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Venice is First. And Opens with "First Man"

by Nathaniel R

First Man star Ryan Gosling and living legend Vanessa Redgrave were the toasts of Venice at the opening of the 75th annual Venice Film Festival...

Venice always hands out two Golden Lions for lifetime achievement and this year the honorees are Vanessa Redgrave for acting and David Cronenberg for directing. Vanessa Redgrave received her Golden Lion at an opening night invite-only event. So she's been making the press rounds today. (You may have already seen her quote about why she turned down Damehood years ago at home in England.) Redgrave's official statement when she first heard the news about her Golden Lion:

I am astonished and especially delighted to hear that I will be awarded by the Venice Film Festival for a life’s work in film. Last summer I was filming in Venice in The Aspern Papers. Many many years ago I filmed La vacanza in the marshes of the Veneto. My character spoke every word in the Venetian dialect. I bet I am the only non-Italian actress to act an entire role in Venetian dialect! Thank you a million times, dear Festival!.

The opening night film was Damien Chazelle's First Man, an account of Neil Armstrong's journey to become the first man who walked on the moon. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy as the Armstrongs but the ensemble is full of talented 'name' male character actors including but not limited to: Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Lukas Haas, Shea Wigham and Jason Clarke. From most reports response was very enthusiastic. (I'm seeing the film in 9 days. Can't wait.)

Jason Clarke, Olivia Hamilton, Damien Chazelle, Ryan Gosling, and Claire Foy at the premiere.

But I always caution people to take any news of a film written by people who are able to claim "FIRST!" (at any festival!) with a grain or block of salt. Early reactions may hold up and they may not. That's even 1000 % more true when it comes to standing ovations which are fairly common at major premieres and yet the media duly reports on each of them as if they mean that a film is an instant beloved classic. You may recall that last year Downsizing opened to blissed out raves at Venice but the raves didn't translate out of Venice when it received much harsher responses elsewhere and was stiffed come Oscar time. The only thing that ever matters these days is consensus and that generally takes a week or three past the initial world premiere to firm up. Sometimes even months if there's a huge space between the premiere and the next showing (as with Sundance titles each year). Nevertheless here are a few early responses to the film:

The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both love it. The Wrap and IndieWire are positive but a bit muted. Time loves Gosling, the rest not so much. 

And a few shorter reactions via Twitter:



In other Venice news, Guillermo del Toro urged gender parity in the industry at the opening press conference. Venice only has one female-helmed film in competition. 


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Reader Comments (23)

Vanessa freaking Redgrave is so underrated. She is a way better actress than some of these dames. Give her more prestige work!
Goddamn those zionists indeed!! Team Redgrave Forever.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

I couldn't care less about Armstrong, the NASA and the moon, but I'll watch because it has a cast of beautiful men.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

STFU - I've never heard of anybody underrating Six time nominee, and one time Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave. Maybe from the Best Popular Picture category supporting crowd, but nobody else.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

My problem with so many of these sort of immediate reactions is that they seem to perfectly tailored to be used as evidence for Oscar speculation. Maybe it's just because I am very cynical and I can't for the life of me imagine my writing something like that about a movie I just walked out of, but... man, that's a lot.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Ryan Gosling in a white blazer deserves an Honorary Oscar.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Keegan -- ♥️

August 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Glenn - 100%! I can't help but wonder if they're just trying to get used as a plug for the first round of trailers/print advertisements. Another egregious example is that "review" of A Star Is Born that I've seen referenced multiple times over the past week.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDiego

It's true that ecstatic first reactions to a film may not hold up. But has a film on the Oscar circuit ever recovered from poor first reactions at a film festival in the social media age? That seems difficult.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@Keegan - Gosling actually is wearing a pale pink blazer, which is even more deserving of a special achievement Oscar.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Gosling's parents should be awarded Best Production Design.

