Venice Goes Grindhouse with ‘Machete’

Robert Rodriguez’s revenge drama gets midnight slot at festival

The Venice Film Festival may be all about high-toned, awards-worthy movies in a beautiful old-world setting, but that doesn’t mean the fest doesn’t know how to get down and dirty once in a while.

Wednesday, Venice organizers announced a new addition to the festival lineup, which already includes Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” and Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest” as the opening and closing-night films, respectively.

This one’s a little pulpier: Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete,” the action film derived from a phony trailer in the Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino film “Grindhouse.”

Danny TrejoAs befits its cult-movie aura, the film will screen out of competition at midnight on September 1 – opening night, no less, on the heels of “Black Swan.” 

“Machete,” which will open in the United States two days after its Venice premiere, stars Danny Trejo as Machete Cortez, a former federale out to clear his name and extract a little of what the Venice press release terms “revenge and redemption.”

The “Machete” supporting cast is a broad one, indeed, including Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Cheech Marin, Steven Seagal and Don Johnson.

Besides “Black Swan” and “The Tempest,” Venice has also announced a opening-night screening of Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau’s martial-arts film “Jingwufengyun – Chen Zhen” (“Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen”), which will screen on what would have been Bruce Lee’s 70th birthday.

The festival’s Orizzonti section will open with Catherine Breillat’s “La Belle Endormie” and close with Hong Hang-soo’s “Oki’s Movie” (“Ok-hui ui yeonghwa”). The Controcamo Italiano section will open with “I baci mai data” from Italian director Roberta Torre.

The 67th Venice Film Festival runs from September 1 through September 11.