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Venice, Italy September 2011

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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:44 am

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/the-fine-art-of-filmmaking-2349712.html

The fine art of film-making

Why put your art in a gallery when it can be in the multiplex? As Steve McQueen’s movie premieres in Venice, Kaleem Aftab looks at the artist-directors

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

There has never been a better time to be an artist film-maker. Galleries, cinemas and festivals are clamouring to show the latest moving pictures from artists such as Steve McQueen, Gillian Wearing and Tacita Dean.

At this year's Venice Film Festival, there is a particularly strong showing of work by artist film-makers from or based in Britain. In addition to McQueen's competition film, Shame, starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender, which screened yesterday and is reviewed opposite, the Orizzonti section which considers new trends in world cinema has new films from Ben Rivers (Two Years At Sea), Andrew Kotting (Louyre – This is Our Still Life) and the Canadian-born, London-based Mark Lewis (Black Mirror at the National Gallery).

Furthermore, galleries are embracing such artists with gusto. Dean, who is best known for her use of 16mm film, will fill the great Turbine Hall at Tate Modern from October. This autumn, the Hayward Gallery will be showing the work of the pioneering Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, known for her single-channel videos, and the ICA will host a retrospective of the American underground director Jack Smith.

Such crossovers have broken down the divide between the gallery and the cinema. Visual artists such as McQueen (Hunger), Sam Taylor Wood (Nowhere Boy) and Clio Barnard (The Arbor) have made films that have been released successfully in cinemas. Now the Turner Prize winner Gillian Wearing has joined in with Self Made, her first film made specifically to be shown in cinemas.

Wearing says: "When I used to have conversations with visual artists in the 1990s, people would ask each other, 'Would you make a feature film?' Some people would say, 'I would never make a film,' but I was like, 'I wouldn't mind.'"

The debate has since moved on, with artists realising that some of their work is better suited to the cinema, where there is a stated start time and where spectators are expected to sit through a whole piece of work.

"I think the worlds [cinema and galleries] are still very different," says Wearing. "You've always had experimental film in the film world and sometimes you see things in a gallery that you think would be better suited for a cinema with a seated environment."

Last year, Wearing sat on the jury of the Jarman Award. The prize, named after Derek Jarman, the director of Caravaggio, among other films, was set up in 2008, to celebrate "the spirit of imagination and experimentation in the work of UK artist film-makers". Among the nominees for the £10,000 prize this year are Barnard, Elizabeth Price, Ed Atkins and Hillary Koob-Sassen.

Barnard says that where her film, The Arbor, was being exhibited made a difference to her approach: "Galleries and cinemas provide a completely different context. For example, the sound in a cinema is comparatively really brilliant. It's quite difficult to make sound work in a gallery; you have to think about it very differently."

What really distinguishes artists from other film-makers, however, is that financiers have to take a bigger leap of faith when working with them. Whereas most directors arrive with a screenplay and describe their story, artists often work from a one-page synopsis, with little or no dialogue written. Artists are often reliant on public funds or industry financing to make the leap to cinemas but in recent years such money has been more readily available. Wearing and Barnard started working on feature-film ideas after they were approached to do so by funding bodies, Wearing by the UK Film Council and Barnard by Artangel.

Shezad Dawood is in the process of making a feature film, Piercing Brightness, that will receive its premiere at the Abandon Normal Devices festival in Liverpool. Set in Preston, the film is inspired by the fact that Lancashire has more reported UFO sightings than any other area of England, and by the River Ribble's influence on Mormon history. His approach to the problem of differing audience expectations in the gallery and the cinema was to make two versions of the film.

"I am interested in what is the separation between artist film and mainstream film," he says. "I came up with making the idea of a 20-minute trailer version of the film that will try to tease more of an art-gallery audience into a cinema, and vice versa. The 20-minute cut uses footage from the cutting-room floor and so is almost an alternative film."

Ben Rivers' film, Two Years at Sea, featuring a mute protagonist living alone in Scotland, is showing at the Venice Film Festival in an auditorium; at the Toronto Film Festival, his acclaimed four-part film Slow Action, which was made in 2010, will show in a gallery.

"I tend to just make the films without thinking too much about where and how they will show," he says. "I'm always imagining that I'll try my best to show them in both spaces. I feel like it's where you show it that changes perceptions. People go with different expectations to a cinema and a gallery, so you don't need to change the work."

Interest in artist film-makers took off in the 1990s. Film-makers like Wearing and McQueen won the Turner Prize and galleries such as the Lux emerged with the specific aim of assisting artist film-makers.

Gregoir Muir, the executive director of the ICA, who worked at the Lux at that time, says: "It was interesting to hear the terms 'artist film' and 'video art' become more common coinage as the 90s went on. There was a rise in phenomenal artists working in film and that continues to the point now where you have an artist like Jack Smith, who is referred to as the pre-eminent underground film-maker and whose work influences people like Cindy Sherman and Mathew Barney."

In the last few years, galleries have been more willing to show longer-form work with definite start and end times. Technology has played a huge part in this change: it is now far easier for artists to produce work to almost cinema standard on smaller cameras and projection in gallery spaces has become much easier. A reduction in the costs involved has seen an increase in the number of artists using film stock such as 8mm and 16mm.

Cinema exhibitors have not failed to pick up on the rise in the quality of work and the growing popularity of film art. For example, Steve McQueen's Shame will be released in the UK, in January, by Momentum Films. Momentum decided to show Shame in cinemas, says its head of sales, Hamish Moseley, on the strength of Hunger, McQueen's 2008 film about the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands (also starring Fassbender) which won a Bafta and prizes at Cannes and Sydney film festivals. Nor is McQueen's artist background insignificant: it will play an important part when Momentum tries to get bums on seats:

"You can't ignore his previous career," says Moseley. "We are trying to attract not just all cinema-goers but all culture lovers. As a business we are competing with theatre, art and opera to get people to give up their leisure time and come and see a film. So if his reputation, as a winner of the Turner Prize, can be used to draw people to watch him film, then it should be. It's an asset."

Artist film-makers now have a greater understanding than ever before of the differences between the spaces in which they show their work. And they have responded by making some of the most innovative and visionary films that are coming out of Britain today.

