Fall Film Festival Roundup: Reviews from Venice, Telluride, and TIFF

  • Publish Date: September 20, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 3 user comments

With the 2011 installment of the Toronto International Film Festival now in the books, and the September runs of prestigious festivals in Telluride and Venice also complete, we sample the reaction from professional critics and film bloggers to the films generating the most buzz at the three festivals. Though some won't surface until 2012, many of these movies will open in theaters before the end of the year, and a few (most notably The Descendants and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) are already seen as likely Oscar contenders. Overall, however, there were fewer of the latter films than is the norm at these events, with many potential awards contenders like J. Edgar, War Horse, Young Adult, The Iron Lady, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo skipping the fall festivals.

50/50 Watch Trailer
Directed by Jonathan Levine | Opens September 30

Known as the “cancer comedy” since its inception, 50/50 stars Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anna Kendrick in a story based on writer Will Reiser’s real-life battle with the disease; Jonathan Levine (The Wackness 61) directs. Reviews from TIFF are solid but not overwhelmingly positive.  THR finds the film “both touching and funny” but “not without its tonal lapses.” The Globe and Mail believes the film succeeds in “dancing adroitly between the drama and the laughs,” as does Scott Tobias at the A.V. Club, who adds, “The comedy goes a long way toward keeping the sentimentality at bay.” Variety and Boxoffice Magazine are a little less positive; the former calls the film an “uneven seriocomedy,” while the latter labels it a “charming yet disposable dramedy.” All critics seem to agree on the ineffectiveness of Bryce Dallas Howard’s girlfriend character. The Playlist sums up those complaints, labeling her character a “one-note misstep.”

Albert Nobbs
Directed by Rodrigo García | Opens n/a

Glenn Close’s passion project set in 19th-century Ireland has little to offer beyond Close’s performance as a woman surviving in a male-dominated society by passing herself off as a man. The highest praise comes from The Guardian, which calls the film a “sly and intriguing period piece,” and claims Close is “terrific, and the gradual stripping off of her layers of artifice is highly affecting and artistically justified.” Other reviews are less flattering, with most critics finding the narrative lacking clear motivation and a reason to identify with Close’s character. The A.V. Club complains that “it’s hard to believe that the people around the heroine haven’t figured her out yet. Even with prosthetics, Close isn’t all that convincing as a man,” while Movieline worries that “Close spends far too much time gazing into some imaginary distance, fingering her inner pain until it’s worn thin.” Variety acknowledges that Nobbs should have been a “career-crowning role for Glenn Close” considering the rave reviews she garnered in 1982 playing the role off-Broadway, but, unfortunately, director Rodrigo García’s (Mother and Child 64) film “is such a drag.”

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos | Opens n/a

Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to his acclaimed but divisive Dogtooth 73 had some of the highest expectations coming into the festivals. Though Alps won best screenplay in Venice, it failed to impress critics as much his previous work. Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club admits in giving the film a “B-” that it “was among my most anticipated titles of the festival, and now it’s the biggest letdown.” He notes that Lanthimos’ “intelligence and ambition are still very much in evidence,” but the film is “a pale shadow of its predecessor.” Variety agrees, concluding, “The cumulative force of the screenplay and Yorgos Mavropsaridis' editing is not as hypnotic as in Dogtooth, perhaps in part because those familiar with Lanthimos' M.O. will know what to expect; the film's construction and use of absurdist humor are not only more apparent, but also robbed of an element of surprise.” IndieWire is also disappointed with the story of a group who stands in for the lost loved ones of their clients: “Alps offers enough undeniably unsettling moments to make Lanthimos’ distinctive vision clear,” and his “ability to make a twisted situation both credible and emotionally involving has no contemporary parallel ... But Lanthimos’ thematic consistency now runs the risk of rendering his frightening concepts more familiar than they should ever become.”

Anonymous Watch Trailer
Directed by Roland Emmerich | Opens October 28

Roland Emmerich’s conspiracy film that claims the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare is surprisingly good, at least according to reviews out of TIFF. Obviously, expectations were low, but THR believes “this is easily director Roland Emmerich’s best film,” claiming “he actually steers a coherent path through a complex bit of Tudor history while establishing a highly credible atmosphere of paranoia and intrigue.” Variety is also surprised with “how classical, staid and traditional Emmerich's mise-en-scene is, never straying from tried-and-true costumer standards,” and The Guardian finds that the “meticulously crafted and often well-acted exposé of the 'real' William Shakespeare is shocking only in that it is rather good.” Movieline also gives backhanded praise, stating, “The whole affair is rather silly, and more than a little boring, but there are a few flashes of brilliance tucked amid Emmerich’s bid for period-picture classiness.”

Directed by Jim Field Smith | Opens October 28 (one-week qualifying run), then tbd 2012

Butter stars Jennifer Garner as a conservative wife who becomes obsessed with winning a butter carving competition. The film screened at the Telluride Film Festival, but thanks to the comedy’s executive producer, Harvey Weinstein, Toronto is where it made news. At the screening, Weinstein, through a statement read by actress Olivia Wilde, invited Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann to the Iowa premiere. Should she go? Critics are divided. Todd McCarthy at THR lays it out pretty simply, stating, “Having a taste for Butter depends almost entirely on whether you find the comedy of condescension and ridicule a hoot or a very cheap form of amusement.” The Guardian finds Garner to be “too broad,” but believes there’s “a good spoonful of laugh-out-loud gags” even though the film as a whole is “difficult to digest.” FirstShowing agrees about Garner, who’s “too often over-the-top,” but enjoys the film a little more, concluding, “The film works on many levels, mostly as a comedy with some hilarious laugh-out-loud moments, but it also has some emotion to it and a good message by the end.” Variety agrees on the film's overall success, praising screenwriter Jason Micallef and director Jim Field Smith (She’s Out of My League 46) as well as the supporting cast (“Wilde nearly steals the movie”), but not on Garner’s performance, claiming the film to be “the best big-screen use of Jennifer Garner's comedy gifts since 13 Going on 30."

Directed by Roman Polanski | Opens December 16

Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s acclaimed play God of Carnage generated major buzz at its premiere in Venice, but critics are divided on how successfully the dark comedy translates to the big screen. Giving the film three out of five stars, The Telegraph finds the film “well-acted and giddily enjoyable, if slightly less so once the characters start to analyze their descent into barbarism.” Variety feels the film “never shakes off a mannered, hermetic feel that consistently betrays its theatrical origins.” On the positive side are Xan Brooks at The Guardian, who admits he was “gulping for air and praying for release” from the “pitch-black farce of the charmless bourgeoisie that is indulgent, actorly and so unbearably tense,” and THR's Todd McCarthy, who praises the film as “snappy, nasty, deftly acted and perhaps the fastest paced film ever directed by a 78-year-old," adding that "the film fully delivers the laughs and savagery of the stage piece.” The cast—Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly as one couple and Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz as the other—is solid, but, according to McCarthy, not as good as the theatrical production's stars: “Overall, the thespian advantage would have to go to Broadway, but the cast here nonetheless holds its own and puts the characters across with force and definition.”

Damsels in Distress
Directed by Whit Stillman | Opens n/a

Wilt Stillman’s belated return to filmmaking (his last feature was 1998’s The Last Days of Disco 76) explores the lives of a group of college girls led by Greta Gerwig. The LA Weekly’s Karina Longworth proclaims, “It may be my favorite film in Toronto thus far.” She calls Gerwig’s performance, which exhibits a facility with Stillman’s dialogue as well as song and dance, “a tour de force.” Variety also finds the comedy “an utter delight,” praising its “daft digressions and sweetly silly subplots,” as well as “one of the most uproariously funny suicide attempts in recent film history.” Noel Murray at the A.V. Club also enjoys the film but is less sure why, noting, “Even though I’m not sure I understand what Stillman was going for minute-to-minute, I was swept away by how original Damsels is, and how funny.” Scott Tobias is less enthusiastic overall, but adds that “funny is funny, and Stillman allows Gerwig’s daffy charm and blankly inflected line-readings to set the tone.” On the less positive side is IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, writing, “Stillman delivers a minor work that’s nevertheless amusing enough if viewed outside the shadow of its superior predecessors.” Stephanie Zacharek of Movieline is also not much of a fan, concluding, “The movie is confused and wayward, featuring slapdash musical numbers for no good reason other than to try to inject a shot of much-needed romantic charm.”

