Berlin film fest laps up "Honey" but lacks bite

Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:45am EST
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By Mike Collett-White and Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - The 60th Berlin film festival ended with a generally popular Golden Bear winner, the elegiac Turkish father-and-son drama "Honey," but the annual movie marathon failed to impress some critics who said it lacked bite.

While acknowledging a solid competition of 20 movies that was better than recent years, they bemoaned a lack of standout entries of the kind that light up a major festival.

"This year's official selection has played out in a worthy but often dull way, like a giant festival walking in slow motion," said Derek Elley of the trade publication Variety.

"Few titles have generated any buzz or heated discussion, and even fewer people have been shouting about their discoveries."

Contributing to the downbeat mood among hundreds of journalists and critics who trudged from screening to screening over 10 days in a snowy Berlin was the tough, even grim, subject matter tackled by many of the movies.

The competition lineup included a film about the aftermath of war -- "Caterpillar" centers on a Japanese soldier who returns from the front mute and deaf and without arms and legs -- broken families and a psychotic serial killer.

Berlin was not without buzz altogether, and Roman Polanski's latest film "The Ghost Writer" celebrated its world premiere without the 76-year-old director.

Polanski, who won a Silver Bear for best director, is fighting extradition to the United States where he is wanted for an underage sex case dating back more than 30 years, and completed the movie in jail and under house arrest in his Swiss chalet.   Continued...