Venice: "Arrival" gets good reviews, "La La Land" gets raves

Well, can we say it officially? Fall movie season is upon us. Venice kicks it all off with two titles that we'll be keeping close attention to at Telluride and TIFF, which I will be attending from September 8th to the 18th.

First off, there's Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival" getting the kind of reviews I thought it would be getting: solid, thoughtful entertainment that doesn't necessarily rise above being very good. I'm fine with that. This could crack my top ten list because, well, I'm just a big Vileneuve nerd, especially his three French Canadian films "Maelstrom," "Incendies" and "Polytechnique." He showed a lot of promise with his American films and is being a kind of Hollywood auteur. "Sicario" definitely had some tightly-knit sequences that would not have been possible with cinematographer Roger Deakins, but Villeneuve shot that film magnificently as well.

Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" is where things get very interesting. The reviews are raves and it looks like many Oscar nominations are awaiting the latest film from Chazelle, who completely floored me at TIFF 2 years ago with "Whiplash." This one is a movie musical ode to the 1950s MGM, the trailer looked like it had a "Punch-Drunk Love" type of vibe. Reading these reviews it seems like it only hints at a surrealism that I wish it had more of. One thing's for sure, Chazelle has some kind of particular eye for musical numbers, maybe that's what he will build his career as a director on.

Check out that 9.2 rating. Yowsers. It is supposed to be screening here in advance on Tuesday, but I will not be in town, which saddens me because I will be catching "La La Land" at TIFF after practically every single big name critic has seen it.