2009 Venice Film Festival Selections: Promising Indeed

Share Button

Although the official announcement won’t be made until next week, the roster at this year’s Venice International Film Festival is by all accounts swelling with significant American premieres. Journalists who last year carped that the Lido was thin on star power should have Ø to complain about, as among this year’s possible big names are directors Stephen Soderbergh, Wes Anderson, Werner Herzog, and Michael Moore. The (presumed) greatest hits are as follows.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – This picture sounds delightfully insane: Werner Herzog directing Nicolas Cage in what looks to be a transplanted remake of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 cop-shocker! Only Herzog insists it’s not a remake, saying, “It only has a corrupt policeman as the central character and that’s about it.” Ferrara, for his part, is unamused. When asked for his opinion about the project, he replied “I wish these people die in Hell. I hope they’re all in the same streetcar, and it blows up.”

The Road – Its release date already twice delayed, John Hillcoat’s adaptation of the celebrated Cormac McCarthy novel will finally, finally materialize. The pic stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as father and son traveling through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Although pushed releases are rarely an auspicious sign, the advance word has been positive. Esquire’s Tom Chiarella has already called it as “the most important movie of the year”.

Capitalism: A Love Story – Expect controversy. Michael Moore’s new documentary explores the root causes of the global economic meltdown and takes a comical look at the corporate and political shenanigans that culminated in what Moore describes as “the biggest robbery in the history of this country” — the transfer of U.S. taxpayer money to private financial institutions. Although the film was still in production as of last month, you can check out the snarky teaser trailer here.

The Informant! – Steven Soderbergh’s dark-comedy-thriller stars Matt Damon as an executive at agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland turned whistleblower in what became (at the time) the largest price-fixing scheme in history. Based on the 2000 nonfiction book by journalist Kurt Eichenwald.

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson’s first foray into animation is the Roald Dahl classic about a wily fox on the run from three embittered farmers. The vocal cast includes Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray. Although the project was obliged to switch studios and underwent some significant change-ups in technical personnel, this is still rightly one of the most hotly anticipated films of 2009.

Life During Wartime – There’s been almost zero advance word on Todd Solondz’s latest, except that it’s a sequel to 1998’s Happiness. The official synopsis reads, somewhat unimaginatively: “Friends, family, and lovers struggle to find love, forgiveness, and meaning in a war-torn world riddled with comedy and pathos.” Knowing Solondz, it’s likely a lot headier than that.

(Note: All films subject to change until the final announcement is made on July 30.)