The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada on September 2, 1986 · 12
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The Gazette from Montreal, Quebec, Canada · 12

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Issue Date:
Tuesday, September 2, 1986
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F-12 CDCCWUC, Montreal, Tuesday, September 2, 1986 tW LL Pl OMTREAL WORLD FILM FESTIVAL . ' ' in and Daidl: De Laurentiis, Lynch team up in Blue Velvet . By BRUCE BAILEY Gazette Film Critic 'An odd couple. A very odd couple, Indeed. But Saturday, David Lynch and Dino De Laurentiis were in this one together the world premiere of Blue Velvet in the Official Competition of the World Film Festival. Lynch: a 40-year-old Montana-born writer-director whose career began with Erasherhead, a super-cheap cult classic about a monstrous human fetus, and then peaked with his two Oscar nominations for his work on The Elephant Man. Then there's De Laurentiis, a 67-year-old Italian-American whos has produced over 90 features everything from Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning La Strada and Nights of Cabiria to respectable Hollywood blockbusters to ultra-slick trash including Conan the Barbarian, Raw Deal and two of the Halloween splatteramas. Lifetime achievement De Laurentiis was also in town this weekend to accept an award for lifetime achievement presented by Giu-lietta Masina, Fellini's actress-wife, on behalf of the festival. Until Blue Velvet, all that the Yank with the grotesque imagination and the Italian with the mega-buck mind had in common was a mutual claim to shame: Dune. Written and directed by Lynch and produced by De Laurentiis, Dune got hammered by the critics and suffered at the box office. What's going to happen to the offbeat Blue Velvet after its commercial release in Montreal and elsewhere on Sept. 19 is anybody's guess. Nightmarish journey For the most part, their film is supposed to be a dark, nightmarish journey beneath the sunshine-and-roses veneer of a small American lumbering town. A young man (Kyle MacLachlan of Dune) discovers a human ear in a field and that leads him into the twisted psycho-sexual world of a masochistic singer (Isabella, daughter of director Roberto Rossellini) and a sadistic killer - (Dennis Hopper). Though Lynch said he built a few tongue-in-cheek moments into his script, the relatively sophisticated film festival audience at the Saturday morning screening was more often laughing at the movie than with it. That's from an audience pre-dis-posed toward expecting the unexpected. Then there's the rest of the film-going world to worry about. The sce-' nario is sufficiently weird so that when it plays to the archetypal "average Joes" in Peoria, it's a good bet a lot of them are going to be wondering, "What the heck is going on here?" though not exactly in those restrained terms. When confronted with the rumor efW MONTREAL aUSSC FESTIVAL . .-, ., -v: .' -. -V. .' . i2tV? 7 III V v . &v z f I IP ,s i i , " t -v j-, 4s fry ' 1 ' ; .i, . .: "Vf --V-:;.', - i ' r is , - . ' Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, - that the film had already been refused for the Venice Film Festival on the grounds that it was "scandalous," Rossellini acknowledged the rejection, but recounted the incident with a twinkle of amusement. "Immediately after 20 minutes, (the screener) said, 'In the memory of Roberto Rossellini, I cannot produce this film (in the festival)."' Nevertheless, the studio has managed to come up with a few very positive reviews with a few more promised for future publication. ' "I'm not nervous about it," said Lynch. "The film was never thought of as a commercial smash hit. "They (the producers) want to build a word-of-mouth (following). People have got to know that it's not a normal picture and a little bit about it before they see it so they're more likely to go with it" Still, Lynch expresses a certain apprehension over the fact that the distributors no longer allow a film's audience to build as slowly as it did for Erasherhead, after its release on the midnight-movie circuit in 1976. The film's early history certainly didn't bode well to say the least. "I didn't think anybody would see it," he recounted. "I thought possibly it would go to a few film festivals and that would be it." "I was really sick" But even the prospects for that limited exposure suffered a serious setback when Lynch tried to get his film accepted into the extravaganza at Cannes. "When I was supposed to have it screened in New York," he recalled, "I was really sick and I hardly had any money. But I spent all I had and . took 12 reels of