Tag Archives: Lily-Rose Depp

FILM REVIEW: Planetarium (Zlotkowski, 2016): France

Viewed by Larry Gleeson


Writer/Director Rebecca Zlotkowski ( Grand Central,  Belle epine) presented her latest work Planetarium , a mixture of drama, fantasy and mystery, to a rousing ovation at the Sala Darsena Theatre during the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. In attendance with Zlotkowski were two of the film’s stars, Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp, who teamed up to portray the infamous American Barlow sisters, believed to possess the ability to connect with ghosts. Zlotkowski bases her film on a trio of 19th century American sisters who played an important role in the creation of spiritualism, the Fox Sisters.


The film opens with a plush, sensuous cabaret scene with Laura Barlow, played convincingly by Oscar-winning (Black Swan) Natalie Portman, exhorting a rather attentive audience to pay attention to and to witness a medium, Kate Barlow, played refreshingly by Lily-Rose Depp (The Dancer, Yoga Hosers) as she will communicate with the other side. Young Kate Barlow begins breathing as a drum beat permeates. As Kate’s breathing intensifies so does the drum beat until a connection is made with the ritualistic feel of Wicca and in a resultant style of a séance. The seeker is mystified and the audience is wowed as Kate creates a communicative voice from the other side.


Quickly, Laura finds out the cabaret is closing as it can’t make ends meet despite the additional revenue generators from private dances, bar drinks and the kitchen preparations. With impeccable timing Laura is introduced to a powerful French film producer, Andre Korben, played by Emmanuel Salinger (Oublie-moi, Don’t Forget You’re Going To Die). Korben propositions the sisters. He invites them for a seance house call and then negotiates a deal for them to  stay with him at his estate for an extended, indefinite period of time. He closes the deal by telling Laura he wants to use the sisters to direct the first real ghost film. However, he also has other notions. He acts towards Kate in an inappropriate manner subjecting her to multiple brain monitoring devices and practically pines over her. In addition, he does multiple séances with her as she calls out for his deceased wife. It goes so far as Kate embodying the wife so Korben can kiss her to restore passion to their relationship. Korben then claims he’s falling in love with his wife through Kate. Meanwhile, Laura is acting in Korben’s studio film on location unaware of Korben’s actions with Kate. Soon, however, Kate’s health begins declining and she is bound by weakness to her bed never to recover.


Planetarium is a beautifully shot film with very good acting. George Lechaptois was the film’s Cinematographer. Interestingly, Zlotkowski draws much of the story line from history. In addition to the Fox sisters, Zlotkowski’s use of the powerful film producer as a jew during the 1930’s allowed her to address the period’s anti-semitism.  The Fox sisters’ benefactor was actually a banker, who had one of the Fox sisters embody his deceased wife for an entire year during the Victorian era while their new doctrine of spiritualism was sweeping through the intellectual circles of Europe.


Unmistakably, Zlotkowski paid attention to details with the film’s mise-en-scene to create a look and feel of the 1930’s and to her vision of spiritualism. Zlotkowski shared screenwriting credits with Robin Campillo. The costuming, very representational of the time period, was handled by Anais Romand. Makeup was done by Sarai Fiszel. Hairstyles were coiffed by Catherine LeBlanc-Careas and the Artistic Director was Partel Oliva. The film was produced by Frédéric Jouve (Les Films du Velvet) and co-produced by Les Films du Fleuve, Kinology, France 3 Cinéma, Proximus, RTBF (Télévision Belge).
This was one of my favorite viewing experiences of the Venice Film Festival. Shortly after I had taken my seat, Zlotkowski, Portman and Depp all made a grand entrance into the Sala Darsena theater to a standing ovation. The energy in the theater was unmistakable. At times, however, I felt the narrative of Planetarium drifted a tad bit. Nevertheless, Zlotkowski covered a lot of territory and she did it with convincing style. Warmly recommended.

*Photos from Planetarium and featured photo of Ms. Zlotkowski are courtesy of (ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema di Venezia)

Wrap Up: 73rd Venice International Film Festival Continues to Mesmerize


I attended my first Venice International Film Festival at the Cinema del Palazzo complex in Lido this year from the Pre-Opening Night event August 30th through Closing Night September 10th, 2016 as an accredited media entity.


The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world with a history dating to 1932. This year was the 73rd edition showing little signs of its age. Steeped in glamor and tradition, the festival remains a testament to the cinematic arts with its viewing venues and its programming.



Set in Lido with a plethora of screens each only a score or two steps away, these hallowed cinema grounds created a magical setting  adorned with cafes, raised walkways, and abundance of shade trees.




Last night and final view of the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)


The real magic, however, took place inside the cinema!

Leading the way were the spell-binding performances of Lily-Rose Depp and Natalie Portman in Planetarium from Director Rebecca Zlotowski.


Rebecca Zlotowski
Planetarium Director, Rebecca Zlotowski. (Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema)


Award-winning, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, took home the Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize  for Best Film.  Nocturnal Animals captured my eye and imagination with it’s captivating story lines, exceptionally rich, mise-en-scene and wildly, powerful acting. Damien Chazelle and crew mesmerized audiences with their dazzling La La Land.  The lovely Emma Stone received the Best Actress Silver Lion Volpi Cup for her heartful, soul-revealing performance as Mia.





Director Lav Diaz, left, with Ang Babaeng Humayo film delegation at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of ASAC Images/Biennale Cinema)


This year’s Golden Lion for Best Film went to Lav Diaz for his painstaking drama, Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left), an epic story with a runtime of 226 minutes. The film follows one woman rediscovering her homeland after a 30 year stay in a correctional facility.

For a complete list of winners click here.


Other noteworthy films, not already mentioned, included: Paradise, a Russian Federation film, set amidst the Nazi WWII reign of terror (Director Andrei Konchalovsky garnered Silver Lion for Best Director for his Paradise efforts); Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey, winner of the 5th Green Drop Award awarded by Green Cross Italy to films that bring attention to the values of ecology and sustainable development; Jackie, Pablo Larrain’s portrait of the iconic First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Noah Oppenheim won Best Screenplay for Jackie); and Orecchie, a Biennale College – Cinema Production, directed by Alessandro Aronadio and produced by Costanza Coldagelli.



A special note of thanks to this year’s ushers for their efforts in ensuring my safety and well-being at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. Until next year, Ciao’!

Ushers at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)



*Featured photo courtesy of Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee