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Swallow

Swallow

Nollywood’s most famous director has made a period piece for Netflix that, while good to look and with all the right politics for today, doesn’t quite come alive and yet stays on too long.

Belfast

Belfast

Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Catriona Balfe co-star in Kenneth Branagh’s most personal film yet, an autobiographical drama drawn from his own childhood memories.

Kerr

Kerr

Turkish writer-director Tayfun Pirselimoglu’s prize-winning thriller Kerr is a surreal small-town murder mystery with echoes of Kafka and Lynch.

Mariner of the Mountains

Mariner of the Mountains

A beautifully textured travel diary disguised as a highly personal quest — or is it the other way around? Either way, Mariner of the Mountains (Marinheiro das Montanhas) from director Karim Aïnouz — whose swoony feminist melodrama The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão...

No Time to Die

No Time to Die

The 25th James Bond film is bloated and plodding in places, but it ultimately delivers the goods and sends Daniel Craig out in a blaze of glory.

The Auschwitz Report

The Auschwitz Report

Slovakia’s former Oscars submission recreates the courageous real-life exploits of two Jewish prisoners who escaped from Auschwitz and alerted the world to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Black Box

Black Box

A good pitch, such as the one behind the French aviation thriller Black Box (Boîte noire), can only travel so far when the characters provide little fuel for the story. At some point, usually toward the middle of the second act, the movie stutters, stalls and then...

I Want to Talk About Duras

I Want to Talk About Duras

In her many novels, plays and movies, author and filmmaker Marguerite Duras would often make herself a character in the stories she was telling, mixing autobiography and fiction into a seamless blend that the French called autofiction. It was writing with a capital I,...

Django & Django

Django & Django

Quentin Tarantino explains his love for Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti Westerns and reveals a lot about his own work in the process in Luca Rea’s irresistible, eye-opening documentary.

Maixabel

Maixabel

Award-winning Spanish filmmaker Icair Bollain chillingly dramatizes the real-life encounter between a strong-minded widow and the repentant Basque terrorists who murdered her husband.

One Second

One Second

Zhang Yimou ironically salutes the movies and their fervent audiences during China’s Cultural Revolution, in a stylistic pastiche that drags a little.

Full Time

Full Time

Life is more than a little hectic for the protagonist of Full Time (Temps plein), a single mother of two who’s trying to keep down one job while trying to find another as traffic strikes wreak further havoc on her ability to juggle all her duties. This naturalistic...

Nobody Has to Know

Nobody Has to Know

A burly Belgian farmhand working in Scotland loses his memory in Nobody Has to Know, the fifth feature as a director from Belgian actor-director Bouli Lanners (The Giants, Eldorado). Though hushed and sober in tone, this unusual love story has several unexpected...

Silent Land

Silent Land

A wealthy young Polish couple are forced to confront their own moral bankruptcy during a luxury Italian vacation in Silent Land, Aga Woszczyńska’s elegantly bleak exploration of First World Problems.

Rhino

Rhino

Ukrainian activist and former political prisoner Oleh Sentsov directs a hard-boiled gangster tale set in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, whose over-the-top violence is starkly undermotivated.

Venice 2021: The Verdict

Venice 2021: The Verdict

When Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia, admitted on stage at the 78th awards ceremony that the last two Venice Film Festivals came close to not happening, he put his finger on the miracle on the Lido. A huge, unwieldy Italian festival got through...

Miracle

Miracle

There are two movies in Miracle, Bogdan George Apetri’s uneven, beautifully shot drama divided between a young religious novice’s ordeal when seeking an abortion and the police investigation that follows her brutal rape. The first part, characterized by an admirable...

Another World

Another World

In 2015, craggy-faced actor Vincent Lindon won the Cannes Best Actor nod for his role as a laid-off employee in The Measure of a Man, directed by Stéphane Brizé in their third collaboration. In 2018, they reunited again for At War, in which Lindon played a man...

On the Job: The Missing 8

On the Job: The Missing 8

A Venice competition slot seems like a strange place for On the Job: The Missing 8, a punishingly long corruption thriller from Filipino genre master Erik Matti that’s soon to be seen as an HBO Asia Original six-episode mini-series. Following on – but not actually a...

