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The latest VENICE FESTIVAL report: Interviews with Clara Law, Robert Zemeckis, Harrison Ford, and Michelle Pfeiffer

Father Geek here with Ozy's newest report from his crew that is covering the Venice Film Festival for AICN. Boy, did they do good by us today with a handful of exclusive interviews with top film talent. Great job!!! Now on to our Irish editor's column for today...

Ozymandias reporting in...

Here's the latest from our man Robert Bernocchi and his team in Venice...

These days were very exhausting. We had so many movies to see and so many people to interview (and, of course, we need three or four hours to sleep). But we are lucky, because we have a great collaboration with Alberto Farina. Alberto is a very important journalist who writed books about John Landis and about the directors of blaxploitation movies (Mr. Tarantino would like that). Now Alberto is working at Coming Soon, one of the most important italian satellite television. So, to start our collaboration, he had the great idea to give us exclusive interviews with Robert Zemeckis and Sally Potter. Thanks Alberto. Another great new. In our site we have the trailers of many movies presented here in Venice. Everything is in english, so take a look by coming to:Our Site

What Lies Beneath, by Robert Zemeckis, in Sogni e Visioni (review by Robert Bernocchi)

I won't give you many informations about this movie. First, because probably you've already seen it. Second, because we have the press conference (where i asked Harrison Ford why he refused to partecipate at Traffic) and the interview with Zemeckis. I can't say i enjoy the movie. It was strange to see that it starts as a copy of Rear Window. You know, the movie with James Stewart and Grace Kelly is very important for us, because is also the name of our magazine (La Finestra sul Cortile is the italian title of Rear Window). But i found that's another director that inspired the movie: William Castle. So, that's funny to see that many actual blockbusters are just b-movies made with a lot of money and often with less ideas. The audience had different reactions: someone loved it and someone else hated (but i think it was the same in the States). So, let's start with the interviews.

Press conference of What Lies Beneath

Why have you choiced a role so different from the parts you usually plays?

Harrison Ford: i was persuaded by the chance to work with a great director as Robert Zemeckis. Personally i'm always honoured to work with great artists as him, because i regard myself as a simple craftsman. I really liked the screenplay and i was very interested by the personality of my character.

In your latest movies, What Lies Beneath and Contact, there is a strict relationship between science and supernatural. Why are you so interested by this subject?

Robert Zemeckis: i think i was attracted by this kind of stories because they are very charming and i can give vent to my imagination. That's a good way to explore the dark side of human kind.

How can you resist at the stress of the festival?

Michelle Pfeiffer: Maybe for me is easy, because i'm not accustomed to go to festivals. I adored this film and i want to support it. Anyway, i'll tell you tomorrow how i feel after all these interviews.

H.F.: the huge festivals as Venice are very important for the success of a movie, so we needed to be here

By seeing your movie, it's clear that you was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock.

R.Z.: You're right. You know, the english director created a new language that is still a point of reference for young filmmakers. Maybe the screenplay was even more influenced by Hitchcock than the finished movie. I had the intention to show the loss of every securities. The house is a shelter for everyone. When on the inside of your residence you see dramatic events you feel more vulnerable. And the bathroom is the perfect place because you're naked. Anyway, even the kitchen, with all these knifes.

You were criticized when you refused to partecipate at Traffic, the new Steven Soderbergh movie. It was a part too dark for you or you've simply found something more interesting?

H.F.:I've read with a great attention the screenplay. I think this is gonna be a great movie, but the events of the characters (in particular the addicted daugher) were too sad. So, i prefered to concentrate on other films.

How do you work on set? Do you feel comfortable?

R.Z.: i must say that is very easy to work with great actors as Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. That's the dream of every director. We had three brains that directed this movie instead of one.

M.P.: i feel good when we worked. What a joy when you can improve your character to make a better movie. So, that's what we did.

Exclusive interview with Robert Zemeckis, by Alberto Farina

We can start talking about the genders. You're a director that always worked within the genders. Do you think that is a stimulation or a limitation?

Robert Zemeckis: i think is both. Even if the cinema exists from more than a hundred years, the directors are still trying to reinvent the genders. So, this is a limitation. But we find a stimulation by the fact that people are accustomed to the genders and so you can play with the expectations of the audience by changing a little bit.

