The Paradox of Choice – Explained and Resolved!

August 26th, 2013 by Ran

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OK, so on August 28th the Venice film festival begins and it runs through September 7th. Two days before it ends begins the Toronto film festival. Soooo many films, sooo little time. How can you choose what to see? Most people believe that the more choice we have the better and we all celebrate the abundance of choice as one of the greatest things in modern society, but facts and research suggest otherwise. Hear me out, let’s say you have two options. Usually you’ll have no problem making a choice, because the difference between them will be clear and you have less parameters to deal with when choosing. Now, let’s say you have five things to choose from. Now the differences between the options become less obvious, numerous parameters come into play and you might get confused. Your chance of being satisfied with your choice diminishes AND you are more likely to experience cognitive dissonance. Yeah psycholobabble!

So when looking at the selection those two fine festivals have to offer, it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed. But fear not, let the (self proclaimed) expert do the first sorting job for you. After that, you’ll have a much easier time deciding what to watch. So here are five films from Venice and five from Toronto that are definitely worth checking out (there are, of course, many more).

Venice:

1. Gravity (2013)

Alfonso Cuarón comes back with his first feature film since Children of Men. And we missed him… George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star in this sci-fi flick about being stuck in space, and it looks both intense and awesome.

2. The Zero Theorem (2013)

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Another anticipated sci-fi film, directed by Terry Gilliam, starring  Crhistoph Waltz, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton, and dealing with the secret of human existence. I haven’t been this excited about a math-themed title since Pi.

3. Child of God (2013)

James Franco helms this surely bleak to be adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel about Lester Ballard – a misfit, a psychopath, a killer. This is McCarthy’s six novel to be adapted to the screen, and considering that No Country for Old Men and The Road are among them, it sounds promising.

4. Tom à la ferme (2013)

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A tense Canadian drama-thriller about the twisted relationship of a man and his deceased lover’s family, who weren’t aware of his sexual orientation. This is Xavier Dolan’s fifth film, a promising young director who seems to have a unique cinematic voice.

5. The Unknown Known (2013)

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It’s fitting that the first documentary to be in the Venice competition comes from master documentarian Errol Morris. Controversial and maligned former American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld talks about his career, which ‘culminated’ in the 2003 Iraq invasion. This promises to be explosive.

Toronto:

1. The Fifth Estate (2013)

Another controversial and maligned figure, but from the other side of the tracks, is the subject of this Biopic. Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), founder of Wikileaks changed journalism forever, and this is his story. Even though director Bill Condon’s filmography is uneven, with the excellent Gods and Monsters alongside two Twilight Films and some mediocre TV movies, I’m hoping for the best.

2. Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2013)

The life and career of legendary documentary filmmaker Marcel Ophüls. Being the son of legendary director Max Ophüls, being German during WWII and moving from Germany to France and then Hollywood, his story is surely to be fascinating, to film buffs at least.

3. Kill Your Darlings (2013)

John Krokidas first feature film is about the poets of The Beat Generation. Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall headline an excellent cast that already made some waves in this year’s Sundance festival.

4. Like Father, Like Son (2013)

Another film that comes to Toronto via another film festival, this one won the Jury prize in Cannes. Hirokazu Koreeda, who gave us the excellent Still Walking and Nobody Knows, comes back with another film concerning family relations. It’s about a man who learns one day that his son is not his biological son. Few directors can achieve the poignancy of Koreeda.

5. Enough Said (2013)

This year the film community lost one very memorable and important member – James Gandolfini. He rose to fame pretty late in life, but had such a strong impact on fans and colleagues alike that his sudden death left a big hole in our hearts. Here is a chance to see him in an indie sort-of-romantic comedy alongside Toni Collette, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener – Enough said.

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