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Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” Wins Venice, Draws Controversy

Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” Wins Venice, Draws Controversy (photo)

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Top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival went to Sofia Coppola for her film “Somewhere,” a film about a washed-up actor (played by Stephen Dorff) getting to know his 11-year-old daughter (basically it’s “I’m Still Here,” only less fictionalized). But somewhere in the Italian press, a controversy quickly began brewing over Coppola’s victory. The reason? The Venice jury was headed by Quentin Tarantino, who once dated Coppola.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes Paolo Mereghetti, film critic of Italy’s largest newpaper, as saying “The presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of turning into the most obvious conflict of interest possible if you remember that ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Road to Nowhere’ were charming and interesting in their own ways, but nothing more than that.” “Road to Nowhere,” by the way, is a new film from Monte Hellman, who directed the car chase classic (and “Death Proof” inspiration) “Two Lane Blacktop.” Hellman, a mentor of Tarantino, received a special prize from the Venice jury “for overall work.”

Do I think Tarantino was “playing favorites” with the award for Hellman? Probably. But so what? He invented a career achievement award and gave it to him. The Coppola accusation is far more serious, but also far less likely. I don’t know the state of Tarantino’s current relationship with Coppola and I haven’t seen “Somewhere.” But the mere description sounds like something up Tarantino’s alley in two big ways: a sad story of the Los Angeles underbelly (which describes every movie Tarantino made before “Death Proof”) and a faded star reclamation project for Dorff. Throw in some shots of women’s feet and Tarantino could have directed it himself. If he hadn’t had a relationship with its director, and he’d given the prize to “Somewhere” anyway, would we accuse him of liking it simply because it seemed like a movie he would make?

No, because that’s the guy’s taste. And if you don’t want Quentin Tarantino to give prizes to movies that fit his taste, don’t put him in a position to give out prizes to movies that fit his taste. Tarantino was announced as the head of the Venice jury on May 6, at the same time both Coppola and Hellman were announced as early members of the festival’s lineup. If the films weren’t worthy of consideration, or if there was concern on the part of the festival about a potential conflict of interest, they shouldn’t have been invited.

And why put all the blame on Tarantino? It wasn’t the QT Film Festival. He didn’t pick the films and he didn’t have the only vote. He was the head of a seven member jury, including composer Danny Elfman and director Arnaud Desplechin. Do they all have personal relationships with Coppola? Should we accuse them of trying to get on the Coppola wine comp list?

With respect to Mr. Mereghetti, the decisions of Tarantino’s jury, like the decisions of all juries at all festivals, are subjective. If they’d selected Mereghetti’s favorite film as the best feature, a “Somewhere” fan could have just as easily accused Tarantino of snubbing it because an ex-girlfriend he doesn’t get along with had made it. It was a no-win situation for him, and, unfortunately, for Coppola, who now has a proverbial asterisk branded into her Golden Lion.

For a full list of winners from Venice, go to the festival’s official website.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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