Searching for Clive Owen

 I came to Berlin in search of movies, Clive Owen and wild boars, though maybe not necessarily in that order. In my four days here, I’ve seen no wild boars — more on these elusive fellows later — and, sadder still, no Clive Owen. But now that I’m about halfway through the 59th Berlin International Film Festival, or the Berlinale, I can say I’ve seen quite a few movies — although, as I’ve found to be the case with any film festival, I’m haunted by the feeling that I’m not catching the right ones, or the best ones.But in the past few days, I’ve found that those understandable frustrations have an uglier side, one that manifests itself as a disdain for anything that seems to European critics too commercially viable, too pandering, “too Hollywood” — whatever that might mean, given that not even Hollywood knows what’s truly “Hollywood” anymore. I began hearing the anti-Tinseltown drumbeat last Thursday, when German director Tom Tykwer’s strange and beautifully made thriller “The International” — starring Naomi Watts and the aforementioned Clive Owen — opened the festival. I’ll have a full review of the picture later in the week, but for now I’ll just confirm that, yes, “The International” is a Hollywood picture in the sense that it has relatively big stars and a major studio (Columbia) behind it. But the movie I saw and loved, even in my jetlagged state, at the press screening last Thursday felt “Hollywood” to me only in the best sense: Tykwer obviously had some money to work with here, and he spent some of it on the kind of elaborate, elegantly constructed set pieces that few mainstream directors know how to do anymore. (Wait until you see what he does with the Guggenheim Museum.) What’s more, “The International” is a leisurely thriller, which means it’s automatically a contradiction in terms: It can be called too slick, too boring, too “unlike anything else out there” and too “just like everything else out there” all at once. Those very conflicts are exactly what make it interesting.

Source: Salon

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