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 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

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Entries in Venice (33)


Emily Watson is nobody's mother (this time)

Here's Murtada on a favorite actress we'd like to see more of.

Watson at the press confrence

The paparazzi might have been more interested in jurors Diane Kruger and Elizabeth Banks. The trades were into what jury head Alfonso Cuaron had to say. Most of the press coverage had more pictures of her co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin and Jason Clarke. But on the first day of the Venice Film Festival we had our eyes for Everest star Emily Watson.

It was nice to see her smiling and looking good. As the only woman from the film making the press rounds - seems Robin Wright, Keira Knightley and Elizabeth Debicki had other plans - naturally eyes gravitated towards her. This is a far cry from the frumpy mothers she has played recently in The Book Thief, Testament of Youth and especially The Theory of Everything. The latter was the nadir of that niche that was carved for her by casting directors. It was no more than a cameo and was hilariously lampooned by Nathaniel & company on the podcast. 

Watson was born same year as Nicole Kidman. She’s one year older than Naomi Watts, 2 years older than Cate Blanchett. Those actresses are still getting plum parts in major movies. It’s too soon for Watson to start competing with Julie Walters and Brenda Blethyn for parts. While she’s never been the glamorous star, her fantastic turns in Breaking the Waves, Hilary & Jackie and Gosford Park certainly make her the equal of the actresses mentioned. But perhaps the more apt comparison is with someone like Helena Bonham Carter - who coincidentally turned down Watson career-making role in Waves. Helena still manages a varied range of opportunities. (We acknowledge we might be blind to fantastic work Watson has done recently for TV in the UK.)

on the boat with her co-stars John Hawkes, Clarke and Brolin (courtesy of Brolin's instagram).

This is a long way of saying that we hope Everest is the beginning of a new exciting phase of Watson’s career. She plays the base camp co-ordinater who is the climbers' main contact to the world outside the mountain. The reviews have been mostly positive. Some singled out Watson as “heartrending’’, others expected more. We are just grateful she has more to do than be somebody’s mother.

What would you like to see Watson do next?


Beasts of No Nation Character Posters

Another day, another fall movie releases a poster. Murtada here with the details. 

Following the Beasts of No Nation trailer, the character posters for the African war drama have arrived. The trailer told us a lot about the film by introducing its two main characters - played by Idris Elba and newcomer Abraham Atta - and the hypnotic dynamic between them in one brief scene. The striking but simple posters continue the efficient storytelling and with just a few pictures and words tell us all we need to know. For now...


Click to read more ...


Eddie Redmayne starts his Oscar Campaign

Here's Murtada on the first major magazine cover of the 2015 Awards Season.

Our current best actor winner is ready for his second straight nomination. Eddie Redmayne is starting his Oscar campaign for Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl more than 3 months before the movie’s release. This week he covers OUT magazine’s fall preview issue with a lengthy interview that touches on everything from where he keeps his Oscar, to his privileged upbringing, to playing transgender artist Lili Elbe.

Perhaps what people are most curious about is how he handles the potential minefield of his casting as a transgender woman. Elbe, who had sexual reassignment surgery in 1930s, was one of the first known transgender people to transition and a movie about her life has been in the making for more than a decade.

Redmayne and his handlers are obviously trying to get ahead of any potential controversy. Hence the careful choice of the publication to which he gives his first interview about the film, and the inclusion in the article of advocates from the trans community like Paris Lees and Lana Wachowski. Lees is quoted and says about Redmayne's casting “Politically, it makes me groan. But if anybody’s going to do this justice, then I’m happy it’s Eddie. We had a good chat about everything”.

The interview is a good read and he handles some of the thornier issues with deft and careful thought. He comes through as humble while acknowledging his luck and privilege. He recognizes how divisive his portrayal of Elbe might become.

People were so kind and generous with their experience, but also so open. Virtually all of the trans men and women I met would say ‘Ask me anything.’ They know that need for cisgender people to be educated. I felt like, I’m being given this extraordinary experience of being able to play this woman, but with that comes this responsibility of not only educating myself but hopefully using that to educate [an audience]. Gosh, it’s delicate. And complicated.”

As for the movie itself, the verdict will be out soon. It plays at both the Venice and Toronto film festivals in early September. Venice comes first and that will be our first indication whether or not that nomination is happening as we’ve seen many an Oscar campaign start at the Biennale.

In the last 10 years, 8 men and 3 women have won the Volpi Cup for English language performances, a big percentage. Of those performances David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck), Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix (who won jointly for The Master) went on to land Oscar nominations. Michael Fassbender (Shame) came close but ultimately missed. However the only winner this decade at Venice who went on to win an Oscar is Helen Mirren (The Queen).