'Shame' and 'Two Years at Sea' are part of the Venice Film Festival; 'Self Made' is out now; 'Jack Smith: A Feast for Open Eyes' is at the ICA in London to 18 September; Abandon Normal Devices is in Liverpool from 29 September to 2 October
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:57 am

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/05/idUS310164521220110905

Weekend in Venice: Nudity, Kitsch and Espionage

By Steve Pond at TheWrap

Mon Sep 5, 2011 3:54pm EDT

The frontloaded Venice Film Festival, which opened on Wednesday, had a couple of big premieres ("The Ides of March" and "A Dangerous Method") in its first few days, as well as a you-gotta-see-it entry in Madonna's reportedly awful "W.E."

Things calmed down a bit over the weekend in Venice, though the festival still managed to serve up a menu of nudity, kitsch and espionage.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," which stars Colin Firth and debuted in Venice Monday.

At In Contention, Guy Lodge found it quiet and understated, but nonetheless thrilling: "Looking for all the world as if the print has been stewed in black tea before being left to gather a few months’ worth of dust in the projection room -- and that’s a good thing, I hasten to add -- the film proves a happy marriage between two very different brands of understated precision: the British scholarliness of le Carre’s dense espionage lore and the icier Scandinavian calm that Alfredson brought to his breakout vampire drama, 'Let the Right One In.'"

Matt Mueller, reviewing the film for Thompson on Hollywood, was respectful but not quite as enthusiastic; he thought the two-hour running time truncated the story in the way the 1979 British miniseries version did not, and as a result "'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' settles for being a very good as opposed to a superb spy thriller."

Added Deborah Young, "It is one of the few films so visually absorbing, felicitous shot after shot, that its emotional coldness is noticed only at the end, when all the plot twists are unraveled in a solid piece of thinking-man’s entertainment for upmarket thriller audiences."

The nudity came from "Shame," the new film from Steve McQueen. The British director's debut feature, "Hunger," was stark and unflinching in its depiction of the life of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands in a British prison; the new one, according to reports from Venice, is just as unflinching in the way it lays out central character Michael Fassbender's sex addiction. (Photo, above, of Fassbender and McQueen by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.)

David Gritten calls it "a jolting portrayal of a tough subject" at Thompson on Hollywood, noting enough nudity (from Fassbender, co-star Carey Mulligan and many others) to give the film a presumed NC-17 rating.

"All this leaves a huge question mark over its commercial potential in the U.S.," he writes, while admitting that McQueen has turned out to be "a gifted filmmaker."

On the other hand, critic Todd McCarthy thought the kinkiness and built-in controversy would make it "an attractive proposition for an enterprising distributor," and called the film "a real walk on the wild side, a scorching look at a case of sexual addiction that’s as all-encompassing as a craving for drugs."

As for the kitsch, that was reportedly supplied by "Chicken With Plums," the second film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, who collaborated to turn Satrapi's graphic novel "Persepolis" into a well-received animated feature in 2007.

The new film, which is also based on a semi-autobiograhical graphic novel of Satrapi's, is largely live action, with animated interludes in between scenes in which Mathieu Almaric plays an unhappy violinist.

The film has clearly divided critics: Lodge found it "excessively frou-frou, "way too kitschy"; Gritten said it was "way too kitschy"; Screen's Lee Marshall wrote that it's "pretty but ultimately empty"; and Movieline's Stephanie Zacharek "something of a disappointment."

Two Hollywood trade papers, though, liked it: Variety saw "the same winning balance of seriousness and humor that made 'Persepolis' such a hit," and the Hollywood Reporter said the film "unfolds like a rich Persian carpet woven of memories and nostalgia."

he told the Observer in Venice that he's only taking a sabbatical and just needs to "recalibrate."

Soderbergh was in town to screen his virus-run-amok thriller "Contagion," which drew admiring reviews that nonetheless fell right in line with what the film's trailer suggests: the film feels "more like a superior studio thriller than a festival awards contender," wrote Gritten.

Lodge, meanwhile, gave his only four-star review of the festival to "ALPS," the new film from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, whose "Dogtooth" became the unlikiest and most controversial Oscar nominee (for Foreign-Language Film) in years.

Lodge calls the film "dazzingly dislocated," and "a return that should keep him on the fast-track to Euro-auteur royalty, even as it lashes out at the merest suggestion of acceptable behavior."

And while nothing can rival the delicious pans meted out to Madonna's "W.E.," another film from a performer who's turned to directing seems to be angling for the runner-up position: James Franco's "Sal," his examination of the last day in the life of actor Sal Mineo, has been roundly dismissed by most who've seen it.

Then again, even if "Sal" is dismissed, the multi-tasking Franco no doubt has several other irons in the fire at this point.

As the Playlist's Oliver Lyttleton tweeted on Sunday, "James Franco in next room. Before leaving Venice, he'll also give a poetry reading, restore a cathedral, and do a 4hr shift as a gondolier."
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:58 am

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/14ad7c24-d7a2-11e0-a06b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1X94SE2Of

September 5, 2011 8:58 pm
Carnage amid the canals

By Nigel Andrews
Kate Winslet in 'Contagion'

Kate Winslet as an American epidemiologist in Steven Soderbergh's 'Contagion'

Judging by the first week, you’d think one of three demands needed to be met to enter a movie at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The film’s title had to start with a “C”; the story had to be epochal or apocalyptic; most clinchingly of all, the cast had to include one English actress doing her nut in an unfamiliar accent.

So Carnage, the best film so far, a Roman Polanski-directed version of Yasmina Reza’s stage play about two quarrelling New York couples holding a tribunal about a fight between their children, and Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s entertaining global-disease epic, were A-List qualifiers, meeting all requirements. Both had Kate Winslet in prime form, first as a rabid mum, second as a battling American epidemiologist. Elsewhere, with Andrea Riseborough gamely impersonating Wallis Simpson in W.E., the abdication drama-romance directed by Madonna, and Keira Knightley playing a deranged patient in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, based on Christopher Hampton’s play about Jung and Freud, the Anglo-female perspective on life and history has seldom been more ubiquitous.

