Sunday, August 26, 2007

Notes from Venice - Day 0

Thanks to Nathaniel for his graceful intro!

For those unfamiliar with me and my site european-films.net: nice to virtually meet you all. I'm Boyd, a kid with a movie tic trapped in a 27-year-old's body. I've been writing about film since Salma Hayek was robbed of an Oscar. Over at european-films.net I cover European films (duh!) and also cover all the major films (European and otherwise) that play at the major European film festivals, which means I travel in circles from Berlin to Cannes to Venice to Berlin each year. It's a tough job but someone's got to do it!

Venice is actually my favorite festival because of its special place on the calender (the first true Oscar launchpad), the nice climate, great food and (not unimportant) their great taste in movies. I mean, they gave Brokeback Mountain the Golden Lion just two years ago. And check out their track record: Monsoon Wedding, Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Belle de Jour, Last Year at Marienbad, Aparajito, Rashomon... these are all considered classics.

The Venice Film Festival will in fact celebrate its 75th anniversary this year -- take that Cannes, which celebrated its 60th b-day in May -- but its 2007 edition is only the 64th time the festival takes place. The festival is part of a much larger cultural organization called the Biennale, which, as the name indicates, organizes (or at least used to organize) cultural events every other year.

So, the 64th/75th anniversary edition will kick off on Wednesday with the world premiere of Atonement, Joe Wright's follow-up to his much lauded debut Pride & Prejudice. I've already had a sneak peek a couple of weeks ago and I can tell you that the movie, an adaptation of the eponymous bestseller by Ian McEwan, will likely be a big awards contender. It is not a flawless masterpiece, but as romances go, it is pretty heartbreaking and unforgettable.

The couple played by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy will have entire multiplexes fumbling for the Kleenexes in the dark and will leave Oscar-voters little choice but nominate them again (Knightley) or for the first time (McAvoy, who was shamelessly overlooked for his work on The Last King of Scotland). Read my full Atonement review here.

Something possibly even more fun than guessing Oscar nominees and winners is guessing the gay characters and/or elements in the recently announced line-up of the Queer Lion Award, a new prize at the Venice Film Festival that will award a film that "accurately portrays homosexual characters or themes". Who is playing gay? Most of the films listed are not particularly explicit about the gay angle in the material released so far. Could it be Brad Pitt? Casey Affleck? Owen Wilson? Adrien Brody? Michael Caine? Jude Law? Or perhaps a lovely foreign-accented man such as Bruno Todeschini, Benoît Magimel, Sami Bouajila or Daniel Wu?

US films on the Queer Lion contenders list are four: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Pitt and Affleck; Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited with Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman and the indie flicks Speed of Life (Superheroes) from Ed Radtke, a juvenile delinquent drama, and the road trip movie Searchers 2.0 from Alex Cox. Law and Caine co-star in the Kenneth Branagh's UK remake of 1972's Sleuth, which also starred Caine.

Start your guesses/wish lists for possible gay characters in the comments, and I'll be checking in from Wednesday on to tell you all about it.

14 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

WHAT?! Assassination of Jesse James... i just keep getting more and more desperate to see it. I didn't know that I could anticipate it even more. Makes you wonder about the Darjeeling Limited too.

can't wait to read your writeups. and thanks for sharing this news.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

This is somewhat related to this entry since you mentioned his name because I figured you'd like to know in case you already didn't, but I guess Owen Wilson overdosed today. :(

Chinese Odyssey said...

I saw Tian tang kou (Blood Brothers) a few days ago, probably the most horrendous closing film this festival can ever get.

I dont understand why it's on the Queer Lion contenders list, it cant be any straighter.

May be it has something to do with the fact all of its four male lead have portrayed gay character before.

Boyd said...

Re: Blood Brothers...

I can't really say because I haven't seen it, but I do find the whole definition of it all rather vague. "gay characters or themes/elements"??

What are gay elements if there are no gay characters? A fabulous production design? Outrageous costumes? It will be interesting to see...

Marco B. said...

As one of the two guys who developed the Queer Lion Award, I can tell you that the titles were given us by the director of the Venice Film Festival himself, Marco Muller. And that not all of the 12 titles are "fully-gay" movies of course.. But we'll talk about it with Boyd in Venice. I know he already contacted Daniel (the other guy who organized the Award) to meet him at the festival.
See you there!!

Kamikaze Camel said...

Pennybags, overdose and suicide attempt, apparently.

That's crazy and incredibly sad if it's true. I wonder what went down?

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

Pennybags, overdose and suicide attempt, apparently.

That's crazy and incredibly sad if it's true. I wonder what went down?


Yes, I was just hoping that the suicide attempt wasn't true at the time since I first heard about that detail from the National Enquirer, but I guess it was true.

I know I'm not the only one now that is reminded of that scene in The Royal Tennenbaums which Wilson co-wrote with his brother, Luke Wilson, attempting suicide by slashing his wrists too.

I just hope he's able to get help for his problems.

VS said...

When was Salma Hayek robbed of an Oscar???

amir_uk said...

No, Salma Hayek ROBBED Jennifer Aniston/Emmanuele Devos/Isabelle Huppert of an Oscar nomination.

NATHANIEL R said...

ewwww. Hayek was way better than Aniston.

but anyway... I hear ya on the Devos/Huppert thing. but they have cooties (i.e. subtitles)

back on topic: i'm so excited about these venice reports

Anonymous said...

Monsoon Wedding's a classic? Really?

NATHANIEL R said...

I like Owen Wilson :(

rural juror said...

I thought Adrien Brody's character was gay...I got that vibe from the trailer. I thought that was just me dreaming but...

ATONEMENT!!!!!!!!!!

sorry...I'm eagerly awaiting Assassination of Jesse James....but I HOPE the studio didn't f- it all up and left it as the great film Joe Carnahan was raving about.

rural juror said...

And Sleuth looks bad.....really bad