‘Tis the season for some fine cinema! The Venice Film Festival is the first of a number of film festivals hitting the circuit in the upcoming months, with Telluride, Toronto and New York in tow. Kicking off today and running through September 7, the 70-year-old festival is promised to be star-studded affair with the likes of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. The full lineup can be found here, but here are five of the top picks amongst critics. Check in tomorrow for part two of the list, with five other top choices.
‘Under the Skin’
Under the Skin is one of the most-anticipated films at this festival. Heralded director, Jonathan Glazer, hasn’t released a film in years, but is loved for 2000’s Sexy Beast and 2004’s Birth, as well as his music videos for big-name acts such as Blur and Radiohead. In his absence, he’s been adapting Michael Faber’s sci-fi novel into a film about an alien disguised as a human (played by Scarlett Johansson) who goes on a mysterious mission through Scotland. The film will also screen at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.
The title of the movie itself already exudes connotations of the actual gravity of this film. It’s been a long wait since director Alfonso Cuaron last released a film–the 2006 show-stealer, Children of Men. Gravity serves as the Venice Film Festival’s opening gala film, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, about two astronauts stranded in space after their space shuttle meets a disastrous accident.
‘The Wind Rises’
Hayao Miyazaki’s name is synonymous with top-tier Japanese animation, and his newest work, The Wind Rises, is expected to be one of his most serious works to date. It’s a biographical story about Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the World War II Zero fighter plane. Although it has already made $80 million in it’s Japan release over the past six weeks, it has stirred up some controversy as critics are denouncing it for what they are perceiving as some pretty hairy political undertones.
‘The Zero Theorem’
Sure, Terry Gilliam has had some ups and downs with his recent flicks (The Brothers Grimm or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), but The Zero Thereom seems promising. Oscar Award-winning actor Christoph Waltz stars in this sci-fi flick as a reclusive computer genius who sets out to find the meaning of life. (It’s getting a little existentialistic up in here!) Waltz was such a gem to watch in Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds that we can only imagine Gilliam would serve him justice in giving him an eccentric role in his latest feature.
With Kim Ki-duk films, viewers can assume the narratives will surround some disturbing, graphic, and twisted material in his arthouse style that digs deep in the darkest human experiences. This time, in Moebius, the South Korean auteur director has made a psychological thriller involving a mother, a husband, her son, and some genitalia dismemberment. Earlier this month, Kim had to fight for Korean theaters to show his film, appealing to the country’s censors three times and having to remove three minutes from the original. He won the coveted Golden Lion award last year for Pieta at the Venice Film Festival.