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Entries in Venice (27)

Sunday
Sep082013

Meanwhile in Venice...

While I struggle to keep up at TIFF (good lord what a learning curve) the Venice Film Festival wrapped up and announced its awards. We didn't share them in a timely fashion. My apologies. The winners were...

Stray Dogs

 

Golden Lion: Sacro GRA (Gianfranco Rosi)
This surprise winner is a documentary about a famous highway in Rome. Sometimes non-sexy subject matter translates into great films.
Grand Jury PrizeStray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang)
From the sounds of twitter this was the sensation of the festival though it doesn't screen at TIFF until after I leave town. *snifffle*
Silver Lion (Best Director): Alexandros Avranas, Miss Violence
Best Actor: Themis Panou, Miss Violence
I have a terrible habit of skipping films which then become winners at festivals. This is also playing Toronto but descriptions make it sound like a Greek version of The Virgin Suicides and I didn't bite. In hindsight and with awards under its belt a Greek version of The Virgin Suicides sounds tempting.
Best Actress: Elena Cotta, A Street in Palermo
Luckiest Gown: "Versayce" on Scarlett Johansson
okay that's not a real award but it should be. because dayum...

Marcello Mastroianni Award (Best Young Actor)Tye Sheridan, in Joe
Between this and his wonderful work in Mud, quite an arrival, huh
Best Screenplay: Philomena (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope)
Dench was rumored to be the frontrunner for Best Actress but the jury thought otherwise... which might be telling since they obviously liked the film.
Special Jury Prize: The Police Officer's Wife (Phillip Groning)
Luigi de Laurentiis Award (Best Debut Feature): White Shadow (Noaz Deshe)
This one is a Tanzanian film (!) about an albino on the run from witch doctors.  

Theres another set of awards called "Horizon" and they chose...

Eastern Boys

Best Film: Eastern Boys (Robin Campillo)
A film about Eastern European young male immigrant hustlers in Paris's Gare du Nord station. 
Best Director: Still Life (Uberto Pasolini)
Special Jury Prize: Ruin (Michael Cody)
Award for Innovative Content: Fish and Cat (Shahram Mokri)
Best Short Film: Kush

 

Have you ever been to Venice or Toronto? Are they way up on your dream festival list or are you all about Cannes?

Tuesday
Jul022013

The Link (To Be Retitled)

The Guardian I have to admit I'm mystified by this MPAA ruling against TWC's The Butler using that rather generic title. They'll have to rename it but any random search on IMDb will prove that a ton of movies have the same title. Why is it an issue this time - especially with a century separating the titles?
Variety The Venice Film Festival will open with Gravity (albeit out of competition). Nice get there on the Lido
Empire Steven Spielberg beats Robert Redford to the rights to remake The Grapes of Wrath which is a pity really because Redford wanted to make it into a miniseries which would at least not be competing directly with the 1940 film classic

MPAA is excited about the Veronica Mars movie with this pic from the set. Confession: I have never been able to tell the cast members of this series apart. (I'm having the same problem with the third season of Teen Wolf in which all the women except Lydia have long dark and relatively straight hair)
Tribeca Joe Reid picks the five best performances of the year from Brie Larson to Greta Gerwig
/Film looks forward to The Wizard of Oz 3D/IMAX makeover with a trailer
Playbill asked readers which films Disney should give the Broadway stage treatment to. Good, unexpected and terrible choices mingle among the suggestions. FWIW I could totally see Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Hocus Pocus working theatrically. You?

Thursday
May092013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Summertime"

For this week's episode of Best Shot, the collective series in which bloggers are invited to choose their favorite image from a pre-selected movie, we went to Italy for David Lean's Summertime (1955) starring Katharine Hepburn. The film won both of them Oscar nominations, for Direction and Acting respectively, and since I'd never seen it it fills in two Oscar gaps in my 1950s cinema.

It's a relatively modest picture all told, concerned not with big sweeping travelogue beauty (though the travelogue beauty is accounted for) but with an internal flowering. Spinster Katharine Hepburn goes to Italy, goes a little wild (well, wild for an American spinster from Akron Ohio), and then -- spoiler alert -- leaves Italy again. It's all very E.M. Forster really! (See A Room With a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread).

