Venice Film Festival 2012 roundup

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Arriving by vaporetto to Venice's famous Lido, hair flowing in the wind, is a pretty spectacular way to begin the Venice Film festival. You know what? The excitement doesn't let up.

ELLE's experience of this year's festival has been full of stars, sights, parties and premieres galore, with red carpet appearances from Joaquin Phoenix, Winona Ryder, Kate Hudson, Zac Efron and many more.

Here are the films that have been the talk of the town so far.
The Master
Thank heavens Joaquin Phoenix didn't give up acting after all - he puts in a powerhouse turn in this stylish drama from Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson. Phoenix plays a hard-drinking 50s sailor who falls in with a cult leader (the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his wife (Amy Adams, exuding quiet, feminine power). It's overlong but beautifully shot with awards-worthy performances. Shame Phoenix was tongue-tied in the press conference: word is his cocky demeanour was covering up a touch of shyness.
Bad 25
Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Justin Bieber are among the varied stars playing tribute to Michael Jackson in this critically-appreciated doc from Spike Lee. Painstakingly going through his Bad album track by track, it tells the story of the King of Pop's post-Thriller rise with touching recollections and fascinating archive footage.
To The Wonder
Famously press-shy director Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) failed to show up in Venice to promote his latest arty endeavour musing on life and love, which typically divided festival audiences. Despite early promotion focusing on Rachel McAdams it turns out Olga Kurylenko takes centre stage as the on-off partner of Ben Affleck's largely silent character.
At Any Price
More mixed reactions for this slow-moving family farming saga set in Iowa. But there's no denying the power in the central performance from the committed Dennis Quaid, not to mention the dynamic presence of Zac Efron, looking every inch the matinee idol as Quaid’s car racing son. In interviews, Efron made it clear he’s looking to indie films for inspiration these days and we await the next move from the actor, whose director compared him to a young Johnny Depp. Time will tell.
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