Winslet and Riseborough have strong claims already to the Best Actress prize. The first is terrific in Carnage, teamed with the scarcely less formidable Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. A Polanski in total mastery of his material films Reza’s play largely inside one room, reaping the pressure chamber rewards. In a story of tactful politeness turning to sarcasm, exasperation and spasms of seriocomical rage, the close-ups become tiny tell-all explosions; the group shots are perfect, powered tableaux of social calamity.

Andrea Riseborough in W.E. has a different calamity on her hands but, as an actress, transcends it. Madonna’s duo of parallel stories about a woman called Wallis – the throne-wrecker who married Edward VIII and a Manhattan-dwelling “Wally” (Abbie Cornish), obsessed with her forebear, who discovers love’s modern-day pains – will sit in multiplexes perplexing all but the novelettish at heart. The singer/film-maker creates few interesting echoes between “then” and “now” and miscasts the main male role. James D’Arcy’s King Edward is an anaemic-mannered stick. Riseborough alone survives the debacle, a British actress brilliantly replicating an interbellum high-society American accent while suggesting the sparkle and allure we can only guess at in Mrs Simpson from the old photos and newsreels.

Keira Knightley goes for broke in early scenes of A Dangerous Method, gurning, yowling and grimacing as an advanced-stage Russian schizophrenic. Later she calms down, but by then unfortunately everything else has become becalmed. Cronenberg’s direction is weirdly static (you could forget that he once pushed the boundaries of avant-garde sci-fi/horror); Michael Fassbender’s Jung is a cipher in a frock coat; and Viggo Mortensen’s Freud drawls laboured Viennese wisdoms. Only Vincent Cassel has a brief heyday as a mad, bad German shrink.

Mad or bad, the films at Venice – for many of us – have been unprecedentedly accessible. English-speakers have scarcely had to read a subtitle. One starts to feel a little guilty when every second movie is from the US, the UK or other lands Limey-lingo’d. One day it is Soderbergh’s rip-roaring Contagion. Another day, George Clooney’s smartly directed, savvily scripted The Ides of March. The charismatic Hollywood multitasker’s new political thriller opened the festival and strewed the red carpet with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and other luminaries of Hollywood character casting.

There have been foreign-language movies, of course, but none so far is a bookie’s favourite. The Taiwanese revolutionary epic Saideke Balai takes a little-known slice of local history – the rising up of heartland tribes against the occupying Japanese in the last century’s early years – and turns it into a blood-basted barbecue of slaughter (graphic beheadings a speciality). Yorgos Lanthimos’s Alps, from the Greek director of the prizewinning Dogtooth, is a tortured curio. A group of people trained to impersonate the recent dead hire themselves out as post-bereavement surrogates for grieving families. In movie plots there is a thin line between originality and strained contrivance. Better by a little was Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Poulet aux Prunes. Artist-cartoonist Satrapi, who made Persepolis, raids her comic-strip oeuvre for this French-speaking, Iran-set fairy tale, pictorially pretty with a piquant cast (Mathieu Amalric, Chiara Mastroianni).

You could even say that Al Pacino’s Wilde Salome, shown on the fringe, is in a foreign language: “Pacino-speak”, that mannered, florid outreach of the Method. In a documentary hewn from the same block as Looking for Richard, the actor performs excerpts from Oscar Wilde’s century-old succès de scandale. Between the theatrical scenes (partly inspired by Steven Berkoff’s London-revived Salome) Pacino and his camera crew hop about the western world tracing Wilde’s life and roots. Ireland, London, Paris; with Gore Vidal, Tom Stoppard and Bono (!) for expert chat. We even go to Palestine to dig up Herod and his story. It’s all perversely entertaining: an actorly ego trip thinly camouflaged as a love letter to past art.

Back in the competition, the main trends show little change. Latest unveiling, as I write, is Steve McQueen’s Shame, another tale of apocalypse, this time psychosexual. Michael Fassbender plays an Irish-American sex addict – prostitution, promiscuity, cyberporn – lacerated by his failure at long-term love. The setting is New York, the lead female performer is another Brit acting her all in an alien accent: Carey Mulligan, excellent as the hero’s mixed-up sister. Fassbender is good too, making up for his stuffed-shirt Jung with lots of no-shirt – indeed no-anything – self-exposure, physical and emotional.

The film tells us little we didn’t know already about the old proximity-versus-relating human quandary. And at times it looks suspiciously like an essay in gay-culture self-castigation disguised as a homily for heterosexuals. But Hunger director and video artist McQueen has an indisputable skill at packing big, handsome, glacial-seeming images with covert emotion and encrypted power.


Venice Film Festival continues until September 10


Last edited by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Admin on Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:05 am

http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/09/05/idINIndia-59155020110905

Le Carre, Clooney, Carnage contest Venice film prize
By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy | Mon Sep 5, 2011 7:27pm IST

(Reuters) - The Venice film festival has largely lived up to its billing so far, providing a steady stream of A-list actors on the red carpet and a lineup of movies which has pleased most critics.

As the world's oldest film festival hits halfway on Monday, an adapation of John Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", George Clooney's political thriller "The Ides of March" and Roman Polanski's comedy "Carnage" lead the charge for the coveted Golden Lion for best picture.

They are among 22 movies announced so far, soon to be joined by a 23rd "surprise" film unveiled on Tuesday, vying for top prize, which is announced on Saturday.

Although festival juries are notoriously difficult to second guess, an informal poll of critics published by trade magazine Variety puts Carnage marginally in the lead, but ratings have been generally strong.

Booing at the end of press screenings is common at film festivals, but there has been little this year, suggesting a happy ending to festival director Marco Mueller's term in charge.

Carnage is Polanski's adaptation of stage play "God of Carnage", and stars Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly in a critique of bourgeois values set in real time in a single location.

Waltz's constant Blackberry interruptions, barbed exchanges between two New York couples and in particular Winslet's "vomit scene" had journalists laughing out loud.

Polanski would not be able to collect his prize should he win, facing extradition to the United States where he is still wanted for sentencing for a crime committed in 1977, but victory would be generally popular.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which premieres on Monday, also emerged as a strong contender, with early reviews glowing for the melancholic adaptation of Le Carre's 1974 classic.

