Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weird Sex Wins Again

From Reuters:

Ang Lee film is surprise winner in Venice
Sat Sept. 8, 2007 3:13 PM ET

By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - Taiwanese director Ang Lee's sexually explicit "Lust, Caution" was the surprise winner of the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice film festival on Saturday, just two years after he won with "Brokeback Mountain."

The movie is a World War Two thriller set in Shanghai featuring long and sometimes violent sex scenes which Lee has hinted were real.

"It is overwhelming, because this movie has taken me to some very difficult places," Lee told the red carpet award ceremony on the Lido waterfront.

"I have invited you to come along with me and in the end to stay down there with me ... You are the seven samurais, I needed your help," he added, addressing the seven-member jury.

Brian De Palma, whose "Redacted" shocked audiences in Venice with its brutal reconstruction of the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers, won the Silver Lion award for best director.

Tunisian-born director Abdellatif Kechiche and his drama "La Graine et le mulet" ("The Secret of the Grain"), was one of two runner-up jury prize winners, and was described by the jury as the "revelation" of the 2007 edition of the festival.

The film is about an old Arab man and his family seeking to realize their dream of opening a restaurant in southern France.

While not overtly political, it touches on the issue of integration by immigrants, and whether they have what the director called the "right to be different."

Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There," one of six U.S. productions in the 23-strong main competition, took the other runner-up prize for his conceptual biopic about singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

In a bold piece of casting, Australian-born Cate Blanchett was one of six performers to play the singer at various stages of his life, and it paid off when she was named best actress in Venice this year.

Hollywood star Brad Pitt was the surprise winner of the best actor award for his portrayal of outlaw Jesse James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

His co-star, Casey Affleck, who played James' killer Ford as a creepy social misfit, had been widely expected to scoop the prize.

Venice director Marco Mueller, facing competition from festivals in Rome and Toronto, succeeded in attracting some of Hollywood's biggest stars, although his decision to invite so many U.S. films was criticized for making Venice too commercial.

Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie came to the canal city with their children, and George Clooney, Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron and Keira Knightley all wowed the noisy crowds gathering along the red carpet each night.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Venice in the Summer

In yesterday's return posting, I asked people who had visited Venice this summer to share their story with me. Thanks to Judy for sending the following.[I took this photo of San Michele in May 2003. Click on the photo to enlarge it--it looks much better.]

If you'd like to tell us about your summer trip to Venice, email me at

Hi Sharon - glad you're back!
We were in Venice in May, stayed in an apartment in the Castello (Vaniglia Green, and not a bad place at all). That gave us the opportunity to experience Venice at night, what a treat!

I wrote a piece on L'Isola di San Michele, if you're interested, online at
World Photo Adventure: Secret Venice: L'Isola di San Michele.

Most tourists think visiting a cemetery is pretty bizarre, but we love them,
and this one has so much history, we need to revisit it again!
Ciao -

Judy Kiel

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weird Venice is Back!!!

Hello to all Venice lovers,
First, I apologize for the lack of posts, but I took the summer off to get used to a new job, think about Venice's future and enjoy my vacation. But I'm back and excited. A lot has happened in Venice this summer and I'll try to catch up with some highlights including the new bridge and a report on my visit in May. In the meantime, I'll leave with an image of dawn over the Grand Canal from one of my favorite webcams. It's why I love Venice.

Did you go to Venice this summer? Tell me about it ( and I'll post your comments.