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Briefs from around the world

Dakota Johnson

From the Copacabana to Manchester: UK college honors Manilow 

Star singer Barry Manilow got another award for his trophy cabinet in front of an audience of roaring fans in the northern English city of Manchester. Staff at the city’s Royal Northern College of Music handed over an Honorary Fellowship to the Emmy and Grammy winner part way through his performance at the Manchester Arena on Sunday. 

Dakota Johnson trained during ’50 Shades’ shoot for ‘Suspiria’ dances 

If Dakota Johnson had to work hard to prepare for the erotic “Fifty Shades”, it was nothing compared to the physical demands of “Suspiria”, a horror movie in which much of the fear comes through her ability to dance like a woman possessed. A remake of the 1970s cult classic, “Suspiria” is set in a dance school in Berlin where Johnson’s character Susie, a naive young hopeful from the cornfields of Ohio, arrives to find strange powers at work. 

Jeff Goldblum wants to pick your brains in lobotomy movie ‘The Mountain’ 

Jeff Goldblum is charismatic as ever in “The Mountain”, where he plays a smooth-talking doctor with an effective way of rendering people with psychiatric problems “innocuous” – a term he uses as a euphemism for his devastating medical procedure. Set in the 1950s, Goldblum’s Wallace Fiennes is based on real-life lobotomist Walter Freemanan, an evangelist of the operation that consisted of hammering spikes into patients’ brains through their eye sockets to sever their prefrontal cortex. 

Brothers called Sisters show no mercy in star-studded Western 

“We’re good at what we do,” Joaquin Phoenix tells his partner-in-crime John C. Reilly after they have killed so many cowboys they have lost count, in the comedy Western “The Sisters Brothers” that premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday. The reason they are so good, apart from being handy with a pistol, is their complete lack of conscience in taking a man’s life, something Phoenix’s character Charlie Sisters attributes to the genes the brothers inherited from their abusive father. 

Willem Dafoe plays tormented genius Van Gogh in Venice biopic

With his ginger beard, straw hat and a sad, wounded expression, Willem Dafoe looks uncannily like a Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait, as he plays the artist in a biopic that premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Monday. “At Eternity’s Gate” begins with the impoverished Van Gogh in Paris in the 1880s where his paintings are, at best, ignored and, at worst, derided as incompetent.  

‘Brilliant Friend’ couldn’t be done in English, says TV director 

The director turning Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan Novels” into an HBO television series said there was no way the stories could have been filmed in English or adapted to take place in America. The first two episodes of “My Brilliant Friend” – a co-production with Italian broadcaster RAI – screened at the Venice Film Festival this week to warm reviews.  

‘Charlie Says’ tells Manson story from view of women he sent to kill  

Charles Manson did not wield the knives in the 1969 murder spree that ended the Californian hippy dream, so what drove the people who did so on his orders? That is the question posed in “Charlie Says” which premiered in Venice on Sunday. “Doctor Who” star Matt Smith plays Manson, a wild-eyed petty criminal who sets up a hippy commune where his followers worship him like a messiah, clinging to every word of his incoherent prophecies of Armageddon. 

‘Son of Saul’ director seeks roots of 20th century downfall in new film 

“Son of Saul” won an Oscar for its realist portrayal of life in a Nazi concentration camp. In his new film, writer-director Laszlo Nemes winds the clock back to look at how Europe let itself slide into an earlier abyss: World War One. “Sunset”, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, follows a young woman in 1913 Budapest, on the eve of the war the shattered the illusion of endless European progress. – Reuters