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Awards season roundup: 'Anna,' 'To the Wonder' looking for love

September 04, 2012|By Glenn Whipp
  • "Anna Karenina" stars Keira Knightley and Jude Law arrive for the London premiere of the movie.
"Anna Karenina" stars Keira Knightley and Jude Law arrive for… (Karel Prinsloo / EPA )

This post has been corrected. Please see the note below.

We've already written about how Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" met with rapturous acclaim over the weekend at the Venice Film Festival. From what we understand, gondoliers have now been instructed to confine their singing to the Aimee Mann songs from "Magnolia" as they paddle through the city's canals. "Save Me" has never sounded better.

But what of the weekend's other scattered world premieres, "Anna Karenina" and "To the Wonder"? Well, for the moment at least, there are no plans to erect statues in their honor.

Joe Wright's stylized, virtually single-set adaptation of the Tolstoy novel won respect from some corners after its London premiere but little outright love. Reviewing for Variety, Leslie Felperin enthused about the film's formal innovations but remarked that "its covert anti-romanticism may limit appeal beyond specialty auds." In other words: It might be too cool for academy school. (Isn't that how they converse over there at Variety?)

Hitfix's Guy Lodge advanced the theme, noting that with "Wright seemingly more fixated on the design of his narrative than the narrative itself, the door is left open to the chill." 

But at least nobody booed the movie. The same can't be said for Terrence Malick's romantic-drama "To the Wonder," a film that (surprise, surprise) critics seemed to enjoy more than the rest of its Venice premiere audience. Again, we'll let Mr. Lodge fill us in:

"Stop the presses: There's been booing at a screening of the new Terrence Malick film. Whether they came from the same small-but-loud faction of supposed journalists who vocally expressed their displeasure at 'The Tree of Life' in Cannes last year, or a fresh batch of doubters, such jeers are unusual for films that feature no purported moral transgressions, nor any sheer ineptitude of craft. ... Rather, Malick is one of the few senior A-list filmmakers who can get razzed in this fashion for being too sincere, too lyrical, too himself."

This negative reaction hasn't escaped the notice of those attending the Toronto Film Festival, which will screen both the Malick movie and "Anna Karenina" in coming days.

"Fair warning Toronto press folks," tweeted A.V. Club critic Scott Tobias. "If you boo the Malick, I will punch you in the back of the head. Rhetorically."

A rhetorical head-punch? Is that anything like those sonic disruptors in "Minority Report"? Please save us a seat near Mr. Tobias. There's a chance this could be more interesting than the movie.

[For the record, 10:28 p.m. Sept. 4: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said "Anna Karenina" premiered at the Venice film festival. It premiered in London.]


Venice 'Master' hyperbole: The lame shall walk, the blind will see

Toronto 2012: The promise, pitfalls of Oscar contenders

Oscar 8-Ball: Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Glenn Whipp

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