My Favorite Films of the 75th Venice Film Festival - First Man Scruggs

Venice Film Festival

Give your soul to the dance. Give your soul to the cinema. The fall movie season is well underway, kicking off with all the big film festivals - Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. I returned for my second year to Venice to attend the 75th Venice Film Festival and watched a total of 26 films in eight days before flying over to TIFF to catch a few more. The films I saw in Venice really stood out above the rest, better than almost every else from earlier this year (give or take other Sundance & Cannes films). This iconic festival is known as the very first film festival, and they have a legacy to live up to by bringing the best films from around the world every year. The fest is over, the awards have been handed out, but the films will still live on. To wrap up my coverage of Venice, here's my favorite films of the festival - those films that have remained on my mind.

Watch: Short Comedy 'Ciao Lola' Filmed in Venice, Starring Jane Levy

Ciao Lola Short Film

"Who are all these people?" Nothing like a funny short film set in a romantic city to brighten up your day! Ciao Lola is a short comedy made by producer / filmmaker Oscar Boyson, running only six minutes in total. It was filmed in Venice back in 2016, and is now available to watch online. The short stars Jane Levy (from Fun Size, Evil Dead, About Alex, Don't Breathe, Monster Trucks) as Lola and Thomas McDonell as Peter, a couple visiting the gorgeous Italian city. There's some unexplained subtext to this that isn't implicit, but you'll figure it out as it goes along. I like the playfulness of this, and all the lovely shots of Venice. Enjoy!

Official US Trailer for Luis Ortega's Argentinian Crime Drama 'El Angel'

El Angel Trailer

"We all have a destiny." The Orchard has unveiled an official US trailer for the Argentinian crime biopic El Angel, which first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The film also played at the Sarajevo and Toronto Film Festivals, and will next stop by Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX. El Angel tells the story of one of Argentina's most notorious criminals, a boy known as "The Angel of Death" because of his cherubic looks. It all starts with Carlitos at age 17, when he meets a friend in his high school named Ramón and together they form a dangerously charming duo. The young man with the golden curls and the deadly aim was arrested in 1972, having just turned 20, with 11 homicides and over 40 thefts to his name. Starring Lorenzo Ferro as Carlos, along with Chino Darín, Daniel Fanego, Mercedes Morán, Luis Gnecco, Peter Lanzani, and Cecilia Roth. This looks like another fascinating and slightly scary portrait of a serial killer. See below.

Meet Her Majesty - First Trailer for HBO's 'Queen of the World' Doc

Queen of the World Trailer

"53 countries, oh my goodness! It'll keep us busy." HBO has debuted a trailer for a new documentary titled Queen of the World, from director Matt Hill, which will be available (in the US) through HBO in just a few weeks. This is described as the "landmark documentary" about Queen Elizabeth II, a "rare look inside the life of Queen Elizabeth II featuring footage from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's private film archives." The film includes behind-the-scenes moments with The Queen and other major members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles & Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Princess Anne; Prince William & Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Prince Harry & Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; and the Countess of Wessex. It's a look at what it takes to be the "Queen of the World" and what it's like inside the hallowed halls of her various estates. This is a very brief and light trailer, they know the audience they're playing to with this film.

Official Trailer for Award-Winning Documentary 'Shirkers' from Netflix

Shirkers Poster

"How could it have disappeared!?" Netflix has debuted the trailer for the documentary titled Shirkers, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year and won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award. It was also one of the most talked about documentaries of the festival, and it will finally be arriving on Netflix (and in theaters) in later October. Shirkers is the story of a group of friends from Singapore who made a film in 1992. After shooting wrapped, their American mentor vanished with all the footage. Years later, Sandi Tan returns home to Singapore after discovering the 16mm film canisters in New Orleans, to confront the past and piece together memories. "A kaleidoscopic punk rock ghost story!" It's a hard story to describe, but apparently it's incredible to see how everything works out in this doc film. It is a must watch.

New UK Trailer for 'The Hidden Soldier' with Liu Yifei & Emile Hirsch

The Hidden Soldier Trailer

"I think someone here knows where the Americans are." Signature Entertainment has debuted an official UK trailer for a Chinese drama titled The Hidden Soldier, about an American WWII pilot who survived in rural China. The film has also gone under other international titles including In Harm's Way and The Chinese Widow, but will be released in the UK under that The Hidden Soldier titled. Emile Hirsch stars as Jack, the pilot who survives a crash landing in rural China. A young Chinese woman, played by Liu Yifei (who is starring in the upcoming Mulan movie) takes him in to her home and, of course, falls in love with him while keeping him alive and hidden from the Japanese military. This looks as cliche as it sounds, with all the usual romance and war tropes worked into it. Worth a watch only if you really love wartime romance.