picture and 12 reels of soundtrack, put them in a shopping cart and took the red-eye flight to New York. "I had to wait through three other feature films, so I kept going down the street to drink coffee and have donuts and kept checking back. They finally showed the film, re-wound it and I went back to L.A. "Three or four days later, I found out nobody was in the screening room. Cannes never saw it. I guess that's why they rejected it." Lynch also now has a good idea of why Dune, an adaptation of a sprawling sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert, met with such an unfavorable response from almost all quarters. He happened to see the film the other night on cable TV. "I didn't understand anything. It's a difficult film to understand. I haven't seen it for so long, I now have some distance on it, so I now understand how people had trouble understanding it." He admited that he also knew something was wrong with it when it was being made and, in retrospect, likens the experience to being at the helm of the Titanic. With surprising candor considering he was speaking in De Lauren-tiis's presence he explained that, "it's a horrible experience when Gazette, Len Sioaway Annie Lennox on Sunday. iff- 4 Y, i V 7 Dino De Laurentiis: Philosphy is to go with gut feeling. 1 1 Z :.t , I DAVID LYNCH "Complete artistic freedom" things don't go well. With Dune, it was a Titanic, a gigantic thing, trying to compact everything within a single time frame. It began to be impossible. But once you're committed, you have to see it through." Despite the disaster, De Laurentiis has extended his faith in Lynch even beyond Blue Velvet to yet one more project, an "absurd comedy" called Ronnie Rocket. As in the past, De Laurentiis will be giving Lynch "complete artistic freedom" as long as he stays within the budget. Likening himself to Picasso, De Laurentiis's general philosophy is to go with his gut feeling. After that, he tends to give his directors free rein. "But we can't do that with all directors," he added. "How many can make masterpieces? 10? 12?" Lynch's freedom extended to his control over the casting and that included the decision to put Dennis Hopper in the role that won him the Best Actor award at this year's festival. "I always liked Dennis," Lynch LaBelle caps Musicfest on soulful note By LUCINDA CHODAN and PAUL DELEAN of The Gazette It all started on a chilly night 11 evenings ago with the sounds of the Montreal group Luba. It drew to a balmy close last night with a clarion call to soul from singer Patti LaBelle. And when it was all over, about 160,000 people had passed through the turnstiles of Pare Jean-Paul II during the first Miller Musicfest. But the largest pop festival in Montreal history struck its stages after 11 days of bad weather, controversy and much smaller crowds than originally anticipated. Initial attendance figures for the Musicfest whose budget is estimated between $2 and $3 million were predicted at up to half a million people. The total, including yesterday's crowd of about 10,000, was about 160,000, considerably less than the 270,000 organizers said they needed to break even. "Obviously, we're not pleased," said Richard Adler, vice-president of Festival Events, Inc., which organized the Musicfest "But you can't control the weather. When I learn to control the weather, I'll call you and we'll make a lot of money." Adler said unseasonable weather the festival was rained out Saturday and Sunday of its opening weekend and faced uncharacteristically cold temperatures until late last week made it impossible to judge the event fairly. "The judgment we had last night 3 T"r- -"Ja .1 I .' . Gazette, Tedd Church said. "He was a crazy guy, but he had such a reputation that I wouldn't even consider him. "But one day I heard that he cleaned up his act, that he was on the wagon." Lynch didn't quite believe the story at first, but with the urging of Hopper's agent, he checked it out with the actor's last two producers and then signed him on after getting a clean bill of health. "He really loved the part. All sorts of things came together. He's the best to work with. Really. He was really there, a perfect person to play Frank." Apart from his confidence in Lynch as one of the select few who can turn out a masterpiece, De Laurentiis has also put his faith in Australian Bruce Beresford to make the other "most important" film of the year. Beresford has been booked to direct an adaptation of the hit play, Crimes of the Heart. Meanwhile, Lynch is getting started on a career as a painter. In that connection, he hopes to put together an exhibition in Los Angeles. On the absurd side v - His paintings