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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Infamous hits Venice on day two

The Italian press on the morning after Opening Night was was, as expected, politely dismissive of De Palma's "Black Dahlia" and seemed to be much more concerned with the late arrival on the red carpet of the film's heroine, new American Diva -- (or should we say "Divette") -- Scarlett Johansson. For whatever reason, La Scarlett was more than half an hour unfashionably late for the opening ceremony which had to start without her. Nevertheless, all the papers, including the two largest national dailies,"Corriere Della Sera" and "La Repubblica", carried half-page color photos of la belle Americaine, all smiles in a chastely girlish snow-white outfit. More glamour was supplied onstage by Catherine Deneuve who, at 62 is still an eye-full, the reigning queen of European cinema and, this year, the president of the Venice competition jury.

Opening day was loaded with a full agenda of powerade films, among them "Hollywoodland" starring Adrien Brody, the historical documentary "The U. S. Vs. John Lennon" by David Leaf and John Scheinfeld -- featuring the "original cast", John and Yoko, Richard Nixon, Walter Cronkite, Geraldo Rivera, interalia, the non-competition French entry "Quelques Jours en Septembre" featuring a gun-toting Juliette Binoche in a political film-noir, and Oliver Stone's latest offering, "World Trade Center" focusing on certain aspects of the events of 9/11, 2001.

This is a year of special centennial observations -- 100 years since the births of a half dozen famous directors including Italians Rossellini, Visconti, and mario Soldati, all born in 1906, but also of Austrian born Hollywood director Otto Preminger. After walking out of the darkness of "A few days in September" at the halfway mark, I scooted over to the elegant Perla Hall in the press palace to catch a pristine restored print of Preminger's 1965 suspense-thriller "Bunny Lake is Missing" which turned out to be such a chiller as to make one forget the heat outside on the promenade. In wide-screen black and white and set in the London of the swinging sixties, this is a true classic of the genre. The film features an uncharacteristic (but extremely suave) Lawrence Olivier as a detective investigating the claimed disappearance of a four year old girl, BunnyLake, the child of a young American couple newly arrived in England. As the investigation progresses we begin to wonder whether the missing child in question may not be non-existent --just a figment of the lovely mother's fevered imagination. Without giving away the surprise ending, suffice it to say that the fevered imagination belongs mostly to the completely whacked
out husband, played by an excellently psychotic Keir Dullea a few years before he become somewhat of a national icon as one of the pilots of Kubrick's space ship in "Space Odyssey, 2001". This is a Preminger as suspenseful as any Hitchcock -- catch it if you can!.

The high point of the day, however, was the industry and profession screening of "Infamous", another take on the strange life of writer Truman Capote, directed by David McGrath. This film was shown in the "Horizons" section of the festival, out of competition but consisting of very high profile new films. This was shown in the big hall of the main film palace and the screening was attended by the director, actress Sandra Bullock, who has a major role in the film, and the diminutive actor Toby Jones, who bears a striking physical resemblance to Capote and whose performance in the film is even more bravura than the same creation turned in earlier this year by Philip Seymour Hoffman, which earned him the 2006 Best actor Oscar.
Written and directed by Douglas McGrath, this film about Truman Capote is based on the book Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career by George Plimpton.
"Infamous" was followed by a most unusual ten minute standing ovation which seemed like it would never stop. But more on this tomorrow --gotta run to catch the last Vaporetto back to Giudecca -- or end up sleeping on the beach!
Alex Deleon

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