Gary Oldman takes on the central role of George Smiley, famously played by Alec Guinness in a television series, and Colin Firth and John Hurt also star.

"The big-screen version of John Le Carré's 1970s spookfest is hot favourite for the ... Golden Lion," said Jason Solomons, film critic for the Observer weekly.

"Just how Swedish director Tomas Alfredson got under the skin of British behaviour so intuitively is remarkable."

NO SHAME IN "SHAME"

Clooney got the 11-day cinema showcase off to a strong, starry start with opening film The Ides of March, a thriller set in the world of American politics in which he, Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman appear.

And Steve McQueen, a British artist-turned-director, got what many consider the performance of the festival so far from Irish actor Michael Fassbender as a sex-obsessed New York professional in "Shame".

"Fassbender...might already have the Coppa Volpi (for best actor) in his pocket," wrote La Stampa daily.

Oldman also won praise for his nuanced portrayal of Smiley, and among female leads, Aggeliki Papoulia in Greek tragedy "Alps" and Keira Knightley in David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" impressed.

Alps and Italian entry "Terraferma", tackling the hot topic of immigration, had plenty of admirers, but "That Summer", starring Monica Bellucci, was poorly received.

Outside the main competition, Madonna presented "W.E.", her stylish re-telling of the story of American divorcee Wallis Simpson and her relationship with King Edward VIII.

Andrea Riseborough was singled out for her role as Wallis, but overall the movie got a lukewarm critical reception.

Steven Soderbergh brought with him a stellar cast in "Contagion", a slick examination of the spread of a deadly disease and the global panic it causes.

Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne all hit the red carpet, as did Hollywood veteran Al Pacino who was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

At 71, the "Godfather" actor drew big and noisy crowds on Sunday, as he presented his documentary "Wilde Salome".

(Additonal reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Paul Casciato)
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:57 pm

http://www.screendaily.com/home/blogs/aronofksy-talks-venice-jury-decisions-and-praises-fassbenders-orgasm-scene/5031928.article

Aronofksy talks Venice jury decisions, and praises Fassbender's orgasm scene

11 September, 2011 | By Sheri Jennings

At the Venice Film Festival winner’s news conference at the close of the 68th edition, Jury president Daren Aronofsky said, “We tried to find appropriate awards for every film and wanted to award as many films as we could.”

Darren_Aronofsky_venice_2011

Speaking of Silver Lion winner Shangjun Cai’s People Mountain People Sea, Aronofsky said, “We were all impressed by how the film was made and I encourage all to go out and see it.”

He also elaborated on the impact Crialese’s film Terraferma had on them. “From the moment the jury saw Terraferma it was at the top of the list and it was just a matter of deciding which prize. It was one of the most successful films in competition as an entire film, and I think that in fact that there were political dimensions as well meant a lot as well and a tremendous performance by Filippo (Pucillo) and we all feel he is a new star.”

As for the acting awards, Aronofsky commented on the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress winners Shota Sometani and Fumi Kikaido: “The performances are just exceptional, explosive and capture adolescence. We wre really impressed with the movie (Himizu) and the young talent was exceptional. The boy Sato - is an incredibly beautiful actor who exploded in every way as did the girl.”

Of best actress winner Deanie Yip, of Aronofsky said: “I can’t believe how young and beautiful and sexy this woman is. We were all very moved by this film and the message of this film - it’s an issue we deal with in every part of the world and .. to see a journey from health to death with such generosity was very touching.

Aronofsky had some special praise for Michael Fassbender and Shame: “We were blown away by Shame and the cinematic power of it - the hard part is the many films deserved awards. Shame was an incredible journey…I want to say his (Fassbender’s) orgasm in the film is like the closing shots of [Fellini’s 1957] Nights of Cabiria. His collaboration with the director was inspiring and you can see the result of trust. Here is an actor who is fully, fully out there in every way and a filmmaker supporting it. It was a bravo performance.”
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:58 pm

http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/venice-film-festival-wrap/

September 11th, 2011
0
68th Venice Film Festival Wrap Up

Written by: Blake Dew

The 68th Venice Film Festival has wrapped up, with Aleksandr Sokurov‘s film Faust taking the top prize of the Golden Lion for Best Picture. The Russian director was given the award by the head of the year’s jury Darren Aranofsky. This film is the fourth in the director’s Goethe’s classic tragedy tetrology, following Molokh, Telets and The Sun. Faust however is the first in thet tetrology about a mythical person. His others films Moloch, was about Hitler, Taurus, about Lenin and The Sun, about Emperor Hirohito.

Irish actor Michael Fassbender won the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor for British director Steve McQueen’s second directional piece Shame, which also stared Carey Mulligan.

Mulligan was widley expected to pick up the Best Actress award, however that went to Deanie Yip for the film Tao jie (A Simple Life), by Chinese director Ann Hui.

Some of the other award winners include; Robbie Ryan, who won the Osella for the Best Cinematography for Andrea Arnold‘s Wuthering Heights and Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido who took home the Marcello Mastroianni Award which is given to the best young actor or actress.

Al Pacino, who presented his documentary/feature film/thesis film on Oscar Wilde and his play of Salome, titled Wilde Salome, won the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, for his life time achievement in film. Pacino’s passion project that took over half a decade to make, and stars The Tree Of Life star Jessica Chastain, was received incredibley well at the festival.

Other films that received high praise include the previously mentioned Shame, directed by Steve McQueen, George Clooney’s The Ideas Of March, Roman Polanski’s Carnage, Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy, which also received rave reviews for the films star Gary Oldman, and David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.

The festival also held the first screening of the directional debut of directing legend Michael Mann’s daughter Ami Canaan Mann and her film, Texas Killing Fields.

One film that did not however get received so kindly at Venice was Madonna‘s second directional film W.E. which stared Abbie Cornish, Natalie Dormer, Andres Riseborough, James D’Arcy and Oscar Issac. The film, which details the ”affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson”, was met with very poor reviews.

Michael Fassbender 007 68th Venice Film Festival Wrap Up

James Franco premiered his latest directional film Sal, which chronicles the final hours of the life of actor Sal Mineo. Unfortunately it was not met with the greatest reception. The character passion project of Franco’s, which was apparently shot in nine days, was criticised for looking low budget. However, Val Lauren’s portrayal of the late actor was said to be superb, along with Francos direction and vision which clearly shows the artist’s passion for the now all but forgotten actor.

Franco’s second piece at Venice was a video installation piece titled Rebel, which was received quite well. The project which features a collaboration of many artistis was inspired by Nicholas Ray’s classic Rebel Without A Cause.

The installation features two never-made scenes from Ray’s original draft of Rebel Without A Cause, one featuring a man on fire, and the second, a woman being whipped. The two performances are played side by side in one continuous 20-minute take and the overall effect is has been been described as ”beautiful and harrowing.”

Venice is really the first of the major end of year festivals which begins to give us an idea of how this year’s awards season will shape up. From the reports so far, and though it is early, we will likely see Michael Fassbender and/or Garey Oldman take out one or two of the five best actor slots at the Oscars.

Both have secured great time slots for US release. However, Shame, which features full frontal nudity, may not make the Oscars cut, as it will surely secure a NC-17 rating and McQueen has stated he has no plans to make a “softer” cut to make the film more commercially viable.

It is still early in the awards race but after Venice, we have a better idea of how things may turn out.

What did you think of the Venice Film Festival, share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:16 pm

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/all-the-film-world-becomes-a-stage-in-venice/story-e6frg8n6-1226134260319

All the film world becomes a stage in Venice

David Stratton
From: The Australian
September 12, 2011 12:00AM

THE Venice Film Festival -- the world's oldest -- will be remembered in its 68th year for the impact made by actor Michael Fassbender.

He gave two exceptional performances in two of the most powerful films in the competition, Steve McQueen's Shame -- for which he won the Best Actor award -- and David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method.

Shame, which also won the FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Award for best film, is a bold follow-up to the director's first feature, Hunger, which also starred Fassbender.

It centres on a 30-something New Yorker who lives alone in a sterile apartment, works in an equally sterile office and is addicted to sex -- internet sex as well as the real thing. His surly charm makes picking up women in bars for loveless one-night stands an effortless exercise, but his ordered existence is disrupted when his younger sister, Carey Mulligan, descends on him unexpectedly.

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What could have been a bleak tale of a rather predatory individual is given exceptional depth and compassion thanks to the treatment and to Fassbender's bold performance, which is the polar opposite of the character the actor plays in Cronenberg's film.

Here Fassbender is equally compelling as psychiatrist Carl Jung, who, in turn-of-the-century Zurich, finds himself involved with one of his patients, an 18-year-old Russian Jew suffering from extreme hysteria and violence. Keira Knightley is magnificent in this role. Also in the film is Viggo Mortensen, surprisingly cast as Sigmund Freud, and very effective in the part.

A Dangerous Method was adapted by Christopher Hampton from his own play, and films based on stage productions and novels dominated Venice this year.

The winner of the Golden Lion, Russian director Alexander Sokurov's challenging adaptation of Goethe's Faust, was one of them, though Sokurov has produced a very loose adaptation.

His thesis is that "unhappy people are dangerous" and his Faust (Johannes Zeiler) is indeed a troubled soul, living in a chaotic but stunningly filmed world in which he is easy prey for the film's weird interpretation of Mephistopheles (Anton Adasinsky).

This German-language film is not easy to embrace, but it's a powerful piece of cinema. In giving the film the Golden Lion, a unanimous decision by the jury, jury president Darren Aronofsky stated that "some films change you forever after seeing them".

Roman Polanski's Carnage is another filmed play, a screen adaptation of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, and the action is confined (apart from the opening and closing shots) to a single setting, to the interior of a Brooklyn apartment owned by a couple (Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly) whose young son lost two teeth in a playground brawl with the son of a high-powered lawyer (Christoph Waltz) and his financial adviser wife (Kate Winslet). These four fine actors make the most of Reza's bitchy dialogue and the film emerges as a Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? of its era.

The festival opened with George Clooney's fourth film as director, The Ides of March, based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon. It's a political thriller in which Clooney plays a liberal Democratic candidate fighting a key primary against a more conservative Democratic opponent, while the staffers for these men -- Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti -- are involved in a complex series of intrigues. The film is smart and sophisticated, and it doesn't proceed in the most obvious directions.

Back in the 70s, William Friedkin was a top director with films such as The French Connection and The Exorcist. Proving that he can still deliver the goods, his new film, Killer Joe, is yet another stage adaptation, the source being a play of the same name by Tracy Letts. Set in a world of Texan trailer trash, the film centres on a young drug dealer (Emile Hirsch), in debt to his supplier, who easily persuades his father (Thomas Haden Church) and stepmother (Gina Gershon) to join him in hiring a hit-man (Matthew McConaughey) to kill his mother because he's discovered that the beneficiary of her insurance policy is his virginal kid sister (the excellent Juno Temple). Double-crossing and twists abound until the film ends in some unnecessarily graphic violence, but for most of its length this is surprisingly witty and abrasive.

Literary works also were the basis of several competing films, including Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's excellent adaptation of John Le Carre's spy classic, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which expertly finds a perfect cinematic equivalent of the author's spare, enigmatic style. With a great cast headed by Gary Oldman as George Smiley, the retired spymaster brought back to hunt down the high-level "mole" working inside "The Circus", the British spy agency, the film is very tense and yet bleakly humorous. Maybe it took an outsider to capture that very English kind of understatement that film evokes so well.

Less successful was Andrea Arnold's take on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, mainly because the director, presumably in an attempt to go for realism rather than romanticism, has cast largely unknown and untried actors with mixed success.

Chinese films fared well, starting with Cai Shangjun's beautifully filmed second feature, the awkwardly titled People Mountain People Sea, which deservedly won the Silver Lion for Best Director. It's a revenge thriller in which a mine worker travels thousands of kilometres to track down his brother's murderer.

The two Hong Kong films were also very good, though very different: Johnnie To's Life without Principle deals with the effect of the world financial crisis on a handful of "ordinary" people, including a bank employee, a policeman's wife and a minor criminal. Ann Hui's sensitive A Simple Life is the (basically true) story of an elderly amah, movingly played by Deanie Ip, who won the Best Actress Award, who, after looking after three generations of a family, is cared for in her old age by the only family member still living in Hong Kong.

