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Date TimeSeptember 07, 2019
VoiceThe usual social media controversies may have overshadowed the actual buzz, but this year’s programme still held many surprisesEuropean politics isn’t predictable, so why should the film festival circuit be? This time last year, Venice pulled out a corker of a programme – Roma, The Favourite, Sunset, a posthumous Orson Welles feature – and we all said that Cannes would have to raise its game accordingly. Well, this year Cannes did raise its game, while Venice discreetly returned to being solid but less than indispensable. The 76th festival had its gems, but was short on real excitement – although, as befits our age, the real buzz came less from the films than from the social media that amassed around them.
Venice film festival 2019 roundup: shocks, horrors and dark jokers
Arguably the biggest controversy this year, providing ripples that extended beyond the Lido, came from a mainstream Hollywood production, but an unusually dark one – Todd Phillips’s Joker, a sombre, arguably nihilistic spin on the Batman villain. It was a tour de force for Joaquin Phoenix, and a flamboyantly knowing tip of the hat to certain Martin Scorsese movies. The film itself was all but eclipsed by the Twitter storm it provoked – was it really a message of empowerment to incels and other embittered social outsiders? – but it is certainly one of the boldest Hollywood productions for some time.

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