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More Films at Venice

Other screenings on day 8 and 9 include Horizon selection Izo by Takashi Miike. An assassin for the anti-Shogun Lord Hampeida is crucified in 1865 and comes back to revenge his murder. But what has he learned? The film is an endictment on war and displays a basic hatred of women for giving life. Briefly featuring Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano) as prime minister, the film reminds Venice fest goers of what cinema is about with multilayered tableau, entries to new worlds, imagery that confronts.

Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair in competition period piece is a feast to behold -- a long and ravenous chronicle from the 17th century. Considering that her last two films were set in India, it still would not have been too much to ask for the three scenes that did take place there to have been a bit longer. Reese Witherspoon expands her repertoire in the lead role as "Mrs Crawley".

Todd Solondz' Palindromes is a film that apparently doesn’t have an agenda –but does. A 12 year old girl wants to have a baby and is thrown in the midst of pro-choice and pro-life mom(s) and and dad(s). These words according to the director are "palindromes"-- words that in reverse have the same spelling --hence the title of the film The use of several Avida(s) according to Solondz , both black and white , are used for example to impart "a Gulliver to the lilliputians" of the prolife family – and also to let us know his aim with the film--to zero in on the manifestations of Avida. Ellen Barkin on hand for the press conference who plays Avida's prolife 'mom' said that if her 12 year old daughter was pregnant she wouldn’t hesitate to help her get an abortion.

Vera Drake ironically is an in competition film about a woman (powerfully played by Imelda Staunton who should receive several acting awards) who "helped out girls in trouble" for no profit in the 1950's. Mike Leigh’s film weaves a powerful story surrounding a 1816 statute forbidding midwife abortions.

Shinya Tsukamoto's Vital is the story of Hiroshi (Tadanobu Asano) whose girlfriend Ryoko (Nami Tsukamoto) is killed in a car accident while he was behind the wheel. Moments before the fatal event Ryoku wonders how it would feel to be smashed in a wreck. Hiroshi loses his memory and later re-enrolls in medical school where by coincidence he works on her cadaver. Tsukamoto claims that he was inspired by the scientific drawings of da Vinci but the film only minorly explores this connection and fails to treat the ill conceived romance beyond the grave.

If death does not work - how about Birth, Jonathan Glazer's new film starring Nicole Kidman. Anna's husband shows up beyond the grave reincarnated as a young 10 year old boy claiming to be her dead husband. Glazer's film starts off well and ends disastrously with Kidman swaying around the dim in her wedding dress bringing some loud boos from the Italian audience.

Wim Wender's Land of Plentyis a powerful piece in the official selection, his best film in a long time. The film explores the 9/11 aftermath and consequences of the frenzy surrounding terrorist alerts and disruption of civil liberties. Here Paul (John Diehl) a Vietnam veteran suffering posttraumatic stress disorder and chemical poisoning meets his niece Lana (Michelle Williams), a 20 year old woman who has been living in Africa and Palestine for 10 years and just returned home. She understood that something was wrong when she confronted anti-Americanism abroad and notes that all is not well at home with her uncle who is doing amateur surveillance of "suspected terrorists".

Moira Sullivan


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