Venice Film Festival: Al Pacino Re-Discovers His Inside Voice

Millennium Films
Al Pacino in The Humbling.
Most of us would agree that there's only one Al Pacino. But this year in Venice, there are actually two: Pacino appears in two films at the festival this year, David Gordon Green's Manglehorn, about a lonely Texas locksmith stuck in a romantic dream, and, playing out of competition, Barry Levinson's The Humbling, the story of an actor who, after being struck with crippling anxiety, gets his mojo restored -- some of it, anyway -- by a manipulative muse (played by Greta Gerwig). In some ways, they're two versions of the same character, grizzled romantics who reach out toward love just one more time. But in only one of these films does Pacino utter the line "I was thinking of going to the pancake jamboree down at the Legion."

See also: Venice Film Fest: Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence Is More Honest Than The Act of Killing

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Miami International Film Festival To Announce MIFFecito Line-up, Offer Free Cafecito Today

Categories: Film Festivals

For everyone patiently awaiting the next edition of the Miami International Film Festival like we are, there's finally a way to get a bit of a taste before the time comes around next March. That's right; this coming October 16 through 19, there's a mini-festival for audiences that will provide a "mid-season taste" of the festival's upcoming line-up. That taste comes in the form of MIFFecito, a "film festival fix" being held at Miami Dade College's Tower Theater.

See also: John Turturro Receives Career Tribute Award at Miami International Film Festival

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Venice Film Fest: Joshua Oppenheimer's The Look of Silence Is More Honest Than The Act of Killing

Fox Searchlight
In 2012, documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer made a splash with The Act of Killing, in which he sought out members of Indonesian killing squads, individuals who murdered thousands of innocent citizens accused of being communists after a military takeover in 1965, and invited them to re-enact their crimes in the style of Hollywood movies.

See also: Venice Film Fest: In Birdman, Michael Keaton Is Haunted by His Superhero Past

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Venice Film Fest: In Birdman, Michael Keaton Is Haunted by His Superhero Past

Fox Searchlight
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in Birdman
The gent at the Delta check-in counter back in New York sighed when he saw where I was headed. "Romantic Venezia!" he said, and the comment stopped me short, because film festivals located in the most beautiful settings in the world have a way of making you forget - almost - that you're in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.

The Venice Film Festival - this is the 71st edition - is held not in Venice proper, but on Lido, a summertime island where winter seems impossible, resplendent with dusty pink and ochre stucco villas. It is also the home of the formerly grand Hotel des Bains, where Thomas Mann wrote Death in Venice, and which, sadly, closed in 2010, destined to become a luxury apartment complex that has not yet materialized. I haven't yet walked by the Hotel des Bains on this trip, but I hope it's looking more cheerful than it did last year, when it sat dejected behind its majestic iron grillwork gate, a sad relic of past glory that even a Venetian Miss Havisham might find hard to love.

See also: Brazilian Film Festival 2014: Elena Is a Beautiful Reflection on Loss and Memory

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Brazilian Film Festival 2014: Naked Eye Documents Ney Matogrosso's Career

Ambient sounds, a screeching monkey, and some out of focus imagery greet you when Olho Nu (Naked Eye) begins. It's arguably a jarring experience, and yet, the moment one sees Ney Matogrosso donning real goat horns, goatskin, bull tooth, and monkey hair, it makes perfect sense. This documentary is all about a performer's career and all the eccentricities that come with being a Brazilian glam rocker.

It's clear from the very beginning that Olho Nu wants to pride itself on being just as eccentric a documentary as the subject it's presenting, something I'd often praise in an informative work. The problem with the film, however, is that it doesn't actually do all that much to stand out from anything else.

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Brazilian Film Festival 2014: Elena Is a Beautiful Reflection on Loss and Memory

"Elena, I had a dream about you last night," Petra Costa, the woman who created the ultra-personal tribute to her dead sister that is Elena, says in the first lines of her film. It's a perfectly apt way to introduce a film that's as dreamlike as the very memories we hold of those dearest to us that have passed on, but everything becomes more real as the minutes flow by.

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From Abortion to Gay Rights, the Miami Jewish Film Festival Is Pushing Creative Boundaries

Jenny Slate in Obvious Child.
A comedy about abortion. A documentary chronicling the gay experience in Israel. The avant garde work of a legendary film director.

These are not obvious choices for a relatively conservative Jewish audience. But Miami Jewish Film Festival director Igor Shteyrenberg isn't taking the obvious route to film festival success in Miami.

See also: New Miami Jewish Film Festival Director Igor Shteyrenberg: 2014 Films Will "Punch the Wind Out of You"

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Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: Directors Johnston and MacDonald Share Their Tru Love

An unexpected romance forms between Tru and Alice.
We're so accustomed to younger women dating older men that we don't even flinch anymore, but when it's the other way around, we're so taken aback that we even come up with a nickname for women who date younger men: cougars.

Even more out of the ordinary is a same-sex May/December coupling like the one depicted in Kate Johnston's directorial debut, Tru Love. Johnston's first feature film was co-written, co-directed, and co-produced with Shauna MacDonald (you may remember her from the Saw movies), who also stars as the title character, Tru.

Tru Love tells the story of Alice, a recent widow who develops a special relationship with her daughter Suzanne's friend. Despite Tru's aversion to commitment, she becomes involved with Alice, much to Suzanne's dismay.

We spoke with MacDonald and Johnston about the film, finding love in the most unexpected of places, and tango music.

See also: With Tom At The Farm, Xavier Dolan Grows Up

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With Tom At The Farm, Xavier Dolan Grows Up

A young filmmaker like Xavier Dolan doesn't come often. Actor, writer, director, editor; the man seems to have a grasp on everything he's given queer cinema so far. Even so, his three first features have had a tinge of film school student to them. But Tom à la ferme (Tom At The Farm), which screened last night as part of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, is the first to prove otherwise. By dropping the over-ambitious nature of Laurence Anyways or the over stylized aesthetic present in Les amours imaginaires, Dolan crafts a suspenseful work truly worthy of the praise he's received.

See also: Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: SWF Seeks SWF to Prove She's Heterosexual

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Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival: SWF Seeks SWF to Prove She's Heterosexual

Jill (right), seeks to assert her newfound heterosexuality by dating her ex-girlfriend.

Michelle Ehlen, director of Heterosexual Jill, playing Sunday, May 4, as part of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, likes to mess with people's minds - well, at least the parts of people's minds that formulate stereotypes about gender and sexuality.

Her previous film, Butch Jamie, played with gender issues and societal misconceptions. She was awarded Best Actress from Outfest Film Festival for her performance in the "gender-bending" comedy.

Heterosexual Jill also screws with our perceptions of sexuality. The titular character falls victim to the "ex-gay" movement, then seeks to rekindle a relationship with her ex-girlfriend to "prove" the reconditioning worked. The film won Special Mention of the Jury at the Barcelona LGTIB Film Festival and was recognized by the Cleveland International Film Festival's Focus on Filmmakers Program, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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