The Greek film Alps, by Yorgos Lanthimos (which won Best Screenplay), and the Israeli film, The Exchange, by Eran Kolirin, took elliptical approaches to exploring the sterility of modern society. Both were impressive, but neither quite matched the effect of their respective earlier films, Dogtooth and The Band's Visit.

Italian and French films in competition were poor this year, though Emanuele Crialese's Terraferma, a well-made but simplistic look at the impact of African refugees arriving in Sicily, won the Special Jury Prize.

Three non-competitive films deserve mention. Steven Soderberg's chilling Contagion, with an all-star cast headed by Kate Winslet and Matt Damon, chillingly depicts the ease with which a pandemic can spread. Madonna's ambitious and much-reviled W.E. parallels the story of the affair of Wallis Simpson (a convincing Andrea Riseborough) and the Prince of Wales with that of a frustrated New Yorker, Wally (Abbie Cornish).

Meanwhile, the closing film, Whit Stillman's elegant Damsels in Distress, is quite simply the funniest and smartest comedy seen in many months -- a good conclusion to a better-than-average festival.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:17 pm

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/venice-film-festival-falls-short-of-expectations-20110911-1k42n.html

Venice Film Festival falls short of expectations
Stephanie Bunbury
September 12, 2011

Illustration: Robin Cowcher

VENICE Film Festival is always frustrating, for reasons not always to do with the films. The weather is so ferociously hot and humid that sweat runs in a permanent stream down your back. Things don't work: my taps ran dry for hours at a time, apparently not unusual in Venice if you are on an upper floor. But these privations aren't reflected in the local prices; just to sit on one of the private beaches costs $25. In a day of myriad frustrations, you can spend a lot of time grizzling.

Perhaps that is why this year's festival, which started with huge fanfare for its slate of strong titles, fell a little short of expectations; it was as if the festival itself had gone limp in the heat. Russian maestro Aleksandr Sokurov's massive Faust, winner of the festival's Golden Lion, impressed with its serious adherence to Goethe and poetic imagination; the starving doctor's submission to a grotesque, comical devil - his local pawnbroker, with an imp's tail under his long black coat - was brilliantly conceived. Ultimately, however, it was too laboured to love.

But this reflected the tone of the festival: there were many good films that we wished were great. George Clooney's political drama The Ides of March had the precision and the limitations of a well-made play; Roman Polanski's Carnage, about two couples negotiating over their fighting children, was funny but slight. David Cronenberg's much-awaited A Dangerous Method was a surprisingly conventional account of the relationship between Freud and Jung, its thoughtfulness undermined by Keira Knightley's exaggerated gurning as Jung's patient and eventual lover Sabine Spielrein. We waited, fanning ourselves, for something revelatory.
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One film that did not disappoint was Shame, British director Steve McQueen's second film after his much-lauded Hunger. His bleak story of a New York high-flyer who has supplanted the real human relationships in his life with a diet of commercial sex and internet porn, crashed around us like the falling stones of condemned Sodom. Michael Fassbender conveyed the libertine's angst with extraordinary force, deservedly winning the prize as best actor, but Carey Mulligan was also faultless as the bratty, batty, needy young sister who disrupts his life of clockwork eroticism.

Performances of this calibre illustrate the potential weakness of using non-actors, as Andrea Arnold did in her otherwise convincingly grubby adaptation of Wuthering Heights, winner of the cinematography prize for Robbie Ryan. Her previous film, the much-awarded Fish Tank, paired Michael Fassbender as a knowing older man with the bus-stop discovery Katie Jarvis as an awkward teenager, which worked brilliantly. In her new film, Arnold evokes Emily Bronte's moors and the story's tragic trajectory persuasively, even movingly, but the performers simply don't have the skills to convey the consuming connection between Catherine and Heathcliff.

A film version of John le Carre's seminal Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, on the other hand, was crammed with great actors but so deliberately stripped of sentiment by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, it was less hard-boiled than deep-frozen.

One of the festival's strengths under outgoing director Marco Mueller has been as a showcase for Asian filmmaking, including martial arts films, a fact reflected in this year's awards. The best actress award went to Deannie Yip playing an ageing domestic servant in Ann Hui's A Simple Life, while the Silver Lion for best director went to Shangjun Cai for People Mountain People Sea. A bizarre and daring portrait of Japanese youth in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat, Sion Sono's Himizu was awarded for the performances of its two young actors Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido. It also provided some perspective to those of us complaining of being too hot in Venice.

Stephanie Bunbury is European arts correspondent.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:02 pm

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-10/aleksander-sokurov-s-faust-wins-top-venice-prize-fassbender-best-actor.html

Faust Movie Wins at Venice Festival as Polanski, Clooney Left With Nothing
Q
By Farah Nayeri - Sep 10, 2011 3:00 PM PT

Isolda Dychauk in a scene from ``Faust.'' Russian director Aleksander Sokurov's movie won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival -- the Golden Lion. Source: Venice Film Festival via Bloomberg.
Enlarge image Aleksander Sokurov

Aleksander Sokurov, a Russian film director, made ``Faust,'' the winning film in the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Source: Venice Film Festival via Bloomberg.
Enlarge image Deannie Yip

Deannie Yip (shown here with co-star Andy Lau) won the best actress award at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Deannie -- also spelled Deanie -- plays an aging domestic servant who suffers a stroke. Source: Venice Film Festival via Bloomberg.
Enlarge image ''Shame''

Michael Fassbender plays a lonely sex addict in Steve McQueen's ''Shame.'' The film was in competition at the Venice Film Festival and Fassbender was named best actor. Source: Venice Film Festival via Bloomberg

“Faust” by the Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov was the surprise winner of the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival last night.

Directors Roman Polanski, David Cronenberg and George Clooney won nothing.

China’s Shangjun Cai took the best-director trophy for a last-minute entry, “Ren Shan Ren Hai,” the story of a man who returns to his mountain village to avenge his younger brother’s killing. Another Chinese movie, “A Simple Life” by Ann Hui -- about a housekeeper who retires to an old people’s home after decades serving one family -- was rewarded with the best-actress award going to Deannie Yip.

