modern Close Encounters of the Third Kind or a Knowing/Signs based car crash… read more

Boys in the Trees
Directed by Nicholas Verso
Starring Toby Wallace, Gulliver McGrath, Mitzi Ruhlmann and Justin Holborow

by Laura Patricia Jones

Halloween 1997 – it’s the last night of high school for Corey, Jango and the rest of their skater gang. Ready to face the real world, everyone but Corey is excited to go out with a bang. Jonah, an old childhood friend of Corey’s, is being bullied by the gang, in particular by Jango. Corey finds Jonah at the skate park and offers to walk him home for old time’s sake, but what starts off as a normal walk through the empty suburban streets, turns into a dark and jumpy ghost story… read more

Directed by Martin Koolhoven
Starring Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Emilia Jones, Carice Van Houten and Kit Harington

by Jenny Donoghue

If you like gore and enjoy a good two hours of the repeated and horrific oppression of helpless innocent women, Brimstone is certainly the film for you. Graphic from beginning to end, Dutch writer and director Martin Koolhoven’s Western thriller follows Frontier woman Liz, as she struggles against the misfortunes of being a woman among settlers in the New World (and any time, in the wrong circumstances, really) and the twists her life takes as she tries to escape her obsessed pursuer, an almost comically evil Reverend father, played by Guy Pearce… read more

Hacksaw Ridge
Directed by Mel Gibson
Starring Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel Griffiths

by Laura Patricia Jones

Bravery, brutality and a test of blind faith – Mel Gibson’s directorial comeback Hacksaw Ridge carries him back to safety at the Venice Film Festival.

Gibson’s first film in ten years tells the story of Desmond Doss, a young skinny lad from Virginia who, due to his father’s (Hugo Weaving) violent and alcoholic depression from serving in the Great War, is opposed to violence and killing. However thanks to his moral outlook and urge to serve, he signs up to join the troops as a medic in WWII. The backdrop of this is a charming, beautiful love story with his sweetheart Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) who he promises to return to and marry on his first leave… read more

King of the Belgians
Directed by Jessica Woodworth & Peter Brosens
Starring Peter Van Den Begin, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt and Bruno Georis

by Jenny Donoghue

What do you do when you’re King of Belgium and your country falls apart while you’re stuck in Turkey? That’s the question in this surprisingly quirky comedy drama from writer-director team Jessica Woodworth and Peter Brosens. While King Nicholas, played with endearing naivety and believable royal gravitas by Peter Van den Begin, is fictional, the political conflict in Belgium between the Walloons and the Flemish is based on real tensions. The film handles a lot of very current issues, including the modern and changing face of the EU, the question of the role of monarchy in contemporary society, and the struggle of a King trying to be relevant, to relate to common people, and to make a difference from a position that is more figurehead than tangible power… read more

La La Land
La La Land
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, J.K. Simmons and Finn Wittrock

by Laura Patricia Jones

La La Land is a film from the time movies forgot – the classic jazz and romanticism of technicolor in the hustle and bustle of modern LA. A challenge if ever there was, but one that director Damien Chazelle accomplishes without bordering on the Grease like cheese factor… read more

Les Beaux Jours D’Aranjeux
Directed by Wim Wenders
Starring Reda Kateb, Sophie Semin, Jens Harzer and Nick Cave

by Jenny Donoghue

Not many 3D films open with a writer staring at his typewriter and an apple on a tiny table. Adapted by director Wim Wenders from Peter Handke’s play, Les Beaux Jours D’Aranjeux is not your typical 3D film. The action all takes place in a single location, and in fact is more accurately a long conversation intercut with luscious nature sounds than action. The two characters occasionally shift position but remain largely seated at a table in a beautiful garden landscape… read more

Nocturnal Animals
Directed by Tom Ford
Starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen

by Laura Patricia Jones

Visually stunning cinematography, witty and gripping script, fast-paced narrative – it’s hard to know where to begin with fashion designer turned director / screenwriter Tom Ford’s latest offering.

