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Venice: Michael Cimino Raises New ‘Heaven’s Gate’, ‘The Iceman’ Cometh

“Being infamous is not fun. It becomes a weird occupation in and of itself.” Michael Cimino spoke those words at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday as he introduced a digitally remastered version of Heaven’s Gate. One of the most notorious box office flops of all time, the film is credited with contributing to the demise of United Artists and halting the auteur movement of 70s Hollywood. Cimino was coming off Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for The Deer Hunter when Heaven’s Gate came out in 1980 and cratered his career. On the Lido Thursday to accept a life achievement award along with debuting the updated pic, he said he at first didn’t want to revisit it, “I’ve had enough rejection for 33 years.” Cimino oversaw the digital remastering and said technology had advanced enough that seeing it now was like seeing a new movie. It’s also a longer movie. The new version runs 216 minutes.

Meanwhile, a lot of heat surrounded Ariel Vroman’s out of competition title, The Iceman. Michael Shannon has drawn great notices for his take on real-life contract killer/family man Richard Kuklinski. Reaction was also positive for strong performances by Winona Ryder and Ray Liotta. Ryder, who’ll next be seen in Gary Fleder’s Homefront, said she’s scaling back on work in general. “I want to have a good life and so a film has to be pretty great to make me want to leave my life. I’m not in a place where I want to keep working just to work,” she said. Read More »

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UK Critics Tout Natalie Portman For Oscar In Venice Opener ‘Black Swan’

The fest audience gave Darren Aronofsky’s latest a standing ovation as credits rolled. London newspaper critics are giving the psychosexual ballet thriller rave reviews. “Portman is astounding,” says the Times of London. “Awards are sure to follow.” The Independent agrees, calling Portman’s performance “searing” and the film “enthralling”. David Gritten in the Daily Telegraph says Portman’s performance as a ballet dancer losing her mind elevates her from leading actress to major star. “Every film festival benefits hugely from a strong opening film, and they don’t come much stronger than Black Swan,” he says.

Of course, Aronofsky won the Golden Lion in Venice for his last film The Wrestler in 2008. The Telegraph thinks he could win again this year with Black Swan. Aronofsky told a packed press conference that the more he looked into ballet, the more he started to see similarities with the world of wrestling. “They both have these performers who use their bodies in extremely physical ways,” he said.

Fox Searchlight releases Black Swan in the US on December 1. Senior Fox Searchlight executives strolled up the red carpet into the Opening Night gala screening. Black Swan was the first of three opening films and is competing with 22 others for this year’s Golden Lion. In total this year’s festival will screen 79 full-length world premieres from 34 countries. The 67th Venice film festival runs from 1 to 11 September.

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Venice Confirms ‘Black Swan’ As Opener

Darren Aronofsky’s ballet psychological thriller will open the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 1. Natalie Portman stars as a ballerina who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with new rival Mila Kunis. Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder also star in the Fox Searchlight release. Aronofsky won the Golden Lion two years ago for The Wrestler. This year’s Venice – reckoned to be one of the top three festivals in the world with Cannes and Berlin – runs from September 1-11.

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