Second 'Beautiful Boy' Trailer with Steve Carell & Timothée Chalamet

Beautiful Boy Trailer

"It's hard as hell to get sober." Amazon Studios has debuted the second official trailer for Beautiful Boy, an adaptation from director Felix van Groeningen. This emotional, challenging familial drama examines the relationship between a father and his drug addict son, and the challenges they face trying to deal with these troubles together. Beautiful Boy stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet as father and son David and Nic, dealing with their experiences of "survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years." The full cast includes Maura Tierney, Christian Convery, Oakley Bull, Kaitlyn Dever, Amy Ryan, Stefanie Scott, and Julian Works. This premiered to mostly mixed reviews at TIFF, it's a very muted middle-of-the-road addiction film. These trailers are better than actual the film, in my opinion.

Full Trailer for Canadian Film 'Knuckleball' - An R-Rated 'Home Alone'

Knuckleball Trailer

To catch a predator, he must think like one. Freestyle Releasing has unveiled an official trailer for an indie horror thriller titled Knuckleball, the latest film from Canadian filmmaker Michael Peterson (Eddies: The Documentary, Lloyd the Conqueror). Described as "an R-rated spin on Home Alone," the film is about a 12-year-old boy who goes to visit his grandfather's isolated farm. When his secretive grandfather dies suddenly in the night, he must gear up and defend his home at all costs. Luca Villacis stars as Henry, and the cast includes Michael Ironside, Munro Chambers, Kathleen Munroe, and Chenier Hundal. This looks fun, but certainly derivative and unoriginal. I dig the Home Alone concept, of course, but I always hope new filmmakers twist it and do something more with it if they're going to borrow it. We'll see if this is any good.

Christmas 1944: Trailer for 'The Battle of the Bulge: Wunderland' Film

The Battle of the Bulge: Wunderland Trailer

"Listen up fellas! Orders are in - we're moving back to the front." Cinedigm is releasing this new WWII film on VOD next month, so here's the trailer for The Battle of the Bulge: Wunderland. This independently produced WWII film is based on a true events, taking place on Christmas 1944 in Germany. Army Lt. Robert Cappa and his platoon of 2nd Infantry Division soldiers have been ordered to hold a vital road junction against the first stages of an attacking German Army in the epic Battle of the War known as "The Battle of the Bulge." The film stars its writer/director, Steven Luke (or Luke Schuetzle), as Lt. Cappa, plus Tom Berenger, Mikeal Burgin, Aaron Courteau, Casey Sill, Cody Fleury, Adam Simon, Apostolos Gliarmis, and Andrew Stecker. This just doesn't look so good, the quality of the filmmaking is terrible.

Official Trailer for Thriller 'Nigerian Prince' Directed by Faraday Okoro

Nigerian Prince Trailer

"Anyone can fall for scams…" Vertical Entertainment has debuted the official trailer for an indie drama titled Nigerian Prince, which first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. Made by a New York-based Nigerian-American filmmaker, the film tells the story of a Nigerian-American teenager who is sent back to Nigeria indefinitely by his mother. There he joins forces with a dangerous internet scammer in order to figure out how to return to the United States. Antonio J Bell stars as Eze, along with Chinaza Uche, Tina Mba, Bimbo Manuel, Ebbe Bassey, Rita Edward, Craig Stott, Dean Cameron, Omar Maskati, and Russell G. Jones. This looks like it gets extra violent and way more intensely thrilling than it seems at the start. I'm definitely curious about this, looks like a well-made indie film. Take a look below.

'We Choose to Go to the Moon!' Third Trailer for Chazelle's 'First Man'

First Man Trailer

"Not because they are easy… but because they are hard!!" Get ready! First Man is landing in theaters soon. Universal has released a third official trailer for Damien Chazelle's First Man, an intimate look at the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong leading up to his voyage on Apollo 11 and his first steps on the Moon in July of 1969. The film just played to rave reviews at the Venice, Telluride, and Toronto Film Festivals this year (my full review). Ryan Gosling stars as Armstrong, and the full cast includes Claire Foy as his wife Janet, with Pablo Schreiber, Kyle Chandler, Ciarán Hinds, Ethan Embry, Jason Clarke, Brian d'Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, and Lukas Haas. This is pretty much a perfect trailer for First Man, with the JFK speech and everything, but I feel like it's showing a bit too much. I recommend going out to the theater as soon as possible and experiencing this in all its glory.

Third Trailer for Illumination's 'The Grinch' with Benedict Cumberbatch

The Grinch Movie Trailer

"You're a mean one…" Universal & Illumination have debuted a third official US trailer for Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, their new animated take on the classic Christmas story about the lovable green grump the Grinch. Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch. The rest of the voice cast still hasn't been revealed yet, since they don't seem to be in this much. "The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl's generous holiday spirit." The exact same classic Dr. Seuss story as we've seen told many times before, but with some funky Illumination flourishes. I'm still not particularly excited about this beyond Cumberbatch as the Grinch, I just hope it turns out okay. The is the best trailer of all of them so far, which makes me a bit more hopeful. Meet the Green one below.

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