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Monday, September 10, 2012
DE PALMA ON VARIETY-ORTSBO BROADCAST
AND SOME 'PASSION' REVIEWS FROM TIFF
Brian De Palma is pictured here from earlier today at the Variety & Ortsbo Live In Toronto broadcast, which runs daily at 7pm eastern. I guess it's not actually live, though, as it appears that De Palma has already done his part. I am thinking that they will run the De Palma interview Tuesday night, since that is when Passion premieres at the festival. De Palma also spoke with Anne Thompson this afternoon at Indiewire's TIFF Filmmakers Lounge (see Instagram photo at bottom of this post). Rachel McAdams is expected to attend tonight's premiere of Terrence Malick's To The Wonder.

SUBTEXT OF 'PASSION' DELVES "INTO REALM OF SOCIAL & ECONOMIC TERRITORY"
Meanwhile, Slant's Jordan Cronk has posted the most thoughtful and descriptive (and positive) review of Passion that I've read so far. "As Pino Donaggio's dramatically sensual score... greets the opening titles of Passion, De Palma's first film in five years, it's clear that this master of the erotic thriller is back on home turf, with all the luscious violence, sensationalistic flourishes, and base pleasures that has come to entail."

Here are the last three paragraphs or so of Cronk's review:

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As in many of De Palma's great wars of will, there's just enough of Christine reflected in Isabelle to trigger the aesthetic and narrative techniques—visual doublings, doppelgangers, voyeurism, shifting identities—needed to ignite the stylistic formulations on which the film hinges.

Close readings of De Palma's work in this mode often prompt accusations of shallowness and questions regarding the level of seriousness at play beyond the surface. And if Passion does indeed lack substance, I'd argue that it features at least the necessary amount of subtext to carry it's outlandish plot past parody (which it does directly engage with on occasion) and into the realm of social and economic commentary. The first half of the film is particularly critical of the work environment that brings these women into physical and psychological contact. Christine's rise to executive prominence has apparently coincided with the loss of her ability to engage emotionally despite selling tales of a damaged past in an effort to elicit sympathy from Isabelle, who herself can't advance professionally without ceding to her superiors and engaging in morally compromising situations. Technology is likewise prodded as computers, cell phones, and various recording devices facilitate greed, blackmail, and corruption.

This is obviously material ripe for dramatic staging, and De Palma continues to deploy his trademark aesthetic touches with a master's hand. After undercutting Isabelle with a particularly evil display of public embarrassment, the movie shifts tones from corporate drama to psychosexual thriller, with canted angles, split-screen dioramas, and dramatically shadowed sequences of violence and eroticism (though it's surprising how little actual sex is on display here). De Palma utilizes Rapace's blank features as another surface from which to refract the drama, while McAdams's glowing visage is exploited to its fullest extent, transforming from plastic grin to a unchecked rage to outpourings of tears, sometimes within the same scene. Their hair, wardrobe, even postures, are in direct contrast to one another, and in typical De Palma fashion, their varying states of mental stability are questioned and eventually collapsed as visions fold into dreams and dreams engage with waking life, to the point where one is nearly inseparable by the time the film closes.

The film occasionally veers perilously close to losing the thread, but at all times it's apparent who is truly pulling the strings and manipulating these characters, as scenes oftentimes dramatically contradict one another only to play off the tension provoked by such juxtapositions just to pull the rug out from under the viewer. De Palma has long since abandoned verisimilitude, but there's an emotional truth to the narrative that precludes reading these characters strictly as ciphers. The mileage De Palma has gotten out of this formula, which itself is a knowing revision of the modes of the classic thriller construct, is impressive. And while Passion never demands anything above direct engagement with our basic fears and emotions, it's all the more fun when one allows the surface pleasures to bolster its themes, thus enhancing our understanding of De Palma and his continued pursuit of realizing the potential of the cinematic form.

CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING
Exclaim's Robert Bell suggests that De Palma uses Alain Corneau's film as a template "to satirize and reference his entire career." According to Bell, once the two female executives begin backstabbing each other, "the melodramatic score and aesthetic go full-tilt insane, featuring endless candid angles and noir lighting up until a split-screen takes over during the climactic third act." Here are the last couple of paragraphs of Bell's review:

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Amusingly, Christine tells a story about a dead twin sister, which references De Palma's Sisters and later plays a trick on Isabelle that clearly reflects on the callous treatment of Carrie. An actual shot reconstruction from Raising Cain pops up in the final moments and the Body Double mask is omnipresent. This just scratches the surface of the inside joke observations peppered throughout this increasingly ridiculous melodrama, making the actual storyline between Isabelle, Christine and an even lower hanging fruit, Dani (Karoline Herfurth), secondary to the intense stylization and comedy of self-criticism that Passion really is.

