VENICE WATCH: De Palma gets glory; Plummer hunts Nazis

AP News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2015 11:53 AM
VENICE WATCH: De Palma gets glory; Plummer hunts Nazis

VENICE, Italy (AP) — The 72nd Venice Film Festival, which runs through Saturday, is bringing red carpet premieres, innovative movies and Hollywood glamour to the Italian city. Here's what has been catching the eye of The Associated Press:

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BRIAN DE PALMA GETS GLORY IN VENICE

It's fair to say there have been some ups and downs in director Brian De Palma's career. For every masterpiece, there's a miss. Alongside the sublime horror of "Carrie" there's the mishmash of "The Bonfire of the Vanities." For every hit like "Mission Impossible," there's a flop like "Wise Guys."

The 74-year-old director is currently riding high with a lifetime-achievement award from the Venice Film Festival, which is screening a documentary about the director by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.

Festival director Alberto Barbera called De Palma a great innovator whose visually striking films — including "Scarface" and "The Untouchables — married "perfect narrative mechanics with great creative freedom." But he has always had his critics. Some viewers find it hard to stomach his penchant for graphic screen violence, especially when directed at women in thrillers like "Dressed to Kill."

"My movies tend to upset people a lot," De Palma says in the documentary. Not that it particularly bothers him.

In the documentary — titled simply "De Palma" — the filmmaker turns out to be a funny, perceptive and candid judge of his own work.

Baumbach and Paltrow recorded more than 30 hours of interviews with the director as he talked about his movies and his filmmaking contemporaries, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.

De Palma is now a mentor to younger directors including Baumbach ("Frances Ha," ''While We're Young") and Paltrow, who directed his sister Gwyneth in 2007 feature "The Good Night."

De Palma, who received the festival's Glory to the Filmmaker Award before a Venice screening of the documentary on Wednesday, said "it's kind of overwhelming, literally, to have your whole life and movies lived in front of you in two hours."

"But it's very honest and it's very much me," he said. "I have a sense of humor about what I've done. How could you live life in this business and not have a sense of humor?"

—By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless

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CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER HUNTS NAZIS AND MEMORY IN "REMEMBER"

With their action and gunplay, thrillers are usually a young actors' genre, no country for old men.

Canadian director Atom Egoyan says his new movie, "Remember," is unique because it's "a thriller played by very old men."

In Egoyan's Venice Film Festival entry, Christopher Plummer plays Zev Guttman, an elderly man with dementia on a mission to track down and kill an Auschwitz guard. Egoyan said the film, scripted by Benjamin August, is "an extraordinary examination of memory and trauma."

"It functions as a thriller, because there is this sense of a mission and there's this sense of inevitability and someone caught in a machine that they don't have control over," the director said Thursday.

The quiet, often disoriented Zev is an unusual role for 85-year-old Plummer, whose aristocratic good looks have seen him cast as authority features since he was Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" half a century ago.

"I've never done anything like this in my life before," Plummer told reporters in Venice by Skype. "Although I've played a lot of different people, they've all had great confidence and great authority.

"I was dying to play a really ordinary man — a simple, intelligent and educated man, but (one) who is very introverted, to say the least. It was something very foreign to me."

German actors Juergen Prochnow and Heinz Lieven and Swiss-born Bruno Ganz play Germans whom Zev encounters on his journey, men who have buried their wartime pasts to build new lives in North America.

Lieven, who manned an anti-aircraft gun as a teenager in wartime Germany, said his personal experience of the Nazi regime left him convinced that "this film must be done."

"Younger people have to learn, have to know it," he said. "Therefore this script ... must be done and I am proud to be in it."

—By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless