Broadway outshines Hollywood on and off screen



VENICE, Ella Ide- The age-old rivalry between Broadway and Hollywood took central stage at this year's Venice film festival, which winds up on Saturday, with a host of theatre-based tales and stars denouncing a declining Silver Screen industry.
"Hollywood's gone in the wrong direction," master of screwball comedy Peter Bogdanovich said ahead of the premier of his delicious theatre-based comedy "She's Funny That Way", starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.



"They're making prequels and sequels and cartoons. The great days of Hollywood aren't with us anymore, we're in a period of decadence," he said.
This summer Hollywood faced its worst blockbuster season since 1997, with X-Men, Transformers and even Spiderman failing to hit the spot and summer sales hitting just $4.05 billion (3.08 billion euros), down 15 percent from the previous year, according to movie sales-tracker Rentrak.
Broadway revenue and attendance figures meanwhile were on the up -- with box offices reporting a record total gross of $1.27 billion, up 11 percent from the previous season.
It's a dynamic reflected in the repeated odes to Broadway in the Venice line-up and the red-carpet sentiment that Hollywood has lost its way.
- 'Awards for cartoons and porn' -
Among the most acclaimed turns at the 71st edition of the festival were performances from Al Pacino and Michael Keaton, both playing actors facing existential crises that haunt them in dressing room mirrors and spill over on to the Broadway stage, while Owen Wilson offered a gleeful appearance as a theatre director.
In Barry Levinson's "The Humbling", Pacino's character Simon Axler battles with his inner demons in a staging of Shakespeare's "As You Like It", while Keaton's character suffers a similar crisis of faith in Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Birdman", in which he struggles to step away from a blockbuster franchise by putting on a Broadway play.
Keaton may have Tim Burton's "Batman" to thank for his stellar rise in real life, but Inarritu has the spiteful New York Times critic in "Birdman" deride his character as representing a world in which "young spoilt children give each other awards for cartoons and porn."
Pacino, in Venice for both "The Humbling" and in-competition flick "Manglehorn", told journalists that "in the old days, the people who started Hollywood exchanged ideas.
"Now it's changed, they can't afford to do any of the movies we do anymore, the smaller movies. Billions have to be spent," said "The Godfather" star.
Unlike last year, when the festival opened with 3D space giant "Gravity", starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, this year there has been barely a nod to special effects.
Swedish director Roy Andersson pared his film "A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" down even further than most, presenting a series of sketches in which furniture is minimal and props limited to the odd briefcase.
Alongside its homage to theatre, the world's oldest festival also spotlighted the growing market for high-quality television mini-series, screening the premier of HBO's "Olive Kitteridge" starring Frances McDormand, a long-time collaborator with the Coen brothers.
The series' director Lisa Cholodenko said that while "there's an inherent restriction in big-buck cinema because it has to appeal to the biggest audience possible," television is living "a golden age, changing every minute."
"Every season there are more and more channels -- Sundance, Netflix, Amazon -- moving into production, it's kind of the Wild West. You can be as adventurous or subversive as you want to be," she said.
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Sunday, September 7th 2014
Ella Ide
           


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