Still, McAdams clearly has a blast playing a calculating bitch and the inevitable hyper-stylized and meticulously edited climax sequence, which De Palma is known for, is as riveting in exaggerated comic form as it is in sincere thriller form.

It's just unfortunate that those unfamiliar with the director's work will have absolutely no context for the abstract and oblique tonal shifts or the references, leaving them to dismiss the film as terrible.

DE PALMA RETURNS MORE FRUITFULLY TO THE MULTIMEDIA TECHNIQUES OF 'REDACTED'
A.V. Club's Moel Murray writes, "As the two play a game of spy-vs.-spy, using corporate and personal secrets against each other, De Palma (via Corneau) comments on business ethics, cronyism, gender roles, and technology—in the latter case returning to some of the techniques of the multimedia experiment Redacted, but more fruitfully." Murray's fellow A.V. Club critic Scott Tobias adds, "De Palma’s vision of an office constructed of glass and screens is a witty play on transparency—no secrets can be obscured when every surface is a window."

 


Posted by Geoff at 5:53 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 10:34 PM CDT
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Sunday, September 9, 2012
VIDEO OF OVATION FROM VENICE WORLD PREMIERE
AND AUTHOR THINKS 'PASSION' SHOULD BE MARKETED AS '50 SHADES'-ISH GIRLS' NIGHT OUT

The above video was posted to YouTube by people from Padova University webradio, who really seemed to enjoy the World Premiere of Brian De Palma's Passion. On the YouTube description, they thank De Palma for "this erotic thriller that kept us clinging to the chairs of the cinema." The video was taken while the closing credits rolled for Passion, so one can hear a bit of the score by Pino Donaggio. Regarding the score, Donaggio said at Venice that "to compose the soundtrack, I followed from the plot and images, because the film completely changes: the first part is mild, the second is more sinister."

On Friday, The Hollywood Reporter posted an article stating that De Palma's film had sparked "extreme responses -- both positive and negative -- from moviegoers." The report also stated that Passion had been nominated for the Gay Lion prize, which "is awarded each year to the best film from the official selection or one of the three main sidebars that 'accurately portrays lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender characters.'” However, that prize went to Jeon Kyu-hwan's The Weight.

CAT BAUER, 'PHANTOM' FAN, LIKES 'PASSION'; MCADAMS REMINDS HER OF NANCY ALLEN
Author Cat Bauer posted on her Ventian Cat blog from the Venice Film Festival, where she saw Passion on Friday. "Brian De Palma says that Passion is a woman's film," Bauer wrote. "Perhaps that's true, since several of the reviews I've read that were written by men are scathing. I thought the chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace was real and dynamic."

Bauer, who says that De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise is one of her "absolute favorite films" (she says she must have seen it a dozen times in the '70s), worked as an extra on Robert Zemeckis' I Wanna Hold Your Hand, which starred De Palma's future wife, Nancy Allen. "I was actually kind of a 'special' extra," Bauer writes. "I worked every day, and I had specific action to do, but no lines; it was my first time on a movie set. So, Nancy Allen made a big impression on me."

Bauer writes that "something about Rachel McAdams reminds me of Nancy Allen thirty-five years ago." Bauer adds that she thought Rapace was "terrific" in Passion, which she feels is "way too campy" to be "an erotic thriller in the tradition of Dressed to Kill and Basic Instinct, as it is being billed. "But if you look at the film from a steamy romance-novel point of view, it works," writes Bauer. "I could definitely see it as a cult chick flick, a Fifty Shades of Grey kinda thing, a girl's night out -- and that's how I would market it." At the end of her post, Bauer adds, "The film is set in an international advertising agency in Berlin, which I thought worked extremely well. I loved the euro-look; the fashion; the 'tude. Change the marketing and you can get the girls out to the theaters just to look at the sex toys and cartoon-kink."


Posted by Geoff at 11:29 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 11:33 PM CDT
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TWEETS FROM TIFF TELL NEW TALE
"ENTHRALLING", "DAZZLING", "GLORIOUS", "FUN", "MASTERPIECE"



Posted by Geoff at 9:42 PM CDT
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Posted by Geoff at 8:50 PM CDT
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MORE VIDEOS FROM VENICE
INCLUDING FULL VIDEO IF 'PASSION' PRESS CONFERENCE
I cannot seem to embed these Rai TV videos, which include interviews with Brian De Palma, Noomi Rapace, and (in the second video) Pino Donaggio, but the first can be viewed here, and the second video can be viewed here. And click here to view Rai TV's video of the entire press conference from Friday.
(Thanks to Maurizio and Patrick!)

Here are some more videos...






Posted by Geoff at 8:40 AM CDT
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 11:54 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 8, 2012



VENICE LIST OF WINNERS

Best Film (Golden Lion): Pieta, Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)

Best Director (Silver Lion): Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master (United States)

Special Jury Prize: Ulrich Seidl, Paradies: Glaube (Paradise: Faith) (Austria)

Best First Feature: Kuf (Mold), Ali Aydin (Turkey)

Best Actress: Hadas Yaron, Fill the Void (Israel)

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master (United States)

Best Screenplay: Apres Mai, Olivier Assayas (France)

Best Cinematography: E Stato Il Figlio, Daniele Cipri (Italy)


Posted by Geoff at 10:31 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 8, 2012 10:40 PM CDT
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JAMIE DUNN ON 'PASSION'
"ENOUGH DREAMS-WITHIN-DREAMS-WITHIN-DREAMS-WITHIN-DREAMS TO MAKE NOLAN'S HEAD SPIN"
Jamie Dunn at Indiewire presents a self-described fan's view of Brian De Palma's Passion. After expressing disappointment a lack of "visual panache" in the first parts of the film (and attributing that to a lack of proper financing), Dunn writes the following:
----------------------

"De Palma does eventually get to play, however. After one particularly cruel bit of theatre orchestrated by Christine to humiliate Isabelle, any relationship the film once had to realism goes out the window as Isabelle slips down a wormhole of depression and sleep deprivation. As she cracks, so too does the film. The angle on cinematographer José Luis Alcaine’s Dutch tilt is set to jaunty, and his lighting to expressionistic. Scene by scene the tone becomes more hallucinatory, and by the end of the film De Palma has bombarded us with enough feverish dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams to make Christopher Nolan’s head spin.

"How well you respond to this shift to a more outré style is likely to depend on how seriously you’ve been taking the film so far, but there are clues along the way that De Palma wants us to cackle along with his often demented vision – just check the scene where Isabelle discovers that Christine’s bathroom drawer is overflowing with kinky love making paraphernalia, including a porcelain mask that will have significance in a later scene. "In the end, though, this isn’t quite the comeback for which fans, myself included, had been hoping. Whatever your opinion of De Palma’s oeuvre, there’s no denying he’s a fine craftsman of trashy thrillrides. But when his cinema really sings, such as in “Dressed to Kill," his giddy serial killer sex farce, or paranoid political thriller “Blow Out," his sense for image, composition, and movement is as fine as any living filmmaker.

Passion” has its moments: there’s a trademark De Palma split-screen, with the left-hand side showing a graceful ballet performance, while on the right a nerve-shredding dance of murder plays out. Later, there’s also a nifty ‘she’s behind you’ scare. But both have been used to better effect in “Sisters” and “Raising Cain." De Palma’s heart ultimately doesn’t feel fully in this film. What “Passion” is lacking is, ironically, some passion. [C+]"


---------------------------------------------

Meanwhile, Cine Vue's John Bleasdale writes, "There are admittedly a couple of sequences within Passion that fans of the director will adore - a visit to the ballet is a particular high point - and De Palma adeptly uses music, this time provided by Pino Donaggio. Sadly, the renowned American director's latest film feels like an unambitious chamber piece, a folly with flashes of brilliance, but which ultimately won't be raising anyone's temperature."

Posted by Geoff at 10:54 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 8, 2012 11:01 AM CDT
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Friday, September 7, 2012


Posted by Geoff at 1:07 PM CDT
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'PASSION' PRESS SCREENING
VIDEO OF DE PALMA, NOOMI, PINO AT PRESS CONFERENCE, TRANSCRIPT, REVIEWS


De Palma working with Passion screenwriter on remake of Heat with Jason Statham



DE PALMA MENTIONS STORYBOARDING THE SHOTS, ETC...


(Thanks to Jochen!)

A press screening of Brian De Palma's Passion this morning at the Venice Film Festival reportedly "drew jeers after it was screened to the press." A report out of Italy states that there were whistles and laughter at the screening, although a German review of the film says it is deliberately funny, with direct and indirect Hitchcock quotes, De Palma quotes, but also "great scenes" with nightmare effects. "Games, surprises, plagiarism, stairs and masks and fetishes are the leitmotifs of the film," writes Rüdiger Suchsland, who adds that "the production had far too little money" for De Palma to flaunt his visual prowess.

Indiewire's Italian film critic Tommaso Tocci writes, "If it weren’t for 2007’s Redacted, Passion would be a neat, coherent follow-up to both Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia in Brian De Palma’s filmography, in addition to being a rehashing of many of the director’s themes and trademarks." He later adds, "At times it feels like a parody, like a self-conscious, deliberate repetition of old solutions to new visual problems. Constantly pulling away from the characters, the camera traces sinuous trajectories in the air with no noticeable result. Everything feels stiff, as if each shot were only a stripped-down placeholder. The more visceral experimentalism of Redacted, however problematic, felt comparably much more lively (bagging a Best Director award in the process, right here in Venice). That was a new direction; this film is a retracing of the director’s footsteps, albeit without quality in mind. The latter part of the movie proves that De Palma is still perfectly able to engage his own legacy and put a spin on it, but it’s also proof that the preceding part is simply unworthy of his talent. An anticlimactic conclusion for the Venice Competition, but hopefully yet another step in the evolution of a great director."

The Hollywood Reporter's Neil Young calls Passion a "convoluted Euro-thriller" that "represents a disappointingly anaemic stab at a comeback from Brian De Palma." Young suggests that while the star presence of Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace should garner distribution in the U.S., the film is likely headed for cult status. Regarding Karoline Herfurth's character, Young writes, "the emergence of Dani in the picture's second half ranks alongside the script's few welcome surprises." Young adds, "By this point, however, proceedings have taken a wayward turn down some unfortunate dead-end alleyways. A grisly murder, the ensuing police investigation - featuring some blundering but impeccably Anglophone cops - and the questionable mental state of a key character are cues for De Palma and his veteran Spanish cinematographer José Luis Alcaine to unleash all manner of distorted lighting-effects and camera-angles." Young finds the Pino Donaggio score to be "heavy-handed," and highlights the film's split-screen sequence: "The director does get to deploy his trademark split-screen technique in one attention-grabbing sequence juxtaposing ballet and murder that achieves the desired confusion in terms of narrative sleight-of-hand." However, Young felt the film indulges in a sort of "greatest hits." However, a review I have heard from a discerning critic who is very familiar with De Palma's work found the "greatest hits" factor of the film to be quite a bit of fun, harkeing back to De Palma's Raising Cain.

Screen Daily's Lee Marshall feels that "De Palma glues together what feel like two different films in the remake [of Love Crime]: a female rivalry drama-thriller, and a murder mystery. And although the exercise carries an undertow of tongue-in-cheek pastiche, this is so inconsistently applied that if feels like an escape clause." Marshall appreciates Donaggio's score, "with its nods at seventies and eighties Italo genre fare," but is unimpressed with the split-screen sequence, calling it "a waste of the technique, as there is little dramatic or thematic connection between what we see on each side of the split." Marshall also writes that some of the dialogue provoked bursts of laughter during the press screening.

Variety's Justin Chang gives Passion an enthusiastically mixed review, writing, "Clearly, Passion means to be a hoot, a wet-dream thriller for cinephiles. But by the time it reaches its overwrought final act, the picture has generated neither the tension of its forebears nor the audacity that would allow it to transcend its silliness, a la De Palma's 2002 tour de force, Femme Fatale. Yet even in the absence of stellar material, the leads remain compulsively watchable: McAdams may lack Scott Thomas' hauteur, but more than makes up for it in cool, svelte malevolence, while Rapace provides an energetic counterweight, lending her more naive but also more unpredictable Isabelle an edge of dark desperation."

AN ASIDE: KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS SPEAKS ABOUT DE PALMA AT VENICE
The Hollywood Reporter also caught up with Kristin Scott Thomas, who is at Venice to promote her role in Pascal Bonitzer's Looking For Hortense. HR's Alexandra Zawia asked Scott Thomas about De Palma's remake of Love Crime, which she starred in: "I had no idea, in fact. But isn’t Brian De Palma the king of remakes? Or maybe we should rather call them 'tributes.' I really like Brian De Palma, in a twisted way. He gave me the most outrageous acting direction once on Mission: Impossible. I was acting away, and he says 'Cut, cut, cut! You are in [Albert] and you are a spy. You look like you are surveying your estates in Russia.' Stop acting, right? I should write a book: 'Pieces of directing I have loved.'”

PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH DE PALMA, RAPACE, DONAGGIO

De Palma, Rapace, and Donaggio were all in Venice this morning for a Passion press conference, and all seemed in good cheer. The below is a rough translation of a transcript found at News Cinema. Thanks to Maurizio Rossi (and Google translator) for help with some of the translation.

--------------------------------------


You have made many thrillers but it's been so long. How did you come to this project?

Brian De Palma: There are two great characters of women and I was lucky because Noomi and Rachel already knew each other. I thought I'd better alter the film, concealing the identity assassin and I could still put my signature.

 In the final scenes the woman with red hair puts the phone to the laptop and says it is trackable, but bought one just to call the inspector. So it sounds as if no one has the number?

De Palma: It 'a dream :)

You were six years away from the set and the film world. What did you do in the meantime?

De Palma: I tried to do the film.

Why did you shoot the film in Berlin?

De Palma: The majority of the funding came from Germany. The film was to be shot in London, but with the producer we found location in Germany so why not? The German crew was fantastic and the film was shot in 39 days ending well in advance.

Lots of people criticize you for an 80s kind of cinema, but the movie opens with a smartphone under water. Is this a way to relate it to our time? And how did you develop the original Courneau screenplay? The two main characters already know each other here, while in the original screenplay they do not.

De Palma: Phooey (laughs).

Noomi how did you prepare for the role?

Noomi Rapace: Every role that I accept I have to find a way to understand it 100% and I have to understand and translate myself in this person. Isabelle has been difficult because it's different from what I did in the past. It’s a break in the past within herself but has a delayed reaction. Her thoughts run in a particular psychological landscape and to understand it best I talked to a doctor of psychosis and Brian to figure out how to do it. We discussed a lot to deeply understand the character.

You said in the press release that it is a film for women and not only about women?

De Palma: Yes, the characters are women, they do things together that surprised me and I was lucky because they know each other well and the kiss of death was ... wow

Noomi Rapace: I wanted so much to work with Rachel. I was lucky because it is a chance to live this competitive relationship. The two women always raise the stakes and it all becomes a spiral that spins quickly, even though they are similar, but in different ways. I got into her soul, with crazy dreams and I had a dark side inside of me for a few days.

The language of new media can be felt in some of your works. Are you a prophet?

De Palma: When I made the film Hi Mom! in the late 60's, I talked about the TV and reality and I wondered what could come out of this. In Redacted I tried to see how to use stories to build a narrative.

As for the music, the film seems to consist of two scores for two different movies?

De Palma: Working with Pino since Carrie and I thought a lot about music selection to find the right one for each scene, I have given him some ideas and he made the final choice. At first the girls prepare new ideas, and they begin their growth. Then everything becomes twisted and takes a left turn, and then the music ... very special for the final scene.

Pino Donaggio: I followed the tone of the film’s changing events, accompanying images and increasing the tension. I just followed the work of Brian. Initially milder and then increasingly complementing the suspense until the final crescendo.

What is your idea of a thriller?

De Palma: A thriller is the ability to tell the story from the point of view of visual images and music. This story helped me to expand these capabilities in two key sequences, with great interaction between the two actresses and the ability to build the visual image.

Noomi Rapace: We found our parts in the shooting, there was not much in the scripts. Some scenes were more sexually oriented, others less so.

Why the choice of split screen in the scene of the ballet?

De Palma: I like that ballet rendition of Afternoon of a Faun and I have seen several videos from the 60's. I liked the choreography and the idea behind it. There's a line of Noomi’s, "I went to see the ballet," and so I tried to draw the audience into the dance so they will not focus on the murder that takes place at the same time. Directors are looking for good scripts, this came from France, I lived in Paris and while there I did Femme Fatale. Mission: Impossible was filmed worldwide. There are beautiful places in the world and it would be nice to shoot a film exclusively in different countries, each with its own star.

Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann are associated with music/cinema, as are Donaggio and De Palma. What are the requirements for a good soundtrack?

De Palma: I worked with Pino but also with other great composers. Depending on the type of film I choose the person, even for the photography etc ... I'm not afraid of change. I'm fortunate with Pino to have put together films made in our own way and that we are happy with.

What is the role of fashion in the movie?

De Palma: I do not pay much attention to what I wear, but I have a keen eye on others. I see that Noomi is very good but I do not know who made this dress ...

