Venice fest has Far East flavor

Gondola loads of Chinese and Far East features and a slew of star-studded U.S. movies — albeit fewer from the Hollywood majors — fill a slimmed-down lineup at the upcoming 62nd Venice Film Festival. Fest director Marco Muller’s slate also includes more European fare than last year. Muller, an Asian specialist who speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, has sandwiched the event between Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s opener “Seven Swords” and Thai-born Peter Ho-sun Chan’s closer “Perhaps Love,” a romantic triangle set during the making of a Chinese musical. It’s the first time movies set in mainland China will open and close a major European fest. Films from the Weinstein brothers play a prominent role in the competition, with Terry Gilliam’s long-in-the-works “The Brothers Grimm,” with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, and John Madden’s “Proof,” based on David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, both in the running for the Golden Lion. Focus Features is bringing Ang Lee’s gay Western “Brokeback Mountain,” co-starring Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and counting as a Canadian production, and Fernando Meirelles’ John Le Carre adaptation “The Constant Gardener,” starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz. From Warner Independent Pictures comes George Clooney’s sophomore helming outing, “Good Night. And, Good Luck,” a black-and-white, cinema verite depiction of the evils of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, also looking to be Lionized. John Turturro’s contemporary musical “Romance and Cigarettes,” toplining James Gandolfini with an ensemble cast including Kate Winslet and Christopher Walken, also is in the main Venice 62 section. Out-of-competition titles being tubthumped by the majors include Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated “Corpse Bride,” starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, scheduled by Warner Bros. for an October U.S. release; Cameron Crowe’s Kentucky-set “Elizabethtown,” starring Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon, from Paramount; John Singleton’s crime action movie “Four Brothers,” also from Paramount; and the European launch of Ron Howard’s “Cinderella Man,” from Buena Vista Intl.

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