Venice Film Festival to Honor Jane Fonda and Robert Redford


The festival will screen the Netflix original film ‘Our Souls at Night.’

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford will be honored with Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement at the 74th Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 1 at the Palazzo del Cinema.

After the awards ceremony, the festival will screen the world premiere of Netflix film Our Souls at Night by Ritesh Batra, starring Fonda and Redford and produced by Redford and his company Wildwood Enterprises, organizers said Monday.

Our Souls at Night is a Colorado-set film about two neighbors who meet after decades of living in the same small town with very little contact.

Actress and producer Fonda also has an honorary Palme d’Dr, as well as two Academy Awards (for best actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home), three Golden Globes and an AFI Life Achievement Award.

Noted environmentalist, actor, director and producer Redford, in addition to founding the Sundance Institute, has won a Directors Guild of America Award, a Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for best director for his feature film directorial debut Ordinary People. He has also won six Golden Globes and in 2012 won the Venice Film Festival’s Open Prize and Vittorio Veneto Award for The Company You Keep.

The 74th Venice International Film Festival takes place Aug. 30-Sept. 9. 



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'Grace and Frankie' Boss on Older Women as "Sexual Beings" and Those Vibrator Billboards (Guest Column)


Marta Kauffman opens up about her mission to give a platform to actresses in their 70s who are “tired of playing the grandmother.”

Let’s straighten out one thing. They’re vibrators, not dildos. A dildo mimics a penis, and a vibrator shakes you up.

When we started doing Grace and Frankie, one thing we wanted to deal with was sexuality in your 70s. Once you get past a certain point, for women in particular, people dismiss you as a sexual being. The idea that these characters would start to sell vibrators targeted to older women in season three perfectly fit into our desire to tell people that you can start your life at any age. The idea to put Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on billboards with the vibrators — that came from the annual meeting we have with Netflix and Skydance. We all glommed on to it because, well, it was freaking funny.

If there was a negative reaction, I never heard a peep. Even my 80-something aunts thought it was hilarious. I do know that in certain markets, certainly not Los Angeles, they removed the vibrators from the photo. But this is a show that talks about dry vaginas. This is a show that had a line in season three about losing your pubic hair. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m fairly certain these aren’t topics of conversation on other programs. We want to tackle aging from every angle.

I’m the oldest person in the writers room — one that ranges from 30 up to 60 — and we’ve all done reams of research about older people and the realities that they face today. I’m not as old as Grace or Frankie, but I’m experiencing much of what they experience — maybe not to the same extreme, but I’m feeling it. There are certain things that at my age I already can identify with. I feel what these characters feel about being dismissed. After you get to a certain age, you’re not someone that people look at anymore. Women sort of disappear, especially around younger men.

So all of us on the writing team spoke with a lot of older women at the start, and we spent a lot of time talking to Jane and Lily about their own experiences with aging. Some of what we’ve written is definitely anecdotal — friends of friends, cousins, aunts who send emails — but we don’t seek that out as much as we seek out the research: We did a bunch on the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in retirement communities, for example. Man, they are going at it. Viagra and Cialis changed sex for people over a certain age. And they’re not using condoms because no one’s getting pregnant.

It’s not all funny. The writers talk a lot about their own aging parents. People have strokes. People break their hips. They fall down, and they can’t get up. That’s the reality of aging. And it felt like to avoid the more difficult stuff would be a real shame. What I’m finding from the younger women who tell us they watch the show is that they’re learning what it’s going to be like. No one told me what it would be like to age. There have been moments: Nora Ephron’s book I Feel Bad About My Neck and, of course, The Golden Girls. But that was a different take — there hasn’t been a lot about aging on TV.

People might think that for some actors, there’s always work. But I know that Jane and Lily and Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are so happy to have a regular job — something that they come to every day. I’m not sure they felt that was something that was necessarily going to happen for them again, as opposed to a movie here or a movie there. Lily and Jane are the busiest women I know in Hollywood, but Jane left the business for 15 years. She didn’t know what she was going to be coming back to. Once we got the show going, that’s when this responsibility to give an authentic look at aging became weightier. We hire many older actors, all of whom I think are tired of playing the grandmother or the grandfather. They get to come in and get to be funny. They get to be the love interest.

My daughter sent me an article the other day that said doctors are beginning to prescribe vibrators for the health of older women’s vaginas. All of the things we said in the show, doctors say it’s good for you.

This story first appeared in the May 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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Netflix's 'Grace and Frankie' Vibrator Billboard Has L.A. Drivers Doing Double Takes


Netflix is promoting season three of the Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda comedy with the tagline “Good Vibes.”

A billboard in Hollywood for Netflix scripted comedy Grace and Frankie has drivers slowing down to gawk.

On the giant advertisement, located on Vine Street just south of Santa Monica Boulevard, the show’s title characters, played respectively by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, are holding large purple vibrators.

