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VENICE, ANYONE? CLOONEY, PALTROW, STRATHAIRN AND DUNST ALL SAID YES!

And audiences and jury members applauded their performances at the 2005 Venice Film Festival, which ended on September 10. They particularly liked David Strathairn, who won the Best Actor award for his turn as Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night, and Good Luck.," a movie for which George Clooney and Grant Heslov collected a Best Screenplay award. The Golden Lion prize for Best Picture went to Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain"; France's Philippe Garrel won the Silver Lion for his direction of "Regular Lovers"; and Italy's Giovanna Mezzogiorno was named Best Actress for her performance in "The Beast in the Heart." Other films shown at Venice are described below; for more information, click here and visit the official festival site.


GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, Ray Wise, Robert John Burke, Tate Donovan, Matt Ross, Alex Borstein, David Christian, Thomas McCarthy, Glenn Morshower, Matt Ross, Reed Diamond, Simon Helberg, Grant Heslov (Directed by George Clooney; written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov; Warner Bros.) In the mid-1950’s, Senator JOSEPH McCARTHY, a prime force behind the scary anti-red hearings and witch hunts, saw more subversives around more corners than did John Ashcroft in recent times. His long lists of Communist spies allegedly working in the government turned out to be lists of lies, but his tyrannical bullying destroyed many lives and careers before he was finally undone. One of the people responsible for his slide into shame was courageous, probing CBS News anchor Edward R. Murrow, played here by David Strathairn. Another was Fred Friendly, Murrow’s producer, who is portrayed by star/director Clooney, his first time to play both sides of the camera since his debut with “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” in 2002. "Good Night" will also open the New York Film Festival on 9/23. To read about many more new biopics, click here. Opens 10/7

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Michelle Williams, Scott Michael Campbell, Anna Faris (Directed by Ang Lee; Written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana; Focus Features) In the early sixties, a closeted ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy have a hot affair in the wilds of Wyoming, and things don’t quite cool down for the next 20 years. Jake and Heath undoubtedly make a striking couple and the movie, based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx, promises to be one of the more provocative year-end offerings. To read Diane Baroni's 2001 interview with Jake Gyllenhaal, click here. Opens 12/9

PROOF: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hope Davis (Directed by John Madden; Miramax) A young woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) whose relationship with her father (Anthony Hopkins) has always been complicated must come to grips with the fact that this brilliant, mentally unstable mathematics professor will soon die. She must also face the fact that she has inherited some of her father's disturbing psychological traits. The film, adapted by Rebecca Miller and David Auburn from Auburn's hit play, re-teams Paltrow with John Madden, her "Shakespeare in Love" director. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a former student of Hopkins whose decision to bed Paltrow may have little to do with lust, and Hope Davis (above) is Paltrow's comforting sister. For the Variety review of "Proof," click here; to read Diane Baroni's 2001 interview with Jake Gyllenhaal, click here. Opens 9/16

ELIZABETHTOWN: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Judy Greer, Jessica Biel, Bruce McGill, Jed Rees, Emily Rutherfurd (Written and directed by Cameron Crowe; Paramount) An aspiring industrial designer whose first project turns out to be a major dud decides to commit suicide, but his plan must be postponed due to the sudden demise of his father. Does that sound amusing to you? If so, you’re in sync with Cameron Crowe, the writer-director whose chief claim to fame thus far is the almost superb comedy-drama “Almost Famous.” Orlando Bloom, back from his “Kingdom of Heaven” crusades, replaces Ashton Kutcher, whose rehearsals with leading lady Kirsten Dunst reportedly did not go well. Dunst plays a flight attendant who cheers Bloom up on his way to dad’s funeral, and Susan Sarandon is cast as Dunst’s mom, a role rejected by Jane Fonda. To read Guy Flatley’s 1978 interview with Susan Sarandon, click here. Opens 10/14

ROMANCE & CIGARETTES: James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Bobby Cannavale, Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro, Barbara Sukowa, Elaine Stritch, Eddie Izzard, Amy Sedaris (Written and directed by John Turturro; MGM/UA) Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) is a shrewd, cocky, blue-collar kind of guy from Queens who knows his way around all the boroughs of his home town. He also knows his way around a brazen British redhead named Tula (Kate Winslet, shown above), a secret his wife Kitty (Susan Sarandon) discovers when she reads a racy poem he has written to the lusty lady. That’s when the fireworks--and a whole lot of singing and dancing that would have shocked the socks off Sinatra, Garland and Kelly--begin in this strictly 21st-century musical comedy. For the Variety review of "Romance & Cigarettes," click here; to read Guy Flatley's 1978 interview with Susan Sarandon, click here; for Guy's 1980 interview with Christopher Walken, click here.

CASANOVA: Heath Ledger, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Lena Olin, Oliver Platt, Lauren Cohan, Charlie Cox, Christopher Egan, Tommy Korberg (Directed by Lasse Hallstrom; Written by Michael Cristofer, Jeffrey Hatcher, Kimberly Simi and Tom Stoppard; Disney/Touchstone Pictures) Are you under the impression that Casanova was an insatiable make-out artist from start to finish, from fresh, horny youth to dreary, dirty old man? You may change your mind when you see this revisionist biopic. It’s said to portray the 18th-century Venetian adventurer, who boasted that he slept with 122 women, as a sensitive soul determined to unravel the true meaning of love because of the bewilderment he experienced when rejected by a babe he felt was a pushover. Whatever. For sure, Ledger (above, with Lauren Cohan) has his work cut out for him--perhaps more so than in "Brokeback Mountain," the festival entry in which the love of his life is a lone cowboy. To read about many more new biopics, click here. Opens 12/25