The 70th anniversary Venice Film Festival kicked off today with the highly anticipated world premiere of "Gravity." According to critics, you can certainly already count that as a film to go out of your way to see as soon as possible. But there's still eleven days and dozens of films left -- many of them the most anticipated premieres of the year. So Indiewire is offering up a list of 10 films to watch (or watch out for, as it's likely the case if you're reading this you're not actually at the Venice Film Festival):
Frederick Wiseman continues his now 45 year+ career as a documentary filmmaker with Venice premiere "At Berkeley," his follow up to 2011's acclaimed "Crazy Horse." The direct cinema pioneer is taking on the esteemed American university noted in the film's title this time around, capturing a fall semester that saw an intense debate taking place over tuition hikes and budget cuts. It results in an epic four hour exploration that knowing Wiseman should shed a considerable light on the present and future state of higher education in America. [Peter Knegt]
READ MORE: At 70, the Venice Film Festival is Good, But No Longer One of the Greats. Here's Why.
The main appeal of "Joe" comes from the parallels it draws between its tale and the two men behind it. Telling the story of an ex-con looking to repay his debts by helping a young boy looking for work, the Southern-set film's redemptive arc parallels that of its director, David Gordon Green, and star, Nicolas Cage, at least in the film world. While Green has largely made up for blockbuster bombs "Your Highness" and "The Sitter" with August's touching indie, "Prince Avalanche," "Joe" could help wash away any remaining ill will. Cage, meanwhile, still has plenty to atone for after abandoning virtually any attempt at artistry since 2009's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans." While his latest effort, "The Frozen Ground," has earned him a few accolades, the one-time Oscar winner could use some indie cred to bolster a damaged reputation. Other than a basic plot description, not much is known of "Joe." Its IMDB page actually has it classified as a drama and...musical? If true, expect an immediate increase in anticipation for the film's Venice premiere. After all, who doesn't want to hear Cage belt out a few showtunes in that delightful Southern twang? [Ben Travers]
Information on Tom Hardy's latest is scarce, but what we do know has our interest peaked. "Locke" focuses on Ivan Locke (Hardy) as he spends 90 life-changing minutes driving a dark highway to redemption. It's the day before "the biggest challenge of his career," but a phone call threatens to change everything. His family, job, and soul are all on the line. Director Steven Knight, whose only other feature directorial effort is the Jason Statham action flick from earlier this year, "Redemption," said "Locke" was "a joy and challenge to make...in an entirely different way." The film takes place in real time with "Hardy holding the screen alone while the camera never blinks." That could mean a lot of long, single takes a la Alfonso Cuaron, but we're in even if he's simply referring to the real time depiction rather than cleverly masked edits. Knight is better known as a writer than a director. He penned "Eastern Promises" for David Cronenberg and is signed for "Clash of the Titans 3." The in-demand filmmaker will show us what he's got at Venice. Even if he comes up short, we're pretty sure Tom Hardy can pick up the slack. [Ben Travers]
Fresh from his Venice Film Festival win for the grotesque family drama "Pieta" last year, Korean provocateur Kim Ki-duk is back with another characteristically unsettling drama that revolves around incest. Already, the director has reportedly fiddled with 21 scenes from the movie after the Korean rating board gave the film a restricted rating. Despite Kim's tendency to push boundaries with extreme violence and sexuality, the director tends to take an artful approach to his subject matter that pushes it beyond pure shock value. "Moebius" is said to involve a man who sleeps with his mother after dealing with a frustrating upbringing -- and also involves the amputation of a certain very sensitive body part. Clearly not for everyone, "Moebius" is still certain to get people talking, as Kim's films tend to do. Those up for another dose of the old Kim ultraviolence are likely to be satiated with this effort. [Eric Kohn]