Fri, Dec 08, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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Clint Eastwood's Japanese-language World War II film Letters from Iwo Jima was named this year's best picture Wednesday by the National Board of Review, in the year's first major film awards.

The movie tells the story of the battle for the Pacific island from the point of view of the Japanese commander and his soldiers as they prepared to die in the fight for the strategic island.

Martin Scorsese nabbed the best director prize for The Departed, which also scored a win in the ensemble cast category.

Forest Whitaker landed the prize for best actor for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, while Helen Mirren nabbed best actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen.

The National Board of Review is a well-respected film review and education organization, composed of film professionals, educators and historians, without commercial ties to the movie industry.

Oscar-winning actor-director George Clooney is buying the rights to produce a film version of best-selling author John Grisham's non-fiction book The Innocent Man, reports said Thursday.

The book is the true story of a miscarriage of justice that saw Oklahoma man Ron Williamson sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. Williamson spent 11 years on death row before being freed.

Several of Grisham's novels, including The Firm, The Pelican Brief and A Time To Kill have already been made into Hollywood movies.

Meanwhile Clooney, People magazine's sexiest man of this year, has lost his dear pet pig of 18 years, Max, celebrity newsite TMZ.com said Monday.

Max, who died Friday, had suffered from arthritis and partial blindness.

The 45-year-old star and producer of Good Night and Good Luck often said that Max had been his longest-lasting relationship.

Clooney and Max hooked up after he broke up with actress Kelly Preston, and in 2001 it was accidentally run over by a friend of Clooney's.

Max was the second pet Clooney lost this year after a bulldog died at his house.

Brazil's state tourism body applauded US film critics on Tuesday for trashing a horror movie in which tourists get slaughtered in the country and said it was taking measures to offset any damage to its image abroad.

Some Brazilian media went into a frenzy over Turistas, quoting disgusted Brazilian viewers who went to see it in the US where it hit the screens last Friday.

In the movie directed by John Stockwell, young American backpackers are attacked and mugged by locals, lured by bikini-clad beauties only to get drugged by spiked "caipirinha" cocktails. They then have their internal organs removed by a crazy surgeon who runs a human organ trafficking ring.

Jeanine Pires, president of the tourism body Embratur, said it had instructed its overseas publicity agency to repair any damage from Turistas.

"Surveys show that most viewers do distinguish between pure fiction that appears in a horror movie and reality," Pires said.

The movie was rated "rotten" on the popular Rotten Tomatoes film rating web site (www.rottentomatoes.com).

"A wholly predictable bit of slasher unpleasantness and a muddled cautionary tale on the American propensity for foreign misadventures," critic Dennis Lim wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

Piracy in China cost the film industry US$2.7 billion of potential revenue last year, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), an organization formed by major Hollywood film producers, said Thursday.

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