Encounter

Encounter

Riz Ahmed stars in this stylish sci-fi chase thriller as a troubled military veteran battling his own demons as well as extra-terrestrial enemies.

America Latina

America Latina

Elio Germano plays a mild-mannered dentist who discovers a girl is tied up in his basement in Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo’s (‘Favolacce’) absurdist psychological thriller.

Leave No Traces

Leave No Traces

The first shot of Leave No Traces may make you think you’re at a retrospective of one of the great Polish filmmakers from forty or more years ago, so perfect is the recreation. It takes place in a shadowy Warsaw bedroom in 1983, and the stillness, warm tonalities and...

The Catholic School

The Catholic School

Stefano Mordini’s unconvincing ensemble drama searches for the origins of evil that provoked the Circeo massacre of two girls in 1975 and rattled upper class Rome.

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

In a vividly dystopic 1938 Leningrad under Stalin’s Great Purge, a young NKVD torturer tries to save his soul, in co-directors Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov’s high-energy parable ‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped’.

Freaks Out

Freaks Out

There’s a reaction shot in Mel Brooks’ The Producers when the open-mouthed audience watches the “Springtime for Hitler” number in shocked disbelief, amazed that something so crass and campy could have made it on Broadway. The scene is hilarious because Brooks knows...

107 Mothers

107 Mothers

Slovak documentary director Peter Kerekes (Velvet Terrorists) makes the jump into the (semi-)fictional realm with 107 Mothers (Cenzorka), which explores the world of mothers behind bars through the stories of several female inmates and a warden at an Odessa jail....

Reflection

Reflection

Ukrainian filmmaker Valentyn Vasyanovych follows up his Venice Horizons-winning ‘Atlantis’ with ‘Reflection’ (‘Vidblysk’), a perturbing if less incisive true horror tale of his country’s war with Russia.

Madeleine Collins

Madeleine Collins

Leading a double life is no longer the dominion of spies in French director Antoine Barraud’s mystery-cum-character study Madeleine Collins, in which a woman tries to keep two families with kids going in two different countries at the same time. It’s a tough balancing...

The Box

The Box

The titular box that young Mexican teen Hatzin (newcomer Hatzin Navarrete) picks up containing his father’s remains may look like a simple mini-casket, but the emotional baggage that goes with it is far weightier than what’s inside. In the third and final installment...

Happening

Happening

A student in 1960s provincial France has to deal with an unwanted pregnancy in a very hostile environment in Happening, the intimate but hard-hitting second feature from filmmaker Audrey Diwan. This adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s semi-autobiographical novel is...

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

A psychotic girl with lethal powers walks anywhere she pleases at night in Ana Lily Amirpour’s occasionally amusing but mostly treadless fantasy, ‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.’

Lost Illusions

Lost Illusions

There’s a shot, quite late into Xavier Giannoli’s lengthy adaptation of Balzac’s Lost Illusions, that sees the protagonist, a broke young writer, get out of bed naked after having slept with a former lover, a lady from the provincial aristocracy. It is crystal clear...

Sundown

Sundown

The controversy stirred up by Michel Franco’s previous film ‘New Order’ will be partly placated and partly reignited in ‘Sundown’, the story of English tourists (Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg) in Mexico.

Official Competition

Official Competition

Two titans of acting, one a highly esteemed cerebral actor and the other a popular Hollywood star, are cast opposite each other for the first time by an oddball director in Official Competition (Competencia oficial). This frothy Venice competition title casts Penélope...

Il Buco

Il Buco

The symbiotic relationship between people of the land and their environment is the basis of all Michelangelo Frammartino’s work, most strikingly seen in his 2010 second feature Le Quattro Volte, a surprise international arthouse success. His hallmarks – unfussy,...

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

A girl’s exhilarating mind-trip through swinging London of the Sixties turns wild and woolly and full of zombies in ‘Last Night in Soho’, Edgar Wright’s multi-genre treat, co-starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie.

The Lost Daughter

The Lost Daughter

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel ‘The Lost Daughter’ strays too far from Italy to be convincing, but a stunningly good Olivia Colman saves the day.