are something like r what we got in Erasherhead, he said. ""They're a little on the absurd side. Absurdities are my favorite thing. "They're mostly black and white and grey, very primitive, bad painting but that's what's 'in' right now. "I would like to paint with my teeth, more than with a brush," he continued with a slight sense of self-mockery. "I'd like to bite my paintings. I shouldn't really paint in oils, because one day, I'm going to bite one of my paintings. "I get so worked up," he added with the appropriate intensity. (Saturday, when the Eurthymics drew 41,220) was that that was the first time we had the total festival feeling. We think those people, having experienced it, will look forward to the next one." Adler also admitted organizers had made some programming errors. "We know we had the right act with the Euryihmics and Elton John. And we know we had the wrong act with James Brown and Kid Creole not with Charlebois: He was the right act. "But you can't have 11 days of Elton Johns it's just not financially viable." The event was plagued with other problems. El Debarge's concert was cancelled because a local company supplied the star with the wrong equipment and it was too late to find replacements. Last Tuesday, James Brown was five hours late, and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was about two hours behind schedule for Friday's performance because he was attending his father's funeral. "We were trying to think yesterday of something that didn't go wrong," said organizer Joseph Levy. But in spite of the problems, Adler said the Musicfest would be back. Even the final headliner of the final night didn't manage to escape the niggling problems that dogged the festival. Although the sound has been mostly impeccable through the week-and-a-half of music, Patti LaBelle had trouble hearing herself through the opening songs of her set. And a crowd of about 10,000 has to be con Festival organizers are beaming - turn attention to 1 987 By BILL BROWNSTEIN Special to The Gazette The 10th World Film Festival, which came to a close last night, has set a new attendance record and rates as the best one yet, according to festival organizers. "Undoubtedly, it's been the most successful festival of all and not only because we had a record turnout of approximately 250,000 people," said David Novek, the festival's director of communications. Last year's fest drew some 230,000 patrons. "It was also a tremendous success in terms of the quality of the films (203 in all)," as well as from an organizational standpoint, Novek added. And no sooner did Edition 10 become history than fest director Serge Losique announced plans for No. 11, which will pay homage to Japanese cinema and include a visit by Italian film-making great Federico Fellini. Meanwhile, organizers of the Montreal International Film, TV and Video Market, held annually in conjunction with the World Film Festival, were also sporting broad smiles. Market co-ordinator Jacqueline Dinsmore reported that an estimated $5 million worth of film, TV and video transactions was conducted by the 700 buyers and sellers who participated. Last year's Market attracted 485 participants. "The Russians alone sold about $500,000 of their own product. And on the other side, the Yugoslavians bought eight Canadians films for TV, while the Greeks bought three and the East Germans four," Dinsmore said. "Next year," she said, "we'll iron out a few of the organizational flaws, and we'll hopefully draw 1,000 participants." - e e It was a scene that could have easily been lifted from one of his own films. Thanks to a live satellite hookup, the legendary Fellini, somewhere in Rome, chided his wife, ac- tress Giulietta Masina, for smoking in Montreal. Masina was in town to preside over film festival closing ceremonies last night. From thousands of kilometres away, Fellini deftly and humorosly fielded the questions in English, French and Italian from journalists congregated in the Meridien Hotel yesterday afternoon. To wit:" On private television: "I really hate to see my films interrupted by commercials for salami." On why he's not with his wife in Montreal: "I just started work on a new film. I'll come (to the festival) next year." On why he waited 15 years to cast Masina in a film. (Ginger & Fred): "She costs too much." On why he treats actors like puppets: "That's a compliment, calling actors puppets. Really, though, I do admire them for bringing my films to life." On whether he'll ever make an American film; "Yes, but I'll make it in an Italian studio." On the future of Italian cinema: sidered disappointing for an audience of LaBelle. But that didn't