A Dangerous Method Watch Trailer
Directed by David Cronenberg | Opens November 23

While reviews for David Cronenberg’s latest film were mixed, praise was almost universal for Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Sabina Spielrein, the real-life patient of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) who causes a rift between the psychologist and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). In his Venice review for THR ,Todd McCarthy praises the film as “precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined,” calling the three leads “outstanding.” Andrew O’Hehir at Salon agrees, stating, “It's a handsome and stimulating film, noteworthy more for its terrific acting and provocative ideas than for any kind of dark Cronenbergundian genius.” However, many reviewers miss that special Cronenberg touch. Giving it a mere two out of five stars, The Guardian feels it’s a “well-acted but curiously underwhelming slab of Masterpiece Theatre.” FirstShowing finds that “the film overall is rather dull and ultimately quite forgettable,” while HitFix is also disappointed that “a film can make a scene involving Fassbender spanking a mostly-naked Knightley boring,” and believes “Cronenberg has betrayed the subject matter, and the result is a movie that is in no way dangerous.”

Dark Horse
Directed by Todd Solondz | Opens n/a

Todd Solondz's latest dark comedy looks at the real (and fantasy) life of Abe (Jordan Gelber), a man in his mid-30s who still lives with his parents (Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken), buys action figures on eBay, and doesn’t have too high an opinion of humanity. However, many critics have tired of the director's negative world view. The Guardian believes “there is little in the film's pitch-black interior that wasn't tackled better—with more bite, wit and abandon—in Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse, or Storytelling.THR doesn’t find much to like even though Solondz’s skill is acknowledged: “Never less than watchable and loaded with trademark negativity so extreme it's sometimes funny, the new film is nonetheless saddled with a protagonist so narrowly and unlikably presented that, in the end, he doesn't seem worth the time devoted to him.” Movieline finds the film filled with “jokes that are both off-kilter and thuddingly obvious,” and Justin Chang at Variety believe Solondz is “duly and rather dully confirming his unhappy worldview despite an affectionate streak that lightens the proceedings to some degree.” Eric Kohn goes so far as to find “uncharacteristic warmth, if not outright optimism about the human condition” in the film, and states in his “B+” review for IndieWire, “Individual scenes don’t all add up, but their procession develops into a wondrous Kafkaesque mystery both moving and strange. In other words, vintage Solondz, by way of a few new detours.”

The Descendants Watch Trailer
Directed by Alexander Payne | Opens November 18

Alexander Payne’s first feature film since 2004’s Sideways 94 had high expectations to live up to, so how did it do? It’s a split decision, though it still seems likely that The Descendants will be mentioned as a potential Oscar nominee at the end of the year. Coming out on the negative side is Karina Longworth of the LA Weekly, who describes the film as “pure oatmeal—lukewarm and mushy—and so, depending on your palate, either comforting or dead boring.” And she’s on the boring side, adding, “Anything that might actually challenge the viewer to think about what they're watching is generally off limits (oh, the voiceover, the booming, redundant, white noise voiceover...).” Over at Movieline, Stephanie Zacharek finds the film too calculated: “The Descendants is an ultra-polished picture in which every emotion we’re supposed to feel has been cued up well in advance. There’s nothing surprising or affecting about it, and not even Clooney, who works wonders with the occasional piece of dialogue, can save it.” Noel Murray of the A.V. Club, in a B- review, sees a “a muddled family drama that thrives primarily because of Payne’s staging,” while his colleague, Scott Tobias, has a slightly higher opinion, giving it a “B” for being “a thoughtful, funny, and flavorful comedy-drama,” but admits it’s “Payne’s weakest to date,”  concurring with Longworth that the voiceover “is exceedingly clumsy.”

On the positive side is IndieWire’s Eric Kohn. He believes “Payne has created his warmest, most earnest work, if not his best.” Variety calls it a “satisfying, emotionally rich film that works on multiple levels,” and Boxoffice Magazine gives the film a full five stars, writing, “The Descendants is that rare bird, moving, enlightening, funny and unapologetically human. It's one of the year's best pictures, one to savor and think about.” Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir doesn’t go quite that far, but admits, “I've seen better and more adventurous movies than this; I've seen some this week. But The Descendants is gentle, witty, audience-friendly entertainment for grown-ups, with a great performance by one of our biggest screen stars.” Decide for yourself when the film comes to theaters November 18.

Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov | Opens n/a

In an upset, Aleksandr Sokurov’s Faust took home the Golden Lion for the top film at the Venice Film Festival. Sokurov might be best known to international audiences for his one-take marvel, 2002’s Russian Ark 86, but since 1999 he’s been working on a tetralogy of films exploring power, and Faust completes it. While previous films in the series delved into history— Molokh looked at Hitler, Taurus at Lenin, and The Sun 85 at Hirohito— his new work looks at the fictional character of Faust, whose deal with the devil is a popular German legend interpreted by many authors throughout history. Sokurov uses Goethe’s Faust as a jumping off point for a film that Variety finds to be a “largely impenetrable though undeniably impressive indulgence.” THR notes, “The expressionistic filmmaking lets loose in an idiosyncratic style of chaotic slapstick, in which frenetic theatrical acting contrasts with deformed visuals that can barely contain the actors.” While the film’s style receives praise, it’s defeated by the endless verbiage and, if one doesn't speak German, subtitles that distract from the striking visuals as well as the tone. Slant sums up the peculiar pic, stating, “The throb of opera and the fart of scatological comedy are never far from each other in the grand, disconcerting spectacle of a Russian artist liquefying German legend for all the doubt, bile, and madness that go into devils and dictators.”

Friends with Kids
Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt | Opens n/a

Jennifer Westfeldt penned and starred in the indie romantic comedies Kissing Jessica Stein 72 and Ira & Abby 62, but this is her first time directing in addition to writing, and according to THR, her future looks bright, “What’s most impressive is Westfeldt’s fluid calibration of tone through light humor, seriocomedy, romance, drama and combinations thereof.” HitFix agrees, claiming her direction is “deft” and her “incredibly witty and astute script as well as some great performances make the ride incredibly entertaining.” Those performances from Adam Scott, and the Bridesmaids quartet of Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd, are garnering praise even from those critics who feel the film as a whole seems to miss the mark. Movieline feels “it could benefit from being a little rougher, a little messier,” while The Playlist sees “a film that features a great middle third, with a patchy start and a bland finish.” And IndieWire concludes, “Westfeldt comes close to upending expectations and pushing the romantic comedy in a fresh direction. But just when she heads into territory worthy of exploration, she pulls a U-turn back to the same old routine.”

The Ides of March Watch Trailer
Directed by George Clooney | Opens October 7

George Clooney directs and stars in this adaptation of the Beau Willimon play Farragut North, which looks at a presidential campaign through the eyes of an idealistic press secretary played by Ryan Gosling. Clooney’s fourth directorial effort is earning respect but little outright love. At THR, Deborah Young enjoys the “tense pacing” and “superb cast,” and the A.V. Club admits it “goes down easily, with a sophisticated bustle and a strong third act twist to test the hero’s mettle,” but feels “it’s slick and respectable, and delivering old news.” Variety also finds only “ho-hum insights into the corruption of American politics,” going so far as to claim the film “wallows in its own superiority to the point where its cynical pose looks almost naive.” Boxoffice Magazine believes the “stellar cast buoys this otherwise workmanlike political drama,” and IndieWire concurs, saying, “The greatest credit goes to a widely agreeable set of performances.” HitFix gives one more vote to the “strong and compelling cast” of this “handsomely made” drama.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass | Opens March 2, 2012

The Duplass brothers follow 2010’s Cyrus 74 with this story of Jeff (Jason Segel), a genial stoner who lives at home with his mother (Susan Sarandon) and gets into misadventures with his brother (Ed Helms). HitFix describes it as “a bit of a marvel, a film without a single hint of cynicism in it.” FirstShowing praises Segel’s lead performance as well as the “wacky but amusing journey” of a film that “is packed full of moments that actually make you think, make you wonder whether you're missing the signs of destiny and need to take another look at your life.” Eric Kohn at IndieWire calls the comedy a “lesser effort” from the Duplass brothers, but adds that even though it “doesn’t always satisfy expectations ... it also routinely defies them.” Variety also enjoys the “amusing” and “poignant” moments in the film and believes a surprise ending “rescues the day's events from the purely banal.” Not buying that ending is Scott Tobias at the A.V. Club, who writes, “The ending smacks either of tinkering by its major-studio distributor, Paramount Pictures, or a shameless effort to meet its expectations. Either way, it’s a laugher.”

