Damien Chazelle’s ‘First Man’ With Ryan Gosling to Open 75th Venice Film Festival

Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle’s space movie “First Man” will open the 75th annual Venice International Film Festival. The film is expected to premiere on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

Other recent Venice openers have included “Downsizing,” “Everest,” “Birdman,” “Gravity,” “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” “The Ides of March,” and “Black Swan.”

Here's what I wrote when the trailer premiered:

Damien Chazelle. The writer-director, only 33, struck gold with the indisputably great "Whiplash," and then "La La Land" happened. By all accounts the latter, a musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling triumphed in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, on its way to becoming the front-runner for Best Picture at the Oscars and then poof. "Moonlight" of course won, but not without Chazelle taking a major hit. One of the most dumbfounding things to happen in mainstream cinema these last few years was the backlash that happened to "La La Land."

Why the backlash? Still not sure how it could have transpired, its 93 Metascore would lead to other conclusions, but it became a major whipping boy. Accusations of it being "too white," not understanding jazz, its leads not being able to sing and dance, Chazelle's style over substance direction, lead to it losing the Oscar. I remember when Chazelle was deemed Hollywood's next big thing, now what? Chazelle is not as "hip" as he used to be and his latest feature "First Man," which is about Neil Armstrong's journey to the moon, is not hip at all. It's full-fledged Oscar-bait and we know the Academy just doesn't go for that like they used to.

This trailer has a gritty feel to it, Gosling looks ready to go, Claire Foy as his wife a little less so, and the story? Rather pedantic. We'll see. I adore Chazelle's talent, I really do, but we haven't gone a full 23 years between this and "Apollo 13" without becoming a little sick of this genre. This looks like "The Right Stuff" mixed with the aforementioned Ron Howard-directed mission film. The story of Armstrong himself has always been known as a rather dull, tensionless affair, the man wasn't driven by his personality, no it was what he delivered as an astronaut that counted. All of this makes sense when it comes the time to ask the question why it took 57 years for Hollywood to finally make a movie about the man.

The film, written by “Spotlight” scribe Josh Singer, will be the fourth collaboration between Chazelle and American film composer Justin Hurwitz. However, this also looks like their only film not themed after Jazz or really just music in general.

I posted this on Facebook:

"I don't really know why some folks are excited about this film. I loved Whiplash, liked La La Land but Chazelle might be stretching his talent a little too far with this latest picture. It looks like a melange of "The Right Stuff," and "Apollo 13." Generic is the word I'd use."