Anyways, I hope Gosling is a frontrunner this year. He should've won for LA LA LAND and should've been nominated for BLUE VALENTINE.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Ryan Gosling best performances:

The Notebook
Half Nelson*
Lars and the Real Girl
Crazy Stupid Love
Blue Valentine
The Big Short
La La Land*
Blade Runner 2049

*Shoul had won the Oscar

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Vanessa Redgrave: I let u all with the lines of Dame Judi Dench in the documentary "Nothing Like a Dame":

"I go to protest against Vietnam war with Vanessa and on the begging of night we are in jail together, arrested."

That's how u live a life, folks!

And I agree that Vanessa is not awarded as should be. For example: where is her Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award?

And she should had been nominated for the Oscar for Atonement and Coriolanus (and won for that!).

Love her! Top top top inspirations of my life with Dame Julie Andrews, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, Glenb Close, Gary Oldman and Ralph Fiennes.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Redgrave is the greatest of all time. Tennessee Williams said it. Arthur Miller said it. Streep, Fonda and legions of others have said it in so many words.

But the public generally doesn't see her that way—if they think of her at all. Smith and Dench have iconic personas to trade on. Mirren has major support from studios and distributors.

Redgrave has chosen a low, often anti-Hollywood and anti-establishment profile. But it doesn't mean she's not underrated.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

I didn't know Gosling was seen as a sex object in certain circles. He is like the pure definition of bland. That's why he was so great in Only God Forgives.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Cal -- how can you not have known that? The internet has been lusting after Gosling for nearly a decade now with memes and musclelust and all sorts of stuff

August 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Suzanne --- hmmm, that's a good question. I'm not sure they have, though muted reactions sometimes become ecstatic ones. I remember hearing very little about MYSTIC RIVER when it premiered at Cannes and then when it hit theaters you'd think critics thought that the cinema had been reinvented or something. And of course no one seemed to care about CRASH in Toronto in 2004 and then it went and won Best Picture (argh) for 2005.

August 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I thought Gosling was more handsome before he had his nose done.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I thought Gosling was more handsome before he had his nose done.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Redgrave has no persona like a Mirren or Dench or Smith,she is an actors actor,not really capable of camping it up as those other Dames do.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I've never found Gosling especially lust-worthy, but I *do* find him very compelling as an actor and screen presence. He's yet to top his work in Blue Valentine, though.

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

People get highly impressionable at festivals nowadays maybe because many celebrities get to attend and for very low budget films. Also critics need to get attention (tweets) and exaggerate their view on what they watched, always opting for one extreme or the other: I've lost count on how times I've read them using the words "masterpiece" and "one of the worst movies of all time" or similar.
What bothers me about Redgrave is that she hasn't retired and she always delivers. Many would say she's not doing great work as usual and I'll just say that you're just not paying enough attention. I even consider her a stronger actor than what she has been mostly recognized for.
And maybe it might be a gay or women thing plus the fact that society picks a white person from each era of Hollywood as the standard of beauty, because I see Gosling as one ugly fella, though a terrific actor noneless. Just not on La La Land (that shit stinks bad).

August 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

V Redgrave was oso the fav contemporary actress o K Hepburn! They worked together in The Trojan Woman 1971, n Hepburn was so thrilled by the former, tt she proclaimed if anyone is to play her when she's gone, its Vanessa!

V Redgrave is held in v high esteem by her fellow peers. Jane Fonda even named her daughter after her!

On the Jean Hersholt Award, sadly, The Academy haven forgave her for her controversial acceptance speech in 1978. Imo, they mayb magnanimous enuff to nom her again, but they'll nev let her win again, or give her an honorary award

September 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Me34 -- it's amazing how eyes are basically the same for each person but they see so differently. "ugly" is about the last word I would ever use to describe Gosling... though there have been other stars deemed beautiful that I was like "er..." about.

Claran -- agreed on that. I think Redgrave has always been too controversial for mainstream Hollywood even though actors love her. Dan Callahan's book on her is a fascinating peek at how often she prized politics over relations in hollywood.

September 2, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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