In fact your movie seems to play with all the cliches of the gender. There is always someone behind the door; if you have a mirror there is someone that is reflected. So you're using all the tricks to make jump the audience?

R.Z.: Exactly. But i use these tricks to surprise the audience. I want that the people think: "Ok, i know what's gonna happen. I've seen that so many times". And so i change something and confuse them. Anyway i agree with you. I gave to the audience something familiar, because you have to when you make a gender movie.

Alfred Hitchcock, in the last years of his career, said that he has problems because the audience became too smart and it was difficult to find new ways to surprise it.

R.Z.: Now the audience is more cumming because the first thing they are trying to do is to figure out how is going at the end of the film. So, the most difficult task is to write a good ending. So, i think this is the reason why we don't see many movies as What Lies Beneath.

Who do you think has the task to surprise the audience? The screenwriter or the director?

R.Z.: i can't separate the screenplay and the direction. That's not my way to approciate filmmaking. You just have to invent a story that's unique and interesting.

Turning in the mise en scene of the movie, i noticed that your characters are often at the borders of the frame, almost outside. Do you wanted to make difficult to see this movie in television in a scanned version?

R.Z.: yes. It' s gonna be a terrible film to watch in television. For many years i didn't use the widescreen because they will be ruined by television. But now, we have so many alternatives, as DVD, to see a movie in widescreen even at home.

In your movie there are many homages to the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock, in particular Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho. So, you wanted to speak to the cinephile that knows well Hitchcock or to the audience that maybe don't remember him, but it's fascinated by something that seems to be familiar?

R.Z.: both of the them. You have to be very careful when you do a movie as What Lies Beneath. If you are too much cinephile you risk to irritate because people could think you're just copying Hitchcock. And if are interested just to the audience, you risk to annoy it.

There is a scene in your movie that reminded me a very similar one made by Dario Argento in Tenebre and afterwards by Brian De Palma in Raising Cain. I'm talking about the scene where a character stoops and there is someone else behind him. Do you have italian cinema as a point of reference?

R.Z.: i don't think so. I know few italian movies.

The movie was a big hit in The United States. Do you was concerned that a beginning so slow, so classic could be disliked by the audience accustomed to see movies with fast beginnings?

R.Z.: Yes, i was nervous. But i knew that i had to involve the audience in the first part. I think it was important that the first scenes would developing quietly and that the camera move slowly. It was our bet. But i agree. The television demand tales with chaotic rhythms.

The Goddess of 1967, by Clara Law, in competition (review by Robert Bernocchi)

Jim is a young japanese employee with a dream: he wants to possess a Citroen DS, the legendary car of the fifties. After he agreed with an australian, he takes a plane to conclude the deal. But when he arrives at the home of the seller, he find him dead with his wife. The only survivors are a blind girl and a baby. This is the beginning of a trip that will change their lives. The idea of travelling as a cinematographic subject is not original. You can think, for example, at the career of german director Wim Wenders. Clara Law, an australian director that has already made eight movies, tries to describe how a trip can change human lives. She has a very particular style, a vivid sensibility toward his characters and a great attention to particulars. She was helped to achieve this by his cinematographer, able to create an intense atmosphere. And the music played by the violinist Jen Anderson (in his career he worked also with his fellow-countryman Nick Cave) is very strange, as if it would partecipate at the events of the characters. In this kind of movies the actors can make the difference. Rosa Byrne is wonderful with his portrait of a woman with a dificult past. And that's difficult to believe that's the first time on screen for Rikiya Kurosawa. Australian cinema never ends to surprise us.

Exckusive interview with Clara Law (The Goddess of 1967) by Giovanni Colucci

The images of your movie are wonderful, they look like paintings. Who are your favorite painters?

Clara Law: i adore Van Gogh, Renoir and also a chinese painter that is not famous in occident. But there is not a painter in particular who influenced me. When i was working at the film i tried to discover the art and the culture of populations that live in the places where we were shooting. My first point of reference was that people and so i've done a research of their roots. I knew that this people are not easy to understand, so i've taken much time to do it. With The Goddess of 1967 i wanted to create a misterious and ambiguous atmosphere, something that wouldn't be foreseen, or in black and white, but that have various tones of gray. So the audience can be fascinated from this movie and can make the journey with the characters.

Do you use storyboards before shooting?