Are you looking forward to The Danish Girl? Do you think Redmayne is a good choice to play Elbe?


Elizabeth Banks' 2015 World Domination Tour Continues. Next Stop Venice

As previously noted, Team Experience won't be covering Venice Film Festival (no funds *sob* but I've wanted to go to Venice ever since I saw virginal Madonna singing on that gondola on MTV as an impressionable young lad) but we have planned a couple of Venice-related treats for you this year. And speaking of treats. The Venice juries were just announced and loaded with so many big names, you'd be hard pressed to guess which among them was the President of the Jury at first glance. But killing the suspense... the main jury's president is Alfonso Cuarón.


of The Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien fame

THE ELIZABETH BANKS WORLD DOMINATION TOUR (USA): Previous Tour Dates: Directing and Co-starring in Pitch Perfect 2; Best Reviews ever for Love & Mercy; Co-starring in Magic Mike XXL; Next Stops: Netflix Binge-watching Dominance with Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Conquering Venice Red Carpet Coverage, and wrapping up a phenomenon with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2...

Lynne Ramsay and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Venice Film Festival Winners

Manuel here to catch us up on the winners of the 71st Venice Film Festival.

The big story (as far as US-based coverage goes) is the "shutout" of Alejandro González Iñárritu Birdman. As it turns out, the Alexandre Desplat-led jury went with another feathered-titled film. Find the full list of winners below.

Golden Lion: A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence by Roy Andersson
Grand Jury Prize: The Look Of Silence by Joshua Oppenheimer
Silver Lion (Best Director): Andrej Koncalovskij, The Postman's White Nights
Best Actor: Adam Driver in Hungry Hearts
Best Actress: Alba Rohrwacher in Hungry Hearts
Marcello Mastroianni Award (Best Young Actor): Romain Paul in Le Dernier Coup De Marteau
Best Screenplay: Rakhshan Banietemad and Farid Mostafavi, Ghesseha (Tales)
Special Jury Prize: Sivas by Kaan Müjdeci

An Emmy nomination. A Venice Film Festival Award. A plum role in an iconic franchise's upcoming entry. A couple of ensemble films opening at the Toronto Film Festival. It's a great time to be Adam Driver, don't you think?

Horizon Awards:

Best Film: Court by Chaitanya Tamhane
Best Director: Naji Abu Nowa, Theeb
Special Jury Prize: Belluscone. Una Storia Siciliana by Franco Maresco
Best Actor or Actress: Emir Hadžihafizbegovi in These Are The Rules
Best Short Film: Maryam by Sidi Saleh

Venice Classic Awards

Best Restored Film: Una Giornata Particolare, Ettore Scola
Best Documentary on Cinema: Animata Resistenza, Francesco Montagner and Alberto Girotto

Which of these films are you most excited about? Just as Hungry Hearts shot up on my own list of "look out for" films following its pair of awards, I'm sure there are others inching up on people's lists of Fall Season films to catch before year's end (it's around this time that my own pretty much looks thrillingly overwhelming).


Get On Link

Towleroad The Imitation Game (we just discussed the trailer) isn't the only Alan Turing focused artwork in the ether. The Pet Shop Boys just debuted their opera Breaking the Code (yes, opera) about the man.
Theater Mania there's a stage adaptation of Shakespeare in Love in the West End. Here's a review
Vulture interviews True Blood's Nelsan Ellis on the lame actor who wouldn't make out with him on True Blood and his role in Get On Up

Kenneth in the (212) Ryan Gosling joins the waxworks at Madame Tussauds
MNPP freaks out for a John Waters retrospective this September. As well we all should.
Variety big weekend expected for Lucy. I guess this means Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow solo film will get a greenlight
Boy Culture Wonder Woman in Madonna drag. LOL
Awards Daily Heart of the Sea, the Ron Howard/ Chris Hemsworth post-Rush collaboration is test screening
/Film new poster for Mad Max: Fury Road 
Superhero Hype Batman's new costume displayed at Comic Con... but I'm sorry it looks so creepy without someone in it
AV Club Project Runway begins its 13th season tonight

And please to enjoy the Venice Film Festival Lineup. They're sharing some titles with TIFF like Good Kill, The Humbling, 99 Homes, and Red Amnesia. But ther opening night film Birdman is all theirs. Feel the envy. I'd do a whole post as with TIFF but I'm not going to Venice *sniffle* whereas I might be a TIFF and also as you read this I am fulfilling my obligations as a citizen via Jury Dutyzzz. No, for real. Feel for me as I sit in the rooms waiting for my name to be called or not.


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?