Atlantide

Atlantide

Bored and blustery youths looking for something that makes them feel rebelliously alive is a storytelling cliché almost as old as the movies. So it is particularly exciting to see a film like the sun-blasted, water-sprayed spectacle that is Atlantide, which takes this...

Dune

Dune

There must be a reason Frank Herbert’s sci fi masterwork Dune defies cinematic adaptation, the latest attempt being director Denis Villeneuve’s attentively lensed but humorless actioner aimed at teen fans of the book and Timothée Chalamet.

Trenches

Trenches

The dog-weary Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas who are the protagonists of the documentary Trenches (Tranchées) keep digging new ditches and foxholes. “If you want to stay alive, dig!” one of them says. The droningly repetitive nature of trench warfare — dig and wait,...

Spencer

Spencer

There’s an extraordinary scene early on in Spencer in which Princess Diana, played by Kristen Stewart, rips off her pearl necklace during a Christmas-Eve dinner with the royal family, sending pearls everywhere. She hates the necklace because her husband, Prince...

Karmalink

Karmalink

Jake Wachtel’s Critics Week opener in Venice is a brash hybrid of near-future sci fi and timeless Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation.

The Hand of God

The Hand of God

Autobiography is a tricky business. It pushes the writer towards self-analysis without any guarantee that the events and emotions are conveyed in a way true to one’s thoughts or decipherable by an audience – how do you fully portray the ineffability of memory? For...

The Card Counter

The Card Counter

One of Paul Schrader’s most complex and profound reflections on personal traumatic memory bleeds into the American tragedy of Abu Ghraib in an anguishing drama starring Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish.

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s bold cinematic interpretation of Thomas Savage’s novel about cattle ranchers in 1920’s Montana is a sensuous, aestheticized Netflix release, whose meticulous detail and gay subplot are admirable but a little tiring.

A Tale of Love and Desire

A Tale of Love and Desire

There are so many good ideas in Leyla Bouzid’s second feature A Tale of Love and Desire, so many rarely-addressed issues deserving attention, that it’s especially frustrating how faintly the sparks fly between her two main characters, university classmates at the...

Parallel Mothers

Parallel Mothers

Where do you go as a laureled filmmaker heading into the fifth decade of your career after making a semi-autobiographical masterpiece like Pain and Glory? For Pedro Almodóvar, the answer is Parallel Mothers (Madres paralelas), a film that takes some familiar...

Promises

Promises

"I reject the cynical view that politics is inevitably or even usually dirty business,” Richard Nixon said in a televised address more than a year into the Watergate scandal. It is the kind of quote that French director Thomas Kruithof (The Eavesdropper) might have...

Feathers

Feathers

The distinctive vision that Omar El Zohairy brought to his two prize-wining shorts is much in evidence in his meticulously crafted absurdist feature debut Feathers. It’s amusing to imagine how he pitched the project at the start, given the narrative’s unlikely...

The Staffroom

The Staffroom

A newly appointed school counselor in Croatia tries to keep her head above water in the shark tank that is The Staff Room (Zbornica),  an auspicious if somewhat meandering feature debut from filmmaker Sonja Tarokic. Less a character study than the portrait of a...

Onoda — 10,000 Nights in the Jungle

Onoda — 10,000 Nights in the Jungle

Onoda Hiroo was the name of the famous Japanese soldier who refused to believe that WWII had ended, so he remained in hiding on a sparsely populated island in the Philippines for almost three decades. His story of endurance, as impressive as it is insane and as...

The Stronghold

The Stronghold

Over the past decade or so, the French city of Marseille has worked hard to clean up its image, gentrifying a significant area around its touristy Vieux-Port, opening a brand new museum and conference center — both architectural marvels — and attracting a swatch of...

Our Men

Our Men

Claire Denis sublimely explored the sweaty, dust-coated bodies of French legionnaires in one of her best movies, Beau Travail, which focused on a platoon of lonesome fighters marooned at a remote outpost in East Africa. In Our Men (Mon légionnaire), the second feature...

A New Old Play

A New Old Play

Director Qiu Jiongjiong uses a traditional theater troupe to spin out three long hours of dreamy reflections on Chinese history in the 20th century.