Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LIVE! From the 68th Venice Film Festival! George Clooney & The Ides of March

George Clooney arrives at press conference - (AP photo-Joel Ryan)
(Venice, Italy) George Clooney said the title of his latest film, "Ides of March," a political thriller, was inspired by the conspiracy surrounding Julius Caesar. Although set during the Ohio Democratic primary in the not too distant future, it seems not much has changed since the time of Romans -- we continue to repeat the same mistakes, century after century after century.

Clooney not only directs "The Ides of March" -- the opening film of the festival -- he stars and co-wrote the screenplay with his long-time business partner, Grant Heslov, based on Beau Willimon's stage play, "Farragut North." Here are some early reviews:

Evan Rachel Wood & Marisa Tomei
David Gritten for The Telegraph: "A smart, confident kick start to what looks like being a notably strong Venice film festival, The Ides of March showcases George Clooney, its director, co/writer and joint lead actor, back in the politically committed mood that spawned Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck. 

A political thriller exploring themes of loyalty, ambition and the gap between public ideals and private fallibility, it engages the brain within the context of a solid entertainment." 

Xan Brooks for The Guardian: "This handsome, solid campaign thriller paints its primary colours in darkening shades of grey. ...The Ides of March is tense and involving, a decent choice for the festival's opening-night film. 

The entire cast was brilliant, and most of them are here in Venice: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paulo Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. The only one missing was Ryan Gosling, who plays a idealistic, loyal press secretary with a deep belief in Governor Mike Morris (played by Clooney). When his rose colored glasses are shattered, he, too, reveals a very dark side of himself. There was talk of Ryan Gosling becoming a major star, and after seeing his performance, I agree.

At the press conference, Clooney said that it is a very difficult time to govern these days. When asked if he would ever run for president, Clooney said he liked his current job. He said that Hollywood was Candy Land compared to Washington, D.C. and that difference between them was getting too blurry. He said there was a huge difference with respect to what each town was responsible for. People in Washington have serious jobs that affect the fate of the planet. Decisions are made that are life-changing for many people in the world. Compared to that, Hollywood is like a playground where they tell stories and the worst that can happen is they get badly reviewed.

The question that the Ides of March asks is: "Would you trade your soul for an outcome?" After having personally encountered far too many people who have done exactly that, I found the movie fascinating.Watching all the lies, manipulations, seductions, blackmails and cover-ups that go on... I am finally starting to understand how they can sleep. They have no souls! For example, Philip Seymour Hoffman's character gets royally screwed in the film. At the press conference he was asked how it felt to play a good guy who lost in the end. Hoffman said that his character was not a total good guy, but that "he abided by the rules of the game he was playing." He also said that his character did not lose in the end. He actually won because he got out -- it was a release and a relief. 

This year at the 68th Venice International Film Festival we have world premieres of every single film in the three official categories. Which means that here in Venice we get to see 65 films first, before the rest of the world does.Which also must mean that filmmakers trust Venice to present their work to the world in an enlightened, glittering way. After all, Venice was the very first film festival in the world!

In addition to the folks from Ides of March, here are a few people who arrived in Venice yesterday, August 30, 2011:

Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky, who is the President of the jury.
David Byrne
Todd Haynes
John Woo
Victor Kossakovsky

Here are some people who arrived today, August 31, 2011:

Harvey Weinstein
John C. Reilly
Kate Winslet
Monica Bellucci
Jonathan Demme

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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