Monday, 30 August 2010

67th Venice International Film Festival

Tomorrow I set off for Venice to attend this year's Film Festival which runs from September 1st to 11th. On behalf of Obsessed With Film and the Picturehouse Blog, I am going to be reporting from the festival, writing reviews and hopefully interviewing people too. My Splendor Cinema podcast co-host, Jon Barrenechea, is also there on separate business, so we should also be recording a couple of new episodes whilst there. As a big Kurosawa fan, I can't wait to attend (for the first time) the festival which is so often credited with bringing him - and Japanese cinema in general - to wider Western attention, after they famously awarded 'Rashomon' the prestigious Golden Lion award in 1951. Last year's recipient was Sam Maoz for the superior Israeli war film 'Lebanon'.

Among the big films competing for this year's Golden Lion are Sophia Coppola's 'Somewhere' (pictured above), Takeshi Mike's '13 Assassins' (which screens the day I leave - on the 9th!), Tom Tykwer's 'Drei' (which plays after I have left) and Darren Aronofsky's 'Black Swan'. Though, after the little-fancied Thai film 'Uncle Boonmee' was picked as the surprise winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes earlier in the year, it is hard to say who the Quentin Tarantino led jury will plumb for. Possibly something similarly oblique will be crowned the winner - such as the Japanese drama 'Norwegian Wood' (pictured below), adapted from the best selling novel by Haruki Murakami. This is one of the reasons why I am going to try to see every 'in competition' film I am able to. I'm probably going to see four to five films a day as I try to avoid missing THE film.

I will try to see a few 'out of competition' movies as well though. 'I'm Still Here', Casey Affleck's much-anticipated documentary/mocumentary about the transition from actor to rapper of Joaquin Phoenix. It isn't really known how serious this film is as of yet (is it a joke? Is Phoenix serious?) and, I have to admit, I've been sucked into the hype on this one. Ever since the 'Gladiator' stars's bizarre interview on Letterman I've been curious. Elsewhere, Casey's older brother, Ben, is debuting crime thriller, 'The Town', which he directs and stars in alongside Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall and Jon Hamm. Whilst, the late Dennis Hopper is being honoured with a screening of his little seen follow-up to 'Easy Rider', 1971's ill-fated 'The Last Movie'. It is on at midnight so provided I can still get a boat back to the city after the screening, I would very much like to see that one too.

For whatever reason, some of the 'out of competition' films are showing the evening I arrive, before the festival officially kicks off. So I may see the Andrew Lau ('Young and Dangerous') directed 'Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen', starring Donnie Yen, tomorrow. If I get settled in ok and can find the cinema! I will probably miss the retrospective on Italian comedy, the celebratory screenings of the work of John Woo (who is being honoured this year) and the short films - but I will try to fit in anything I can. So check back here, and on those other sites I mentioned, to get the latest from the 67th Venice International Film Festival.

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