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Venice film festival 2020 roundup – against all the odds, a triumph | Film

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In any normal year this might have seemed a pretty decent Venice. But in 2020, the fact that the Venice film festival happened at all seems nothing less than miraculous. Until the last minute, many wondered whether things would go ahead, but they did – and far more than just adequately. The idea of a major film festival happening live seemed almost unimaginable in the time of Covid-19, but while many festivals went strictly online, and Cannes was cancelled altogether, the Venice team managed to attract an audience to the Lido with a varied and impressive slate of films.

True, there were no A-list American movies at an event that has thrived on them of late, notably sparking an international controversy with last year’s winner, Joker. The big studio films weren’t here; neither were the Americans in general, for travel reasons. Asian visitors were also conspicuous by their scarcity. But overall, the absence of Hollywood made this year’s Mostra a film festival of the traditional sort: a taster menu of world cinema at its most diverse. And the best films were a pleasure to watch under well-organised, efficient conditions that made visitors feel safe and relaxed: masks worn in screenings and within the Casino compound, with only alternate seats in use. Press passes were reduced by a third, so that some usually crowded venues felt eerily desolate. But then, it was also easier than ever to get an espresso.

Things kicked off with the first Italian opener in years, at best a justifiable goodwill gesture for local viewers: The Ties, a clunky family melodrama that was mainly a showcase for some top Italian actors, including Laura Morante and Alba Rohrwacher. Things picked up considerably after that, although I didn’t care for most of the Italian fiction here, except for playwright Emma Dante’s adaptation of her own The Macaluso Sisters, an idiosyncratic, exuberant meditation on siblinghood, time and the idea of home.

Tilda Swinton and Pedro Almodovar at the Venice premiere of The Human Voice.



Tilda Swinton and Pedro Almodovar at the Venice premiere of The Human Voice. Photograph: Laurent Vu/Sipa/ Rex/ Shutterstock

Bizarrely, the festival’s absolute hot ticket was a half-hour short – Pedro Almodóvar’s The Human Voice, a free adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s play. A solo Tilda Swinton, as a woman on the phone to her neglectful lover, paces a typically lavish Almodóvar set, but this time it’s part of a deserted sound stage – a Brechtian touch with echoes of performance art. Cramming the intensity and meticulous execution of the director’s features into a mere 30 minutes, this was a sumptuous piece and, given how many recent Swinton performances have been oddball support roles, a rare, relishable opportunity to see her giving a full-blown lead, commandingly and with wry grace.

Overall, it was a terrific actors’ festival. In competition, Vanessa Kirby dazzled twice. Once was in Kornél Mundruczó’s Pieces of a Woman, a solemn, vaguely Cassavetes-ish melodrama in which she plays a woman coping with the aftermath of personal tragedy. Then she was in The World to Come, by Norwegian director Mona Fastvold, about a passionate romance between two married women in a 19th-century farming community. Set in a vividly inhospitable landscape, and driven by voiceover with a distinctive literary ring to it, it pairs Kirby with the equally excellent Katherine Waterston. It also had a superbly original woodwind-laden score by British composer Daniel Blumberg.

Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston in Mona Fastvold’s The World to Come.



Vanessa Kirby and Katherine Waterston in Mona Fastvold’s The World to Come. Photograph: Venice film festival

This beautifully executed work could well be the Golden Lion contender that wins over the jury, led by Cate Blanchett and including actor Matt Dillon and directors Joanna Hogg and Christian Petzold. Another likely candidate is The Disciple, an austere drama from Chaitanya Tamhane. It’s a raga saga – the story of a young Indian classical musician (Aditya Modak, superbly reserved) on a quest for artistic purity and perfection in a world dominated by razzle-dazzle TV talent shows. Contemplatively paced and intensely mature, it’s one of the Venice films I most want to see again. Another competition highlight was the veteran Andrei Konchalovsky’s Dear Comrades!, a steely, black-and-white account of the 1962 Novocherkassk massacre, in which KGB snipers opened fire on demonstrating factory workers. Some critics suspected a veiled pro-Putin statement somewhere in here; this seemed to me an overingenious reading of a passionate and very human drama, with a terrific lead from Julia Vysotskaya.

It was a bumper year for documentaries. The famously indefatigable Frederick Wiseman, now 90, gave us City Hall, a four-and-a-half-hour study of the administration of Boston, delving into every conceivable area (housing, road maintenance, animal welfare, celebrations for the Red Sox), and offering a powerful vision of civic values, with enlightened Democrat mayor Martin Walsh flying the flag for compassion and responsibility in the Trump era. Nathan Grossman’s I Am Greta was a low-key portrait of Greta Thunberg that affectingly got to the person behind the myth.

The devastating Final Account was the last work by the late UK documentarist Luke Holland, who set out to interview the last surviving Nazis, who recall their war; the result is dispassionate, rigorous and predictably chilling. And Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno (Nocturne) offered an impressionistic vision of the effects of war in several Middle Eastern countries. It’s imagistic, sometimes beautiful and commentary-free, because the pictures speak for themselves, nowhere as starkly as in the children’s drawings of Isis atrocities they have witnessed. It’s another definite Golden Lion contender.

Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno.



Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno. Photograph: Venice Film Festival

We also saw some some impressive mainstream offerings. Regina King’s theatrical but assured One Night in Miami evoked a 1964 meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay), sportsman and actor Jim Brown and soul star Sam Cooke, with four terrific performances (especially from Leslie Odom Jr as Cooke). Another early-60s story was Roger Michell’s briskly entertaining The Duke, with an affably superlative Jim Broadbent as an old-school English eccentric, a Durham man tried for stealing a Goya painting.

There was some tense genre-twisting in Roderick MacKay’s The Furnace, an adventure thriller about the Asian camel-drivers who came to Australia in the 19th century, a strong addition to the thriving cycle of outback westerns. And for sheer throwaway comic pleasure, there was Mandibules from French farceur Quentin Dupieux, the story of two idiots and a giant fly; insouciantly outré, it’s perhaps best described as Buñuel’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Frances McDormand in Nomadland.



Frances McDormand in Nomadland. Photograph: Searchlight Pictures

My bet for the Golden Lion? Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be the last film that played in competition – the superb Nomadland, by Chloé Zhao, the Chinese director behind 2017’s The Rider. This is another docudrama study of contemporary America, starring Frances McDormand as a woman who loses her Nevada home and joins the multitudes of US nomads searching for a livelihood, a new meaning to life and a new community on the road. David Strathairn co-stars, but the cast is mainly composed of non-professionals effectively playing themselves and bringing their own hard-earned experience to the screen. It’s visually beautiful and extremely tender, with McDormand quietly radiating humanity.

But in terms of sheer originality, toughness and political edge, I’m rooting for a Mexican film that felt like an incendiary device thrown into the selection and that, of all the fiction here, most urgently reflected the stresses and extremities of 2020. Michel Franco’s New Order begins with a society wedding among Mexico’s super-wealthy, plunged into chaos when a working-class revolution erupts. But once the authorities take charge, no one is spared, nor is it clear who the authorities actually are and who really has control.

Michel Franco’s explosive New Order.



Michel Franco’s explosive New Order. Photograph: Venice Film Festival

This is a hugely confrontational film and likely to be controversial: could it be read as an expression of middle-class paranoia or is it a declaration of the inevitability of social change (and not just in Mexico)? Either way, it offers a powerful tableau of a polarised country of haves and have-nots (those who do or don’t have power, rather than just money). It has the dystopian lucidity of JG Ballard and the icy rigour of Michael Haneke. One of the films of 2020, not just of Venice, it reminded us that the world is a frightening place, while this year’s festival made those who could attend very happy to be out and about in that world again.

Jonathan Romney’s picks from Venice

Best feature films New Order (Michel Franco); The World to Come (Mona Fastvold); The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane).

Best documentaries Notturno (Gianfranco Rosi); Final Account (Luke Holland); City Hall (Frederick Wiseman).

Best performances Julia Vysotskaya, Dear Comrades!; Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby, The World to Come; Tilda Swinton, The Human Voice; Jim Broadbent, The Duke.

Most full-on performance Andrew Garfield as a deranged YouTube star in Gia Coppola’s strident satire Mainstream. The film is dreadful, but full marks to its star for not just chewing the scenery, but swallowing it whole, regurgitating it and feeding it to the 5,000.

Best crack-up moment Greta Thunberg splitting her sides at a photo of her dad meeting the pope in the documentary I Am Greta.

Best deja vu moment for this critic Willem Dafoe in Abel Ferrara’s documentary Sportin’ Life, reading out my thumbs-down Observer review of Ferrara and Dafoe’s last collaboration, Siberia. Given that it was very negative, a sportin’ gesture indeed.


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The Wedding Planner Cast 20 Years Ago Vs. Now

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It’s officially been 20 years today since rom-com classic The Wedding Planner came out.

So in honor of the film’s anniversary, I have compiled a list of all the actors then and now!

1.

Jennifer Lopez as Mary


Columbia / courtesy Everett Collection, Emma McIntyre /AMA2020 / Getty Images for dcp

At age 51, J.Lo is still killing the game. In 2019, she generated Oscar buzz after an amazing performance in Hustlers, and in 2020, she performed with Shakira at the Super Bowl. Most recently, you probably saw her perform a flawless “This Land is Your Land/Let’s Get Loud” mashup at the Inauguration.

2.

Matthew McConaughey as Steve


Columbia / courtesy Everett Collection, Noam Galai / Getty Images for HISTORY

Since The Wedding Planner, McConaughey has appeared in numerous films, including Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won an Oscar. Currently, he’s working on reprising his role as Buster Moon in the Sing sequel.

3.

Bridgette Wilson-Sampras as Fran


Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Following a busy career in the ’90s, Wilson-Sampras stopped appearing in films altogether in 2008. However, it looks like she returned to performing to voice Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat 11!

4.

Judy Greer as Penny


Columbia Pictures, Araya Diaz / Getty Images

Greer, queen of the rom-com, has about a million projects in the works, including two more installments in the Halloween franchise. She’s also voiced characters on Family Guy and Archer for over a decade, and she recently acted in Jim Carrey’s series Kidding and the film Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

5.

