Le Carre, Clooney, Carnage contest Venice film prize

Mon Sep 5, 2011 3:52pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - The Venice film festival has largely lived up to its billing so far, providing a steady stream of A-list actors on the red carpet and a lineup of movies which has pleased most critics.

As the world's oldest film festival hits halfway Monday, an adaptation of John Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," George Clooney's political thriller "The Ides of March" and Roman Polanski's comedy "Carnage" lead the charge for the coveted Golden Lion for best picture.

They are among 22 movies announced so far, soon to be joined by a 23rd "surprise" film unveiled Tuesday, vying for top prize, which is announced Saturday.

Although festival juries are notoriously difficult to second guess, an informal poll of critics published by trade magazine Variety puts Carnage marginally in the lead, but ratings have been generally strong.

Booing at the end of press screenings is common at film festivals, but there has been little this year, suggesting a happy ending to festival director Marco Mueller's term in charge.

Carnage is Polanski's adaptation of stage play "God of Carnage," and stars Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly in a critique of bourgeois values set in real time in a single location.

Waltz's constant Blackberry interruptions, barbed exchanges between two New York couples and in particular Winslet's "vomit scene" had journalists laughing out loud.

Polanski would not be able to collect his prize should he win, facing extradition to the United States where he is still wanted for sentencing for a crime committed in 1977, but victory would be generally popular.   Continued...