The Best of Venice Film Festival 2016 So Far.

The 73rd Venice Film Festival got underway Wednesday 31st, as 10 days of beautiful Hollywood stars grace the festival’s red carpet across various premiers. Initial film reactions, the dresses, guests and behind the scenes pictures: we take a look at the best from the week so far…

The Premiers & Reactions:

Nocturnal Animals

Director: Tom Ford Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams

“Nocturnal Animals,” which premiered today at the 73rd International Venice Film Festival, is a suspenseful and intoxicating movie — a thriller that isn’t scared to go hog-wild with violence, to dig into primal fear and rage, even as it’s constructed around a melancholy love story that circles back on itself in tricky and surprising ways. With Amy Adams as a posh, married, but deeply lonely Los Angeles art-gallery owner, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the novelist from her past who finds himself trapped in a nightmare, the movie has two splendid actors working at the top of their game, and more than enough refined dramatic excitement to draw awards-season audiences hungry for a movie that’s intelligent and sensual at the same time. – Owen GLEIBERMAN

Hacksaw Ridge

Director: Mel Gibson Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is the work of a director possessed by the reality of violence as an unholy yet unavoidable truth. The film takes its title from a patch of battleground on the Japanese island of Okinawa, at the top of a 100-foot cliff, that’s all mud and branches and bunkers and foxholes, and where the fight, when it arrives (one hour into the movie), is a gruesome cataclysm of terror. Against the nonstop clatter of machine-gun fire, bombs and grenades explode with a relentless random force, blowing off limbs and blasting bodies in two, and fire is everywhere, erupting from the explosions and the tips of flame-throwers. Bullets rip through helmets and chests, and half-dead soldiers sprawl on the ground, their guts hanging out like hamburger.- Owen GLEIBERMAN

Brimstone

Director: Martin Koolhoven Starring: Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Emilia Jones, Kit Harinton

“Brimstone” lopes and lurches on, going back further in time and then cutting forward to a segment called “Retribution,” which is sort of like “The Revenant” with a slasher windup. The film has gruesomely effective moments, and one at times gets caught up in the gears of its big interlocked narrative, but it also has serious longueurs. For all of Martin Koolhoven’s talent, a hifalutin exploitation picture like “Brimstone” has too much — and not enough — on its mind. – Owen GLEIBERMAN

La La Land

Director: Damien Chapelle Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons

La La Land” starts as a twinkly fantasy of sophisticated innocence, cut with a touch of modern L.A. sass (especially in Mia’s casually cruel audition scenes). In its second half, though, the film gives itself over to a slightly murky version of the art-vs.-commerce, how-to-hold-onto-your-dream theme. Should Sebastian even be in this band? Oddly, it’s Mia who suddenly says that he shouldn’t (she’s bothered by his relentless touring schedule), and the two get into a fight about it. It’s portrayed as one of those things that just happens between a couple, but given that Sebastian was trying to step up and grow up, on some basic level it’s a little hard to buy that Mia is now the purist. But then, it turns out that her own purity is going to take her far. She just needs a little prodding. Emma Stone, in a luminous performance, is by turns plucky, furious, hopeful, distraught, and devoted, and when she sings the wistful ballad “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” she is every inch a star. – Owen GLEIBERMAN

Arrival

Director: Denis Villeneuve Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

True to its title, “Arrival” makes an absorbing spectacle of the initial alien set-up, alternately stoking and sating our curiosity. The aliens don’t quite have personalities, but there’s still something tender and touching about them. There are also, frankly, elements of familiarity. The sounds they — low blasting moans louder than a pipe organ — echo the sounds made by the ship in “Close Encounters.” When we first see the aliens’ squid-like legs, they look a lot like the alien tentacles in “The War of the Worlds,” and the more closely we look at them, the more they look like gigantic versions of E.T.’s fingers. The point being that even though Villeneuve is a bold filmmaker, when it comes to this subject, Spielberg’s vision is hard to get away from; it still somehow infuses everything. – Owen GLEIBERMAN

Morgan

Directed by Luke Scott Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie

Morgan” is linked, in theme and design, to last year’s “Ex Machina,” which also told the story of an eerie lifelike humanoid experiment locked away inside a corporate woodland bunker. But the highly creepy originality of that film, apart from its eye-popping flesh-meets-metallurgic-skeleton effects, is that it wasn’t just about whether the robot in question had feelings or not. It was about the compulsive need of everyone around her, especially the men, to believe that she had feelings. “Morgan” is the first feature directed by Luke Scott, the son of Ridley Scott (who serves as one of the producers), and it’s little more than a schlock replay of “Ex Machina.” It toys around with some of the same situations, but it doesn’t know where to take them. Instead of developing its themes, it uses them as grist for an overload of “commercial” action. – Owen GLEIBERMAN

See more reviews of the weeks premiers here.

Looking at the weeks best fashion looks:

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Emma Stone -La La Land press conference

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Emma Stone- Opening ceremony in Atelier Versace.

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Gemma Arterton- Opening ceremony in Stella McCartney.

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Eva Herzigova in double denim and cat sunglasses

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Barbara Palvin- Opening Ceremony in Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini

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Festival hostess Sonia Bergamasco – Opening ceremony.

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Suki Waterhouse

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Dakota Fanning
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Amy Adams in Tom Ford at Nocturnal Animals screening

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