Justin Chambers as Massimo


Columbia / courtesy Everett Collection, Leon Bennett / Getty Images

You probably know Chambers best from Grey’s Anatomy, on which he portrayed Alex Karev for 15 years — though last year, he decided to leave the show.

6.

Alex Rocco as Salvatore


Columbia / courtesy Everett Collection, Djamilla Rosa Cochran / WireImage

After a long, illustrious career in which Rocco appeared in The Godfather and shows such as Mad About You, The Simpsons, and Episodes, he passed away in 2015 at the age of 79.

7.

Joanna Gleason as Mrs. Donolly


Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Walter McBride / Getty Images

Gleason is a Tony Award winning actress and singer who most recently appeared in Sofa Shakespeare and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

8.

Charles Kimbrough as Mr. Donolly


Columbia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection, Desiree Navarro / WireImage

Perhaps best known for playing Jim Dial on Murphy Brown, Kimbrough reprised his role in the 2018 revival. He also voiced one of the gargoyles (Victor) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

9.

Kathy Najimy as Geri


Columbia / courtesy Everett Collection, John Lamparski / Getty Images

Possibly most loved for playing Mary Sanderson in Hocus Pocus, Najimy is set to appear in the sequel. She’s also appeared in a ton of TV series and films in the last few years, including Veep and Dumplin’.

10.

Frances Bay as Dottie


Columbia Pictures / ©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Ever, Mitch Haddad/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Before Bay died in 2011, she appeared in so many classics, including The Karate Kid, Happy Gilmore, and Inspector Gadget. Prior to her death, she was playing Ginny Freehold on The Middle.

11.

Kevin Pollak as Dr. John Dojny


Steve Granitz / WireImage via Getty Images

Pollak has had recent recurring roles on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mom, and Billions. Back in the day, he appeared in famous films such as The Whole Nine Yards, The Usual Suspects, and A Few Good Men.

12.

Fred Willard as Basil St. Mosely


Columbia Pictures, Richard Cartwright / ABC via Getty Images

Willard was a comedy staple for decades, appearing in films such as This Is Spinal Tap, Anchorman, and Best In Show. Before his death last May, he had a recurring role on Modern Family (above) and Space Force.

13.

And finally, Lou Myers as Burt


Luke Hartley/Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Myers passed away in 2013 at the age of 76. His last role (pictured above) was in Dreams, following a role in It’s Kind of A Funny Story, but you might remember him as Vernon Gaines from A Different World.

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Which Killing Eve Character Are You Vacation Quiz

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Villanelle’s outfits >>>>> everything else

Pick your first country to visit

Pick your next country

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Age Gaps Of Teen Actors And Their Love Interest Actor

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We recently asked the members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what age gap between a teen actor and the actor who played their love interest surprised them. Here are some of their eye-opening responses:

1.

Hilary Duff was 15 when she filmed A Cinderella Story with Chad Michael Murray, who was 22.

2.

In High School Musical, Corbin Bleu (Chad) was 16 during the filming of the first movie, but Monique Coleman (Taylor) was 25.

3.

Shay Mitchell was 22 and Sasha Pieterse was 14 when they started filming Pretty Little Liars.

4.

Sasha Pieterse was also 14 when her character had a fling with 26-year-old Ryan Merriman on Pretty Little Liars.

5.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Devi) was 17 while filming Never Have I Ever, and Darren Barnet (Paxton) was 28.

6.

In Shameless, Cameron Monaghan was 17 when he was cast as Ian, and Noel Fisher was 26 when he was cast as Mickey.

7.

Also in Shameless, even though there was supposed to be an age gap between the characters, Cameron Monaghan was only 17 when his onscreen love interest, Pej Vahdat, was nearly 30.

8.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley are six years apart and played love interests in If I Stay. She was 16 and he was 22.

9.

Keira Knightley was 18 when Love Actually was filmed and she had two much older men in love with her.

10.

Keira Knightley was 17 and Orlando Bloom was 25 when filming Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.


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“That one surprised me because I thought they were the same age until recently!”

rachelc43

11.

Jared Leto and Claire Danes were on My So-Called Life. He is eight years older and would have been around 22 when the show was on, while she was around 15.

12.

Emmy Rossum was only 17 in Phantom of the Opera, while Gerard Butler was 33 and Patrick Wilson was 30.


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“I love that movie, but when I learned that, I was grossed out.”

Th3FatPanth3r

13.

Madison Reyes from Julie and the Phantoms is only 16, while Charles Gillespie is 22.

14.

In Starstruck, Danielle Campbell was around 15 years old and Sterling Knight was around 20 years old.

15.

Melissa Gilbert was 15 and Dean Butler was 23 in Little House on the Prairie when the show first introduced his character Almanzo.


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“I know the real Laura and Almanzo had a big age gap, but if there was ever a time to take liberties with the facts, that was it!”

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16.

And in Everything Sucks, Sydney Sweeney was nearly 20 and she made out with Peyton Kennedy, who was 13.

What’s an age gap that surprised you between a teen actor and the actor playing their love interest? Let us know in the comments!

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