It’s glitzy, it’s glamourous, it’s gritty… read more

One More Time With Feeling
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Starring Nick Cave

by Jenny Donoghue

Shot by The Assassination of Jesse James‘ Andrew Dominik, mostly in black and white and 3D, One More Time With Feeling is a gorgeous treat of a film that feels somewhere between a great piece of art and a satisfying meal visually aurally and emotionally.

The documentary follows musician Nick Cave during the making of his album Skeleton Tree with his band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and interview footage is intercut with live performance of songs from the album. It’s also an achingly raw and personal look at a man dealing with the loss of his son, who died during the album’s creation… read more

Directed by Roan Johnson
Starring Luigi Fedele, Blu Yoshimi, Michela Cescon, Sergio Pierattini, Francesco Colella, Francesca Antonelli, Bruno Sgueglia and Francesca Turrini

by Jenny Donoghue

At first encounter, Piuma has what appears to be both the aesthetic and plot of an Italian version of 2007’s Juno. As a fan of the original, I wasn’t necessarily against this, and found the differences in translation fascinating – Michael Cera’s awkwardness becomes a frantically gesticulating Luigi Fedele as Ferro, the charming trouble magnet, and Ellen Page’s deadpan translates to a still grounded yet warmer more tender performance by Blu Yoshimi as Cate… read more

Directed by Rebecca Zlotowski
Starring Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp, Emmanuel Salinger andLouis Garrel

by Laura Patricia Jones

Pretty and pleasing, Rebecca Zlotowski’s supernatural period piece Planetarium is a stunning spectacle for the senses.

One thing to say about Zlotowski’s film is that it’s pretty, oh so very pretty. It takes two stunning actresses – Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp – throws them in 1930’s France, costumes them beautifully, splits the dialogue between French and English, shoots them in soft lighting – you’ve got something very gorgeous to watch… no matter what the content. Which is perhaps where I was led astray with the supernatural thriller which, much like my taste in men, is very nice to look at but lacks substance… read more

The Bad Batch
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
Starring Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi, Yolonda Ross, Cory Roberts, Louie Lopez, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey

by Laura Patricia Jones

“Beyond this fence is no longer the territory of Texas. That hereafter no person within the territory beyond this fence is a resident of the United States of America or shall be acknowledged, recognized or governed by the laws and governing bodies therein. Good luck.”

That’s the sign we are greeted with as a young girl is dumped in the desert wasteland in the dystopian future of the United States. Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), one of thousands of Americans deemed unacceptable to society, is captured by a savage band of cannibals, chained up while two of her limbs are brutally hacked off to feed cannibals known as ‘The Bridge People’, all to the soundtrack of Ace of Base’s All That She Wants. A brutal opening scene which left me hiding behind my handbag, Amirpour makes no apologies with her graphic content… read more

The Journey
Directed by Nick Hamm
Starring Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Freddie Highmore, John Hurt and Toby Stephens

by Laura Patricia Jones

A political cocktail of banter and bromance probably wasn’t how Nick Hamm intended his fictional interpretation of the Northern Ireland peace talks to be interpreted, but that’s how it felt as I spent 90 minutes watching The Journey.

After 40 years of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the leading players meet at St. Andrews in an attempt to hammer out a final and lasting peace agreement. The end result depends on loyalist firebrand Reverend Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and former IRA Commander Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), two sworn enemies agreeing to share power… read more

The Young Pope
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino

Starring Jude Law, Diane Keaton, Silvio Orlando, Scott Shepherd, Cécile de France, Javier Cámara, Ludivine Sagnier, Toni Bertorelli and James Cromwell

by Laura Patricia Jones

Blasphemy, banter and bums – it’s all kicking off at the Vatican in Paolo Sorrentino’s new television series The Young Pope.

Much to the dismay of his cardinals, eye-catchingly handsome Lenny Belardo (Jude Law) is the newly appointed Pius XII – the first American Pope in history. Young, charming and devilishly manipulative, Lenny proves to be the most mysterious and contradictory Pope yet. Demanding Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast, keeping pet Kangaroos and having graphic dreams of addressing St. Peter’s square with a speech on accepting abortion, homosexuality, contraception and masturbation – it’s a very brave and bold script… read more


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