VENICE, Italy – John Travolta (search) stretched his acting range as a drunk in "A Love Song for Bobby Long" on Thursday while Denzel Washington (search) battled brainwashing in "The Manchurian Candidate" during the second day of the Venice Film Festival (search).
Other big screenings included two of the 21 films in competition for the Golden Lion awards: "5x2," by French director Francois Ozon, and "Delivery," by Greece's Nikos Panayotopoulos.
As usual, the big American stars took center stage.
In "A Love Song," Scarlett Johansson (search) of "Lost in Translation" plays a high-school dropout who moves into her deceased mother's house only to find it inhabited by two drunks, one of whom is a southern-accented Travolta. Johansson starts off hating her new roomies, but the group begins to form a strange sort of family.
"The Manchurian Candidate" got attention here more for its stars than for its content, given that the picture opened in the United States several weeks ago. This edition of the Venice Film Festival has taken flack for having a large number of already-released films, including opener "The Terminal" by Steven Spielberg.
Ozon's "5x2" is constructed in five episodes that recount in reverse an ill-fated relationship. Panayotopoulos's "Delivery" deals with the gritty underbelly of Athens, focussing on an unusual delivery man.
The nine-person jury that gives out the Golden Lions is headed by British director John Boorman and includes Spike Lee (search), Johansson and actress Helen Mirren, among others. The awards will be handed out Sept. 11 at a ceremony hosted by Sophia Loren.