Star-studded world premieres shine at Venice Film Festival

7 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

7 highlights from the Venice Film Festival: From Johnny Depp’s elf outfit to a dancing Ralph Fiennes.

From left : actor Matthias Schoenaerts, actress Dakota Johnson, director Luca Guadagnino, actress Tilda Swinton and actor Ralph Fiennes pose during the photocall of the movie “A Bigger Splash” presented in competition at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 2015 at Venice Lido. This film has nothing specifically to do with David Hockney, aside from the presence of swimming pools glinting in full-beam sunlight and regular eruptions of water spray as divers plunge in.

Picture: AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE Venice — Tilda Swinton was eager to star in director Luca Guadgagni’s latest film, the Italian island tragicomedy “A Bigger Splash.” There was just one small condition: She wouldn’t speak. “It was a moment in my life when I really didn’t want to say anything,” the enigmatic British actress told reporters Sunday at the Venice Film Festival. “Even less than I do now.” Guadgagni agreed, so in “A Bigger Splash,” an almost-silent Swinton plays Marianne Lane, a Bowie-esque rock star ordered to rest her voice after surgery. In fact, this is a remake/update of La Piscine, Jacques Deray’s hothouse psychosexual drama from 1969, featuring Alain Delon and his former girlfriend Romy Schneider, as well as Jane Birkin and Maurice Ronet. Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of the 1969 French film “La Piscine” (“The Swimming Pool”) about a vicious love triangle set on the Cote d’Azur, transfers the action to the Italian Mediterranean island of Pantelleria. Arriving at a premiere screening of her latest film Equals, the Twilight actress sparkled in a grey lace and satin Chanel couture dress and super-high silver stilettos – though she kicked them off later to go barefoot. She and her partner (Schoenaerts), have their holiday on an idyllic, sun-drenched island spoiled by the unexpected visit of the character played by Fiennes’ and his daughter (Johnson).

It is directed by Italian film-maker Luca Guadagnino, best known perhaps for I Am Love, continuing his unlikely collaboration with Tilda Swinton (who takes the Schneider role, opposite Belgian hunk-of-the-month Matthias Schoenaerts), and together they have concocted a film that is both deeply strange and undeniably funny. He flies unannounced into Pantelleria with his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) and barges in on his rock-star ex-girlfriend Marianne (Swinton) and her filmmaker lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts).

During the photo call for his latest movie, Black Mass, Johnny looked distinctly like Will Ferrell’s character Buddy, the star of Christmas comedy film Elf. Fiennes has a scene in the new film here he dances wildly to the Rolling Stones’ hit Emotional Rescue and told journalists that he spent days practising by dancing on a roof with his iPod. British actor Eddie Redmayne hit the red carpet in the company of his co-stars in the ‘The Danish Girl’ Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard and, in another top role, Matthias Schoenaerts. The latter comes mostly by way of Ralph Fiennes, who plays a motormouth producer-promoter type called Harry who shows up unexpectedly in Swinton/Schoenaerts’ sun-washed Sicilian-island idyll. Cast here as a motor mouth, know-it-all extrovert, Fiennes is called upon to do a scene where he dances around a pool, solo and without speaking a word. “I received this fantastic screenplay…and about 20 minutes into the film it’s written that he (Harry) gets up and dances and expresses himself completely through dancing,” Fiennes told a news conference.

Harry is the former partner of Swinton’s David Bowie-ish silver-jumpsuited rock star, named Marianne Lane: Harry, an apparently amiable figure who’s always chuntering on about which is the best Rolling Stones album or how to find the tastiest ricotta, clearly has a hidden agenda to drive a wedge between Marianne and Schoenaerts’ sensitive film-maker Paul. Redmayne, who won the Best Actor trophy at this year’s Academy Awards for his role as scientist Stephen Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything’, is already generating Oscar buzz for his performance. The Hollywood Reporter said it benefits from a “cool and desirable cast” but “feels empty and intellectualized at the core, where it should feel powerfully emotional”. “Sustaining such obnoxiousness is a harder feat to pull off than one might imagine, and though this isn’t a typical awards-seeking performance from Fiennes, it certainly ranks among the actor’s best,” Variety said. The 10 directors you want to work with — and that didn’t fare well for me. “I do much better with loving, familial environments where you feel like you can fail and the dude will get you on the other side. Harry, in his blundering way, is always looking for opportunities to prise Marianne away from the group, leaving the brooding Paul and the cut-offs-wearing Penelope alone together.

Pantelleria, southwest of Sicily, is only 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Tunisia, and boats of migrants fleeing war and poverty often land on its shores. In a post-apocalyptic world where emotion is considered a disease, Stewart and Hoult play colleagues Nia and Silas who work on enormous computer screens in a sterile, almost blindingly white world that feels like a sanitised Silicon Valley campus.

There’s an exquisite embellishment to Marianne: having recently had an operation on her vocal cords, Björk-style, she is banned from speaking, and can only produce a hoarse whisper. They are seen peripherally in the film, and some viewers disliked the juxtaposition of the migrant crisis with the domestic dramas of well-heeled Westerners. Not only does this become an early bone of contention in the power struggle between Harry and Paul, it also gives Swinton an extended opportunity to indulge in the graceful, expressive gesturing of the silent-movie actor, or, perhaps more appropriately, contemporary dance. Swinton also generates weapons-grade chemistry with Schoenaerts – which has the slightly unfortunate effect of thoroughly eclipsing the impact of any relationship pack-shuffling that may ensue. Guadgagni said he felt it was important to have the characters’ desires “clash with reality.” And he didn’t mind if the film makes some viewers uncomfortable. “If we don’t make films to take risks, and if we don’t make movies to try and explore new territory, or territory that might be insidious, why make films at all?” he said.

But as strong as their performances are, they are practically burned to a crisp by Fiennes who, since The Grand Budapest Hotel, appears to have located within himself an unrepressable source of manic comedy. Fiennes cuts an extraordinary figure, bearded and largely shirtless (and occasionally trouserless too), almost unrecognisable from the furrowed-brow introvert we have got used to over the years. Eddie looked casual in a shirt and jumper and sunglasses, but we’ll soon see him transformed on screen into the first known recipient of gender reassignment surgery, Lili Elbe. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

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