No, but i have a brief list of the things to do. I try to see how the frame will be composed. I have everything in my head. So, i love to work with my usual cinematographer because we know each other so well after the films we've done. We wanted to organize choreographies, so the actors just have to follow our indications.

Why have you choiced the Citroen DS (in french you read it Deesse, Goddess) as the obession of the protagonist?

C.L.: the Citroen DS can have different meanings. For example, it can be the symbol of perfection, as a goddess is. But it could also be a witness of the events of a family.

The characters of your movie don't have an homeland. That's a reference to your personal life, because you lived in Hong Kong, Macao and of course in Australia?

C.L.: that's something inconscious, even if my experiences influence my movies.

Fils de deux mères ou comedie de l'innocence, by Raul Ruiz, in competition (review by Francesco Alò)

Paris. That's the birthday of Camille. He is nine year old. But the party is not so happy as his parents thinked, because the boy starts to behave in a strange way. The day after Camille persuades his mother Ariane to take him "in his real home, to his real mother". So, when they arrive, they meet Isabelle, who recognizes Camille as his son Paul, who died some years before in a crash. The situation becomes critical. Wonderful movie. Fils de Deux Mères. is an adaptation of the book by Massimo Bontempelli. It reminds me the atmospheres of Luis Bunuel movies. In fact, the surreality, the little difference between a conscious and an inconscious reality, is represented with a simple directing, excepting when Ruiz uses a digital camera. The boy is powerful as a demon. He is unpredictable and he disorientates the adults. The quality of this movie is that is free to many interpretations. Ruiz involves the audience in a conceptual mistery very funny and witty and he plays with the rules of thriller with lightness and without snobbery. We won't forget easily the enigmatic smile of Jeanne Balibar.

The Man who Cried, by Sally Potter, in competition (review by Giovanni Colucci)

Fegele (Christina Ricci) is a russian girl with jewish origins that escapes at the destruction of his village. So, she tries to reach his father that emigrated in the States. First, she arrives in England and then in Paris. There, she finds a friend in Lola (Cate Blanchett), a russian dancer, she meets Dante (John Turturro), an italian tenor, and falls in love with the gitan Cesar (Johnny Depp). When the war begins she'll decide to leave and go in the States. After Orlando and The Tango Lesson, Sally Potter creates a melodrama with many important themes (the memory, the importance of the family, the meeting between different cultures), but the movie is boring and sometimes even upsetting. Sally Potter knows how to create great images and the work of her cinematographer Sacha Vierny is excellent, but the characters are not interesting and the drama is just hinted. There is the willness to create art by any means.

See you later,

Robert Bernocchi - La Finestra sul Cortile

Click Here For More!!!

L8r,

Ozymandias

Euro AICN Ireland/UK Office, Penthouse Suite, Ozymandias Towers, Dublin, Ireland.

If you're involved in the Irish or UK movie industries I want to hear from you!

Mail me at My Penthouse Offices

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 6, 2000, 3:12 a.m. CST

    Ummmm, first?

    by nitzsche

    Michelle is sitting here in my lap and she said she doesn't sound a thing like that interview... she can actually speak correctly.

  • Sept. 6, 2000, 3:42 a.m. CST

    Harry, Harry ,Harry....(Ford)

    by Scott Ridley

    Hasrrison Ford should have taken that role in Traffic, he's becoming boring. It's not that the guy isn't capable ( I'm a long time fan) but he really has to take a few risks; he hasn't done anything dark and edgy since 'Blade Runner' in 1982 for God's sake.And if the 'simple craftsman' likes working with 'artists' then Soderberg is one of the best around.

  • Sept. 6, 2000, 10:06 a.m. CST

    They sound smarter than me... Why don't they look it?

    by jorson2

    LEARN TO SPELL!

  • Sept. 6, 2000, 11:49 a.m. CST

    tolerance

    by Loquamani

    I know it's a little confusing, but I'm pretty sure there are some interesting translation things happening, not spelling errors. They've gone to the trouble of writing in your language, so give them a break.

  • Sept. 6, 2000, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Temptation of a Monk!

    by SnootBadger

    Clara Law is a director from Hong Kong who has emigrated to Australia. Her film TEMPTATION OF A MONK is as good as movies get.

  • Sept. 7, 2000, 2:47 p.m. CST

    me love you long time

    by Ravinsman

    Screw guys! My favorite gender is science fiction!