68th Venice Film Festival, Report 1

By Moira Sullivan

Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Todd Solondz at premiere of Dark Horse at 68th Venice Film Festival
The Venice Film Festival now in its 68th year is in progress with 10 days of what many critics, including myself, regard as the most artistic film festival of them all. The festival attracts veteran directors who present their latest creations and there are several out of competition mainstream films with major stars who are chauffeured by a corporate sponsor to the red carpet and into the Grande Salle. Before the gala screening, the critics attend morning press screenings and in the afternoons, the festival is upon to young students and cineastes.

The festival issues screening passes to university students and with some new screening venues this year, there is more room at the inn. There is usually only one day for each film and it is a hectic caffeine-driven event on the island of Lido, a tiny boat ride from Venice. On the first day of the festival, Madonna’s new film W.E. on Wallace Simpson was screened followed by a jam-packed press conference. After years of living in England, Madonna no longer sounds like an American girl from Illinois and has chosen a project about the woman who King Edward VIII abdicated the thrown for Wallis Simpson. Madonna was asked if she would give up her throne for a man or a woman and she said she could have both or all three. The critics heavily criticized the film, and the reviews from this festival can make or break a film. But remember The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther blasted Bonnie and Clyde when it was released in 1968 and called its violence 'pointless', but colleague Pauline Kael liked it. Crowley was pushed aside and Kael launched her career. Its safe to say that Madonna’s W.E, starring Andrea Riseborough as the historic Wallace Simpson, and Abie Cornish as a modern New Yorker who is fascinated by her life, will enjoy a positive review out there somewhere along the line.

More to the Venice critics taste was David Cronenberg’s new film on Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, starring Keira Knightly as one of Freud’s patients in a powerful performance, and Viggo Mortensen as Freud and Michael Fassbender as Jung. Swedish director Tomas Alfredson who made the Swedish version of  Let the Right One In brings to the Venetian screen a John Le Carre adaptation Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy starring Colin Firth, that has garnished positive reviews.

Also on the critics radar is Dark Horse by Todd Solondz, which is considered one of his upbeat films. Bear in mind that Solondz told Movie Magazine International in a recent exclusive interview that he culls his subjects from the daily news and its nothing we haven’t seen or heard. The film is about a mismatched couple starring Selma Blair as Miranda and Jordan Gelber as Abe.

Other veteran directors at the festival include Roman Polanski who has made a film about two couples whose child has been involved in a brawl called Carnage—starring John C Reilly, Christoph Walz, Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet. Winslet is also in the HBO series Mildred Pierce directed by Todd Haynes that is being screened in Venice and Steven Soderberg's Contagion opposite Mat Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow.  The official jury is presided over by Darren Aronofsky this year and a special Golden Lion will be given to Italian director Marco Bellocchio.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan

© 2011 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/07/11
Movie Magazine International