Killer Joe
Directed by William Friedkin | Opens n/a

Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, and Juno Temple star in this violent thriller from veteran director William Friedkin and writer Tracy Letts, who previously collaborated on 2006’s Bug 62. In giving the film a “B,” Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club finds the Friedkin/Letts combination effective even with “unnecessary jolts of savage violence and abuse.” Variety also thinks the pair provide “generally gripping results before devolving into an over-the-top splatterfest.” Over at IndieWire, Eric Kohn gives the film a “B+,” embracing it as a “guilty pleasure” composed of “outrageous material” that works because of a cast “fully dedicated to the ridiculous task at hand.” The only element of the film mentioned more than the violence is what the A.V. Club’s Noel Murray plainly describes as “a scene in which a bloodied Gina Gershon is forced to fellate a KFC drumstick,” and while some people might consider that a plus, it’s not enough for Murray to forgive “a final scene so over-the-top repugnant.”

Directed by Steve McQueen | Opens n/a

Shame proved to be one of the most talked-about films of the festival circuit, though its subject matter probably means that an Oscar nomination might be a tough sell. Michael Fassbender won the best actor prize at the Venice Film Festival for his portrayal of a sex addict in Steve McQueen’s follow-up to 2008’s Hunger 82, and critics seem to be in agreement that his performance is the defining element of the film. THR’s Todd McCarthy calls him “extraordinary,” saying Fassbender provides a “scorching portrayal of a sex addict,” and even though he’s disappointed by the resolution of the film, the critic still believes “its dramatic and stylistic prowess provides a cinematic jolt that is bracing to experience.” Eric Kohn at IndieWire agrees about the star, stating “Fassbender’s revealing and compelling performance doesn’t just dominate Shame; he defines it,” and about the film, calling it a “meditative work littered with flashes of brilliance but lacking a coherent whole.”

FirstShowing also praises Fassbender’s “utterly phenomenal performance” as well as McQueen’s “refined, meditative, yet brilliant filmmaking.” Variety admires “McQueen's rigorous but humane interrogation,” but finds the third act “a bit studied as a climactic gesture.” Noel Murray also feels “a little dubious of a late-film explanation (merely hinted at, but strongly) for Fassbender’s behavior,” and his A.V. Club partner, Scott Tobias, doesn’t find the film to be especially “incisive or original,” but believes in McQueen’s “filmmaking and the performance, which have the effect of revivifying and validating the moribund clichés of addiction dramas past.” Salon praises the “massive, irresistible performances” of Fassbender and co-star Carey Mulligan and advises, “Shame isn't an easy film to sit through, to describe or to figure out, but it's riveting, spectacular, passionate cinema.”

Take This Waltz
Directed by Sarah Polley | Opens n/a

Sarah Polley’s follow-up to her acclaimed 2007 directorial debut Away from Her 88 stars Michelle Williams as Margo, a married woman (to Seth Rogen) whose eyes begin to wander, landing on her neighbor Daniel, whom she happens to meet while on a work trip. Praise for Williams' work was universal, but THR’s David Rooney did not like the film, calling it “emotionally fraudulent and far too infatuated with its own preciousness,” adding, “Cute and quirky can get very tired very fast, and there’s an awful lot of both here.” Variety acknowledges “a few tonal and structural missteps” but still thinks it’s an “intelligent, perceptive drama.” HitFix agrees, stating, “This is delicate, beautiful work, well-observed and powerful,” and The Playlist believes “Polley has an eye for detail and an ear for truth.” Karina Longworth at the LA Weekly admits she “hated much of this highly affected film” but also also doesn’t think “the movie deserves to be written off, as some have, as pure twee-mongering bullshit.” Andrew O’Hehir at Salon concludes that the film is “a heartbreaking love story set in a world where every choice you make has serious consequences and 'happily ever after' is an unlikely outcome. It's definitely not a movie for everyone—but if it's for you, you'll never forget it.”

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Watch Trailer
Directed by Tomas Alfredson | Opens December 9

According to Deborah Young at THR, Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of “John Le Carré’s complicated, distanced Cold War classic turns into a visual delight with an authentic British feel,” so it’s not surprising that The Guardian and The Daily Mail both gave the film four stars out of five. Xan Brooks likes Oldman’s “deliciously delicate, shaded performance” as George Smiley and calls the supporting cast of Colin Firth, Tobey Jones, Ciarán Hinds, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy “first-rate.” The Daily Mail’s Chris Tookey agrees that “everyone is on top form, none more so than Oldman,” advising, “This is not an easy watch. It’s dour, dark and virtually devoid of the kind of action that cinema audiences generally demand from an espionage thriller. ... But if you’re in the mood for expertly handled tension, subtle menace and superior acting by everyone involved, this is not to be missed.” Variety agrees that the cast is strong in a film “rich in both contempo resonance and elegiac melancholy.” Movieline praises Alfredson’s ability to allow “each character to emerge gradually but distinctly, as if out of fog, into a fully formed human being with certain motivations and heartbreaks.”

