Alfonso Cuarón's 'Gravity' to open 70th annual Venice Film Festival
Well, I think it's fair to say the Venice Film Festival has won the Opening Film contest this year. While Cannes had its parade slightly rained upon by the fact that their opener -- Baz Luhrmann's otherwise suitably sparkly "The Great Gatsby" -- was released in the US beforehand, their Italian rivals will be kicking things off on August 28 with a world premiere that happens to be one of the year's most anticipated films: Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity."
As I wrote in my preview of the Venice lineup two weeks ago, the outer-space thriller, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, was all but certain to bow on the Lido: Cuarón has a good relationship with the festival, having premiered both "Children of Men" (2006) and "Y tu Mama Tambien" (2001) there, winning the Best Screenplay award for the latter. (Back in 2001, Alberto Barbera was the festival's artistic director; 12 years later, he's in charge again. The more things change, eh?) Clooney is also a Venice staple, having brought a film there in all but one of the last six years.
Less predictable was its selection as the curtain-raiser. The high-stakes opening slot is a tricky one to fill for festival programmers, and Venice has had mixed fortunes with it in recent years: Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" started the festival with a bang in 2010, Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" with a thud last year, and with Clooney's own "The Ides of March" landing somewhere in between in 2011. With the festival planning an all-stops-out 70th anniversary edition this year, they couldn't afford another "Fundamentalist." However the film turns out -- and hopes are obviously sky-high -- "Gravity" is just the starry prestige blockbuster (in 3D, to boot) they needed, one that will unite cineastes and red-carpet hounds alike in their excitement.
Should we be concerned that the film is premiering Out of Competition? It's something of a surprise, given that Cuarón competed for the Golden Lion on both his previous visits to Venice -- but it may be Warner Bros.'s choice rather than the festival's, as major studios sometimes prefer not to subject their premier attractions to the pressure of early awards competition.
"Gravity" will now almost certainly proceed to Toronto after kicking things off at Venice, while a date at Telluride in between is quite possible. With Bernardo Bertolucci presiding over the Competition jury this year, the 70th Venice Film Festival will take place from August 28 to September 8, and I'll once more be in attendance. Bring it on.
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2015 | Action | TV-MASummary: Marvel's first Netflix TV series focuses on a blind attorney who uses cunning, violence, and a mask to protect the regular folk in Hell's Kitchen, New York.Director: Drew Goddard
Cast: Charlie Cox, Vincent D'Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll
1941 | Drama | NRSummary: British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.Director: Fritz Lang
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Bennett, George Sanders, John Carradine
1999 | Family | GSummary: Elmo loves his fuzzy, blue blanket, and would never let anything happen to it. However, a tug-of-war with his friend Zoe sends his blanket to a faraway land, and Elmo in hot pursuit. Facing life without his cherished blanket, Elmo musters all of his determination and courage and heads off on an a...Director: Gary Halvorson
Cast: Kevin Clash, Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa Williams, Sonia Manzano
2002 | Drama | RSummary: Adam Sandler is uncharacteristically serious, and particularly good in the story of a man prone to rage who finds himself in love with a surprising woman.Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
1940 | Comedy | NRSummary: One of the greatest and most radiant comedies from classical Hollywood features Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart in the tale of a woman whose ex-husband walks back into her life just as she’s about to marry someone else.Director: George Cukor
Cast: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1978 | Drama | RSummary: An American college student is convicted of smuggling hash out of Turkey, and is sentenced to spend 30 years in a nightmarish prison. Oliver Stone won the Oscar for scripting this true story, and John Hurt and Brad Davis deliver incredible performances.Director: Alan Parker
Cast: Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins
2013 | Drama | RSummary: This exceptional film features Brie Larson as a young woman working a tough shift at a foster care home for at-risk teens, and watches as her work and personal lives intersect in difficult ways.Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Cast: Brie Larson, Frantz Turner, John Gallagher Jr.
Let Streaming Genie help you.