stop the 42-year-old Philadelphia native from performing a scorcher of a set that included three different outfits and touches of everything from a funky version of House of the Rising Sun and the single hit of LaBelle's late, lamented group Labelle, Lady Marmalade, to an a capella gospel ra-veup, with her three-member backup singers, the Sweeties, of the hymn How Great Thou Art. LaBelle told last night's crowd that the last time she played Montreal was at the Esquire Show Bar. She made up for lost time, dashing across the stage and using the pipes that upstaged the heavyweights at last year's Live Aid concert to full effect. . That spirited performance was a contrast to Jermaine Jackson, who preceded her on-stage. Jackson was acceptable but uninspired in his set, which included all too much hype about things like the Jackson 5 a band that allegedly shook the world and too little substance. The night's opening set proved that Diane Tell's fine, jazzy-feeling pop has been absent from Montreal stages for too long. Sunday, before the Musicfest's largest crowd, 41,220, the Eurythmics showed why they have become one of the top draws in contemporary music. In an impeccably clear and vibrant 90-minute set, the Eurythmics ran through all their hits, from the spunky Sex Crime to their breakthrough song Sweet Dreams (Are .t . ' s - LU" J FEDERICO FELLINI "I'll come next year" "I'm an Italian and I make movies in-' Italy, so I'm obliged to be full of, hope besides the president of the Italian Film Producers' Association is sitting right next to me, so what, else can I say?" (Pan to beaming president, previously out of the picture.) On whether he's a genius: "Do you think so? Yes thanks, I think so, ' too." - . ' : On his film-going habits: "I'm not; " a movie-goer. In fact, I see very few films; but I don't think I have to go to " movies to make them." I - On his favorite directed filmj.ta ' Strada. . . (then proceeds to list ev- ery one of his films)." On live satellite press conferences: ' "It's a little strange to have thjs science fiction structure and to require the help of 1,000 technicians just to answer one simple question." : As a young man, a budding French ' actor called Charles Aznavour had a. dilemma. "I was too shot to play adults and too big to play kids anymore. So, in order to survive, I start-, ed to sing." " .i .X In the ensuing years, Aznavoiir-I began to sing well enough to earn enough francs that he could return to; his first love acting. "Even when I-: sang, I sang like an actor," recalled ; the crooner, in town to promote The J Yiddish Connection, which marks ; his first foray into screen-writing. The Armenian-born Aznavour also 1 has a starring role in the film, screened last weekend in conjunc-. ; tion with the film fest. He plays a sa-' ' fe cracking Parisian antique dealer; 1 who's an Orthodox Jew. And despite ; the racy subject matter, Aznavour : claims no one has been offended by the film in France." T "The Jewish community has a tre- mendous sense of humor and, really, ; the reaction has been just fabulous in France," said Aznavour, who is;not Jewish. In fact, reaction has been so good in France that Aznavour is already contemplating a sequel.. You guessed, The Yiddish Connection U; Aznavour smiled. "It has a nicet fa-! miliar ring to it." Made Of This) and finally Would I Lie To You? - r " In the three-song encore came current single Missionary Man. ; It was a show as classy and sophisticated as the black morning coats worn by the band. The only sour note was singer Annie Lennox's bizarre decision to doff her plain white shirt and come out wearing a pink bra for one song, Would I Lie To You? It was a cheap effect from a band that doesn't need to resort to them. Lennox remains one of rock's most baffling characters amazingly versatile as a singer, yet stiff and wooden as a dancer. She and guitarist Dave Stewart clearly were the stars of the show, but they had the good sense to assemble a superb band (drums, keyboards, bass, sax) and backup vocalist (a woman who cloned Lennox's sound perfectly). y.,'.t The opening act, the exoticaCy coiffed Jean Beauvoir, didn't really measure up. ; Beauvoir, late of the Plasmatics and Little Steven's Disciples of Soul, played a musically mediocre set that didn't include a single song familiar, to the audience. " Saturday, the turnout was lower, as was the overall age of the participants for a triple-header by Platinum Blonde, The Box and Eye Eye. ; About 16,000 people, including many in the single-digit age range, turned out to see the Blonde in a typically slick, carefully calculated show.

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