“Shame,” artist Steve McQueen’s explicit movie about a solitary sex addict on the rampage in New York, saw actor Michael Fassbender collect the best-actor trophy.

The winning movie, “Faust,” is a loose adaptation of the Goethe tragedy. It’s the fourth in a series of movies on the theme of political power that earlier portrayed Hitler, Lenin, and Japan’s late Emperor Hirohito.

Choosing the winners were jury head Darren Aronofsky, whose “Black Swan” had opened last year’s festival, and six other judges that included musician David Byrne.

Italy came away with a special jury prize for “Terraferma” by Emanuele Crialese, the story of a Sicilian fishing village coping with an influx of African migrants.
Three Losers

Polanski was the biggest surprise loser. The Polish-born director had impressed the critics with “Carnage,” adapted from a play by Yasmina Reza, that showed two sets of parents meeting after their respective sons’ involvement in a nasty fist fight. The movie was filmed entirely in an apartment interior, and featured standout performances from Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Kate Winslet.

Clooney was competing with “The Ides of March,” a pitiless portrayal of U.S. politics, with himself in the role of a smooth senator.

Cronenberg’s entry, “A Dangerous Method,” also stars Fassbender as well as Keira Knightley, and focuses on psychiatrist Carl Jung’s entanglement with a young Russian patient.

Much as the closing-night ceremony was short on big-name stars, the festival this year started out with plenty of them. Madonna sparked a frenzy on Lido island (where the festival takes place), presenting her movie “W.E.” -- about an abused Manhattan wife who becomes obsessed with the story of Edward VIII’s abdication and marriage to the American divorcee Wallis Simpson.
Wilde Pacino

Al Pacino showed off his mastery of “double-talk” Italian -- the only kind he speaks -- as he presented his documentary- like homage to Oscar Wilde, featuring Jessica Chastain: “Wilde Salome.”

Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon stopped by to promote “Contagion,” the story of a fearsome global pandemic, directed by Steven Soderbergh. Paltrow made headlines around the world when she was asked whether the deadly virus could be viewed as punishment for her character’s adultery in the film.

“If death by virus was the punishment for extramarital affairs, there would be about three dudes left in this room right now,” said the actress -- wife of rock band Coldplay’s Chris Martin -- to much laughter. “Maybe less because we’re in Italy.”

Also roaming the festival’s elegant venues were designer Valentino, in a leathery tan and blue suede shoes that matched his shirt. Hovering nearby in the hope of attracting press attention was a Luciano Pavarotti lookalike.

Festival-goers on Venice’s Lido island this year found construction work stalled on the new convention building. Digging led to the discovery of toxic asbestos, and existing plans had to be ripped up, paving the way for a new and less ambitious project that will complement the existing building, built by dictator Benito Mussolini.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:03 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/sex-psychosis-and-spies-lead-the-british-charge-2352555.html

Sex, psychosis and spies lead the British charge

Venice Diary: Keira's chin, and other memorable turns

By Jonathan Romney

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Shame director Steve McQueen on the red carpet

ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

Shame director Steve McQueen on the red carpet

Cinematically speaking, I'm not the most fervent patriot. But I have to say that this year's Venice Film Festival belonged to the Brits. The three best competition films I saw were all British: Steve McQueen's Shame, Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights and (Swedish director notwithstanding) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which I'll review next week.

The Hits

Arnold's Wuthering Heights is exceptionally bold – anti-heritage cinema with a vengeance. Its Heathcliff (James Howson) is black, a foundling brought to an inhospitable moorland community, where his presence catalyses a storm of violent resentment. Shot with an eye for elemental intensity, this militantly de-prettified period drama may not be true to the novel's language, but certainly honours its spirit of extreme psychopathology.

As for Shame, this New York-set drama has a commanding performance by Michael Fassbender as a tormented sex addict. McQueen directs with a steeliness that represents a major advance on his Hunger. But the revelation is Carey Mulligan as the hero's troubled sister: anyone tempted to write her off, after An Education, as merely a Princess of Pert will eat their words.

The Misses

Madonna's W.E., about Wallis Simpson, was a rich woman's vanity project – a vacuous, sumptuously mounted fan letter to a dubious idol. Andrea Riseborough's brittle performance is far better than the film deserves. Still, Madonna can take comfort in not having drawn the most press show jeers. That honour went to That Summer, a French drama in which Euro-heart throb Louis Garrel is forever pouting disconsolately at having to shack up with sultry but wooden Monica Bellucci. Ah the ennui....

The Disappointments

Several eagerly-awaited titles didn't quite pull it off. Todd Solondz's Dark Horse was business as usual from the master misanthrope, a story of a suburban schlub that was witty enough but less confrontational than an episode of Arrested Development.

Alps was a demented conceptual drama by Giorgos Lanthimos, who made the Greek bombshell Dogtooth. But this downbeat story of a group who specialise in "replacing" the recently dead seemed to be running the same software again. Then there was David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, about a female patient of Freud and Jung. Scripted by Christopher Hampton, the film felt surprisingly staid. But there are fine performances from Michael Fassbender (again), Viggo Mortensen (a wonderfully dry Freud) – and also a bold if not entirely convincing Keira Knightley, whose chin undergoes such agonised contortions you wish Cronenberg had shot the film in 3D.

Off-piste highlights

1) Two Years at Sea, a superb docu-essay by British artist Ben Rivers, about the dream-like life of a hermit. 2) Whores' Glory, Michael Glawogger's eye-opening documentary about brothels in Bangkok, Mexico and Bangladesh, a nightmare parallel universe. 3) The restored We Can't Go Home Again, the 1973 experimental film by legendary director Nicholas Ray. No Hollywood mainstream name ever rebelled to make anything this far-out – Gus Van Sant eat your heart out.