What’s more, the ad for the third season of the comedy series from Friends creator Marta Kauffman comes with the tagline “Good Vibes.” 

It may seem outlandish to some, but then again they likely did not see the season three teaser, which dropped in February, and showed nothing but vibrators forming the March 23, the new season release date (watch below). 

The comedy, a critical favorite, revolves around the two friends whose respective husbands leave them for one another. Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, Brooklyn Decker and Ethan Embry co-star. 

The marketing stunt is not uncommon given the crowded scripted marketplace that currently boasts more than 450 originals. That makes it increasingly challenging to cut through the clutter and gain attention — a harder feat for a show in its third season when many networks and streamers have a reduced marketing budget.

More recently, CBS used a suggestive sexual pun to promote legal drama Bull. Amazon also found itself in a heap of trouble and had to pull ads featuring Nazi imagery for drama Man in the High Castle. FX also had to yank disturbing billboards featuring an eyeball worm for drama The Strain.   



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Jane Fonda Reveals She Was Raped, Abused as a Child: "I Always Thought It Was My Fault"


“I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss,” she said in an interview with Brie Larson.

Actress and activist Jane Fonda recently revealed she was abused as a child in an interview with Brie Larson for Net-a-Porter’s The Edit.

“I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing,” said Fonda, 79, to Larson, who has been an advocate for victim abuse.

Fonda, a self-proclaimed feminist and activist for years, explained that she often felt “diminished” with the men in her life, saying they were “wonderful but victims of a patriarchal belief system.” She said such a system takes a toll on females and that she’s happy that activism feels more “loving” now that it’s “women-led.”

“One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realize that [rape and abuse is] not our fault,” added the star of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie. “We were violated and it’s not right.”

Fonda revealed in 2014 that her mother, Frances Ford Seymour, was sexually abused as a child before committing suicide at age 42 (when Fonda was 12). At an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Rape Treatment Center, Fonda shared that while writing her memoirs, she found information through her mother’s medical records indicating that Seymour was abused at 8 years old.

“The minute that I read that, everything fell into place,” Fonda during her speech at the event. “I knew why the promiscuity, the endless plastic surgery, the guilt, the inability to love or be intimate, and I was able to forgive her and forgive myself.”

Fonda and Larson also touched upon the power of saying “no” in their careers. Larson said the word is the only power she has when it comes to choosing which roles are right for her. Fonda, however, said she wished she would have started saying no earlier in her career.

“Unlike you, Brie, it took me 60 years to learn how to say no,” said the Oscar-winning actress. “If anyone offered me anything I would say yes. I took parts I wasn’t right for and I was taken advantage of. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Now, I would say, ‘No. This is a piece of shit. I don’t like the way you’re treating me,’ And leave.”

Fonda also talked Planned Parenthood funding, the “terrifying” challenges of young actresses portraying female sexuality onscreen and the importance of stars getting political in their speeches.

“Everyone has the right to speak up; it doesn’t matter what you do,” she said. “Whenever there’s been an important revolution or social upheaval, artists, actors, writers and poets are always the people that can reach into areas that politics can’t.”



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Hollywood Flashback: The 1972 Photo That Turned Jane Fonda Into "Hanoi Jane"


“The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda’s daughter, sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal, the largest lapse of judgment I can imagine,” she said in 2005 of her controversial trip to Vietnam.

Almost 45 years after she climbed into the seat of a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun vehicle and smiled for photographers, Jane Fonda, now 79, still finds herself targeted by U.S. military veterans.

The actress and activist, who took to the L.A. streets for the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump’s policies, already was one of Hollywood’s most outspoken opponents of the Vietnam War when, at 34, she made a two-week trip to Hanoi in July 1972. By then, more than 60,000 U.S. soldiers had lost their lives in the conflict; Vietnamese casualties were close to 1 million.

In 2011, Fonda wrote on her website that the photo op — which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane” and incensed millions of Americans — came about after Vietnamese soldiers serenaded her with a Communist folk song. “I heard these words: ‘All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, liberty and happiness,’ ” she recalled. Then someone led her to a weapon that had shot down countless American aircraft, and flashbulbs went off. “It is possible it was a setup. I will never know.”

Fonda told 60 Minutes in 2005 that the trip, where she met with peasants, artists and intellectuals, was worthwhile — but the photo was a mistake. “The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda’s daughter, sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal,” she said, “the largest lapse of judgment I can imagine.”

This story first appeared in a February standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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Debbie Reynolds' Charitable Work Earned Her the Academy's Hersholt Award


Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda paid tribute to Reynolds at the 74th annual Governors Awards.

During the course of her career, Debbie Reynolds never won an Oscar. In fact, she was nominated just once — as best actress for the 1964 musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors decided to remedy that in 2015 when it voted to award her its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, presented at the 74th Governors Awards. The Hersholt is awarded to an individual “whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry,” and the Academy cited Reynolds’ role as a founding member of The Thalians, the charitable organization founded by entertainers in 1955 to promote the awareness and treatment of mental health issues. Reynolds served as the group’s president almost continuously from 1957 to 2011 as the Thalians raised millions it contributed to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA’s Operation Mend, which assisted military veterans.

Because of poor health, Reynolds could not attend the ceremony, and so her award was accepted on her behalf by her granddaughter Billie Lourd.

But first, Hollywood praised Reynolds for bother her career and her philanthropic efforts.

Zooey Deschanel kicked off the evening’s series of tributes by singing the song “Tammy,” which became a popular hit in 1957 when it was introduced in Reynolds’ film Tammy and the Bachelor.

Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep then testified to Reynolds’ charitable work. Said Fonda, “The award we are giving Debbie tonight, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, is presented not for her body of work as a performer, although we all recognize and cherish Debbie as the vibrant movie star who brought so much life and energy to her classic film roles, but for the outstanding work she has done outside her day job to improve our city, our country and the world. Debbie’ philanthropy is both wide and deep.”

Reynolds was so devoted to the issue of mental health, Fonda joked, that “she persuaded her daughter Carrie to pretend that she suffered from mental illness.”

Carrie Fisher herself appeared in a video account of her mother’s career and causes, saying, “I have no idea how she did all the things she did.”

Streep went on to praise Reynolds’ “passion to preserve the iconic costumes that we associate with Hollywood’s golden age.”

Reynolds did provide a audio acceptance, played for the crowd,  in which she said, “I’m thrilled beyond words, shocked, and you couldn’t be more amazed that a little girl from Burbank even came near this sort of accolade.”

And Lourd, when she finally came to the podium to accept the award, concluded, “It honestly feels super-weird to be up here without her. I’ve never seen her miss a show in her life” — words that now, in retrospect, almost play like a fitting epitaph for the indefatigable performer.

Watch the videos below. 



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First Look: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda Reunite in Netflix Drama 'Our Souls at Night'


The two legendary actors first appeared on film together 50 years ago and haven’t shared the screen since 1979.

For the first time in 37 years, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda will share the screen. Reunited for the fourth time onscreen, Redford and Fonda will once again come together for Netflix’s 2017 drama Our Souls at Night

Redford and Fonda, who first appeared together on film 50 years ago in 1966’s Marlon Brando-led thriller The Chase, play widowed neighbors in Our Souls at Night, as shown in the first-look image released by Netflix below. In the movie based on Kent Haruf’s 2015 novel of the same name, Addie Moore (Fonda) pays an unexpected visit to Louis Waters (Redford) and though they they’d been neighbors for decades, they had little contact. Now all alone in their big houses with their children living far away, Addie seeks to establish a connection and make the most of the rest of the time they have. 

Rounding out the cast are Bruce Dern — another former onscreen beau of Fonda’s in 1978’s Coming Home and the Tom Buchanan to Redford’s Gatsby in 1974’s The Great Gatsby — Judy Greer, Matthias Schoenaerts and Iain Armitage. The film is directed by Ritesh Batra.

Fonda and Redford played a married couple separated by Redford’s character’s imprisonment in The Chase and followed that up a year later to play newlyweds in the 1967 romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park. The pair also starred opposite each other in 1979’s The Electric Horseman.



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'Hypernormalisation': Film Review


British documentary maker Adam Curtis weaves an epic real-life sci-fi conspiracy thriller involving Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Jane Fonda, global terrorism and “post-truth” politics.

Imagine, just for one terrifying moment, that Donald Trump is a political genius. What if his incoherent messages, brazen lies and provocative outbursts are all part of a deliberate strategy to confound his enemies and energize his supporters? This is the “post-truth” world that unorthodox British documentarian Adam Curtis attempts to explain in his latest timely, audacious, archive-driven essay film, Hypernormalisation. Trump is just one player in a multi-decade saga that also features Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Tony Blair, George Bush, Jane Fonda and Patti Smith.

As a BBC employee with access to the corporation’s extensive library of news and documentary footage, Curtis makes his films on a very modest budget. Editing and narrating them himself in his seductively smooth, patrician tones, he is very much a DIY auteur director. But his ambitiously grand ideas and his unique montage style, which makes extensive use of music and jarring juxtapositions, have earned him multiple awards and a global cult following. Last year, Oscar-winning film-maker Errol Morris tweeted “I want to be Adam Curtis when I grow up”.

At close to three hours long, Hypernormalisation feels like a greatest hits compilation of familiar Curtis themes – the decline of political power in a corporate age, the rise of global terrorism, America’s tortuous secret history in the Middle East, the hollow narcissism of cyberspace. As ever, his arguments are selective, subjective and powered by questionable leaps of logic. But this is also a dazzling and thought-provoking film that blurs the line between op-ed journalism and mesmerizing audio-visual art. It is currently available to view for free at the BBC website and other online sources. As with previous Curtis works, like The Power of Nightmares and Bitter Lake, it is also likely to screen at future film festivals.

Hypernormalisation is titled after a term coined by the Russian-born Berkeley professor Anton Yurchak to describe the dying years of the Soviet Union, when both government and people agreed to jointly pretend that the rotten old Communist system was functioning normally. The film’s core thesis is that, somewhere around the mid 1970s, politicians began to realize the “paralyzing complexity” of modern society was too confusing and alarming for most citizens to grasp. In response they “constructed a simpler version of the world in order to hang onto power”, spreading propaganda narratives that would eventually come back and explode in their faces.

This thesis unfolds along on two key interwoven timelines, one in America and the other in the Middle East. In 1970s New York, catastrophic bankruptcy led to a stealth transfer of power to the banks, allowing real estate developers like Trump to begin the city’s transformation from grungy low-rent art colony to super-rich ghetto. In Syria, meanwhile, Henry Kissinger’s purposely deceptive policy of “constructive ambiguity” drove the Syrian dictator Hafaz al-Assad – father of the current president Bashar – to abandon his Utopian plans for a unified pan-Arab movement, turning instead to state terrorism. By pioneering the use of suicide bombers to drive Americans from the Middle East, Curtis suggests, Assad unwittingly seeded the rise of jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Blithely defying official accounts, Curtis blames Syria and its allies in the region for numerous atrocities against western targets, including the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. But he argues that US and UK leaders found it easier to demonize toothless marginal figures like Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi, who relished his new role as global supervillain, than to deal with the much more intractable real threat of Syria.

Meanwhile, in America, the defeated revolutionary dreams of the counterculture retreated into more individualistic trends like the Jane Fonda-led fitness boom and the emergent internet, whose ego-stroking algorithms began to seal people up in a comforting, unchallenging, narcissistic echo chamber. Cyberspace, in Curtis’ apocalyptic verdict, offers a mass hallucination of democratic empowerment whose sole purpose is to enrich vast Silicon Valley corporations.

In the 21st century, Hypernormalisation concludes, we are paying a steep price for all this smug self-delusion and toothless political theater. The cyber activists behind the Occupy movement and Arab Spring uprisings soon found themselves out of their depth in the dark, messy, bloody arena of real-world revolution. Western politicians have become ensnared by their own simplistic fantasies, leaving a power vacuum for would-be demagogues like Putin and Trump to fill with their cynically warped versions of reality.

Of course, it remains highly debatable how much of this counter-historical narrative is demonstrably true, and how much is pure conspiratorial smoke and mirrors. Curtis is rather too fond of using grand unifying theories to explain the military-industrial complexity of modern life, backing up his claims with superficial symmetries and glib generalizations, while sidestepping much of the dense socio-economic analysis required by serious journalism. If humanity truly is trapped inside a dreamworld of simplistic delusions and “post-truth” propaganda, Curtis himself may well be part of the problem rather than the solution. He covers a lot of ground, but the map is definitely not the territory.

These are not fatal flaws if we accept Curtis as primarily a film-based artist rather than a rigorously objective documentarian. He personally rejects the artist label, but a key selling point of Hypernormalisation is its hypnotic, loopy, immersive audio-visual style. Curtis edits to a dreamlike rhythm, using long passages of trippy ambient music and ironically cheery vintage pop hits to accompany sense-jarring footage of terrorist bombs or politicians caught in unguarded pre-interview mode, images which serve as recurring motifs in his films. His use of movie clips including Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Brian de Palma’s Carrie and Michael Bay’s The Rock to underscore his points is also a witty touch.

A rich gumbo of occult conspiracy theory, dystopian science-fiction thriller and Noam Chomsky-style Marxist critique, Hypernormalisation is highly compelling even when its arguments are not wholly convincing. Curtis also has a knack for unearthing juicy WTF sub-plots which deserve their own documentaries, such as the US military’s alleged fabrication of UFO sightings to disguise new stealth aircraft tests, or the transformation of shadowy Kremlin insider Vladislav Surkov from avant-garde theater director to “Putin’s Rasputin”. This fascinating assemblage of half-explored ideas should inspire curious viewers to conduct further research of their own, which is an entirely healthy and positive response.

A singular figure in modern film-making, Adam Curtis would not enjoy being likened to Donald Trump, but there are some crucial parallels. He may be maddening, arrogant and highly subjective, but he is never boring.

Production company: BBC

Director, screenwriter, editor: Adam Curtis

Producer: Sandra Gorel

Executive producer: Victoria Jaye

Music supervisor: Gavin Miller

Not rated, 166 minutes


 



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