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Film fest update: Venice, Telluride and Toronto

September 8, 2009 | 10:04 am


As the light of summer fades into the somber moods of fall (assuming, of course, that said season actually occurs in your part of the country), we take time to not only reflect on the passage of time and the end of carefree days, but on the absolute orgy of film festivals that erupt around the globe from September through the following spring. We offer the following as a round-up, if you will, of what's happened at Venice and Telluride, and what to expect at Toronto and elsewhere in the weeks to come. Score cards are not necessary, but they do help. 

More after the break, of course.

The 66th Venice Film Festival featured premieres of Steven Soderbergh's comedy "The Informant!" with Matt Damon, and "Life During Wartime," Todd Solondz's latest dive into the abyss of familial relations. Oliver Stone also garnered the spotlight by strolling down the red carpet with controversial Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for the premiere of his documentary "South of the Border," and Italian media personality Mauro Casciari attempted to outshine George Clooney at the press conference for Grant Heslov's "The Men Who Stare at Goats" by taking off his clothes. The most surprising news to come from the fest, however, was the apparent survival of both Werner Herzog and Abel Ferrara, who were able to debut their respective features -- "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" and "Napoli Napoli Napoli" -- despite their apparent desire to murder each other. 

Mr. Clooney was also the center of attention -- minus the inappropriate nudity -- at the Telluride Film Festival, where "Up in the Air" (pictured above), his collaboration with "Juno" director Jason Reitman, garnered audience favor and talk of Oscar noms in the near future. Similar laurels were tossed at Carey Mulligan's performance in "An Education," as well as Audrey Tatou for "Coco Before Chanel" and Abbie Cornish in Jane Campion's "Bright Star." And word of mouth appeared to boost the fortunes of John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," which has taken its share of brickbats in the press in recent weeks. 

What's next? Toronto, of course, where the must-see pics include Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" with Penelope Cruz, the aforementioned "Bad Lieutenant," "Men Who Stare at Goats," and "Up in the Air," and "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," Terry Gilliam's ill-fated fantasy with the late Heath Ledger (and Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law), which premiered at Cannes and makes its debut at the Hampton Film Festival before its bow at Toronto. There's also Drew Barrymore's roller derby epic "Whip It!" with Ellen Page, and the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man." In short, a lot to watch, and so little time. Bring Visine.

-- Paul Gaita

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures