Frances McDormand says she shines brightest at home

2014-09-03 03:00

Venice - Oscar-winner Frances McDormand said on Monday that she may be known as great actress and producer, but her true gifts are as an excellent housekeeper and a loving wife.

A regular star of Coen brothers' films, and married to Joel Coen, McDormand showed up at the Venice Film Festival to pick up a so-called Visionary Talent Award.

(US actress Frances McDormand arrives with her husband US director Joel Cohen to receive "Persol tribute to visionary talent award" during the 71st Venice Film Festival. AFP)

She also presented Olive Ketteridge, a TV mini-series screened out of competition, in which she holds a main role.

The 57-year-old, who won her Academy Award for playing a Minnesota police woman in Fargo, said she is happy to finally have a leading role after "an entire career of supporting male protagonists in film - a very good career, I must say."

Olive Ketteridge is a four-part adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, set in a small town in Maine. Richard Jenkins, another Coen brothers' regular who features in hit TV series Six Feet Under, co-stars.

"We are both character actors, we are not movie stars," McDormand said of Jenkins and herself. She suggested they had good on-screen chemistry because they are both involved in "long and successful marriages."

McDormand described her husband of 32 years as "one gorgeous, talented man," but ruled out following him into film making.

"One director in the family is enough," she said, adding that domestic duties were keeping her more than busy.

"I have relocated my family around the world, I found schools for my son, I am a social secretary for both my husband and my son, I have given dinner parties, redecorated houses, chosen door knobs, I'm really good at ironing," she quipped.

Speaking also as an executive producer for Olive Kettering - a pet project for which she had personally optioned film rights - she added: "All of these [housework] skills equate to producing a film really closely."

Star-studded cast

The TV series is the latest high-level project backed by the HBO channel. It is directed by Lisa Cholodenko, an Oscar nominee for 2010's The Kids are Alright, and its star-studded cast includes Bill Murray.

(US actress Frances McDormand poses after she receives "Persol tribute to visionary talent award" during the 71st Venice Film Festival. AFP)

Many critics have spoken of a "golden age of television," arguing that sophisticated US series in the mould of The Wire, House of Cards and Breaking Bad have become at least as good as Hollywood productions.

Cholodenko said moving from film to television was no step down, and argued that cable TV was "a kind of Wild West" where "you can be as adventurous, out of the box and subversive as you want to be."

Il Giovane Favoloso, a biopic of Italian 19th century poet Giacomo Leopardi directed by Mario Martone, also made its debut Monday, as a competitor for the festival's top award, the Golden Lion.

Applauded by critics, it was a weighty piece of work which, controversially, hinted at Leopardi's homosexuality. On screen, declamations of his romantic work were offset by a modern soundtrack by Berlin-based DJ Apparat.

Another highlight of the day was Near Death Experience, a French movie showed in the experimental Orizzonti section. It starred cult French author Michel Houellebecq as a burn-out man who escapes to the mountains with suicidal intentions.

Houllebecq, who himself vanished for a few days three years ago, causing a media storm, said it was "easy" to immerse himself into the role. Directors Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern hailed his performance as "extraordinary."

Other festival offerings included premieres of the uncut version of Nymphomaniac Volume II, a sex epic by controversial Danish director Lars von Trier, and Tsili, a Holocaust survival drama by Israel's Amos Gitai.

Venice hosts the world's oldest film festival, mixing arthouse world cinema with Hollywood blockbusters. Monday marked the passing of the half-mark point for this year's edition - the 71st - which started August 27 and ends Saturday.

So far, Birdman, a black comedy starring Michael Keaton as washed-up Hollywood actor, and The Look of Silence, a documentary on anti-Communist purges in Indonesia, have emerged as the strongest top prize contenders.

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