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | Opens n/a

Another divisive film at TIFF was Francis Ford Coppola’s comedy/horror/fairytale mash-up Twixt, which stars Val Kilmer as a struggling novelist who decides to stay in a small town to seek a story idea for his next book. Several critics hated the film. The Playlist’s headline reads “Oh The Horror—Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Twixt’ Is A Low-Rent Nightmare,” while HitFix states, “Francis Ford Coppola firebombs Toronto with awful, witless Twixt,” claiming it’s “so bad that it feels like a practical joke.” THR’s Kirk Honeycutt piles on as well, calling the film “an embarrassingly juvenile film from a once major auteur” with “tepid and tired imagery that would not earn high marks in any film school.” However those critics who like it seem to be in on the joke. Scott Tobias, awarding a “B,” believes, “Coppola has tongue firmly planted in cheek ... Taken in the right spirit—as a textured lark by a filmmaker still trying to reinvent himself—Twixt has its pleasures.” His fellow A.V. Club writer Noel Murray gives the film a “B-” and is charmed by “a weird performance by a chubby Kilmer” and the “never dull” and “occasionally funny” film. Variety concludes, “If much of 'Twixt' itself is something of a goof, it's one that generously lets the viewer in on the gag,” and while Movieline admits, “Twixt is a mess, plotwise, ... it’s hardly torture to watch.”

Directed by Madonna | Opens December 9

On the other hand, something that might indeed be torture to watch is Madonna’s second directorial effort, following Filth and Wisdom 25. Her new W.E. tells two stories, one of the romance between Wallis Simpson and Prince Edward in the 1930s, and the other a modern tale of a woman (Abbie Cornish) obsessed with her connection to Wallis Simpson. The film took a bit of a beating in Venice, but THR’s Todd McCarthy wasn’t too harsh. He found much of the film “artificial,” and “lacking anything for the soul” while acknowledging the film is pleasing to the eyes and ears.” The Guardian is less forgiving, calling W.E. “a primped and simpering folly, the turkey that dreamed it was a peacock ... an extraordinarily silly, preening, fatally mishandled film," adding that Madonna's "direction is so all over the shop that it barely qualifies as direction at all.” HitFix thinks it fails by half, “To be blunt, the modern day portion of the film doesn't work at all,” but The Telegraph believes it’s “rather better than expected; it’s bold, confident and not without amusing moments.” But Salon, damning with faint praise, says, “You can't call 'W.E.' a total disaster; it's too pretty, too nonsensical and finally too insignificant for that.”

Wuthering Heights
Directed by Andrea Arnold | Opens n/a

Andrea Arnold’s first two features, Red Road 73 and Fish Tank 81, garnered very positive reviews. Her latest, an original and challenging take on Emily Bronte’s 1847 novel Wuthering Heights, won the award for best cinematography at the Venice Film Festival, and while many critics have praise for the film’s visual strengths, the work as a whole leaves them unsatisfied. The A.V. Club likes the film’s ability to turn the novel into “raw, primal emotion,” while LA Weekly cites the film’s “gorgeous, often screen-filling, shots of mud, livestock, insects, hair, grass” and admires “Arnold's talent and instincts as an extraordinarily visual filmmaker,” but thinks “the final act's big-acting melodrama feels unearned.” Variety finds the film “more interesting in theory than it is to watch,” and The Guardian allows that it “might not be warm, or even approachable, but it is never less than bullishly impressive.” Movieline concurs that “it’s both doggedly faithful and willfully untamed — a movie that’s hard, maybe, to love, but easy to respect.”

A few more

Though they screened at one of the three main festivals this month, films such as The Artist, Le Havre, The Kid with a Bike, Melancholia, The Skin I Live In, and We Need to Talk About Kevin first debuted at Cannes in May, and were reviewed by the industry press at that time. Visit our previously published Cannes Roundup for those reviews.

What do you think?

Which of these films are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (3)

  • FrozenStar90  

    Words cannot describe how excited I am for Melancholia.

  • zapata_36  

    'Take Shelter' was really well done. Maybe even with 'Melancholia' for best film I saw this festival.

  • LamontRaymond  

    Thanks for the round-up! I'm actually up for Take This Waltz, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home.

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