Venice Peeks: ‘Black Swan,’ ‘The Tempest,’ ‘Machete,’ ‘Norwegian Wood’ and ‘The Town’

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Brand new images have just arrived for several big name films that will be showing in and out of competition at this year’s 67th Venice Film Festival including brand new looks at Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, Anh Hung Tran’s Norwegian Wood, Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere and Ben Affleck’s The Town.

The festival runs from September 1 – 11 and I only wish I was going to be in attendance as films such as Somewhere and The Tempest won’t be crossing over and showing in Toronto. Not to mention, while I am excited for my first trip to Toronto this year, it wouldn’t be half-bad hanging out in Venice, Italy. Nevertheless, let’s get to the previews…

I’ve included one pic from each film directly below. You can click on the picture or the link to be taken to the full gallery, which will open in a new tab/window so you can close that and return directly to this article and browse the galleries for the other films listed.

Black Swan
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Photo: Fox Searchlight
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Black Swan follows the story of Nina (Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her retired ballerina mother Erica (Barbara Hershey) who zealously supports her daughter’s professional ambition. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder) for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Kunis), who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

The Tempest
Tom Conti, Helen Mirren, David Strathairn, Alan Cumming and Chris Cooper in The Tempest
Photo: Touchstone Pictures
Starring: Helen Mirren, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Ben Whishaw, Felicity Jones, David Strathairn, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper, Reeve Carney, Tom Conti
Director: Julie Taymor

A big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” that, in a gender-defying twist, will see Helen Mirren reigning over the magical island. Although the play centers on Prospero, an exiled duke-turned-sorcerer, Taymor — who likes to take an experimental approach to her stage and film projects — has rechristened the lead character Prospera so that Mirren can take on the role. Shakespeare’s play mixes romance with fraternal politics and the supernatural. As revised for the screen, it will center around Prospera, her daughter Miranda (Jones) and a shipwrecked crew full of Prospera’s enemies.

The Town
Jeremy Renner in The Town
Photo: Warner Bros.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver
Director: Ben Affleck

Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang’s latest job, when they briefly took a hostage–bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). Though they let her go unharmed, Claire is nervously aware that the robbers know her name… and where she lives. But she lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug….not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path.

Norwegian Wood
Kenichi Matsuyama and Rinko Kikuchi in Norwegian Wood
Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Tetsuji Tamayama, Kiko Mizuhara, Kengo Kora, Reika Kirishima
Director: Anh Hung Tran

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.”

The melancholy tune and sentiment of this classic Beatles song seems to have taken the life of Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), who is similarly uncertain as to how he should view his relationships. At heart, a quiet and serious young Tokyo college student in 1969, Watanabe, is deeply devoted to his first love, Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi), a beautiful and introspective young woman. But their mutual passion is made by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Watanabe lives with the influence of death everywhere, while Naoko feels as if some integral part of her has been permanently lost. On the night of Naoko’s 20th birthday, they finally made love to each other. However, shortly thereafter Naoko decided to quit college and become a recluse. It is at that time Midori (Kiko Mizuhara) – a girl who is everything that Naoko is not – outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident – marches into Watanabe’s life and he has to choose between his future and his past.

Somewhere
Elle Fanning in Somewhere
Photo: Focus Features
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, Benicio del Toro, Michelle Monaghan, Alden Ehrenreich
Director: Sofia Coppola

From Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette), Somewhere is a witty, moving, and empathetic look into the orbit of actor Johnny Marco (played by Stephen Dorff). You have probably seen him in the tabloids; .Johnny is living at the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood. He has a Ferrari to drive around in, and a constant stream of girls and pills to stay in with. Comfortably numbed, Johnny drifts along. Then, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) from his failed marriage arrives unexpectedly at the Chateau. Their encounters encourage Johnny to face up to where he is in life and confront the question that we all must: which path in life will you take? Filmed entirely on location, Somewhere reunites the writer/director with Lost in Translation editor Sarah Flack and production designer Anne Ross. Stacey Battat (Broken English) is the costume designer, and Harris Savides (Elephant) is the director of photography, on Somewhere.

Machete
Danny Trejo in Machete
Photo: 20th Century Fox
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Lindsay Lohan, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Jeff Fahey
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis

After a violent shakedown from a notorious drug lord nearly kills him, Machete, a renegade Mexican Federale and tough-as-nails vigilante for justice, roams the streets of Texas, working as a day laborer. When Machete is hired by a crooked US Senator to execute a covert hit, Machete is double-crossed and forced to run from the cops and an endless stream of assassins. But what they don’t know is that Machete is looking for them so he can settle the score.