Best Fun

By all normal criteria, Al Pacino's documentary Wilde Salome – about playing Herod on stage – was a wildly self-indulgent project by a dreadful old ham. But it's also a winning, crazily spirited outing by an irrepressible enthusiast who knows he's a comic turn. The revelation is Jessica Chastain as a ferocious Salomé. Who would have guessed from her levitating mom in The Tree of Life?
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:04 pm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/11/venice-film-festival-british-stars

Venice film festival: Britain's big splash at the Lido

Wuthering Heights, Shame, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy make an awesome threesome for Britain

Jason Solomons
The Observer, Sunday 11 September 2011

Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen on the red carpet in Venice for Shame.
Michael Fassbender, left, and Steve McQueen on the red carpet in Venice for Shame. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

European film festivals tend to be wary of British cinema. They love our actors, but our film-making is rarely highlighted. In the past I have bemoaned entire competition line-ups at Cannes or Venice in which not a single British film has appeared, although the old triumvirate of Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Stephen Frears has generally kept journalists on the Lido or Croisette in copy over the last couple of decades. I can't recall a time when British cinema looked like it was the most vital and respected in the world, but this past fortnight at the 68th Venice film festival made it look that way.

Steve McQueen's Shame, Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights and Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy were three of the best-reviewed and most talked-about films here, all premiering in a three-day burst last week, a hat-trick that could eventually be as enshrined in British film history as Geoff Hurst's three-goal haul against Germany at Wembley in 1966 is in the national football psyche. Although it is always dangerous to assume such a flowering represents a deeper, longer-lasting trend, it is exciting to note how different these three films are in style and content and how confident they are of their artistry and subject matter. They have a swagger that's been missing from British film-making for many years. For my money, they blew away everything else in competition at Venice.

It may, of course, just have been all that wind in Wuthering Heights. Europeans like to tease us about our rubbish weather, and Andrea Arnold's take on Emily Brontë will do nothing to change that impression – I've never seen so much wind and rain in a film. However, what her film does sweep away is one of English literature's great romantic myths, as well as British cinema's reverence for the costume drama. Cliff Richard, Kate Bush, Laurence Olivier – your interpretations take one hell of a beating here. Arnold uses untrained actors to play young and older Heathcliff, Solomon Glave and James Howson, and this brings a feral quality to the film. These performances are untrammelled by the mannerisms of cinematic tradition, and on occasion these actors are so raw and open your heart goes out to them.

But there are two sides to Arnold's study of harsh nature and human cruelty. Watching it, I wondered if the intensity of her vision isn't at times a little cruel on the actors, too? Moments later, in the Venice press conference, the two Heathcliffs were in tears in front of the world's media, overwhelmed by the experience. Arnold's aversion to wannabe stars – she used the unknown Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank – is commendable but it is also a perverse and possibly self-destructive tendency. The first half of the film treats the foundling Heathcliff roughly, and he develops his outsider personality. Only Cathy Earnshaw is sweet to him. In the second half, Cathy (now played by Kaya Scodalario from E4 series Skins) cruelly rejects Heathcliff. In turn, he metes out cruelty, on Isabella (Nichola Burley), on Cathy, on the sickly Hindley, and on himself. Amid all this rugged beauty, tenderness is scarce. As in the urban jungles she's depicted in Red Road, Fish Tank and her Oscar-winning short film Wasp, Arnold sees environment as a governing factor on behaviour, and this Yorkshire is a blasted place indeed.

This Wuthering Heights is a wild child of a film, a runaway, a cheeky git, a prickly hedgehog. It is an angry film that sticks two fingers up at convention (Robbie Ryan's magnificent photography is framed in a 4:3 ratio, just when you'd expect such scenery to demand the widest scope possible). Many viewers will be shocked at classic literature reduced to the level of inarticulate playground squabble, yet I also felt that Arnold understood these young people, their tumult and their frustrations more than anyone ever has.

Steve McQueen's Shame boasts starry, actorly performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, both excellent as Brandon and Sissy, a successful but lonely brother who takes in his younger sister to his sleek New York apartment while she recovers from what we assume is another in a series of broken hearts. But the story is really of Brandon's descent into a hell of sex addiction. His cupboards and computer hard drive overflow with porn, and his nights out end in random sex with strangers. Fassbender inhabits this man. He's a beast, a brooder, a cock-sure player; but sad and alone and incapable of communication or connection.

With his uncanny sense of atmosphere and ability to transmit emotions crackling across a space, McQueen has moved up a gear since his debut, Hunger, won him the Camera d'Or at Cannes. I should think that progress will be marked with a Golden Lion here, especially given Venice's intimate connections with the art biennale, where McQueen has often shown his video work before. The one-take scene of Fassbender running, cocooned in his iPod world, along what must be either 32nd or 31st and up to Madison Square Garden, is one of the great New York movie shots of all time.

I worry sometimes that at film festivals we all go a little crazy. Shame plays well in places like this. We rave and it wins prizes… but then it goes out into the real world, and some people won't like its graphic, rough sex nor will they pity Brandon. The censors may object to a ferocious threesome scene which features shots only ever seen in porn movies. There's no way Shame is erotic or titillating, and that's down to McQueen's skill as a film-maker, but, as with Andrea Arnold, it's also part of a selfconscious decision to test film boundaries and commercial sensibilities. It's not a very British thing to do.

The wonderful Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which I reviewed here last week, is quintessentially British. Its action is all in words and gestures, barbs and code. Its outstanding cast added to the dominance of British acting talent at Venice, which included Kate Winslet in three films, Michael Fassbender in two and eye-catching turns from Andrea Riseborough, Tom Hardy, Keira Knightley and Gary Oldman.

Of course, there was much on offer from around the world, and I greatly enjoyed two unshowy, sentimental films. Hong Kong's Ann Hui directed A Simple Life, about a film producer (played against type by action star Andy Lau) and his love for his ailing family maid, played by veteran actress Deannie Ip (Lau's real-life godmother). It's a delicious performance which should win her best actress here. Italian film was best represented by Emanuele Crialese's Terraferma, about a tiny Mediterranean island where the fishermen's way of life is disappearing, their nets now being filled instead with fugitive immigrants from Africa.

These films' heartfelt humanity contrasted sharply with the arch arrogance of the only two films I hated: Yorgos Lanthimos's Alps, a bleak, posy little film about a group of performers who subsitute for dead people, and Abel Ferrara's 4:44 Last Day on Earth. How can some film-makers become so bloated and self-obsessed that while the world is ending, they really think all you will want to do is watch Willem Dafoe have sex?
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