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Venice Film Festival and what you should expect for films in the fall

Summer is about to end which means we are heading into fall. Not only is this a transition for the weather, but it is also a transition for film. When we enter into the fall, we are entering into the beginning of the Oscar contenders. A sign that the higher tier films are coming is the film festivals. This is where a lot of films will have their premieres for the critics and some of the big people in Hollywood. A lot of the Oscar buzz will start at the important film festivals and we are now at the beginning. The first film festival of the season was the Venice Film Festival. From Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, celebrities flocked to Venice, Italy to watch and promote some new films. Yes, it was more than just Timothée Chalamet in a backless jumpsuit and Harry Styles kissing Nick Kroll. While people who were not at the festival have not seen these films, we have received the first reactions and have an idea of what will have some notice. The festival then ends with some awards that give a true picture. Here is what you might have missed from the Venice Film Festival and what you should look out for.

A lot of these films had been talked about for a while in expectation, and this festival was the time to see if they were worth any hype. The opening film was Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise.” Baumbach is mostly known for directing slice of life romance films, but this one is a little different. Starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, this film is a comedy about an apocalypse, based on the novel by Don Delillo. Many people thought this book would be very difficult to adapt, but the reactions don’t seem that bad. This was certainly not the rave of the festival and there were some mixed reviews, but it seems the response seems overall positive. As a big Baumbach fan, I am looking forward to this break from his usual genre. 

Speaking of emotions, a film that caught many people’s attention at the festival was Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.” If you know anything about Aronofsky, then you know this will probably be very psychological and will probably make you think a lot. Based on the play of the same name, this film centers around a 600-pound man dealing with the grief of his dead boyfriend while trying to reconnect with his daughter. This film stars Brendan Fraser and this festival showed that it is definitely time for the “Brendanaissance.” Brendan Fraser was once a star but was blackballed in the industry after he was the victim of sexual assault by a film executive. The fans are backing his comeback and awaiting his vindication. With the seven-minute standing ovation and the positive reviews that have come out, mostly in reference to Fraser’s performance, it seems that this will be his time.

Now on to what won awards. Venice Film Festival Does not give out many awards, so you really have to pay attention to what does get award recognition. The grand jury awards are really the main awards for this festival. A film that got two of the jury awards is Martin McDonaugh’s, “The Banshees of Inershin”. An accomplished playwright and film director/screenwriter, McDonaugh has been a reliable creative force for many years now. This film was no exception. This story of two men in a remote island who end their friendship gave McDonaugh the award for Best Screenplay and star Colin Farrell the Best Actor award. It got a thirteen-minute standing ovation, the longest of this year’s festival, so this is definitely a film that should be on your list. 

In terms of Best Directing, that went to Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All,” a love story about two cannibals. This stars Taylor Russell, who won the newcomer award, and Timothée Chalamet, who won the unofficial backless jumpsuit award. This story may sound unconventional, but Guadagnino has proved his success in the past with films like “Call Me By Your Name,” so this award could prove that his film is more than what meets the eye. For the Best Actress award, that went to the incomparable Cate Blanchett for her performance in “Tár.” Written and directed by Todd Field, this drama centers around Blanchett as a German composer and shows what it is like to deal with the “cancel culture” of today. While the film itself has received many positive reviews, everyone is singling out Blanchett’s stunning performance. She always knocks it out of the park, so this movie should be a real treat.

The top prize of the Venice Film Festival, the Golden Lion, ended up going to “All The Beauty and the Bloodshed.” This is a documentary, which makes it the second documentary ever to win the Golden Lion. This film is about Nan Goldin and how she is trying to take down the Sackler family due to their connection with the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis is a hot button topic right now, especially with the recent success of the mini series “Dopesick.” It is an important one that should be talked about, and this film is not shying away. This film was directed by Laura Poitras, who won an Oscar for her work on “Citizenfour” about Edward Snowden. This shows she is willing to confront serious topics head on. “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” has received glowing reviews so far, and winning the Golden Lion shows that this is a film that we should remember.

Of course, this isn’t all of the films that premiered at the Venice Film Festival. There was Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde,” a risqué story about Marilyn Monroe and Florian Zeller’s “The Son,” an emotional story serving as a spiritual successor to Zeller’s “The Father.” There are a lot more, but I do not have the space to talk about them here. Most of them were able to put on quite a show and walked away with many favorable reviews. This festival is a great place for the filmmakers to get ready for Oscar season and to get people talking. Clearly, this is working well for them. Now, we have a while before the Oscar nominations come out, let alone the Oscars being broadcast. However, there is no harm in paying attention a little early. We’ll look back on this festival in a few months and see if this was a good predictor. In the meantime, we have a lot more festivals to go. Next up is the Toronto International Film Festival, let’s see how that goes.

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