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Buzz from the Venice International Film Festival 2012

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Sep 02, 2012 | 11:53am EDT

Venice Film FestivalWe're a few days into this year's Venice International Film Festival, the 69th of its kind, and buzz from this year's big movies is making its way to our shores. While the festival is featuring a lot of new and up-and-coming faces, several big names are making it the home to debut their new works. Whether documentaries, shorts, or big-name comebacks, we've rounded up the buzz so far about the event's brightest stars and biggest hits.

To The Wonder Goes to Extremes - According to The Huffington Post, Terrence Malick's newest film stars Ben Affleck, but you'd barely know that given his lack of actual screen time. But that wasn't the only thing making headlines around the film's debut. According to Affleck himself while speaking at the Telluride Film Festival, Malick's newest effort "makes [his previous work] Tree of Life look like Transformers." Tree of Life was, as you may remember, half-booed/half-cheered during its festival debut in Cannes, and To The Wonder was no different. Critics were understandably appauled at the antics, with Variety critic Justin Chang tweeting the below response to his peers jeers:

Booing a Terrence Malick film! Wow, almost as courageous and commendable as kicking Gandhi in the face. Good job guys. #Venezia69

— Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) September 2, 2012

The Masterstroke - Director Paul Thomas Anderson's highly-anticipated The Master is already gaining rave reviews from the festival, with the Oscar buzz around the film being deemed appropriate. Critics are atwitter about Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix's performances in the film, with The Hollywood Reporter sparing no limits to their praise of Phoenix's "career-defining" turn as sailor Freddie Quell. The film's parallels to Scientology are also creating a buzz, thanks to Anderson's friendship with the religion's biggest star, Tom Cruise. And has Cruise seen it? "Yes, I have shown him the film, and yes, we are still friends," Anderson said. "The rest is between me and Tom." THR's critic regaled the film as "a bold, challenging, brilliantly acted drama that is a must for serious audiences."

Michael Jackson and Winona Returneth - Two other stars having a resurgence at the festival were Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder. The former is featured in a Spike Lee documentary about the making of Jackson's album Bad, which was released 25 years ago Friday. The documentary is being touted as a rewarding look into the singer's album. The legacy surrounding the disc made Bad 25 a win for Lee, who was also awarded the festival’s Glory to the Filmmaker award. The prize is a yearly one, given to someone who brought "great innovation to contemporary cinema." Another big-name comeback at the festival is Ryder in The Iceman. The actor's return to the festival after a 19-year absence features her alongside Michael Shannon and Ray Liotta as the innocent and unknowing wife of a contract killer.

[Photo Credit: The Venice International Film Festival]

Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes

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