Venice Film Festival

Do Film festival awards mean anything anymore? Some doubt it if the successful film is American and full of stars. That sort of movie will find its way with or without prizes at Berlin, Cannes and Venice, the three major competitive jamborees. But the non-English speaking nations would disagree. To win a major festival can make a director's reputation and send his or her film round the world.
How do you dramatise history on film without adding a large dollop of fiction to the mix? Many have tried and most have failed. But Pablo Larraín succeeds better than many with Jackie, the story of Jackie Kennedy, giving an interview to her ghost writer some time after the assassination of her husband Jack.
Not only is it extremely violent but the characters in it have more than a passing resemblance to people she knows, including herself. Totally different from A Single Man, the film bows to Blue Velvet as much as any other movie, with bloody fiction bleeding into uncomfortable reality.
You have to take the rough with the smooth at film festivals. Sometimes the films are so impenetrable that boos break out among those left by the end. Sometimes the applause lasts for a full two minutes and nobody leaves early.
No one expected Chazelle to make a musical. It is, though, pretty unorthodox stuff, bursting into song and dance when you least expect but mainly concentrating on two things. These are the drama itself between the two leads and a semi-satire of the musical conventions of the past. Does the mix work? Not entirely.
The biggest shock was to bestow the coveted Golden Lion for best film to From Afar, a Venezuelan debut by Lorenzo Vigas about a middle-aged gay man who gets involved with a potentially violent street kid. This was a brave and well-made movie but hardly the best in the competition.
At last a film at the Venice Festival that may well become a classic of its genre - Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson's Anomalisa. Stop motion animation was never this sophisticated, thanks to Kaufman's shrewd screenplay and Johnson's visual flair.
There may not be too many British Films around - most of them have gone to Toronto - but British actors seem to be two-a-penny. Not that Johnny Depp is British but playing his brother in the crime thriller Black Mass is none other than Benedict Cumberbatch.