'International' comes out shooting in Berlin

Clive Owen thriller gets 59th festival under way

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Film Review: The International

BERLIN -- It was Joke Joke, Bang Bang on Thursday night as the 59th Berlin International Film Festival kicked off with the world premiere of Tom Tykwer's action thriller "The International."

The bangs came from the film -- a Clive Owen starrer that features a jaw-dropping shoot 'em up set piece in the Guggenheim Museum. The jokes came from Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick as he gaffed and guffawed his way through the opening ceremony in a garbled mix of German and inventive English.

"This isn't just Berlin, it's Berlitz!" Kosslick joked, referring to the world-famous language school.

"Dieter Kosslick is the only festival director who can speak German and English simultaneously," German Cultural minister Bernd Neumann chimed in.

Berlinale jury president Tilda Swinton played along -- trying out some broken but understandable German to officially open Germany's No. 1 film festival.

But the joking will quiet down Friday when the Berlinale competition begins in earnest. This year's jury is even more overtly political than usual, counting among its members Swedish author and AIDS activist Henning Mankel and German artist/political provocateur Christoph Schlingensief.

Last year, Berlinale jury president Costa-Gavras was lambasted for supposed political bias in picking Brazilian film "The Elite Squad" for the festival's top prize, the Golden Bear.

Given the makeup of the 2009 jury, another Berlinale controversy seems almost inevitable.