Noomi Rapace: Brian knows everything at once, something is okay or goes wrong. We had testing of clothes from big names and he saw at once what was wrong or right. What happens to the character alters her clothes, and the director helped me a lot to understand the transformation, when she moves or plans things in advance, etc. .. The clothes are a uniform for these women and changes in the little details say a lot.

In your films, it seems that everything is about to collapse. You are always asking 'what comes next'. Do you achieve this effect more from directing or from the script?

De Palma: I had a very good movie, good characters and a 'good fiction. I brought ideas for a sexy thriller.


Posted by Geoff at 8:58 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:50 PM CDT
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AS VENICE WINDS DOWN, ANTICIPATION FOR 'PASSION'
MANY ARE SAYING WINNER DIFFICULT TO PREDICT UNTIL DE PALMA'S FILM HITS
The last time Brian De Palma brought a film to Venice, five years ago, he won the director's prize, the Silver Lion, for Redacted. Jury member Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu presented the award to De Palma, who in accepting it, said, "Prizes are always great because it helps your film to be seen. But critics and prizes just tell you what the fashion of the day is. We don't make movies to get prizes." The jury that year was made up completely of film directors, headed by Zhang Yimou, and featuring, along with Inarritu, Paul Verhoeven, Jane Campion, Catherine Breillat, Ferzan Ozpetek, and Emanuele Crialese. It was great to see De Palma and Redacted recognized by an international jury of fellow film directors.

The winning film that year was Ang Lee's sexually-charged espionage thriller Lust,Caution. The decision had come as a surprise to critics and media that had been following the festival, as nobody seemed to think that Lee's film had caused much of a stir. However, the jury members had obviously been in their own world the entire time, and chose the film they thought was best.

As the current edition of the Venice Film Festival winds down, many journalists have abandoned Venice for the Toronto International Film Festival, which opened yesterday (Thursday). Several articles were posted earlier this week trying to gauge the feel of the films, and what the frontrunners are at the Venice midway point. Several have mentioned, however, that with De Palma's Passion yet to screen, it is very difficult to guess what the jury will go for. The awards ceremony will take place Saturday, the day after Passion premieres.

This year's jury president is Michael Mann, who was heavily influenced by the look of De Palma's Scarface as he was creating the TV show Miami Vice in the 1980s. The other members of this year's jury are Italian director Matteo Garrone (whose Gomorrah partially deals with the influence of De Palma's Scarface on real life), Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman (from Israel), Serbian artist Marina Abramovic, British actress Samantha Morton, French actress Laetitia Casta, Argentine director Pablo Trapero, Swiss director Ursula Meier, and Hong Kong director Peter Ho-Sun Chan.

On Monday, Deadline's Nancy Tartaglione stated that a festival poll of 20 critics gave the best score of Venice films that had screened so far to Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master. She added that "Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith, an absurdist look at religion, has its fans as do Russian infidelity story Betrayal by Kirill Serebrennikov and Israeli family drama Fill The Void by Rama Burshtein. Indiewire's Matt Mueller, who had left Venice by Tuesday, posted that his pick of the festival (at least, the half of the festival that he attended), was Sarah Polley's nonfictional Stories We Tell. Italian film critic Tommaso Tocci was impressed by Olivier Assayas' After May (which is the literal translation of its French title-- the given international title is Something In The Air), a look at the "second-hand struggle" of the next generation of French teenagers in a post-60s revolutionary landscape.

By Wednesday, a German news source was reporting that Assayas' film had "unanimous support", and also indicated praise for The Master, as well as Paradise: Faith. The report added, however, that with Michael Mann heading the jury, and De Palma's Passion still remaining, it was difficult to predict the upcoming awards ceremony. The report suggested that Mann, whose own films show "a propensity for action and sophisticated camera work," may push for either The Master or Passion rather than the "meandering" Apres Mai or the biting dark comedy Paradise: Faith.

And then there is Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, which Screen Daily's Lee Marshall calls "visually ravishing – indeed, at times cinematographer Benoit Debie’s camerawork, done on a dizzying array of filmstocks and formats, with slow-motion used to good effect in certain sequences, brings Terrence Malick to mind (if you can imagine Malick remaking a Russ Meyer film, that is)."

And speaking of Malick, his To The Wonder had its world premiere at Venice this past Sunday, followed by a (mostly-expected) mixed reaction. As Deadline's Tartaglione says, To The Wonder should not be counted out when trying to predict what the jury will select.


Posted by Geoff at 12:13 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, September 7, 2012 12:20 AM CDT
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