Opening the Venice Film Festival is Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, which stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a husband and wife who shrink themselves in order to simplify their lives. Chief film critic Todd McCarthy offers a rave in his review:
The rare director who has never made a bad film, Alexander Payne has now arguably created his best one with a work that easily accommodates many moods, flavors, intentions and ambitions.
At its core, Downsizing grapples head-on with the long-term viability of humanity’s existence on this planet, but with no pretension or preachiness at all, while on a moment-to-moment basis it’s a human comedy dominated by personal foibles and people just trying to get by in life. It’s also a science-fiction film that not for a second looks or feels like one.
As such, this is a unique undertaking, one centered on an unexceptional Everyman character who unwittingly embarks upon an exceptional life journey.
+ Early takes: The Guardian: “Alexander Payne’s miniature masterpiece.” Screen Daily: “There’s something for everyone in Downsizing – just not a full meal.” Variety: “a ticklish and resonant crowd-pleaser for grown-ups.”
Welcome to the fall film festival sprint!
Scott Feinberg emails his preview: The approach of Labor Day means the end of the summer, the beginning of the school year and, for folks in the film industry, the start of a breathless six-month race to the Oscars. This year, the Venice Film Festival hopefuls include Darren Aronofsky’s Jennifer Lawrence-vehicle Mother!, Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water and George Clooney’s Suburbicon.
Today, Venice jury president Annette Bening addressed the lack of female directors in the lineup. “I was thrilled to be asked to be here, so I didn’t count the number of films that were accepted that were directed by women,” said Bening. “They watched 2,000 films if you can imagine what that would be like. So no, I didn’t approach it that way.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, high in the Rockies, the Telluride Film Festival will get underway with its annual “Patron Preview” screening, the title of which, like the rest of the lineup, is not circulated in advance; rumors, however, suggest that several of the aforementioned films will hop continents and screen in Colorado, too, alongside the likes of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ Battle of the Sexes and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father.
The race will then head north for the Toronto International Film Festival, which will open with Janus Metz Peerson’s Borg/McEnroe and then showcase many of the aforementioned films, as well as world premieres such as Kings, an LA riots-set drama starring Daniel Craig and Halle Berry, and The Current War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison, plus acquisition titles like I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding. By the time TIFF wraps up on Sept. 17, less than three weeks from now, it’s likely that the majority of this season’s Oscar hopefuls will have been unveiled.
Elsewhere in film…
► Anti-American Sniper film in the works. Iraqi Sniper, being produced by two-time Oscar-nominee Hany Abu-Assad, will be an anti-war response to Clint Eastwood’s 2014 hit, telling the story behind the chief foe of Bradley Cooper’s character.
► Barry Jenkins’ next film finds star. Stephan James is in talks to star in Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk from Annapurna. The actor will play the falsely-accused Fonny in the love story.
► Lionsgate pushes Robin Hood origin movie back. The film, starring Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan and Eve Hewson, moved its wide release date from March 23 to Sept. 21, 2018, opening opposite Sony’s Goosebumps 2.
► Tom Clancy’s widow aims to win Jack Ryan character rights. The United States Naval Institute, as publisher, has asserted since the ’80s that any use of Clancy’s characters would constitute copyright infringement. Alexandra Clancy claims rights to the Jack Ryan character are owned by the Tom Clancy Estate.
► Cynthia Erivo joins Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale. Twentieth Century Fox’s thriller has added the Tony winner, as Goddard, who wrote the script and is producing, has been quietly putting together his cast.
► Warner Bros. nabs sci-fi thriller from first-time writer. The studio has acquired an untitled spec script by Josh L. Gordon. Zev Foreman will produce the project, with Thomas Benski and Brian Levy of Pulse executive producing.
► R.I.P., J.D. Disalvatore. A leading producer of LGBT films and a gay rights activist, Disalvatore died Thursday at her home in Sherman Oaks after a long battle with cancer. She was 51. Full obit.
Why Tulip Fever took nearly 20 years to reach the screen. Novelist Deborah Moggach tells how she lived out a fantasy on the set of the new movie (opening Friday), starring Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz, and the “laborious process” behind the scenes. Guest column.
What Matters in Hollywood Today – Hollywood Reporter