She was coming to Europe to find something. It was way back in the back of her mind was something she was looking for, a wonderful mystical magical miracle. I guess to find what she'd been missing all her life."

My runner up shot comes early in the picture and I include it because I love the way it dialogues with my favorite image at the movie's end. Jane Hudson has just arrived at her summer home, and she has a conversation with her landlady about a girl she met on the way to Italy. She describes in detail the reasons the girl is travelling abroad. Jane is too guileless to be talking about herself in the third person but she is, in essence, talking about herself, whether or not she knows it. She's also prophesying her own journey including an amusing a "let loose a bit" comment that Katharine waves off with prudish modesty.

I find the light in this sequence quite astute. The women are not in silhouette exactly -- the scene is about Jane, after all, rather than Italy -- but Italy is bright and beckoning anyway. She's not really looking at Italy... not yet at least... wrapped up as she is in connecting with other people (she hopes to make friends) and her own internal possibilities. 

I often find Hepburn a little too fussy as an actress -- particularly in her later work -- but I think she's marvelous in key scenes here really capturing Jane's internal battle between her desire to connect and her own internal nature. Even in the scenes which are very much about her attraction to Renalto (Rosanno Brazzi) she's often just looking off into space and, one assumes, her own thoughts. Jane's just not very good at connecting for as much as she'd like to. She has too many fussy walls up.

I think that's why I found the final scene so moving, despite not particularly caring for the movie. My choice for best shot comes with the film's ending. Jane has opted to leave Italy and Romantic Love behind. She likens it to leaving a party before she's worn out her welcome. It's common sense really given the circumstances of the affair but you hurt for her for giving up the thing she's always wanted and you have to wonder if it isn't partially fear and retreat to a safer lonelier home. Whether or not Jane will be more open to love after the movie is up for debate. Yet in that sudden alarming lurch outward to wave goodbye one last time to Renato (but really, to Italy and Love) I think Hepburn's gestural performance provides a marvelous clue. If returning to Ohio is, in fact, a comfort zone retreat why does her body move with such spirited abandon? 

Next Week
We're staying in Italy for The Talented Mr Ripley (1999). You know you want to sound off on that one. So join us, will ya?

14 More People Summering in Italy with Hepburn
Amiresque is overwhelmed by architecture
Encore's World on the quintessential 'spinster' performance from Hepburn 
Antagony & Ecstasy wants to talk about Aspect Ratios... and perceptions of "low points"
The Film's The Thing a Cinderella of a certain age 
Cinema Enthusiast goes to a real ball with gardenias
We Recycle Movies on David Lean's undeniable obsession with trains 
Pussy Goes Grrr this is how you stage a breakup 
Cinesnatch really goes all out with shot commentary, contrasts and travelogue beauty 
Film Actually has coffee -- or doesn't rather -- with Hepburn 
She Blogged By Night picks the first shot I think we've ever seen in this series devoted to an extra. It's beautiful! 
Los Mejores Planos gives out gold, silver and bronze medals for his favorite shots 
Cal Roth sees Jane's secret sensuality
Dancin' Dan on the scene that makes the movie 
My New Plaid Pants memories of Italy come flooding back 

Sunday
Sep092012

Catching Up: Oscar Buzz & Blunders, Festival Debuts & Misses

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

Fall Film Season is upon us. And with it the 0 to 60 Oscar buzz. Even if you're blessed enough to have the means to jetset from Telluride to Venice to Toronto to New York, chances are you can't keep up with it all. I know I haven't been able to while juggling other demands. Before I fly up to Toronto on Wednesday for the last heady days of TIFF, I should do my best to catch up on the buzz and update those dusty Oscar charts. They're not yet a month old but.... 0 to 60, you know. The movies are upon us!

BUT FIRST LET ME VENT...
So, they announced the winners of the honorary Oscars this week and as per usual, they've demonstrated their complete lack of respect for Actresses. There are so many fine actresses who never won Oscars who are still alive and yet year after year they ignore all of them to honor various men. I don't mean to take anything away from this year's talented recipients who all deserve a congratulatory round of applause (mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, stuntman Hal Needham, documentarian D. A. Pennebaker, arts advocate George Stevens, Jr.) it's just that the pattern is obvious and concerning.

Worse yet, when AMPAS does honor a woman, it's someone without a rich acting background (Hi, Oprah Winfrey). By the time this year's Oscars have wrapped, for a twenty year stretch from 1993 through 2012, thirty-eight people will have been given honorary Oscars or Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards and there are only three women among them (Deborah Kerr, Lauren Bacall, Oprah Winfrey). Oscar has a very real problem with women so if living screen giants like Maureen O'Hara, Doris Day, Catherine Deneuve, Mia Farrow, Eleanor Parker, Angela Lansbury, Gena Rowlands and other classic actresses ever want an Honorary prize, they might want to look into sex change operations or at least a tuxedo rental. Exasperating!

Now on to movies people have talking about...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep082012

Venice: The Golden Lion to "Pieta"

The Venice film festival has wrapped and with it come those winged lions and other elaborately shaped awards. The jury led by director Michael Mann named Kim Ki Duk's Pieta the best film in competition. It's a violent mother/son drama, the son being a loan shark. Kim Ki-Duk, best known stateside for spring, summer, fall, winter and spring (2003) is no stranger to the Venice Festival having won multiple prizes for 3-Iron (2004) eight years ago.

The winners...

Golden Lion (Picture) Pieta 
Silver Lion (Director) & Special Jury Prize (Director) there seems to be some confusion about this as Ulrich Seidl for Paradise: Faith and Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master alternate who won what in various reports
Best Actress Hadass Yaron for Fill the Void
Best Actor (Shared) Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Screenplay Olivier Assasyas for Apres Mai (English Title: Something in the Air)
Cinematography Daniele Cipri for E Stato Il Figlio

Best Young Actor & Best Actress

Mastroianni Award (Young Actor) Fabrizio Falco for Dormant Beauty and It Was the Son
FIPRESCI Award (Competition) The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
FIPRESCI Award (Orizzonti) The Interval (Leonardo Di Contanzo)

Orizzonti Jury Prize Tango Libre (Frédéric Fonteyne)
Luigi De Laurentiis Award (Best First Feature) Kuf: Mold (Ali Aydin)
Orrizonti: Best Feature Three Sisters (Wang Bing)
Orizzonti Jury Prize Tango Libre (Frédéric Fonteyne)
Queer Lion Weight Jeon Kyu-Hwan

a few notes...
The Weight, the winner of the Queer Lion, is about a hunchback mortician and the people in his life. Here is the NSFW trailer

 

 

IndieWire has a full lengthy list of winners since there are dozens of special awards outside the jurisduction of the main jury (including some of those prizes above). Several of these films picked up additional prizes.

Nice to hear the name "Frédéric Fonteyne" again, since he hasn't been on my radar since directing the wonderful romantic drama Une Liaison Pornographique. His new film is about a woman in a tangled relationship with three men. Must See!

PSH and the great Olivier Assayas accepting their prizes

Amusingly, news reports say that Philip Seymour Hoffman flying in at the last minute, barely arrived in time to pick up the prizes on behalf of The Master and apologized for his dishevelled appearance. You mean he's been aware of it all this time?!? The double actor win reopens the whole question of Oscar campaigns again. Will they actually let both stars compete in the leading category as they should? Can The Master leap the hurdle of critical darling Oscar problems like being more "challenging" and respected than actually warmly loved? Did There Will Be Blood set the stage for another Oscar run?

I'm kind of annoyed by The Envelope's suggestion that the jury wanted to give the Golden and Silver lion and Actor honors to The Master (sweeps not being allowed at most A grade festivals, thank god). If they really thought it was the best in every category, wouldn't they have handed it the Golden Lion? Instead let's congratulate Pieta and The Master and Paradise: Faith, all three of them winners to this jury.