Hollywood blues dampen sex, action at Venice filmfest

Steamy sex and blazing action contrasted with the peculiar desolation of the Hollywood lifestyle at the Venice film festival Friday.

French director Antony Cordier's "Happy Few" provided enough sex for the festival's entire 11-day run as a wife-swapping foursome asks the question, "Can one love two people at once?"

"The ultimate perversion in the film, the painful moment, is when they feel conjugal desire for the lover," Cordier told a news conference.

In the end, "they're characters who try to live a utopia, but they are like everyone else: they're jealous, they suffer, and so on," said 37-year-old Cordier, one of a horde of young directors showcased at this year's Mostra.

Hong Kong veteran John Woo, a relative senior at age 63 who was to receive a Golden Lion of lifetime achievement later Friday, did not come empty-handed.

His action-packed "Reign of Assassins", co-directed by Su Chao-Pin, unleashes Chinese megastar Michelle Yeoh against ruthless killers.

The "Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger" star is herself an assassin, tasked with protecting the remains of a mystical Buddhist monk said to be the repository of an ancient power-wielding secret.

The breakthrough lead role for a woman gave Su and Woo a chance to create "the same kind of superhero - she has a very tough character - but at the same time she has a very good heart, she cares about others and likes to make people laugh," Woo said.

"There's a big difference from other cloak-and-dagger films because there's the underlying love story, but also it's very philosophical and allows the audience to savour this," he said.

Yeoh described her character Zeng Jing as "very pleasant, very emotional, and sometimes very dark," adding: "It was very interesting to be able to go through all that emotional upheaval - only in the movies!"

Festival director Marco Mueller, flanking Woo at the news conference, said that in his films "you have the perfect union of Chinese tradition and avant-garde films."

Woo, who recently returned to China after 16 years in Hollywood, said: "I'd like to be a bridge between the West and the East."

He said he still had projects "developing" in Hollywood and would work in China "without leaving aside my opportunities for Hollywood, without asking whether this is a historical or a modern theme. The important thing is to make a movie."

Turning down the volume, and slowing down the pace at times to a crawl, Sofia Coppola, 39, unveiled "Somewhere," her first film since giving birth in the spring, about a father and daughter adrift in the lonely world of Hollywood moviemaking.

The Oscar winner for "Lost in Translation" acknowledged the loneliness linking the two films, saying: "A lot of the characters I'm interested in are at a point of transition in their lives. So it's interesting to look at that moment when you have to be more introspective. There's an isolation that you're in."

Her own dad, multiple Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola, "loved it," she said, adding: "He thought it could only be made by me, and we should all make the movies that only we can make."

Elle Fanning, who plays a seemingly well-balanced 11-year-old in the film, said her character Clio was "stuck in the middle ... deep inside she had a sort of disconnect with her parents."

The three films are among 24 competing for the coveted top prize Golden Lion at the world's oldest film festival, now in its 67th edition.

On Saturday the Mostra presents the much anticipated comedy "Potiche" by Francois Ozon, 43, starring veteran French actors Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.

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